NordicTrack first made their name in the early 1990s with a strange looking contraption for indoor Nordic skiing - which went on to become very popular. Within 10 years they were selling treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical trainers and earned a good reputation.
However, it was a while before they moved in to rowing machines and still today only have one currently on the market - the NordicTrack RW200.
So does a company that makes quality treadmills stretch to a half-decent rower? In short, almost... but just falls short in our view.
The assembly part is not too complicated but we know of some users who found the screws supplied weren't up to the job - ours were fine. The first thing that struck was the beam (also known as the rail). It's made of steel like all rowers should be, but it's a long beast making it a suitable rower for taller user of well over 6' 4". This is important because a short beam means the tall or long-legged rower cannot achieve a full finish at the end of the stroke and therefore will limit the benefits - see rowing technique for a full description.
The rowing position is good but while the foot rests tilt, are large and hold your feet in place, the seat is not up to providing a comfortable ride for the larger user. On the plus side, the seat isn't too low which can cause users with knee or low back problems some discomfort when getting on and off the machine. The handle is pretty much a standard handle you find on many rowers in this price-range.
But now onto what might be a deal-breaker for many - the resistance. The NordicTrack RW200 is an air rower in that it uses a flywheel to give your muscles something to pull against. You can select any one of the ten resistance levels using a lever - see red circle on the photo on the right. The level is made of plastic and seems a little flimsy in our view - but this isn't the problem. What lets down an otherwise good rower is the limited range of resistance, in other words, level 1 seems quite similar to level 10.
This is a shame because all but the unfit may find this a little to easy and feel they're no getting the best of workouts. However, it's not necessary to pull hard to get a challenging workout as your cardiovascular system will still benefit, but many will want the variation and may be disappointed if the range is small.
It also has built-in speakers with a socket for your Smartphone or iPod - not a reason to buy this particular model in itself, but a nice touch all the same.
If only the resistance range was greater then this would be a worthwhile mid-range priced machine in our view. It has much that makes it worth considering, but regardless of the long beam, good build quality (with some reservations) many would feel let down by the lack of resistance on level 10.
If you're currently unfit, or returning to a fitness regime after a ling break, or recovering from illness or injury this might be a suitable place to start.
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