ProForm 550R Rower ReviewThe ProForm 550R Rower has a unique design that would look great in any home gym.

ProForm is one of the leading and most innovative fitness companies around and are known for selling great fitness products.

The ProForm 550R Rowing Machine provides users of all ages and fitness levels with a great full-body workout.

It’s low price, great features, and strong build quality make it a great beginner rowing machine.

However, there were some concerns about the overall resistance strength that I talk about in my review below. So if you are an intense fitness enthusiasts just beware.

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The ProForm 550R Rower is sold under the model # PFRW3814.  It is also sold under the name ProForm R600 Rower in other countries.

Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead!)

1. Resistance Type
2. Monitor/Control Panel
3. Build Quality
4. Comfort
5. Storage
6. Capacity
7. Dimensions
8. Assembly
9. Pros and Cons
10. Consumer Reviews
11. Warranty
12. Price
13. Overall Review

Resistance Type

The ProForm 550R Rower (PFRW3814) is an air resistance rowing machine.

Air rowers operate by pulling a handle and spinning a fan flywheel.  As the flywheel spins, air is sucked into the flywheel housing and creates resistance.

The faster you spin the flywheel, the more air is brought into the housing and the more resistance is created.

Basically, the faster you row the more resistance you create!

Air resistance rowers, like water rowers, will automatically adjust the resistance to the speed at which you row.  To feel more resistance just row faster and to feel less resistance just row slower.

That is why we call it “variable” resistance.  Other rowing machines like magnetic and hydraulic-piston require a user to turn a knob to adjust the resistance higher or lower. This is call “adjustable” resistance.  You can read a more in-depth resistance article here.

The ProForm 550R Rower offers a smooth, strong air resistance rowing stroke with many benefits that I list below.

Resistance Benefits

Many users of the ProForm 550R Rowing Machine love how the resistance provided closely mimics the feeling of rowing on water.

That is why air rowers are the chosen resistance type for Olympic athletes and professional rowers.

ProForm 550R Rowing Machine Review

Users also love that “what you put into it, is what you get out of it”.  In order to feel more resistance, you must row fast!

This is not the type of rower where you can row slowly and expect to feel strong resistance.

When users row fast, they are rewarded with a cool breeze that is directed back towards their body by the spinning flywheel.

Crossfit enthusiasts will also love the ProForm 550R Rower because it is ideal for HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts.  Users can perform series of faster and slower rowing without having to make any changes and the resistance will automatically adjust to their speed.

Most users felt the Proform 550R resistance was strong enough for beginner and intermediate rowers.

Damper Settings

The ProForm 550R Rower comes with the newly designed “inertia enhanced flywheel”, which includes damper settings like the Concept2.

The damper setting is controlled by the lever on top of the flywheel housing.  The lever can be pushed up or down and controls the amount of air that is allowed to enter the flywheel housing.

ProForm 550R Rower Resistance
Most people confuse a damper setting with “adjustable” resistance but it is slightly different.  Controlling the amount of airflow into the housing will change the “feel” of the rowing stroke but it will not change the resistance.

Setting the lever all the way down will allow less airflow and create the feeling of a “lighter boat”.  This will feel like “less resistance”.

Setting the lever all the way up will allow more airflow and create the feeling of a “heavier boat”. This will feel like “more resistance”.

It is similar to the gearing on a bicycle, where the different gears effect the feeling of the pedaling but don’t actually effect the resistance.

There is a great Concept2 article that explains this in more detail here.

Resistance Negatives

Unfortunately, most of the negative reviews about the ProForm 550R Rower were about the resistance.

Most users felt the resistance was too weak and did not provide an adequate workout. Users complained that even on the highest damper setting they could barely feel any resistance.

Some of these negative reviews came from people who don’t understand “variable” resistance and don’t realize that in order to feel more resistance they must row faster.  You cannot row slow and feel heavy resistance on the ProForm 550R.

However, I do feel the resistance on this rowing machine is a bit lower than some other air rowing machines.  If you want a rower with high resistance, then this may not be the best option for you.

I believe the ProForm 550R Rowing Machine has enough resistance for beginner and lower intermediate rowers.  It is also great for elderly people or people who like using rowing machines for warm-ups and cool-downs.

Another negative about the resistance is the higher noise level on air rowing machines.  The faster a user rows, the more noise you will hear from the spinning flywheel.

Most users felt the noise was comparable to other air rowing machines and some felt it was actually a bit quieter. You shouldn’t have to worry about disturbing a person in another room but you will have to turn the TV volume up to hear properly.

Overall

The resistance on the ProForm 550R Rower is smooth and perfect for the right user.  Beginner and lower intermediate rowers will be happiest with this erg.

If you are looking for a rowing machine with strong resistance, then I would suggest another air rower like the Stamina 1399 Air Rower or upgrade to the Concept2 Model D (links to my reviews in the final section).

Monitor/Control Panel

The ProForm 550R Rower comes with a basic LCD monitor that tracks the following fitness data:

  • Watts (power)
  • Strokes per Minute (SPM)
  • Time
  • Strokes (total)
  • Calories

The data will be displayed in 3 workout windows: Upper, Center, and Lower.  You can choose scan mode to cycle between the different data points or press the ‘Priority Display’ button until the desired mode is shown.

ProForm 550R Rowing Machine Monitor

A cool feature is the watts meter which visually represents the power you create with each stroke. You can use it to help stay in a certain zone and not let your power levels fall.

The monitor has an automatic ON/OFF feature to help save batteries.  It runs off 4 AA batteries which are not included.

One thing to note is that the calorie calculator is based off an average user and is not accurate to the specific person rowing.  A user should use this calculation as an estimate and to help gauge the difficulty between different workout sessions.

