Who says you have to break the bank to own an air-resistance rowing machine (the same type preferred by professional rowers)? The Stamina Air Rower 1399 has a solid steel frame, comfortably padded upholstered seat, multi-function monitor that tracks speed, distance, time, and calories burned, and is more than 66% cheaper than the high-end air rowers you see in the gym. Is it really possible that this rowing machine can deliver the same kind of full-body workout you get from rowers at your local fitness club that cost a whole lot more? After countless hours of sorting through different websites and forums and calling the manufacturer directly, I finally have an answer to the question – “Yes”… & “No” (it’s a long story) – keep reading to find out why.
The Stamina Air Rower 1399 is an air-resistance rower. Here’s a brief recap of how an air-rower works: When the handle of the rower is pulled this causes a spinning flywheel with fan blades to spin creating wind. The harder/ faster you row the more wind you generate and the more wind you generate the harder it is to row.
Because the resistance-level is determined by how hard you row, the resistance for this type of rower should be categorized as adjustable. If one day you feel like taking it easy, don’t row too hard and the resistance will be minimal. Conversely, if you feel like having a more intense workout, row harder and I guarantee it will be much harder to row (because the resistance will be greater).
I wanted to emphasize this point because a few users claimed that this rower isn’t adjustable and that statement is false based on what I mentioned. It’s probable that the few users that made the false statement were unaware of how an air-rower worked and only rowed at the same intensity level and didn’t see any “buttons to press” to increase the resistance so they incorrectly deemed the resistance to be non-adjustable.
One thing I want to point out; unlike the higher-end air rowers such as the Concept2 Model D and Model E, the Stamina rower does not have the option to adjust the damper settings (think of gears on a bike; this setting changes the way the rowing experience feels).
Rowing machines are popular because they give a full-body workout with minimum impact to your joints. This machine will workout your whole body but the question is will the workload be evenly distributed to your lower and upper-body or will one section work harder than the other? I seldom discuss this in my reviews because it’s a non-issue most of the time, but a handful of users (3% said that the lower-body works more than the upper-body while 7% said the opposite; that the upper-body works more than the lower-body) gave mixed comments on this topic so I decided to address the issue in this review.
The angle on the seat rail is more exaggerated on this rower compared to most rowers naturally making the initial push-off (the “drive”) with your legs more difficult because you have to push the seat up a “steep” rail angle upwards. Conversely, the finishing motion (the “recovery”) doesn’t require much leg use making it easier because the seat slides back to the starting position due to the “steep” rail angle downwards (I hope I didn’t lose you here). Here’s my explanation of why users had differing opinions about lower-body vs. upper-body resistance:
It’s probable the users that mentioned this rower worked out their legs more than their upper-body have relatively weak legs and when they started to row most of their energy was used pushing-off with their legs and since they used most of their energy at that point, little effort was used pulling the handle creating virtually no wind and thus little-to-no resistance was felt with the upper-body
For the users that mentioned their upper-body was being worked more than their legs, it’s probable they have relatively strong legs and didn’t have an issue with pushing-off meaning they had more energy for the upper-body. With more energy they were able to pull the handle harder creating more resistance for their back and arms tiring out the upper-body (especially the arms since they fatigue the easiest) quicker than the lower-body.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what does all this mean to me”? Based on what I researched and from personal experience, this is probably not the best rower for someone who rows in real boats regularly and plans to use this rower to train outside the water because you presumably already have strong legs so if you use this machine most of the resistance you feel will be with your upper-body meaning you’ll tire out faster. And because of that, the rowing experience won’t feel like you’re rowing in the water (like you’re used to) and that will probably frustrate you the most.
For everyone else looking for a full-body workout machine this will suit you just fine. If you’re concerned about resistance inequity (upper vs. lower-body) you shouldn’t be. Over 90% of users didn’t and for the few that did, most mentioned their body adjusted after only a few workouts.
The 1399 has a single-button multi-function monitor that displays speed, distance, calories burned, and time. The speed remains fixed on the monitor while the rest of the data is displayed one-at-a-time and can be changed manually by pressing the ‘mode’ button or you can have the monitor in ‘scan’ mode where the monitor cycles through the workout data displaying each for 6 seconds. It’s powered by 2 AA batteries (not included) and the manufacturer suggests:
- Not mixing a new battery with an old battery
- Use the same type of battery (don’t mix alkaline with another type)
- Rechargeable batteries are not recommended
That’s pretty specific in regards to batteries, huh? The monitor turns on by pressing the button or by moving the seat and turns off automatically after 4 minutes of inactivity. It’s a basic fitness monitor that does what it’s supposed to do: keep track of important workout data.
