When I started this website way back in 2010, pre-Trump, pre-Brexit and pre-fake news and all that (doesn't that seems a long time ago) I believe there was around 50 rowing machines to choose from. A quick count yesterday and I got to over 102 and gave up!
And it seems that at least a new one comes out every week - mainly thanks to Stamina and Sunny :0) But don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. The more choice, the more competition, the better the deal for us indoor rowers.
But with all that choice, where you do start?
Well for most the first consideration is how much are you willing to spend? I get many emails asking about budget rowing machines (I class anything under $300 as budget). Are they any good or is it throwing away your money? My answer is that it depends on how much will you use your rowing machine. You can't expect anything costing just a few hundred to last for long if you're going to be using it five times a week.
And likewise, if you're going to be giving it some stick and rowing for 30 minutes at 32 plus strokes a minute, you'll soon start wearing out your machine. Budget rowers are cheap because the components aren't top quality. So regular sessions will place the seat runners, resistance mechanism, and all moving parts some stress. And if you're thinking of getting a hydraulic machine... well don't bother if you're looking for rowing machine to get you fit and fast.
But apart from the durability of the components, you also have the functions and features to consider. The lower-end machines are usually pretty light on the 'whistles and bells' such as heart rate programs, PC-compatible software and online racing. For some this isn't an issue. Some just want to sit and row for 20 minutes and perhaps listen to music - some rowers will even provide a holder for your MP3 player.
Recently though, I've been impressed by some of the newer budget machines appearing on the market. These have some pretty good monitors with the sort of features you only saw on a model costing over $600 only a couple of years ago. Machines like the Sunny SF-RW5623 is a good example. And when it comes to water machines, the new Stamina 1130 has a lot to offer for less than half what you'd expect to pay in 2014.
But the fact remains that if you want durability, reliability and cutting-edge design you still need to spend over $850 in my view. For instance, if you're the type of person that likes technology or needs something more to motivate you to commit to your workout, then something like a Concept2 will float your boat. Concept2 are still considered the top machine by rowing clubs - and for good reason.
Their PM5 monitor does so much more tells you so much more than most monitors out there. PC software, online features (including letting you race against others worldwide) are just some of the features that set them apart from the rest. Yes, others like WaterRower and First Degree have similar features, but often at higher cost.
So when it comes to making your decision, take your time and don't be tempted by the one with the lower price tag. Consider how often you'll use it, how vigorous you'll be working out, and what does it take to motivate you to workout. Many may regret buying budget when something goes wrong and suddenly you can't train for several weeks while waiting for a spare part.
More soon find they can't be asked to train because they've grown bored of their machine or outgrown it in a surprisingly short space of time. And then you're left with a piece of kit taking up space - and don't expect to get anywhere near what you paid for it by selling on eBay!
So aim a little higher, save a little longer and get a rowing machine that will last you for years and get you into shape and keep you that way... and take my word for it, no one ever regrets buying a Concept2 :0)
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.