WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Review

by Gary Patterson | Last Updated: May 14, 2021

Paddle like a first-class champion with the WaterRower. Known for their handcrafted designs, this exercise equipment store elevates the sport of rowing by utilizing Appalachian wood. Made to look sleek in your living room space, they also ensure that their operation methods are completely green and sustainable. 

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Review

Founded in 1988, the WaterRower was the result of years being on the lake. Its first ever prototype was invented by John Duke, who was a USA Rowing National Team candidate and a Yale University engineer. 

Utilizing his background in mechanics and sports, he was able to come up with an indoor alternative to sculling. Duke wanted his model to feature two key elements: the real-time effect of rowing while steering away from the overused industrialized aesthetic.

Designed to look like a piece of art or furniture, Duke took his blueprints to a manufacturing facility in Rhode Island. Today, the WaterRower is renowned for its rustic look. This sporting goods brand can mimic the camp aesthetic nature of a paddling boat. With a following of over 23.6k on Instagram, the WaterRower is also commonly featured in the likes of several online magazines- including Cosmopolitan, InsideHook, and Men’s Health. 

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Review

While I’m sure you’ve already read our past review of this brand, we will be focusing on one of their all-time bestsellers: the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine. Commonly ranked as one of the most expensive models on the market, this beauty features a sturdy H20 tank and a sleek solid ash wood exterior. Part of the company’s S4 collection, this prototype is frequently mentioned in numerous online blogs, including FitRated and the Rowing Machine Guide

Do you have this model saved on your bookmarked tab? Perhaps it’s time to give it serious consideration. This WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review will provide an in-depth look at the brand, its product features, quality, and overall value to help you make that final decision. 

Before we get into this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review, let’s go over some initial pros and cons: 



Technical Specifications

We get it. Sometimes you just need a few key facts to make that final decision- which is why this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review will provide its product features for your viewing pleasure: 

Resistance Type

The lakes are frozen over, and your local rent-a-rower shop has closed down for the season- what do? For some, it’s usually a sign to start dusting off their indoor machines. If you’re new to the market of exercise equipment, stationary paddlers are commonly offered in 4 different resistance types: water, magnetic, air, and digital. The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine operates with H20– and provides many key advantages compared to its other varieties.

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Rower Review

For instance, water-resistance machines are usually known to accurately simulate the natural environment of lakeside rowing. Best in imitating the push and pull feeling of opposing currents, this alternative is intended to be smooth and frictionless. Since it features an H20 tank, trainers can experience the tranquil, rushing river effect with each stroke. With that being said, if you like your workouts to be completely silent, this may not be a suitable option. 

To duplicate the experience of real-time rowing, this machine doesn’t come with levels or a knob to adjust the tension. For those looking to break a sweat, they simply need to paddle faster to create more intensity. Trainers can view their overall performance by taking a quick peek at their S4 display monitor. 


For most, the price is the major dealbreaker. We aren’t going to beat around the bush for this one. The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine costs a hefty $1,095, which doesn’t include shipping. From what we’ve seen so far, this prototype falls within the expensive category of stationary paddlers. To create a more accurate depiction, pricer models such as the Ergatta Connected Rower and the Hydrow model retail for around $2,200

Cheaper alternatives, like the Stamina 35-1402 ATS and the Fitness Reality 100 Plus, only cost around $320. These models don’t come with the WaterRower’s handcrafted wood frame for a side-by-side comparison- nor do they have their H20 tank. With that being said, the brand doesn’t have a fancy touchscreen or a virtual membership program to go along with training- as seen on prototypes like the Hydrow Connected Rower. 

However, if you’d rather listen to an exercise podcast, a Spotify playlist, or watch a Netflix series while working out- the inclusion of a LCD touchscreen may not be needed. We also have to consider the WaterRower’s iconic wood frame design, which sets it apart from the often cold factory-like aesthetic that most models come in. Because of this, the brand still holds up in competition. 

From what this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review has seen so far, it seems that they only offer a one-off payment for this model. However, they do provide a rental service for customers to use. For their S4 models, they charge $8 per week (which is $35 for 3 months) plus a $200 deposit.

In terms of financing plans, we found some online sources that say they offer Affirm. After combing through the website, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review hasn’t found any indication of this- unless it’s provided at checkout. You can also find their models in partnered retailers such as Amazon, FitnessTown, and The Treadmill Factory.            

Shipping & Assembly

The WaterRower will calculate the total shipping cost depending on where you live. For instance, those who live east of the Mississippi river are charged $70 for wooden machines or $125 for metal prototypes. We recommend heading over to their website for a full list of details regarding delivery fees. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, shipping times are delayed for up to 6 to 8 weeks. Customers also need to consider that each model is built to order

All WaterRower models come partially assembled in two or three boxes. This is to ensure that damage is minimized during transportation. Once opened, customers can use the included instructional manual to help with the assembly process. According to the brand, it will take 30 to 45 minutes to construct their model. The only tool users will need is a 5mm Allen key, which is conveniently added to their rower.

One of the major steps included in the construction process is installing the batteries for the monitor and filling up the H20 tank. For added convenience, this model comes with a syphon pump to make the pouring process easier. 

Moving forward, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review found varied customer testimonials when it comes to the level of difficulty in assembling. Some reported that it was hard to construct the pieces together, while others detailed an easy, straightforward experience. 

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Rower Review

My only issue was during the assembly the feet rest part was very difficult to install, I had to put a lot of pressure to align the holes, other than that it’s a fantastic product, great workout,” one Trustpilot reviewer wrote. 


After you finished assembling the WaterRower Natural Rower, there’s no need to do any further setup. Trainers do not have to input their date, time, location, weight, or height. Designed to only showcase the performance of each workout session, this monitor does not come with any integrated videos and membership plan- meaning that it doesn’t require WI-FI connectivity or an account setup. Great! All you need to do is start rowing. 

