I enjoy rowing. It’s a wonderful cardio and strength workout, and I especially like it in small doses paired with other exercises. In the pre-pandemic days, I’d workout often at OrangeTheory Fitness, which incorporates rowing in every workout.
Still, I don’t like rowing nearly enough to fork over the hefty sticker price of an Ergatta rower: $2,199.
If you’re not familiar with the Ergatta, think of it as a Peloton for rowing. It’s luxurious, internet-connected, and frankly the only piece of exercise equipment I’d maybe call beautiful.
Besides its looks, a major selling point for the Ergatta is that it’s not focused on class-based exercise. Instead, its focus is on gamify-ing exercise. That means you can race other rowers, to complete tasks, or against your past performance. It’s a piece of luxe exercise equipment for folks who aren’t into the idea of having an instructor motivate them with platitudes (as they all kind of do).
It’s not a bad piece of equipment, but I think to justify buying it you’d have to be a serious rower who perhaps used it as your main form of cardio.
Ergatta is a solid workout with plenty of variety
For background purposes, during nice weather, I run a minimum of 3 miles per day, and when it’s nasty out, I’ll spin. I have experience rowing, albeit typically in bursts as a supplement to other cardio, but rowing for 10 minutes straight on the Ergatta killed me. Like had me gasping. I couldn’t even fathom doing some of the longer rows.
The Ergatta has courses where you’ll row a number of different distances against CPU-generated rowers. I’d keep up with the opponents on the first few legs but by the end, they were destroying me. While it might not pack the caloric burn of running, rowing on the Ergatta wiped me the hell out.
Here are a few ways to get a workout in with the Ergatta.
Push programs, which basically create a workout regiment for you.
Interval workouts, which are pretty self-explanatory but focus on high-intensity and endurance.
Races, which pit you against other users in a regatta of sorts.
Open and scenic rows, which let you pick a distance, time, or no goal at all as you row about. You can either use a traditional screen to track your progress or a scenic path along a number of bodies of water.
Credit: Tim Marcin / mashable
One of Ergatta’s biggest selling points is that it calibrates the experience to your fitness level. And, for the most part, I found that to hold true. It takes a few rows to learn your basic abilities, then acts accordingly. In general, when I raced, I was middle of the pack. That felt great. I didn’t feel defeated (most of the time) and I was continually challenged to beat other racers or my previous times. If you’re a competitive person, the gamification of the experience works — it makes you want to move your ass.
It’s luxurious, internet-connected, and frankly the only piece of exercise equipment I’d maybe call beautiful.
Perhaps my favorite mode was a form of interval training where you row to collect points as you go. Think of basically jumping to get coins in a videogame, but you’re going harder or slower on a rower. I liked the aspect of competing against myself and I enjoyed that the course (or level, whatever you want to call it) kept me honest. It had breaks built-in but remained quite challenging throughout.
I also specifically enjoyed the scenic rows. I’d often pair them with a run or biking workout and it was lovely to row and see the (digital) scenes.
It’s designed to look beautiful in your space — and stow away nicely
If you want a piece of equipment that looks luxurious, Ergatta is your best bet. It’s sharp. The frame is composed of cherry wood with black accents. It features a 17-inch screen for the display and, in theory, folds up to take up a space about two feet deep. That’s good because the rower itself is about two inches over seven feet long.
I was not able to actually fold the rower up, however, because the only space for it in my home was a basement level with exactly 7-foot ceilings. I don’t really begrudge the Ergatta that, however, since the room where I put it has exceptionally low heights. I’m not sure most normal folks wouldn’t want to fold it up after every use, but you definitely could. Or you could just stow it when you have company.
I also don’t think it would look too awful in a room where people hang out. Nobody would really want, say, a treadmill in their living room. But I’ve never seen a treadmill look this good. If you’re a fanatical rower with disposable income and you live in a city with cramped spaces, I think the Ergatta would be perfect.
And the actual rower itself, in short, is top of the line. It’s made by Water Rower and has a fantastic feel. The water tank gives great physical feedback as you pull strokes, and the seat glides effortlessly along its track as you push and pull.
Technical difficulties weren’t dealbreakers, but still disappointing
While the rower is beautiful and feels great, some of the more technical aspects gave me issues during the weeks I tested the Ergatta in my home.
First, you’ll need a decent internet connection. At first, my Ergatta really struggled to connect and function. Granted this was on a basement level, but then again, lots of folks use a basement for workouts. I had just moved when the rower was delivered and didn’t realize my basement would likely need a mesh network. For context, the connection — prior to me making an upgrade — was good enough to ride a Peloton or stream Netflix but not good enough to download an update on my Xbox One. Eventually, I installed a mesh network and the Ergatta worked fine.
The other technical issue I experienced was more frustrating. At one point, my rower just…stopped…registering I was rowing. I thought it was just a one-time glitch but after several restarts and retries, nope, it didn’t pick up any of my stats. Eventually, I looked around Ergatta’s website and found a troubleshooting page for my issue. I reconnected all the cords. No dice. Eventually fiddling with a sensor disc got me my stats back. It wasn’t the end of the world and I’m sure Ergatta would help customers fix any issues, but it’s not necessarily something you want to deal with from a luxury item.
Add to cart?
The short answer is, I probably wouldn’t buy the Ergatta but frankly, a rower would have to be pretty miraculous to get me to spend $2,199. Keep in mind, I’m a journalist on a journalist’s salary and perhaps some of you out there don’t mind forking that cash over. It has a 30-day warranty so if for any reason, you aren’t a fan, Ergatta will send a technician to pick it up. They also have financing available through Klarna, starting at $61.08 per month.
However, it’s a good machine. It’s a pretty machine. It provides a solid, low-impact, full-body workout. But I’m not a rowing enthusiast. I like rowing, sure, but not as my only form of exercise. My partner and I have a Peloton, but that’s because it’s her primary form of exercise and something I use quite often. I think if I wanted to row as my cardio every day, I’d consider the Ergatta. But that just isn’t me. And I wouldn’t recommend anyone spend that much money unless they know rowing is for them. Still, the damn thing looks pretty and I’ll miss having it as a fun addition to my workouts.