For those who are serious about getting fit without having to worry about the effects of a well-planned workout on the joints or for folks who are quite heavy yet are strongly motivated to slim down without causing undue harm to their overweight bodies, a rowing machine is a great piece of equipment to have. It allows you to work the different muscle groups of both upper and lower body, enabling you to deliver oxygen to various cells and tissues, and developing stamina and endurance over time. If you’re like me who’s dead serious about getting in shape, then the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is always a good bet to start.
While the WaterRower Natural may come in at a very hefty price tag, there really only one thing I can say about this piece of equipment – it’s well worth every dollar you’ll be shelling out. This elegantly crafted piece of exercise engineering marvel can very well be a permanent fixture to your home instead of those contraptions that we always fold in a hurry before any visitor comes knocking in our front door. It’s a piece of equipment, I promise, you will never be embarrassed to show off. Let’s get down to the review.
Overview of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
To say that the WaterRower Natural is my absolute favourite is an understatement. I was totally blown away by its wonderful combination of elegant form, superb functionality, and amazing effectiveness in terms of giving you a very realistic rowing experience. My only wish is for this Natural to be priced slightly lower, although I could very well understand the pricing strategy that the company decided to take.
This WaterRower equipment, first and foremost, is a real beauty. Made of premium quality ash wood, the grains of which make for a great contrast to any interior design in your home, this exercise gadget is more like the masterpiece of a master carpenter. It’s finished in an equally luxurious Honey Oak stain and topping it with premium quality Danish oil. Come to think of it, it does look more like a piece of art. From the deluxe seat to the frame and to the housing that encases the uniquely designed water flywheel, everything about this particular piece of machine is a work of art.
But don’t ever think the WaterRower Natural is nothing more than a very expensive wooden piece of furniture. Well protected in a wooden frame casing is a transparent drum that is filled with water. It is this water-filled tank that is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of the device; although many would argue that it is actually the S4 performance monitor that deserves credit for such a claim. Don’t get me wrong, but I believe the S4 performance monitor to be an exceptionally sophisticated attachment to this wonderful machine.
However, given that today’s technology has made it super easy to make digital programmes such as those embedded on the S4 and that there are less and less folks who truly use their hands and old-fashioned know-how to craft something as elegantly unique and effective as the water flywheel on this equipment, I’d still say the heart of the WaterRower Natural lies on this principal component.
There’s a reason why I really love the water flywheel mechanism on the WaterRower Natural. Whereas other machines will come with other mechanisms that provide resistance as you row, the water flywheel mechanism provides a certain kind of resistance that is very similar to the one that you have to work against when rowing across the water surface. Don’t look for any form of adjustments as there are none. It’s all up to how strong your strokes are. The more power you apply with each stroke on the paddle the greater the resistance. The faster you dip those paddles the greater the water resistance, too.
And there’s an added bonus to rowing the WaterRower Natural. You’ll feel like you’re really paddling your way on a lake. The swirling motion of the flywheel creates a gentle rustle of the water inside the tank, as if you’re hearing a splash as your paddle hits the water. It’s a very therapeutic, very relaxing experience; although you’re technically working out. The only thing that is missing is the visual spectacle of the experience. And I have found the solution for it.
This is where the WaterRower Natural S4 performance monitor comes in. I took my cue from one of my friends. Since the monitor is placed towards the side of the flywheel containment, I can actually connect it to my 17.3-inch laptop computer and watch a virtual rower cruising along the water surface. I also tried racing against myself based on my previous performances. I can say that this helped motivate me a lot more since I knew I had to be a lot better than my previous row. The WaterRower Natural rowing machine with S4 monitor also allows you to race against other users of the system in an online environment.