Stamina is known for building really strong frames and nothing changes with the Stamina Rower 1399. The frame is built of solid-steel and feels sturdy to the touch.
The nylon strap that is pulled to spin the fan blades is durable and will be able to handle the abuse you’ll give it over time as you get stronger.
Air-resistance rowers are known to be the noisiest out of all the rowing machine resistance-types so it comes to no surprise that this rower isn’t quiet. The noise-level isn’t that bad, especially if you expect the machine will make some noise. The harder you row, the louder the fan blades get so keep that in mind. Most users like that it gets louder the harder they row because it tells them that they’re working out hard. A small percentage of users mentioned that this rower is louder than the Concept2 rowers, but didn’t say anything about the noise level bothering them. Besides the typical noises you’d hear on an air-rower (fan blades, sliding seat), don’t expect to hear annoying creaking-noises more common with cheaper rowing machines.
The seat is padded and upholstered and glides smoothly up and down the seat rail. The design makes it comfortable, especially for rowers that workout for long periods of time. Most users found the seat to be comfortable, but 2 users thought the seat was too small. These users must’ve been extremely tall & big because the other users over 6’ tall didn’t mention anything about the seat being too small.
The handles have a textured grip and feel comfortable in your hands (this is important because you’re going to be gripping on the handles really hard; especially when you’re getting tired and fighting for every last pull of the handle).
The footrests are large and can fit most shoe sizes. The nylon straps will keep your feet locked in place when you row and this is important because you need a solid foot base in order to row efficiently. One user commented that she loves the footrests on this rower because she can easily row with or without shoes on.
The rowing motion on the air rower is what you’d expect from an air-resistance rowing machine – the overall motion is fluid and resembles the feeling of rowing on the water. The seat glides up and down the rail very smoothly and the nylon strap that pulls the fan blades go in and out of the fan casing without any hiccups; the result is a smooth rowing motion.
The Stamina Air Rower is perfect for people that don’t have much storage space in their house because it folds up and reduces its footprint by almost 50%. To store, all you have to do is remove a bolt from the frame, fold it upwards, and put the bolt back on the frame; the whole process can be done in a few seconds.
For portability, the machine has caster wheels that make moving the rower around a piece of cake. All you have to do is lift up the end opposite of where the fan is and push.
Per the manufacturer the maximum user weight is 250 pounds.
Air-rowers usually have a longer seat rail and that benefits taller users/ users with longer legs because there’s more space to row on. Users as tall as 6’2” have mentioned they used the rower with no issues, but I wanted to see if taller users could use the 1399 so I called Stamina directly. I spoke to a customer service agent and asked her if there were any height limitations on this machine and after putting me on hold to check for a few minutes, she told me that someone 6’4” uses the rower without any issues. Her answer didn’t quite answer my question but at least it gave me something to work with. As far as a minimum height requirement, I wasn’t able to find any negative comments from shorter users ~5’2” so it appears there isn’t one.
- Assembled size: 77″ x 18″ x 22″
- Folded size: 48″ x 18″ x 28″
Several users commented that the 1399 air rower was easy to put together. The included tools required for assembly are 2 allen wrenches and a regular wrench. A few users were able to put the unit together in as little as 15 minutes, but most users took ~45 minutes.
Pros and Cons
- Low price-point for an air-resistance rower (higher-end models cost 3X more)
- Heavy-duty steel frame
- Folds up in seconds for easy storage
- Wheels make it easy to move around when needed
- Comfortable upholstered seat
- No option to adjust damper (to adjust the feel of each row)
- Exaggerated seat rail may cause some people to experience upper/ lower body workout inequity at first
- A little noisier than higher-end air-rowing machines
Users liked the portability and the price-point for a usually expensive resistance-type. They especially liked the seat mentioning on several occasions that it is extremely comfortable. A few users complained that the machine doesn’t offer adjustable resistance, but they were inaccurate with their statements since resistance is determined by rowing intensity. In addition, a few users weren’t fond of the noise-level (although a fair amount of noise is expected from an air rower).
Read more here: Stamina Air Rower 1399 Review
Average Rating: 4.1
3 years frame/ 90 days parts
The price for the 1399 varies depending on where you buy it from but every time I review the top internet retailers for lowest prices, Amazon had the lowest price – every time.
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