WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

by Gary Patterson | Last Updated: May 21, 2021

About WaterRower Rowing Machines

WaterRower is a commercial and at-home fitness equipment company that specializes in rowing machines. Its water rowing machines are completely American-made, sustainable, and proud to be that way. 

Developed in the US, in 1988 by National US Team rower John Duke, WaterRower has since expanded to 15 offices across the globe. 

The brand offers a selection of wood, steel, and mixed material water rowing machines designed to simulate the real rowing experience. They all use WaterFlywheel resistance to provide a smooth, quiet row that is unmatched by other water rowers on the market. 

S1 Rowing Machine Review

WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

The S1 Rowing Machine stands out among the brand’s other rowers because of its steel construction. With the majority of its rowers handcrafted from sustainably sourced wood, the S1 is one of three metal rowers, but the only one that has such a sleek design. 

It’s the most expensive machine in the brand’s collection of water rowers and is also the only one that looks as if it will last a lifetime. 

This WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review will take a close look at the S1 and its features, assessing its quality and value so that you can get a better idea of whether this durable, well-made rowing machine is worth the buy. 

Now that you know a little more about the brand and the rowing machine we’ll be featuring here, this WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review will quickly fill you in on the rower’s pros and cons. 



Technical Specifications

Before we break down the S1 Rowing Machine’s features and its ordering process, this WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review will give you an overall look at the machine so that you can understand the basics

Now that you’ve seen the basics, let’s get into the specifics.

Resistance Type

The S1 Rower uses water resistance to give users a realistic rowing experience. There are no resistance levels; instead, this machine automatically adjusts to your stroke, adding resistance when you slow down, and taking it off when you speed up—just like what would happen if you were rowing out on the water. This type of resistance is fantastic for real-life rowing simulation. It’s a good choice for those who are on a rowing team or want to improve their stroke. 

WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

Water rowing has the reputation of being loud. The WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine is described as being smooth and quiet. So in addition to being a bit quieter than the average water rower, this machine doesn’t create as much of an impact on your joints due to its smooth, steady movement. 

The steady, real-life stroke feel of the S1 Rowing Machine stands out among other rowers, especially those that use hydraulic resistance. Hydraulic resistance lessens the more you row due to the oil heating up. Though this option is quite quiet, it doesn’t provide a real-life rowing feel, and can’t keep up in terms of steady resistance. 


The S1 Rowing Machine’s price may come as a shock—$2,500–but, this machine was built to last. It holds an incomparable weight capacity, is made from extremely high-quality materials, and is cleverly built to give users an unmatched rowing experience. 

In comparison to other models on the market, yes, the S1 Rowing Machine is more expensive—but it’s not the most expensive one out there. This machine is intended for home and commercial use, which means it can take constant use and abuse from multiple users while not taking on a ton of damage. 

The process is very straightforward for purchasing your S1 Rowing Machine from waterrower.com. Add the rower to your cart then checkout as normal. WaterRower accepts the following methods of payment:

The brand does not offer payment plans, but they do have a Rental Program that allows users to rent the machine for as low as $35 per month. After three months, users have the option to buy the machine. 

Shipping & Assembly

Your S1 Rowing Machine costs $125-$135 to ship, depending on whether your state lies east or west of the Mississippi River. Though this shipping price may seem a little hefty, it’s really not shocking or unreasonable for such a heavy piece of equipment. Shipping costs to Alaska and Hawaii are calculated at checkout and may change from time to time depending on the carrier. 

This WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review notes that shipping times are currently 6-8 weeks, so be sure to place your order with plenty of lead time, or just be aware of what to expect when ordering. 

WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

Once your machine arrives, you’ll probably want a friend around to help you carry the box inside and assemble it. There are just 15 different parts of this machine and 13 steps, so the assembly process should be fairly easy. All of the tools you will need to put your machine together are included with your order. WaterRower notes that your S1 Rowing Machine will only take 30-45 minutes to put together. 


