As my aging Concept2 rowing machine creaks into old age, I have a big decision to make. What to go for next? So this might sound like heresy to many rowers out there, but dare I say that I might be considering another brand?
There... I've said it! Even looking at other models feels like I'm being unfaithful to my trusty friend. But let's face the truth - there are other brands that have caught up and may even have surpassed Concept2. For decades they have definitely been the undisputed leaders in the market, but others have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into research and manufacturing that have produced some very impressive results.
Before I move on, I do want to say a tribute to my old model. It was an ex-gym model when I bought it six years ago but it has given me virtually trouble-free service for all that time! But... it is looking a little long in the tooth and deserves to move onto pastures new. I have a friend who is going to take it off my hands so I know it's going to a good home - and he has said I can visit every once in a while :0)
So looking forward. After many evenings browsing through all of the reports I get sent (not in the same room as my rower - well that would be insensitive wouldn't it!) and scouring the internet forums and Amazon's long lists of reviews, I have made the decision to try something new.
I don't buy into the mantra that 'it has to be an air rower' because that's what real rowing feels like. It's been many years since I've rowed on the river, and quite a few since the odd outing in a rowing boat with the family. So I use a rowing machine to stay in shape and because I enjoy it. Apart from running, I find it one of the best ways to get into The Zone and get that exercise high. So do I go for a magnetic, hydraulic (please let's be sensible) or a water/ fluid rower? If you're unsure what all these terms mean you can read up on the pluses and negatives here.
So definitely not a hydraulic - they're so 20th century (and now later than the 70's!). Magnetic? Urrrm. I've tried many of the last few years and I do like the control and associated functions (also see air v, magnetic) But I've really developed a liking for the swish and whoosh of the water resistance models. Of course I've tried the Waterrower and they are a magnificent beast, but maybe it's my age (middle-age crisis on the way) but I'm getting the urge to try something completely new.
And the current front runner is.... drum roll... the First Degree Trident. Okay, so there was a pretty big clue with the picture at the top but come on, it's a beauty. I challenge you to click on the photo and not be tempted to at least check it out. I've tried First Degree's Neptune, and considering it's one of their lower end models it's a bloody good row! Sadly, the task of testing the Evolution fell to another one of the team but to date it's the rower given the highest score on this site - 95% no less. So they do have a great reputation and are moving more into gyms and health clubs with their commercial rowing machines.
We've also not as yet reviewed the Trident, so I could kill two birds with one stone and be the first on the team to give it go.
When I worked in the computer industry there was a saying - 'no one ever got fired for buying IBM'. For years something similar has applied to Concept2, but perhaps times have changed and there are viable alternatives out there. This is good news for all of us because you can guarantee the bods at Concept aren't going to sit on their butts and take it lying down (although that's not physically possible). So you can bet we'll be seeing some exciting developments in their camp and even better quality machines coming out.
So for now I'll be saving my pennies will still rowing the old girl while doing some more research before spending my hard-earned cash on something new. I'll let you know when I've made the leap.
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.