If I’m being honest, CrossFit has been my thing for quite some time now. I started about a decade ago and never really looked back. Then the pandemic hit. CrossFit boxes closed. Big box gyms closed. Fitness studios closed. And so began the at-home training movement.
The trend actually wasn't new, but the shutdown threw it into hyperdrive. People began gobbling up fitness equipment to the point where it became almost impossible to get. Fortunately for me, I was a former trainer and I had enough dumbbells, kettlebells and more at home to continue my CrossFit style training seamlessly. There was, however, one piece of equipment missing in my life… a rowing machine.
That’s when I found the NordicTrack RW900— or, more accurately, rediscovered it. I first came across the RW900 at an iFit fitness event a few years back. I loved it! So when the prospect of having to run daily for cardio hit me, I knew I needed to make a change. The constant pounding that excessive running puts on your joints can really take its toll. Looking for something more advanced than the CrossFit-classic Concept 2, I rekindled my love affair with the RW900.
Since then, I have not set foot in a CrossFit box or a gym of any kind, yet I have continued to maintain and maybe even surpass my previous level of fitness thanks to this single piece of equipment. Yes it costs $1,599 — or $1,899 for the 2022 edition, featuring a tilting touchscreen and inertia-enhanced flywheel — but as you'll see in the rest of this article, it's a very worthwhile investment.
I still continue to follow my CrossFit programming at home on a daily basis and the rower’s manual row feature slots in perfectly. Whether rowing for calories or distance, you can integrate it seamlessly into any workout you come up with on your own. The manual feature, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Over time and especially now while indoors during the winter months, I’ve come to really enjoy the RW900 for so much more.
The secret sauce is iFit, an interactive subscription-based fitness program ($39/month for a family membership) that offers a wide variety of workouts available right at your fingertips. Simply tap the high-definition touchscreen monitor (a unique feature) and take your pick. If you are looking to row in a studio setting, you have your choice of sessions that are strictly rowing or ones that incorporate both the rower and/or bodyweight or weight-based exercises. Although it’s not necessary to complete any of these workout, NordicTrack's Select-A-Weight dumbbells (
$499 $399) are a nice addition to this type of training. You can adjust them on the fly — from 10 to 55 pounds — at any time so you always have the weight you need.
Beyond the studio mode, you can branch out and explore the world, literally. The iFit menu diversifies your training by whisking you to far-flung areas via its global workout series. You’ll be guided by Olympic rowers through rowing-specific workouts on location in places like the Senegal River or the River Thames. These speed-, power- or endurance-specific workouts are certain to challenge your body while captivating your mind as you take in the beautiful surroundings.
Whether you choose to be in-studio or on location, the iFit trainers are top notch. I have found their enthusiasm to be contagious as well as motivating. Their coaching, although virtual, is also quite informative. Over the past few months, I have made many adjustments based on their tips that have helped improve my rowing tremendously. As I have improved, the online program has virtually adjusted the fitness level on my programming, thereby providing workouts that consistently continue to challenge me.
Aside from the workouts themselves, I also like the rower’s Bluetooth capabilities, how smooth and quiet the rower is and its ability to collapse, fold in half and not take up much room to stow. If I have one criticism, it is that this last part can be a bit tricky to handle at first. As a deluxe, full-size rower, it is by no stretch of the imagination light or small and can be rather unwieldy and difficult to fold and move from place to place. For that reason, I would say it's a better fit for bigger places where you can set it and forget it, as opposed to smaller apartments — where it might be easy to set it in the corner and literally forget it.
And that would be a shame, because if you haven't gathered already, this rower really rocks.