If you’re looking for a very quiet and super-sturdy rowing machine without breaking the bank, the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine has just what you’re looking for. It’s a magnetic resistance rower with multiple levels of resistance that make it suitable for people of all fitness levels.
It has a long seat rail that makes it ideal for taller people but it also can fold up and save plenty of floor space when not in use. It’s comfortable to use, provides a very smooth rowing motion, and comes with a multi-function fitness monitor to track your workout statistics.
It also won the 2008 Gear Awards Seal of Excellence for being smooth, quiet, comfortable and easy to use. It’s a very good rower… but it’s far from perfect so before you drop everything you’re doing to buy it, there are a few things you should know about it first. Read on for more details.
The Lifespan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine is a magnetic resistance rower that features an eddy current drive system with a 16.5 pound flywheel, which contribute to the rower’s ultra-smooth rowing motion. To find out more about the characteristics of magnetic rowing machines click here.
There are 5 different levels of resistance to choose from making this machine ideal for people of most fitness levels (I’ll explain this below). The resistance can be changed easily by selecting the desired level on a knob below the control panel. The rower must be completely stopped before changing resistance levels.
The range of resistance available on the LifeSpan rower is fine for most people (a few even mentioned it was challenging), but a few thought otherwise. A small percentage of users mentioned the resistance tension is too weak on the machine.
Although they mentioned the machine didn’t offer enough resistance, most of those users said they were still able to get a good workout and it appeared they just wished it had more resistance. For the very few that said they weren’t able to get a good workout on the rower, either they’re in supreme shape or they did not use the RW1000 with proper form and/ or rowed with low intensity.
If you row with improper form (for example, you don’t pull the handle all the way to your body which works your arms and back), your body is not working as hard as it should and you don’t fully benefit from the exercise. In addition, if you’re not rowing with much intensity you won’t get that much of a workout regardless of what the resistance level is.
The resistance levels on the LifeSpan Fitness rower will be fine for people at the beginner or intermediate fitness level, but not for the advanced because they will either not get a challenging enough workout or they’ll eventually outgrow the machine within a few weeks (and if that’s the case, it’s not worth spending a few hundred dollars when there are more challenging rowers out there).
The RW1000 comes with a multi-screen LCD fitness monitor that keeps track of distance, time, calories, stroke count, and strokes per minute. It’s powered by 1 (provided) AA battery and the monitor will turn on automatically when the rower is in use and will automatically turn off after 4 minutes of inactivity.
As pictured on the left, the workout data is split into 3 separate mini-LCD screens. The data is easy to read since the numbers are fairly large but the monitor is not back-lit so you will need some light nearby in order to see your workout statistics while working out in a dark area. The monitor is simple to use given it only does its primary function of monitoring workout data. It does not save workout information so if you would like to keep a record of your workouts, you will need to keep track of it separately in a journal or spreadsheet.
The overview of the fitness monitor may sound all fine and dandy, but there’s definitely room for improvement – starting with its placement. Because it’s affixed below the handle, every time you pull the handle to row you can’t see the monitor because the strap is blocking your view of it. This isn’t a big deal since you can see the monitor once the handle is retracted during the rowing motion but it makes you wonder why LifeSpan didn’t put the fitness monitor above the handle to avoid this issue from happening.
Another issue is how the monitor records user data. I noticed more than a handful of users complained that the calorie counter was inaccurate. I didn’t think much of it at first because this is common on a lot of fitness machines. They base their calculations on an average person’s physical condition and not on the actual person using the machine.
For these machines, the manufacturers usually state in the instruction manual that the calories burned is supposed to be used as a comparison metric so you can compare how effective each workout was (in other words the more “calories burned”, the more effective that workout was compared to the others). I thought to myself – that’s probably what was going on and this isn’t much of an issue.
However, one user complained it didn’t matter what level of resistance they would work out on; when they worked out at roughly the same amount of time at the same intensity but with a different resistance level, the monitor indicated they burned the same amount of calories every time. This told me there must be an issue with the fitness monitor so I decided to do more research.
I noticed one user mentioned they noticed the fitness monitor was only attached to the seat and not the flywheel or anywhere else so that explains why the calories burned didn’t account for changes to the resistance level from earlier – because it doesn’t keep track of what happens to changes to the resistance.
The user also tested to see how the machine counted rowing strokes and just pulled the handle and not the seat to see what happened – the fitness monitor didn’t even turn on. But when they just moved the seat and not the handle, the fitness monitor was active meaning the fitness monitor only measures user data by seat movement and nothing else.
Because of how user data is recorded on the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine, calories burned, speed, and distance will be inaccurate most of the time – however, time and stroke count should be unaffected.
Another issue users had with the monitor was simply having it function properly; sometimes it wouldn’t turn on or it would reset while in use. Most of the time, a simple reset would fix the issue but for others they had to have the unit replaced. LifeSpan has a generous warranty with parts so I wouldn’t be too concerned about this issue.
