The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor is one of the most aesthetically pleasing rowers on the market!
Not to mention, one of the best performing as well!
From WaterRower’s Natural Series, it is considered an ‘entry level’ rowing machine, but don’t let that classification fool you.
It’s just as sturdy as the other WaterRower machines and it comes with a nice Ashwood finish that supports user weight of up to 1,000 pounds (454 kg).
It provides one of the most realistic out of water rowing experiences and is quiet too!
This elite rower isn’t cheap but you will definitely get your money’s worth with the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine.
Calling this piece of equipment a solid buy is an understatement, but it does have a few areas that need improvement.
The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is a water resistance rower.
It uses a “water flywheel” or paddles suspended in a tank of water to provide resistance for the rower. Sounds confusing but it’s a pretty simple concept to grasp once you see it in action.
For a more thorough explanation of water resistance rowers (in addition to the other resistance types), click here.
What makes water unique for providing resistance, compared to a hydraulic piston and magnetic resistance unit, is that the amount of resistance the user experiences depends on their rowing level of intensity.
For example, if you want to take it easy and row with low intensity, you won’t feel too much resistance. However, if you want a more intense workout, just row with more intensity and in return you will feel much more resistance.
In addition to determining resistance based on your rowing intensity, you can further adjust the rowing experience by adding or subtracting water from the water tank.
The more water you add, the “heavier” the rowing will feel (like rowing a boat with passengers). The less water you have, the “lighter” the rowing will feel (like rowing by yourself).
The variable resistance offered by the water rower works similarly to how an air resistance unit functions. However, a water rower provides a more realistic feeling of rowing outdoors because of the sound of the water splashing inside the water tank and the overall smooth feel of the rowing motion.
It’s also quieter compared to air resistance rowing machines.
During my research, I didn’t find any complaints from users not getting a good enough upper or lower body workout. This shows how efficient the rower is in providing a total body workout. It also highlights the machine’s excellent engineering and design.
I reviewed a couple of rowing machines that looked great but the design provided an unbalanced upper and lower body workout.
I have personally rowed on this WaterRower and I can confirm, you will definitely get a good upper and lower body workout when you use it.
The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine comes with an S4 (series 4) multifunctional fitness monitor that tracks workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, duration, target fitness zone, and distance.
The performance monitor separates all the tracked information (in addition to program information) in separate “windows” that can all be seen on the “home screen” at the same time.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s presented on the monitor:
- Displays rowing speed in meters per second, miles per hour, minutes per 500 meters, and minutes per 2 kilometers
- Also displays power and calories burnt per hour
Stroke rate window:
- Displays number of strokes per minute
Heart rate window:
- *Option is available when optional heart rate monitoring equipment (Cardio Sport ANT Digital) is used with the fitness monitor (not included)
- Displays beats per minute
Target zone [bar] window:
- Displays target zone readings for intensity, heart rate, and stroke rate
- Displays time rowed in hours, minutes, seconds, and decimal seconds
- Can also display time remaining in current workout (if a predetermined time for workout has been established)
- Displays distance rowed in meters, miles, kilometers, or strokes
- Can also display distance remaining in current workout (if a predetermined distance for workout has been established)
- This window is used to help the user navigate through the monitor’s advanced functions
There are 9 buttons on the monitor, 6 quick select (short cut) buttons and 3 navigation buttons. It’s powered by 4 AA batteries (included) and it’s not backlit so you will need some light to view the monitor while working out.
You can link the S4 monitor to your computer (required monitor cable not included) to use in conjunction with other computer software to train, race, and to upload your fitness data to analyze your workouts.
Popular S4 computer software includes We-Row (WaterRower’s own software), NetAthlon, UltraCoach, and Rowyo.
By reading all the options and knowing there are 9 different buttons, you would think this monitor would be difficult to use but based on user comments and personal experience, it’s not difficult to use at all!
In fact, a few users commented that the S4 monitor is too basic. When compared to other high-end rowing machines and their performance monitors, the S4 is definitely not up to par with the PM5 monitor on the Concept2 Model D. Although it is still considered an advanced monitor and has enough features to be effective overall.
In addition, out of the handful of users that complained about the S4’s apparent lack of features, all of them were still pleased with the rower overall. Just keep that in mind when making your purchasing decision.
One more thing to note, most users said they don’t even use the advanced features on a performance monitor anyways!
The S4 performance monitor is not the prettiest you will see (kinda look like a Blackberry from the 90’s) and it’s far from the best, but it does a good job of monitoring your workout performance. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is made of solid Ash wood, which is durable and ideal for absorbing sound and vibration. Each unit is then hand finished and stained in Honey Oak for color consistency.
Users did not complain about any annoying noises or creaking often heard on lower-end rowing machines.
My first thought about wooden rowers were they are flimsy and I can break them by kicking it (I’m not joking). This is not the case at all!
I’m 175 pounds (80kg) and I tried to row as hard as I could to test it (and to test the machine’s build quality) and the frame is definitely rock solid.
I know I’m far from the biggest and strongest guy in the world but you have to take my word for it; it’s solidly built and it feels like it will last you a lifetime.
The water tank is made of polycarbonate (one of the strongest plastics on the planet) and is virtually indestructible. The only “maintenance” required is to put the included chlorine tablets in the water tank periodically to keep the water looking clear.