After your S1 Rowing Machine is put together, you’ll need to fill its water tank. Follow the instructions outlined in your manual using the pump and siphon. 

Once your machine is ready for action, the only other thing you need to do is get to know the computer. Play around with the buttons to check out the machine’s preset workouts, or learn how to customize your own interval workout. 

WaterRower warns that over the first few weeks, your rowing machine will be getting used to its environment. We take that to mean the surface it’s on, the humidity in the room, and the amount of activity it gets. During this time, pay attention to your machine and tighten anything that seems loose (but not too much!). 

Design and Features

The S1 Rowing Machine is built to stand up against heavy use. High-quality steel blends with comfortable accessories to help users of all weights to get a great workout. 

Build Quality

This WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review looks at this rower like a piece of industrial art. It’s like something you might find in the Museum of Modern Art. It’s pretty to look at and has slick detailing that you might just want to show off as an accent piece in your living room. We may be over embellishing here, but go ahead and take a peek at it and you’ll understand what we mean. 

Made from brushed stainless steel, this shiny rower is sturdy, weighing 88 lbs without water, and holding up to 1000 lbs. That means it’s a great choice for those who are overweight and are looking to get in shape. And that it won’t be damaged easily. 

The machine’s weight isn’t out of the realm of manageable, and most users will find this machine is easy to move. It has wheels on the back end that can be utilized to wheel your rower around the room and into storage space when not in use. 


WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

The S1 Rowing Machine feels solid and expensive. It’s a heavy-duty piece of machinery that has a look of luxury and performance. One look at this machine and you know that it means business. 

A padded handlebar keeps the user’s hands blister-free, while the cushioned, ergonomic seat provides a molded fit and lower back support. The seat is raised off of the ground rails (about 22” from the ground—almost 2 feet), a plus for those with mobility issues that may not sit down or stand up with ease. 

In a WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review found outside the brand’s website, we discovered that this rower gives about 40” of legroom, accommodating users up to 6’5”. This means the rowing experience is more comfortable due to the fact many user’s knees won’t be in their chests, allowing for longer use. 

The adjustable footpads come with a strap that can be loosened or tightened to help feet stay locked in place across the ball of the foot, but loose on the heel to allow for movement and lift. 


The S1 Rowing Machine can hold up to 1000 lbs of weight. This is more than any other rowing machine we came across on the market. The majority of rowing machines hold 250-300 lbs of weight, so this one is a real star. 

This machine is suitable for both men and women, but due to its solid construction, height allowance (6’5”), and weight allowance, men may find this rowing machine more comfortable than many other models and gravitate to it. That doesn’t mean it’s not meant for women, but because this machine does not have resistance options (you control it by rowing faster or slower), some lighter women (men even) may find that it is too much for them when going slow. 

With that said, those who need less of a load can remove some water from the tank. This will lessen the resistance, but when used at a gym, this isn’t exactly an option. 


WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

The S1 Rowing Machine has an S4 Performance Monitor that has advanced features but is very easy to use. There are quite a few things you can do with this monitor, all of which are outlined in your user manual. 

Though this machine’s many features, the screen is still LED, meaning you don’t need to worry about setting up wifi or connecting through Bluetooth. There are a total of 9 buttons on the performance monitor that let you change between stats and select programs. The buttons you’ll find include:

On your screen’s display, you’ll see the following stats: stroke rate, intensity, average intensity (m/s, mph, /500m, /2km, watts, cal/hr), heart rate, duration, distance (meters, miles, km, strokes, calories). There is also a vertical zone bar window in the middle of the monitor to let you know what zone you’re in during advanced workouts. 

This monitor does have the ability to display your heart rate, but you will need to buy a separate transmitter and receiver to hook up to it. 

