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We took a few spins atop this all-new rowing machine to see if its strong claims are based in fact — or just for show.
At-home rowing machines are the new must-have fitness equipment, with plenty of sleek and stylish picks to choose from these days. The low-impact nature of rowing can be great for people wanting to boost their physique without the hassle of trekking to a gym, and adding a rig to your setup can be fantastic for quick sessions that work your entire body.
Still, though, repetitive rowing can turn stale, so it’s important to keep training fresh with a variety of modalities and intensities. Aviron, makers of some of our favorite rowing machines, takes that variety and engagement up a level with the brand’s gamified lineup of arcade-style workouts that keep you entertained and invested in achieving your daily marks. The brand recently unveiled its latest silhouette, the Strong Series Rower, that’s intended to cater to a wider audience with comfort and performance-based upgrades aplenty.
But would these strengthened features make for a muscle-bound machine, or would they leave us feeling flat and unmotivated? To find out, I tested the Strong Series over multiple weeks, partaking in a number of available workouts and training sessions to get a true feel for the gamified platform (no quarters required). I also studied the overall construction of the rower during setup and while in-use, noting how impactful these design elements were on my training.
One of the benefits of rowing at home is that the varied resistances can cater to a number of training goals. Whether looking for a light, cardio day or a grueling strength training session, I was surprised at how smooth and effective the magnetic and air systems were across the Strong Series. Choosing the initial levels were easy thanks to the large 22-inch HD touchscreen, and in-workout adjustments were seamless throughout the programs. I also felt I was never pulling past the machine’s capabilities, which was convenient when really zoning in on muscle-building modalities.
Another perk of the air resistance system is that it kept my training environment cool and comfortable. The vents are aimed directly at the seat and rails, so every hard stroke bathed my sweat-riddled frame with a burst of air. This kept me in the saddle longer and not pausing as much for replenishment. While more intense training sessions did get a little noisy because of the fan, it wasn’t too much of a burden, especially when working out with headphones.
It’s hard to row on an Aviron machine and not become enamored with the amount of arcade-style training sessions. Whether blasting robots, chucking snowballs or outrunning hungry sharks, I was fully invested in each gamified workout, allowing me to focus on my performance and be surprised at how much time had passed in training. My personal favorite workout option was the Power Play mode, in which you would race other fitness enthusiasts that were also online, bringing that competitive spirit back to my training as I watched my numbers slowly climb the leaderboard.
If you’re not the gaming type (yet), Aviron also gives you the capability to stream from platforms like including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video and YouTube while you work out. You can even link to your Spotify account for in-training toggling through your playlists. These features were very welcome, and the ability to change playlists and songs via the touchscreen allowed me to keep my phone off my profile for a better, more comfortable experience.
Okay, let’s not kid ourselves and say fitness equipment needs to be stylish to be effective. After all, it’s about the machine’s performance and whether the workouts are worthwhile when using the gear. Still, if you’re going to house your training rigs in a well-trafficked room or apartment, having a machine that looks good can go a long way.
I did appreciate the upgraded silhouette of the Strong Series, putting the fan and resistance system in an A-frame structure below the touchscreen as opposed to out front, but I wouldn’t consider this a chic piece of fitness gear. There’s still a lot of metal and black plastic, which can throw off whatever vibe you’re trying to convey in a living room or office.
I’d recommend putting the Strong Series in a basement training center or separate designated space if you don’t want to turn your abode into a Gold’s Gym. If you need to keep the Strong Series in a singular room, though, this rower can be stored vertically for more convenience, and you can hide a bit of the aesthetics when not in-use.
Home fitness equipment is not cheap, and every budget is different. While the performance and quality of the Strong Series warrants a premium price tag, it’s still one of the most expensive rigs on the market at $2,500. Additionally, Aviron offers some comfortable upgrades, like the Cloud Seat and Lumbar Support System, but these are cart add-ons that can have your totals inching near the $3,000 mark quickly (although I do recommend splurging for the ultra-cozy Cloud Seat).
You also need to factor in the monthly subscription cost to access Aviron’s full workout library. At $25 per month, it’s a reasonable service, and one subscription can house unlimited profiles, which is great for active couples and families. Still, it’s important to consider this extra bill when deciding on adding a home fitness machine to your setup. The Strong Series is still useable without a membership — you can create a profile, add and follow friends, earn achievements and track your progress with no membership required — but to access the streaming capabilities, live workouts and gamified modules, a membership is required.
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite rowers to come out in the past few years. The Aviron Strong Series showcases exceptional build quality and comfort updates across the frame, the in-training capabilities are engaging and habit-forming and vertical storage convenience is a nice touch that doesn’t require extra gear like wall anchors or straps. Whether you’re looking to place a high score atop the rankings or just want a damn fine rower, there’s plenty of muscle behind this all-new machine.