Are you looking for a compact rowing machine for apartment use? While equipment size is vital, there are other features to consider.

An indoor rower is perfect for any apartment space if it has the correct dimensions and weight. It’s even better if you can find a quiet and foldable model. Of course, all these features must fit your budget limit and fitness goals.

But with so many models available, choosing the perfect rowing machine can be overwhelming.

To help you out, here are the details you need to trim down your choices, exercise comfortably at home and avoid troubles with neighbours.

How to Choose a Good Rowing Machine for Apartments

Keep these factors in mind when weighing your options.

1. Space considerations

Apartment spaces are generally smaller than average homes. So, extra prep is necessary when choosing an indoor rower, which tends to be longer than most exercise machines.

Take note of the following.

Dimensions for in-use

An average indoor rower is about 211cm long and 56cm wide. But it’s not enough to know the actual size of your equipment.

Good compact rowing machines for apartments should let you extend your legs and lean back without hitting anything.

A comfortable rowing position is necessary for an effective full-body workout.

There should also be enough space around the rower to make it easy for you to get on and off.

Dimensions for storage

A foldable row machine may be a good idea for small home gyms. That way, it will take up minimal space when not in use.

But if your ceiling allows it, a rower that you can store upright may be a better choice.

Whichever storage option you choose, make sure the machine has a handle and transport wheels.

These should make it easy for you to push and pull around your equipment without damaging your floor.

Seat rail length

Another relevant factor to check and measure is the rail length. The longer the rail length, the more space is needed.

Most rowing machines suit users up to 206cm (or 6’9”). But if you’re taller than this, it’s best to plan how you’ll fit a rower with an extra-long rail in an apartment.

Compact Rowing Machine Noise

2. Noise and vibration level

Exercise equipment with moving parts, even compact rowers, can generate noise and vibration.

And these become louder in a smaller space like an apartment.

But in some cases, the make or design of the indoor rowing machine can also be a noise-contributing factor. For instance:

  • Construction. One of the downsides of getting a budget rowing machine is their cheaper build or materials. These are not as durable. They tend to rattle and squeak more, too.
  • Resistance mechanism. Indoor rowers come in various resistance types. The noisiest would have to be the air and water rowers. Fan-type flywheels produce a flapping sound in every rowing stroke, while the sloshing noise of paddle-like flywheels can be disruptive. They’re even noisier at higher rowing intensities.

How to make an indoor rower quieter

The best way around it is to find a magnetic compact rowing machine for apartment use.

Magnetic resistance does not produce as much noise.

This type is usually foldable, lightweight and compact, too.

And it should be easy to find a good-quality magnetic rower at a reasonable price.

You can also apply the following tips:

  • Use a noise-cancellation mat underneath your rower. This accessory is best if you have hardwood floorings in your apartment. It should reduce the vibration and also protect the surface. Carpets as liners are not ideal as these only encourage dust build-up. Place an exercise mat in between your machine and carpeted floor instead.
  • Find a noise-resilient workout spot. Keep your rowing machine in a room far from the common areas of your apartment unit. Also, place furniture inside to help absorb noise.
  • Work out at acceptable hours. Try to avoid early morning or late-night exercise routines. The best time would be when your apartment neighbours are busy or not home.
  • Maintain your indoor rower. Clean your machine after use and lubricate it when needed to avoid squeaking.
Compact Rower Weight Limit

3. Weight limit

A high-capacity rowing machine is best if you have a garage or basement as a home gym. It’s more durable and suits most body types or sizes.

However, heavy-duty indoor rowers are mostly solid steel, which adds to their overall weight. And it can be an issue if you’re getting one for an apartment complex.

Modern apartment buildings are generally safe for regular living set-ups. But some might not be built to support heavy loads.

In that case, consult a professional before getting a compact rowing machine for your apartment. Check the static and moving weight capacities of the floor, too.

4. Budget

Getting a space-saving indoor rower may be a good option for a tight space as they are more affordable. But sadly, it’s not always a wise choice.

Some compact rowing machines for an apartment or home have cheaper materials that wear out quickly. Costs for repair or replacement can add to your initial investment too soon.

Budget rowers may also have limited features that hinder more progressive workouts.

So, consider investing more in a rowing machine built to last longer. A mid-range rower is probably the best way to go.


An indoor rower with a small footprint or that you can store under your bed may be a good fit for tight apartment spaces.

But there are other factors to consider. Specifically, the ideal rower should have a design that does not create a lot of noise and vibration.

It should be compact yet durable and not too heavy for a multi-storey building.

Moreover, it should not be the cheapest rower that will break down in a few years.

The best tip? Read reviews and buying guides! Compare different rowing machines and see which one ticks all the boxes on your checklist.

Best Compact Rowing Machine

1. What type of rowing machine is the quietest?

Magnetic rowing machines are the quietest among all types of indoor rowers. Hydraulic ones also produce low noise, but over time, they generate disruptive sounds as parts begin to wear down. On the other hand, water and air rowers are the loudest types.

2. What is a good rowing machine alternative for apartment dwellers?

You can use a kettlebell, pull-up bar, barbell, dumbbells and resistance band in place of an indoor rower. Aside from providing cardio and muscle toning effects, these choices are versatile, affordable or compact. Make sure to learn how to use these substitutes for performing alternate rowing exercises.

3. Can beginners use rowing machines?

Generally, a quality indoor rower with magnetic resistance is best for beginners. This type is more lightweight, compact, quiet, low maintenance and reasonably priced than other similar machines. But any rower is beginner-friendly as long as it matches your needs and preferences. If you would like, you can visit this post on ProForm Pro R10 vs NordicTrack RW900 rowing machines.