The S4 Performance Monitor has 4 basic programs to choose from:

  1. Distance Workouts – set the distance you want to reach
  2. Duration Workout – input the amount of time you would like to row for
  3. Interval Workout (distance) – set your workout in intervals of a certain amount of distance
  4. Interval Workout (duration) choose an amount of time you would like to row for before a short break, then start back up again 


In a WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review of the product, we found that there is no membership required to use your S1 Rowing Machine. The computer is more advanced than many others on the market, but it is not an LED screen and can be controlled freely. 


WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine Review

The S1 Rowing Machine measures 82.25”L x 22.5”W x 19.625”H. The machine cannot be folded, but it can be topped upright for easy storage. To lift upright, tilt up on the rear end and pull the machine towards you until it reaches an upright position. The measurements will switch to 19.625”D x 22.25”W x 82.25”H — roughly about 7 feet tall. 

Now, this is quite tall so the best place to put it may be behind a door in your house. You could also fit this into a closet and lean it up against the wall on a diagonal if your closet is shorter than 7 feet. The rowing machine weighs 125 lbs with water in it or 88 lbs without. You technically could drain it every time you store it— if the extra 37lbs makes a big difference to you. 

The S1 Rowing Machine has wheels on the back, so it should be relatively easy to move around. But you may want to ask for an extra hand if you’re iffy about handling the weight. 


On the product page, you’ll find a basic warranty of 3 years for parts and 5 years for the frame. But, in a more thorough WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review of the brand’s website, we found that your S1 Rowing Machine is upgraded when you register within a year.

Your machine comes with a 1 year for parts, and 3 years for frame warranty that are automatically upgraded if you register your warranty within a year from your purchase date. These warranties cover the machine for home and commercial use in defects found in the workmanship and material of your S1 Rowing Machine.

The warranties are non-transferable. Meaning if you sell your rowing machine, the new user cannot make a claim. 

To make a warranty claim, you will need to ship the rowing machine back to WaterRower on your own dime. WaterRower will not cover return shipping costs. Before you ship it back though, you must let the company know why you’re returning it and obtain a confirmation response from the company, or else they cannot process your claim. 

When sending it back be sure to pack your item up securely to protect it from damage, as shipping damages are not covered by the warranty. 

WaterRower will either repair or replace your rowing machine. They do not offer full refunds. 

Final Thoughts

The WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine is a serious piece of equipment intended for serious use. That intent is reflected in the machine’s price, as is the construction, features, and the materials it’s made from. 

Though this machine isn’t just for hardcore rowers, due to its features and price, it may be too extravagant for the average Joe who is just looking for a basic workout. 

This WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review believes that this rower is a good choice for those with some rowing experience, or those who are looking to get into rowing. It’s also a good choice for gyms due to its sturdy construction and long warranty. 


Where can I purchase the WaterRower S1 Rower?

You can buy the S1 Rower directly from WaterRower.com. You can also find it on Amazon from time to time when available. 

Is there a WaterRower S1 Rower discount?

In a WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review of the brand’s website, we did not uncover any promotions or discounts available for full purchases of the brand’s rowing machines. But, WaterRower does offer discounts through their rental program. 

Does the WaterRower S1 Rower fold?

This WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine found that the rower does not fold. Instead, you can tip it on its side and store it upright. 

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

You can lose belly fat on a rowing machine if your workout San diet puts you in a calorie deficit. Rowing strengthens your ab muscles so that when you do lose weight, your toned abs will be visible. 

Is rowing better for you than running?

The S1 Rowing Machine uses 84% of the muscles on your body—this includes your hands, obliques, and even calves. Running primarily uses just the lower body muscles. 

Running also puts a ton of stress on your joints, leading to joint pain and injury over the years. Rowing is low-impact and does not put the same amount of stress on your body.

How to contact WaterRower?

We hope you found all of the information you came looking for in this WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine review, but if you have any questions, you can get in contact with the brand in the following ways:

WaterRower has warehouses around the world. If you live outside of the US, head to their Contact Page to find the contact information that applies to you.