One user commented that over his 10+ year ownership of this rower, that he and his wife used almost daily, the only parts had to replace so far were the performance monitor battery and the tape that attaches the monitor wire brackets to the frame.
Several users have also praised the build quality of this rower and no one complained about it. This is a testament to the excellent design and solid build quality of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine.
The molded seat has an ergonomic design and comes with extra padding to provide superior comfort while rowing.
A few users commented on how this seat was the most comfortable they’ve experienced on any piece of fitness equipment. I concur that it’s very comfortable.
Assuming you row with proper form, you can row for a long time and the last thing you will be thinking about is how the seat feels.
A few users mentioned that it’s difficult to get on and get off of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine because it sits low to the ground.
If you have bad knees or joints this could be a problem. The issue is minor, however, and users suggested having a chair right next to the WaterRower to assist you if you have difficulty getting to the seat.
The handle is durable and light because it’s made of aluminum. Its tear-drop shape makes it easy to grip and also minimizes any development of wrist problems such as tendonitis because it virtually eliminates any wrist torque.
I didn’t notice anything bad about the handle when I rowed on the WaterRower and the fact that no user complained about it being uncomfortable is a very good sign about the handle design.
The footrest is a footboard that has heel rests at the bottom and uses nylon straps to secure the user’s feet in place. It can accommodate practically any shoe size (big or small) and it takes seconds to change footrest sizes.
The footboard feels a little flimsy, which is a little odd given the rest of the rower is rock solid. Although I didn’t have a problem with it when I used this rower, I’m not surprised a few users had complaints.
A few users complained that the nylon straps used to secure your feet in place would loosen up a bit in the middle of their workout. Others mentioned that it’s nearly impossible to row without any shoes on because the heel rests are rough and will hurt the heels of your feet.
This is not good for people that like to row barefoot, but I’m sure there are ways around this issue such as adding padding of some sort to the base of the heel rests.
The design of the footrest may need some work but it’s completely functional and there have been no complaints about it breaking from any user.
The footrest “issue” is a very minor concern and is easy to overlook when evaluating the rower overall.
The rowing motion is one of the rower’s biggest strengths.
The water flywheel provides a feel (and sound) that closely resembles rowing on water. The spragg clutch prevents any jerkiness when the handle is pulled and the seat rolls on 8 heavy-duty wheels making the entire rowing motion smooth from the catch to the recovery.
The rower has a fairly large footprint when in use, but can easily be stood upright for storage.
Although the unit is heavy, it takes very little effort to stand it up on its base (I can do it one handed and I’m not the strongest guy in the world – believe me).
It comes with dual caster wheels to help move it when needed.
According to Amazon, the weight capacity of the rower is 1,000 pounds (454 kg). I contacted WaterRower and confirmed with them that 1,000 pounds (454 kg) is the maximum capacity.
The seat track of the machine is fairly long and the seat has a movement length of 43 inches (109 cm).
Users of all height levels have used this rower with no issues. I’ve seen pre-teen children to adults as tall as 6’6” (198 cm) use the rower without hitting the back end.
The WaterRower website states that the seat rail can accomidate inseams of up to 38.0″.
Based on the information I’ve gathered, if you’re taller than 6’7” (200 cm), I would try out a unit at a local fitness machine retailer or gym to make sure it will accommodate your size. Otherwise, this rower should be fine for everyone else.
- 83.0″ x 22.0″ x 21.0″ (211 cm x 56 cm x 53 cm) (L x W x H)
- Stored/ Upright:
- 21.0″ x 22.0″ x 83.0″ (53 cm x 56 cm x 211 cm) (L x W x H)
- 117 pounds [53 kg] (full water tank)
- 73 pounds [33 kg] (empty water tank)
Assembly of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine doesn’t appear to be difficult at all, even for people not used to putting things together.
Several users even commented on how simple it was to assemble the WaterRower.
I took a look at the assembly instructions and they are very detailed (but easy to follow).
There are 10 easy to read steps accompanied by detailed pictures.
According to WaterRower, assembly should take no more than 30 minutes and everything can be assembled by using the provided allen wrench.
Pros and Cons
- Solidly built
- Smooth and realistic rowing motion
- Nice Ash wood finish
- Easy to assemble
- Dual caster wheels
- Easy “flip over” storage
- Comfortable seat
- Comfortable handle
- Variable resistance adjustment determined by rowing intensity
- Can further adjust rowing experience by adding/ subtracting water from the water tank
- Can link S4 monitor to computer to race others, train, and upload workout data for further analysis
- Footrests seem flimsy
- Performance monitor lacking advanced features
Users praised the solid build quality of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine and loved the lifelike rowing motion. They also loved the smooth, even rowing stroke provided by the water resistance.
Minor gripes included the footrest and S4 monitor. However, overall, every owner of this rowing machine loves it.
Click here to see the full WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Reviews.
Average Rating: 4.8
- Frame: 5-years*
- Parts: 3 -years*
*Requires completion of registration form. Otherwise, warranty is 1 year.
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Price
The price of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is higher than most rowers but can easily be justified. This rowing machine is handcrafted from solid wood and looks like a piece of home decor. That combined with a strong, smooth resistance makes it a high-quality item.
Prices vary depending on where you buy it but Amazon tends to have the lowest pricing around!
I hope you enjoyed my WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review! Please feel free to comment with any questions below!