Did you watch the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race yesterday and wonder what it would be like to row that stretch of the Thames? If so, you have two options: join one of the London rowing clubs (you’ll find them clustered along the south side of the river in Putney) or buy a Hydrow indoor rowing machine (opens in new tab).
Hydrow is a sponsor of the Boat Race and to commemorate its involvement it produced Race on the Thames 2022 (opens in new tab), a video of Hydrow athletes and local rowers racing along the 4.25-mile course. That video has been added to Hydrow’s library of on-demand workouts, so you can join a boat and row that stretch virtually, with the video streaming to the Hydrow’s built-in 56cm HD touchscreen.
In case you’re unsure about spending four figures on a rowing machine (even one of the best rowing machines), Hydrow is giving you a nudge with a £300 discount.
The Hydrow is one of the most expensive rowing machines and requires an app subscription of £38 a month, but as our reviewer discovered, it pulls off the connected experience with aplomb. It offers something legitimately different from the all-conquering Concept2, the yardstick against which all other rowers are measured.
Hydrow’s learn-to-row sessions are especially valuable for those who didn’t row at university (ie most of us) because correct rowing technique is difficult to master. There’s also enough depth for more experienced rowers, with daily live classes, an on-demand library, and races providing a competitive element.
Ideally, you’ll have a dedicated space for the Hydrow because we found it big, heavy and noisier than we expected. A garage gym would be perfect, although bear in mind you need power because the Hydrow needs to be plugged in for the electromagnetic resistance and screen to work.
The £300 discount also applies to Hydrow packages, and we’d recommend upgrading to the essentials package, which includes an exercise mat for the machine to protect your floors and dampen the sound. With this offer the mat is reduced by £25, bringing it down to the price of the home cardio machine mat we recommend in our best exercise mats round-up.
We’d swerve the other packages, however. The Enhance package includes the Jaybird Vista headphones for £140. While we rated these as some of the best workout headphones, you can find the next generation for £20 less on Amazon (opens in new tab). Similarly, while we approve of the Polar Verity heart rate monitor – naming it the best arm strap in our round-up of the best heart rate monitors – you could buy a cheaper chest strap and get more accurate readings.
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.
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