A Closer Look at the Features of the WaterRower Natural
Unique Water Flywheel mechanism
At the heart of the WaterRower Natural is the Water Flywheel technology that employs good old and reliable water to provide the kind of resistance that you need to row the gadget. Unlike other products that rely on other resistance mechanisms, the Water Flywheel provides you with the right levels of resistance corresponding to your power input – the speed and force of your paddling. The more intense the rowing motion the greater the resistance that the water flywheel will generate. Of course, if you want to have a gentler cruise, then simply paddle gently. There are actually no complicated mechanisms. It is more a matter of harnessing the natural laws of physics, particularly fluid dynamics, in helping you work those muscles.
This is a lot different from say, magnetic or even hydraulic piston operated resistance mechanisms. These may be quiet but they don’t give you the feel of realistically rowing on water. These mechanisms can be fully adjusted, too, eliminating the joys of determining for yourself the level of resistance that you are working against.
The transparent water tank gives you visual feedback of the swirling motion of water. And as the flywheel rotate against water, like the agitators in your washing machine, it creates a beautiful sound – the sound of a boat slicing against the water’s surface. It is not quiet, but this has got to be one of the most relaxing ‘noises’ you will ever hear. Just think of that miniature fountain you have on your desk and you’ll know what I mean.
Sophisticated performance monitor
There really is nothing spectacular about the S4 monitor of the WaterRower Natural that you won’t see in other high-end devices. However, what is truly unique is its placement in relation to the rest of the rower. Whereas conventional design dictates that the console is placed dead centre, the S4 is placed towards the side. And it’s easy to see why.
The whirling motion of the water inside the water tank can add to the overall sensation of paddling on a body of water. If the console is placed in the centre, then you lose this visual sensation.
That said, the S4 comes with the usual fitness data that you need to keep you abreast of your performance. You may also want to have the optional heart rate monitor but it would cost you extra. Personally, for its price, I think this should have already come standard.
Another big plus for the S4 is its connectivity to an external video monitor via its PC features. As I have already shared with you above, you can manage your rowing experience through your computer, race against others online, or even race against your previous best. Either way, you’d get the kind of motivation you need to really push yourself even further. All of the training sessions can also be stored in your computer. You can then open these up and create a visual map of your progress, see your general trajectory, and map out your plan of attack for your next training sessions.
Overall, I’d say the S4 does a splendid job of keeping you well-informed of your progress. Its PC connectivity is a sure-fire hit especially among techno-geeks who are now finding themselves exercising more and more frequently than ever before.
Elegant, eco-friendly wood design
WaterRower guarantees that the ash hardwood that it craft into these ingenious devices are all sourced from replenishable forests. More than that, however, is the fact that they are truly marvellous to look at. The WaterRower Natural Rowing machine in ash wood with S4 monitor doesn’t come as a foldable, compact, and lightweight device.
Personally, I’d say I really don’t care because I would love everyone who comes to my house to see just how beautiful and elegant the Natural really is. There is no point in folding, storing, and hiding the gadget from the public eye. It was designed to be admired. How else can you do that if it is left inside the dark cavities of your closet?
What makes it truly elegant is the way the Honey Oak stain brought out the unique grainy features of ash wood. Every uneven, almost wavy line that run the entire length of the frame of the WaterRower Natural and the little swirling islands where the branches have been cut off make this exercise equipment a true work of art. The topping of Danish oil gives it a lustrous finish, thick enough to help provide a protective layer against dust and debris from scratching the surface of the prime wood yet thin enough to allow the natural beauty of the wood grain to really pop out into the open.
Superb sound and vibration absorption
One of the most interesting things about using wood as the frame for a rowing machine is that it is quite porous compared to other materials like metal. It is this porous nature of wood that affords it the ability to easily absorb vibration and sound that may be generated by the whirling motion of the water in the flywheel chamber. So what you get is actually not noise but rather a symphony of sorts. This also helps enhance the relaxing sound emanating from the machine.
Pros and Cons
Should You Get It?
I absolutely adore the WaterRower Natural. The thing is, I don’t even have to flip it vertically upright to store it behind my closet. I can just leave it in the open for everyone else to see. But, you know what I really loved most about this machine? It’s the Water Flywheel system. Now, I don’t need to go out to a lake just to have the thrill of rowing.