The Fitness Reality 4000MR rowing machine is full motion rower, that means it uses separate and realistic oars to create an authentic sculling action. The majority of rowers use a single handle which doesn't achieve this, but if you're looking for a cardio-vascular workout it doesn't really matter. However, the action on this model does mean you're using more upper body muscles as your arms will moving in a circular motion.
Putting this machine together may look a little daunting when you unpack the box, but all the tools are provided and the instructions are clear. It took our man almost an hour but it feels worth it once you get on and row for the first time.
If you're used to a single handle machine it might take a few moments to adjust to the dual, full motion arms, but you'll soon be sculling like a pro and enjoy the action.
The rowing position is great. The high seat (around 22" off the floor) makes it easy to get on and off and gives it the feel of a commercial rower. The long inseam makes it suitable for users up to 6' 5" while still allowing for a full stroke. The footrests are situated on the resistance mechanism and forward of the housing for the oars - again given a full stroke action and leg workout.
The handles, or more accurately 'oars', have a good diameter for a decent grip and have a wonderful full circular motion. Some machines of this type only move in a linear motion and fail to give the upper body a good workout.
This is a heavy machine weighing in at 116 lbs meaning it's a pretty damn sturdy and solid model that won't budge an inch when you're giving it your all. But while a bit of a brute, it's very quite with its magnetic, chain-driven resistance mechanism, and smooth ball-bearing seat rollers.
The 16 levels of magnetic resistance have a good range. We're fed up of trying machines that have little difference between easy and so-called 'hard', but the range here has enough to satisfy all users. But note, it doesn't have to be cranked up to the top level to give you a good workout - see how to use damper settings.
Goal-setting is a great way to get fit and stay motivated. For instance, you can track the distance you cover in 20 minutes and challenge yourself to set a personal best over this period. It's just a pity the console is not PC-compatible so you can track your progress without having to record it separately. But then you'd expect to pay a few hundred dollars more to get this feature. But sadly, it's not chest strap compatible, so not heart rate training programs are included.
Note, there's a holder for your smartphone beneath the display screen if you can't face to be parted from it.
The Fitness Reality 4000MR is well worth a look. The full motion action of the oars replicates sculling and works more muscles in the upper body than the more common single handle rowing machines. It has some good features and is a well-made, sturdy machine that should keep you coming back for more.