The ProForm 550R monitor is fairly basic and only tracks the necessary fitness data.  This is common for rowing machines in this price range.

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Build Quality

The ProForm 550R Rowing Machine comes with a steel body and oversized aluminum seat rail.

The strong frame allows for seamless movement that will endure the most serious workouts for many years.

All of the plastic and parts are made from high quality material with no issues of breaking.  The handle, seat, and footrest are high quality and provide a solid foundation for rowing.

Overall, there were no issues with the build quality and the rowing stroke felt strong and sturdy.

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Comfort

The ProForm 550R Rowing Machine provides a comfortable rowing stroke that allows users to endure long rowing sessions.

ProForm 550R Rower Quality

The soft touch ergonomic handle provides a comfortable grip that helps to reduce hand fatigue and reduce the chances of forming blisters.

A soft, ergonomically designed seat allows the user to sit for extended periods of time without any discomfort.  The seat is designed to alleviate any pressure on the sitting bones and tail bone to provide additional comfort.

Users can then place their feet in the easily adjustable footrests that can accommodate any shoe size.  The pivoting foot pedals allow more natural movement and keep your feet firmly in place while rowing. Some people even choose to row barefoot.

There were no complaints about the comfort of the ProForm 550R Rower.

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Storage

With a fairly large footprint, the ProForm 550R makes sure you can save space when you are not rowing by incorporating the patented SpaceSaver design.

ProForm 550R Rowing Machine Storage

Users can easily fold the rower by grabbing the two storage handles, tipping the rower forward, and allowing the seat rail to fold and lock in place.

Storing the rower takes 10 seconds and can be done by anyone.

After the rowing machine is folded it can then be moved by rolling on the built-in caster wheels.

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Capacity

The ProForm 550R Rower has an extended seat rail that can accommodate users up to 6’6″ depending on their inseam length.

The maximum weight capacity is 250 lbs., which is average for rowing machines in this price range.

I didn’t hear any mention of shorter users encountering issues, so I would say there are no height limitations for short users.

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Dimensions

  • Shipping Dimensions:
    • 47.0″ x 25.8″ x 22.6″ (L x W x H)
  • Assembled Dimensions:
    • 84.5″ x 22.0″ x 25.5″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight:
    • 103 lbs.

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Assembly

Assembling the ProForm 550R Rower is very easy and should be complete in under 30 minutes.

The rowing machine comes 90% pre-assembled and the only real assembly is putting on the seat.

All the parts needed for assembly come with the rowing machine except the 4 AA batteries.  Just follow the instructions carefully and everything will be easy.

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Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Adjustable “damper” settings
  • Easy fold storage and mobility
  • Comfortable rowing stroke
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Strong build quality
  • Easy assembly

Cons:

  • Weak resistance for advanced users
  • Very basic monitor
  • No heart rate monitoring
  • Poor consumer reviews

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Consumer Reviews

Overall, the ProForm 550R Rower reviews have not been very favorable.  Many consumers were disgruntled by the low resistance levels and wanted something a little more challenging.

There didn’t seem to be any other issues besides the weak resistance and all the other components seemed to be well received.  Many users who didn’t mind a lighter resistance, rated this rowing machine very high (averaging 4.5 stars).

In doing my research, I did notice that there was a Groupon deal done for the ProForm 550R Rowing Machine.  In my experience, every time a rowing machine is sold on Groupon it receives a high amount of negative reviews.

This could be due to the rowing machine actually being a bad product and the company needing to use other sales outlets to sell their merchandise.  It could also be the buyers are not very educated on what they are buying and make a quick decision due to a deal period ending and buy something that isn’t a good fit for them.  It can also be a mix of both.

You can read more ProForm 550R Rower reviews here.

Average Rating: 3.7

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Warranty

  • Frame: 5-years
  • Parts & Labor: 90-days
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

The warranty on the parts & labor is a little short but that is common for rowing machines in this price range.

The actual model # is PFRW3814 so just make sure to list the entire name when registering your rower: ProForm 550r Rower (PFRW3814).

Warranties are handled by Icon Fitness (IconFitness.com) and usually do well with answering any questions.  ICON Fitness is the ‘umbrella’ company that owns ProForm, NodicTrack, Gold’s Gym, and others.  There were some negative remarks about their service in one review but hopefully this was just an odd incidence.

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ProForm 550R Rower Price

The ProForm 550R Rowing Machine is priced competitively for air rowers with this type of monitor and features.

The price of this rowing machine varies depending on where you buy it but Amazon tends to have the lowest price and good consumer protection.

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Overall Review

Overall, I believe the ProForm 550R Rower is a great all around air rowing machine with its weakness being the low resistance strength.

Consumers who enjoy the ProForm brand like to compare the ProForm 440R vs. 550R due to their similar pricing.  The ProForm 440R is a magnetic rowing machine and a complete review can be read here.

Others like to compare the ProForm 550R Rower vs. Concept2 rowing machines.  I really don’t think there is any comparison, with the Concept2 Model D being far superior in every category, but also being priced higher.  You can visit my full review here.

When comparing the NordicTrack RW200 Rower vs. ProForm 550R Rower you will see they are almost the exact same rowing machine with the NordicTrack having a slightly better monitor and higher price tag.  Check out my full NordicTrack review here.

Another air rowing machine in this price range with similar features but better overall reviews would be the Stamina Air Rower 1399.  This would be a great alternative in my opinion and has a lot more reviews to base your decision on.  It is one of the top selling rowing machines under $500. Read my full review here.

If you are confused about all of this and need help selecting a rowing machine, just ask me to do it for you! Visit my Personal Rowing Machine Concierge Page, fill out the short form, and I will choose a model that fits you best.

I hope you enjoyed my ProForm 550R Rower review! If you have any questions send me an email or leave it in the comment section below.

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Summary
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