For a rowing machine at this price point, you would expect a better control panel/ fitness monitor but despite the design and function flaws and the lack of a backlight and fitness data storage capabilities (the lack of backlight and data storage are two things that are commonly missing from a fitness monitor on a rowing machine in this price range), the fitness monitor does the bare minimum of what it’s expected to do which is track time and the number of strokes completed. This is definitely the biggest weakness of the LifeSpan Fitness Rowing Machine but it has plenty of pros to offset the monitor so keep that in mind.
The frame is made of steel and the build quality feels solid overall.
Plenty of users praised how sturdy the machine feels but 2 users had a difference of opinion. They both mentioned the rower would lift off of the ground and slide across the floor if the handle was not pulled horizontal to the machine. I thought this was odd considering only 2 out of a few hundred people mentioned this.
According to one user (that replied directly to one of two above), this is happening to them because they’re not using the metal dowel that raises the middle legs off the ground to stabilize the rower. The user went on to say that he’s 6’1” 200 pounds and when he rows at maximum intensity there’s no hint of instability whatsoever on the machine. There have been even bigger people that used this machine and they didn’t mention anything about instability so it appears the issue was caused by improper setup of the rowing machine and it has nothing to do with poor build quality.
The LifeSpan Fitness rower comes with a very generous warranty and a higher-than-usual user weight capacity so that should give even more peace of mind that this machine should last for some time.
The most talked about characteristic of the RW1000 by far was how quiet the machine is. Magnetic resistance rowers are typically quiet so it’s no surprise users mentioned this about this rower, but no one mentioned any unnecessary and annoying noises were heard from the machine (such as creaking and squeaking) so that’s possibly why users praised how quiet it is so much.
Users commented on how comfortable the padded seat is. A few of the users that liked the comfort level of the seat row for longer periods of time so that’s a bonus for all of you marathon rowers out there! In addition, you can adjust the seat height from 11″ to 14.5″ for your preference. The seat glides smoothly up and down the seat rail without any issues.
The handle is straight, easy to grip, and padded to provide comfort. Users liked the handle because it didn’t hurt their hands while rowing (irritated hands are common with similar handles without any padding).
The footrests swivel to allow natural foot movement while rowing. Some users experienced issues with the footrests because their feet would slip out in the middle of a workout sometimes. I know exactly what they’re talking about because I’ve used a similar LifeSpan Fitness rower that has the exact same footrests as this rower and my feet fell out a couple of times during a workout.
The issue with the footrests is the heel holder (where your heel rests while in the footrests) is too shallow. I quickly fixed this issue by moving my feet higher up the footrests and securing them tightly with the velcro straps so the bottom of my feet didn’t have to rest on the shallow heel holder. It’s not a major issue and there are plenty of other ways to fix it including what I did to get around the problem.
The rowing motion on the LifeSpan RW1000 is very smooth and users raved about it for good reason. The seat glides up and down the seat rail effortlessly. The nylon strap that’s pulled by the handle has a no-slack retrieval system that ensures the strap is never loose. This means the strap won’t snag ensuring a smooth rowing motion.
The RW1000 can easily fold up in seconds by removing a pin that secures the seat rail, folding up the seat rail, and re-inserting the pin to lock it in place.
It also comes with wheels to make it easy to move around when needed.
Per LifeSpan, the maximum user weight is 300 pounds. A user weighing 330 pounds mentioned they used the machine for a few months with no issues and although the weight capacity given by the manufacturer is most likely a conservative number, I still wouldn’t advise to go over the maximum user limit because the machine will wear out faster and there’s a chance you could get hurt unexpectedly.
The seat moves up pretty far on this rower so shorter people shouldn’t have an issue using this machine. The seat rail is fairly long which makes it ideal for taller people too. There were plenty of taller people that commented on how surprised they were that this rower worked out for them.
A 6’4” man with 37” legs was able to use this rower after taking off the stopper with no issues and a user as tall as 6’7” was able to use this machine without any issues so unless you’re taller than 6’4” (that’s my conservative estimate) there shouldn’t be an issue with this rower. Otherwise (if you’re taller than 6’4”), I recommend finding the RW1000 in your local fitness store and trying it out there to make sure the seat rail is long enough for your legs.
87″ x 19″ x 23″
34″ x 19″ x 64″ (folded)
Weight: 80 pounds (36 kg)
The rower doesn’t have that many parts to put together (based on the diagram in the instruction manual) and it even comes with the necessary tools needed for assembly so it shouldn’t take that long to put the machine together regardless of your experience with assembling “anything” together. One user mentioned their 10-year-old son was able to put the RW1000 together in a few minutes. No one mentioned the machine was difficult to put together and most people were able to completely assemble the LifeSpan Fitness Rowing Machine in 20 – 30 minutes.
Pros and Cons
- Solid Steel Frame
- 5 levels of adjustable resistance
- Good warranty
- Easy to assemble
- Can fold up in seconds for storage
- Comes with wheels
- Comfortable to use
- Can be used by shorter and taller people
- Smooth rowing motion
- Below-average fitness monitor
- Not suited for people of advanced fitness levels
- Poorly written instructions
- Foot pedal design makes it a little difficult to secure feet while rowing
Average Rating: 4.0
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- 5 year frame warranty
- 2 year parts warranty
- 1 year labor warranty
The price of the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 varies depending on where you buy it but Amazon tends to have the lowest price.