The Sunny SF-RW5624 certainly wins a prize for one of the oddest looking rowing machines out there! But once you know why it looks like it does, you'll be more forgiving. And the reason? It's a full motion rower meaning you can use three different types of stroke to workout - more on this later.
Yes, there are a few full motion rowers you could buy, but these are hydraulic machines that come will all the usual disadvantages of oil-filled cylinders - you can read about the drawbacks of hydraulic machine here. But this model uses magnetic resistance which to our knowledge makes it one of a kind. We'll come back to this feature later. For now, let's look at the nuts and bolts of the machine.
The assembly instructions aren't the easiest to follow so if you're not DIY-minded you may want assistance from someone who is. It took us a little over forty-five minutes as there's a few parts that are a bit fiddly.
Once you've spent all that time and effort putting it together you'll want to get on it and start rowing. So what about the rowing position? In short, it's great. The high beam means the seat is a good height and you can step over and sit down - no deep squats to get on and off this one. However, while the resistance mechanism is quiet, the seat rollers on our model squeaked and was a distraction.
The footrests are just below the level of the seat and pretty close to the same position of a boat. The handles are angled, so again similar to the position an oar would be.
So onto the main reason why you'd consider this model over another of the same price - the full motion action. This is different to the sort of rowing machine you'd use in a gym - most likely a Concept2. With this model you don't feel the cord pull you back in at the end of the stroke. The full motion replicates the sort of strokes you'd use on a real boat - yeah, one of those that floats on water.
The three options you have to row are
The advantage of the full motion action is that you use different sets of muscles for each type of stroke. But while this can be good for varying your workouts so you don't get bored - it's not necessary for improved cardio-vascular fitness or for losing weight.
The eight resistance levels can be selected using the knob on the central column - ours was a little stiff but may loosen over time with use. The difference from the lowest to highest level of resistance is quite wide but the fit and strong may find the top end is not enough to challenge.
Note, this is a folding model but is still quite bulky when folded due to the housing of the magnetic mechanism beneath the beam.
It's a pretty basic monitor and shows the time, stroke count, calories, total count of strokes.
But sadly it doesn't measure distance. This is a big let down considering the advantages of it's full motion action and relevance for race rowers on water.
The scan function automatically changes the display readout every six seconds so you can monitor your progress without stopping to press a button.
The main standout feature is obviously the full motion as you can vary your workouts with a choice of rowing styles. But if you're a serious rower you won't find this model challenging, or up to handling long, hard sessions. The issue of not displaying distance would also make this machine unsuitable for race-rowers.
But if you're of low to average fitness and looking for some variation in your workouts, this could be what you're looking for - and at a reasonable price too!
It's quite well made for a budget model and feels solid when rowing at high strokes rates and should last a couple of years of moderate use.
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If you specifically need a full motion rower, the Kettler Favorit is an option as it does display distance in meters. If it doesn't have to be full motion, Sunny's SF-RW5623 is a good alternative, or the Stamina 1130 has some interesting features for around the same price.