Everyone knew a Peloton rower was coming. In fact, it’s been rumored for so long that even product manager Tom Cortese said The edge the rower was the “worst kept secret on Earth”. So now that it’s actually in my living room, it all seems a little underwhelming.
What can I say ? This is exactly what I thought a Peloton rower was. Peloton cachet is everywhere in the product design, from the red accents and ubiquitous logo to the 23-inch HD adjustable touchscreen. That’s not a bad thing. Peloton’s gear has always been sleek and better suited to your home than the gear you’ll find at the gym. This rower looks a lot prettier than the one in my building’s fitness center, though I slightly preferred the more minimalist style of the Water Wave for my living room aesthetic.
The line is big. It has an 8 foot by 2 foot footprint and weighs 156 pounds. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into my New York apartment, and it takes up a lot of my living room. This box be stored upright, but you should always make sure it can lie flat with 2 feet clearance on all sides of the unit for added safety. Vertical storage also requires the use of the included wall bracket. This could be a problem if you have a grumpy landlord who doesn’t want you drilling holes in your wall.
Otherwise, Peloton had some nice little design flourishes. For starters, the seat is softer than most rowers I’ve used. My tailbone is grateful. There’s also a handy water bottle and phone holder – although I wish it was big enough to hold a tablet. Some days I just want to vent my frustration with my K-dramas’ overly long storylines.
The device is designed for people between 4 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing up to 300 pounds. I’m a shorter person, so I can’t comment on how supportive the Row is for people at the higher end of the height range. I imagine you might have issues if you’re on the taller side – perhaps stretching your legs out comfortably – but unlike the Tread, which had a tray that taller people could kneel into when warming up high knees, the Row doesn’t have that many things you can bump into.
Peloton’s strength is in its content, and there the Row also delivers pretty much what you’d expect. The best part so far has been the Form Assist feature. When you first set up the rower, there’s an approximately five-minute calibration process so the seat and handle sensors can learn your individual stroke. Once done, a small number in the upper left corner of the screen corresponds to your movements. If you miss your form, the areas where you need to improve will light up red.
Learning to row can be tricky, and it’s not as intuitive as running on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike. Good rowing form has four elements: the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery. There are a million YouTube videos with fitness experts talking about it, but the bottom line is that you move your legs, then your body, then your arms, then reverse it. If you’re unfamiliar with rowing, it takes some getting used to, and if you’ve never been instructed, you’re probably wrong.
You are probably wrong
Form feedback is still nascent in connected fitness tech, but it’s nice to see that Peloton made the effort to include it on the Row (especially since it wasn’t really a thing with its Guide strength system). After a workout, you get handy breakdowns of your form and metrics to understand what you need to do better. I always wondered if I was doing it right, and now, if Peloton is to be believed, I know I have to stop jumping the gun with my body during the practice part of a shot.
The main workout screen includes strokes per minute and personal pace goals. You’re prompted to select your skill level during setup, which then determines which pace ranges work best for you during intervals. Both of these measurements are standard for rowers, but it’s always good to see a recommended range (even if you skip them altogether at the end of a long class).
I haven’t had the opportunity to get into all types of rowing training yet. But the 20-minute hip-hop class I took was neither too easy nor too difficult. Class selection was understandably limited last week, but that should settle in the coming weeks as the library expands. Classes last from five to 45 minutes. Like other Peloton gear, there will be an option between Trained Rows, Row Bootcamp (a mix of rowing, HIIT, and strength intervals), Panoramic Rows, and Just Row.
But while the hardware and content have so far met my expectations, the price has not. I may be a fool. I expected it to be pricey, maybe around $2500, which isn’t far off from other connected rowers. But no. The Row costs $3,195 – more if you buy accessories like mats, dumbbells or a heart rate band. (Accessory sets start at $75 and go up to $375.) Price includes delivery and installation, but not the $44 monthly subscription. Platoon Is present itself as a premium brand, but it’s so much more than the competition. For context, the Hydrow Wave costs $1,495 and the regular Hydrow costs $2,495. Other home-connected rowers like Aviron and Ergatta are priced similarly. Meanwhile, a regular Concept2 rower costs $990.
Of course, prices can change. Lord knows that Peloton subscriptions and hardware costs have been all over the place over the past year as the company tries to get its house in order. Even so, it is one of the most expensive home rowers on the market.
Pre-orders for the Row begin today for US customers who can ride out the sticker shock, with delivery expected in December. In the meantime, you can visit any of the 18 outlets to get a try. Peloton says it will expand to more showrooms later this year.
Photography by Victoria Song / MovieBeat