Design and Features

Now for the real test. How does this S4 model hold up in terms of design and features? Stay tuned, as this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review will take a thorough look at its build quality, comfort, and overall capacity down below. 

Build Quality

Made out of a stunning solid ash wood frame, this Rowing Machine comes with a stained honey oak varnish and a danish oak coating for protection. However, it’s not just for aesthetics- as this type of material is best used to insulate noise and vibration. Weighing a hefty 103.5lbs when water is added, trainers can stroke in assurance- knowing that every stroke won’t steer the machine off course. 

While it is quite heavy to lift, this model comes with a set of dolly wheels at the bottom to make the storing process easier. It’s also designed to be folded vertically to conserve space. From what this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine has learned so far, a good number of customers found that it was easy to set aside. 


Equipped with cushioned seat and adjustable footrests, trainers can row for miles when using this Rowing Machine. It also comes with an easy-grip handle to ensure you don’t lose your ‘oars.’ 

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Rower Review

According to a few customer reviews online, this model felt relatively comfortable during prolonged use. With that being said, the author at Rowingmachineguide.com stated that the pedals felt unsuited for taller people. As mentioned by the writer, the footrests were “too straight and close together. “ 


The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine can accommodate an impressive 700 lbs in user capacity. From what we’ve gathered so far, this exceeds the average weight that other models offer. For better comparison, models like Sunny Health & Fitness Dual Function prototype and the NordicTrack RW900 can only hold 250 lbs to 275 lbs. In terms of height, this Rower has a seat rail inseam of 37”, which is about half the size of a 6-foot tall person. 

Based on these numbers, this S4 Natural WaterRower can serve as a suitable option for a variety of people. This ranges from an ‘averagely’ sized male and female to an overweight individual. When it comes to height, trainers who hit the 6 foot mark may find this model uncomfortable. According to Rowingmachineguide.com, if you have ‘big’ legs (muscular or otherwise) you may find your knees and thighs knocking together.” 


WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Rower Review

The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine comes with no fancy programs and settings. Designed to be simplistic, their performance monitor only showcases your heart rate, strokes gathered, resistance level, calories burned, and distance gained. It operates on 9 different buttons, such as the hold, reset, and programming knobs.  As a side note, customers will need to purchase a chest strap to see their pulse readings.

Trainers can access their previous workout settings by combing through the monitor’s auto store program. This performance tracker doesn’t feature training videos, nor does it allow users to view Netflix, YouTube, or other entertainment programs. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t affix your device to play your favorite set of tunes while training. 


The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine doesn’t come with a membership plan. If trainers wish to work out alongside a virtual trainer, the company provides a list of recommended apps to download on their website. This includes CITYRow GO and Kinomap. It is worth noting that customers may need to purchase a WaterRower Bluetooth hardware advice for this to work. 

For those who can afford to spend a little bit more, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review suggests looking into the Ergatta 17” Interactive Touchscreen model, which offers an immersive experience for exercise enthusiasts to follow. 


WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Rower Review

Styled to look sleek and sophisticated, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine isn’t made to be hidden away. According to the brand, this model is no wider than a dining room chair. 

While it’s designed to be collapsible and wheeled away for easy storage, the company recommends leaving this rower out for display. We recommend leaning it against a wall or tucked away in a corner. According to a few customers online, this model seems easy to store with one person’s effort. 


This S4 model comes with a 3-year parts warranty and a 5-year frame guarantee. Users will need to register their rower to activate this contract. It’s worth mentioning that this prototype doesn’t cover any electronic features like accessories, touchscreens, and batteries. According to their terms of service, the brand will cover return shipping costs if there seems to be a defective product that needs repair. 

In terms of their return policy, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine hasn’t found much in regards to shipping costs or refunds. If you have questions about your order, we recommend reaching out to their customer service team for detailed specifics. 

Final Thoughts

For those wishing to get back into the semi-therapeutic nature of paddling, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine can serve as a temporary fix. Compared to other resistance types, this model harnesses the power of H20 to simulate the environment of rushing rivers and opposing currents. As a result, trainers can get a better feel of what it means to scull competitively. It also doesn’t hurt that this model comes with a performance monitor to help you keep track of your workout goals.

Designed to look elegant and luxurious, this model takes a refreshing break from the common, industrialized look of other models. It features a campsite-chic aesthetic with a touch of rustic flare, which makes it easier to blend with the average modern household. 

If we were to poke holes, this prototype is quite expensive. If you’re the type to like touchscreens and integrated training sessions, perhaps it’s best to look at other models. However, for those who find those rushing waters to be their source of mediation and entertainment, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine recommends that you take this option into consideration. 


Where can I purchase the WaterRower Natural Rower?

Customers can purchase the WaterRower Natural Rower by visiting waterrower.com. You can also find them at select retailers such as Amazon, Spartan Fitness, Nohrd, Fitness Town, and Walmart. 

Is there a WaterRower Natural Rower discount?

As of lately, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review found no promotions or discounts on this particular model. However, we recommend following their social media platforms for any updates. 

Does the WaterRower Natural Rower fold?

Yes, this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review found out that this model is designed to be collapsible. It can also be wheeled away. 

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

Absolutely! We recommend looking up a few YouTube videos online for some intense workout sessions. 

Is rowing better for you than running?

Many health experts rate rowing as a better alternative to running. Sculling requires the strength of your arms, muscles, and core. With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to close that treadmill tab. 

How to contact WaterRower?

For inquiries unrelated to this WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review, you can contact the company through:

560 Metacom Avenue

Warren, RI 02885 United States