Find out how resident PT James Dixon got on with this smart rower in our NordicTrack RW600 review below…
Rowing is one of the best forms of exercise you can do. It’s sort of the whole package – intense muscular output through the whole posterior chain (the legs, lower back, upper back, shoulders and biceps) coupled with fantastic cardiovascular work. Many sports and athletic disciplines require explosive muscular strength, drawn out muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance, all of which are worked in any given rowing sessions.
Many athletes stand to benefit from it, therefore.
Rowing represents a great tool in fat loss, too. It is energy intensive in itself, chewing through calories in any given session. It can also easily put you into the magic 85%+ heart rate ‘Orange Zone’, which elicits an afterburn effect. This means you will be burning more energy than usual for 12-24 hours after each row.
Outdoor rowing is beyond many of us, of course. It requires access to water, access to a boat, and a fair amount of discomfort and risk. Therefore, rowing machines are crucial – you can gain all the benefits, in safety, from the comfort of your own home.
NordicTrack are amongst the top manufacturers for at-home rowers. Their equipment is first class and their software will give you a dizzying array of training options to help you stay motivated and make the most of your machine. Their RW600 is one of my personal favourites, a rowing machine of excellent quality and fantastic function, priced quite moderately compared to much of their range. I recently had the pleasure of reviewing one.
First Impressions Of The NordicTrack RW600
As above, there is a lot to get excited about with the RW600. It’s a well-made machine from a manufacturer known for their high standards. You get a sleek looking black frame with all the bells and whistles you could want, including a generous, well-presented monitor.
The RW600 isn’t cheap. It will set you back around a grand, plus monthly payments for these software options. However, it is inexpensive for what you get. Many models that come in at triple the price don’t give you much more than it offers. It is incredibly well designed and constructed, with a professional quality to it and a range of specs that you wouldn’t expect for three figures (even if it is only just three figures!).
NordicTrack RW600 Specs And Features
Right, let’s start things off by getting into the software, which is where the magic always happens with NordicTrack machines. As with pretty much all their other offerings, the RW600 is fully iFIT capable, delivered through a 10” Smart HD Touchscreen. This means that you get access to a breath-taking amount of training from a constantly expanding library of on-demand sessions and classes, from some of the top trainers in the world.
iFIT is also fully interactive. It will adjust your resistance levels and so on for you, to suit the terrain, the training style, the effort levels required at each point in each session, allowing you to simply grit your teeth and get some work done. It tracks your stats for you as you go, giving you real time data on speed, energy expenditure, time spent training and so forth, and uses this data to show you how and where you can improve your technique.
It really is like having a personal trainer in the room with you.
Variety is key with iFIT, too. There is seemingly endless variety in training styles, classes, combos and so on. You get things like HIIT, steady state, race mode for use with your rower. You also get full body aerobics, yoga and so forth, which you can perform on the ground, streamed through the RW600’s monitor. There are new workouts uploaded every day, with new challenges, new ways to push yourself, so you always have somewhere new and fresh to go with it.
The RW600 comes with options for several iFIT profiles, giving you up to four adult profiles per iFIT family membership. As each profile is very customisable, each is very unique, with personalized lifestyle coaching in all facets of your health. Having this family option means that everyone in your household should be able to have their own, tailor-made fitness programme to best suit them.
The RW600 features two forms of resistance – digital and manual air resistance – which combine to give you a full 26 resistance levels in total. The digital resistance comes in the form of silent, magnetic resistance, and the air resistance is adjustable.
The frame is also intelligently made. The RW600 features quick adjust pedals, with quick-release, adjustable foot straps on an oversized, pivoting plate for security and comfort. The whole thing is made with NordicTrack’s SpaceSaver® Design technology. It folds vertically for easy storage so that it is incredibly easy to live with, without having to have it out as a permanent feature.
The RW600 comes with Bluetooth headphone connectivity, allowing you to sync your choice of headphones for iFIT and all other media.
The rower is 44kg (55kg boxed), comes in at 221(L) X 56(W) X 119(I) cm, and has a decent warranty, with two years parts and labour and a five year frame guarantee upon warranty registration.
Using The NordicTrack RW600
The software is amazing with the RW600, as it is with pretty much all NordicTrack machines. iFIT is easy to navigate, easy to use, and gives you a great deal of training options. You can basically have a new class every single day, rotating through half a dozen styles, and even have options to take it away from the rower if you want. It really is as good as advertised, if not better.
However, it isn’t all about the software. The best training programme in the world falls down if you don’t have good kit on which to perform it. This is where NordicTrack’s famous build quality and hardware design comes into its own.
The screen itself is good, helping to deliver that software properly. It’s a 10” Smart HD Touchscreen built into an adjustable console that is incredibly intuitive to use.
Then there is the rowing quality.
The main thing that sets the RW600 apart from many of its peers – and that makes it such a bargain – is the dual resistance source. You get digital resistance, control of which can be ceded to your iFIT profile, and manual air resistance, so you keep some control, are able to go to another level of intensity, and get a smooth row. It’s a lovely feature, well designed and well implemented.
The RW600 is very intelligently engineered. It features a reassuringly weight inertia enhanced flywheel, so each stroke will come smoothly with no jarring, no loose spots, and no dead space (common to lesser models).
The intelligent engineering is apparent in the RW600’s comfort levels, too. It can take a maximum user weight of 115kg, which should suffice for heavier athletes, and which should keep lighter athletes very secure. The steel seat rail is oversized for improved flow and function, and the seat is ergonomically moulded. The seat covering itself is hard but forgiving, so no power is wasted, but you still don’t get a numb bum (another thing common to lesser models!).
Finally, the RW600 is easy to live with, which is obviously vital in any at-home gym equipment. The SpaceSaver® Design technology couples with front-mounted transport wheels to make it easy to shut away when you’re not using it, despite the weight and size of the thing.
It’s a joy to use and very sensible to live with.
Pros and Cons
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- Intelligently designed
- iFIT capability
- Dual resistance systems for a smooth row
- Easy to live with
- Decent warranty
- Good upper weight limit
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- On the pricier side of things
- iFIT subscriptions require additional monthly payments of thirty or so quid
Alternative – The Hydrow
As above, the RW600 is good value for money, albeit still on the pricey side. However, if you’re looking to spend a bit of cash on a rowing machine that gives you a great user experience with personal training on top, the Hydrow is a good bet.
Hydrows are kind of like the rowing machine’s answer to Peloton. They are dizzyingly high-spec, high-tech rowing machines, incredibly well made, beautifully designed, with a fantastic range of media. They are super expensive. In fact, they are some of the most expensive commercially available rowing machines around. But they are very much worth it.
The NordicTrack RW600 is a perfect middle ground. It’s expensive, but not eye-wateringly so. It also earns its price tag, and then some. There are pricier models out there, but few that give a noticeably better user experience than a thousand-pound NordicTrack piece. There are cheaper models, but they feel cheaper and give nothing like the RW600’s utility.
I would buy the RW600 for three reasons. First, it is easy to live with. A spare bit of closet space is all you need to get it out from under your feet when you’re not using it. Second, you get iFIT capability (even if this will keep costing you). Third, with dual resistance and ergonomic design, it handles beautifully.