Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion ArmsStamina Products, a well-known manufacturer of rowing machines and other fitness products, is at it again with the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms.

It’s a hydraulic-piston rower that offers adjustable resistance so people of all fitness levels can use it.

It has free-motion arms that simulate the feel of rowing with oars on water and is compact so it can be used in areas with little space.

The 1215 has a lot to offer with a price tag that’s very reasonable considering the higher-end rowers cost 3 times more!

Overall, this machine brings a lot to the table, but has a few shortcomings that need to be addressed as well.

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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

Resistance Type

The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms is hydraulic piston resistance type.

This means that 2 hydraulic pistons, one on each arm, provide the resistance to the rower.

The ‘Free Motion Arms’ mean that the rower can pull the arms back at any angle and allows for a more realistic rowing motion.

To find out more about the characteristics of hydraulic piston rowers and other resistance types- click here.

The rower has 2 independent arms that have an adjustable piston attached to each arm.

The primary advantages of having a machine with this level of flexibility are:

Each arm isn’t forced to do what the other arm is doing

  • Most of the time when you row, both arms are synchronized (i.e. they pull and push the handles together). However with the Stamina 1215 this is not the case.
  • The independent free-motion handles allow you to mix it up a bit.  For example, with your left arm you can just pull and push the handle in a straight line (like on conventional rowers) while your right arm can add a “swinging-out” motion that simulates rowing with an oar on water.
  • You can also row at different angles for each workout. So for one workout you can pull both arms straight back to work out you ‘inner’ back muscles and another workout you can perform the “swinging-out” motion to work your lats and ‘outer’ back muscles.
  • This variation may not seem like a big deal at first, but sooner or later you might get bored of rowing and these option can help “spice” things up a bit.
  • You can also see what I’m describing in the video below.

Each arm can have its own resistance level

  • This can be helpful for people who don’t have a balanced upper-body.
  • For example, if your left arm/ back is weaker than your right, you can have the resistance level for your left arm be a level or two less than the resistance level on the right to help balance out both sides.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms The Stamina 1215 Rower has 5 resistance levels for each handle that can be easily adjusted by sliding and tightening tension adjusters on the arm.

The resistance levels vary in difficulty making this machine perfect for people of all fitness levels; beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

It’s also helpful to have adjustable resistance so you can switch up the intensity level of your workouts and it gives you the flexibility to add/ subtract resistance to match your workout for the day.

The way Stamina labeled the resistance is a little odd. Resistance level 1 is “most difficult”, whereas resistance level 5 is “easiest”.  Every workout machine and fitness product I’ve used usually has the easiest resistance at the lowest number setting and vice-versa.

This is most likely the reason a few users complained that the “lowest” resistance level on the Orbital rower was too difficult for them – it’s because they were actually trying to use it on the “highest” setting.

To add more resistance, this rower comes with the option to raise the tail end of the machine off the ground.  This makes the rowing motion more difficult because the angle of the seat rail is slightly inclined; meaning you have to push harder with your legs when you start the rowing motion.

Overall the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms has a great resistance and allows rowers a smooth, realistic, and even row.

Monitor/Control Panel

If you’ve read my other Stamina rowing machine reviews, what you’re about to read in this section will look very familiar. It appears the fitness monitors Stamina uses for all their rowers have the same features (just wanted to give you a heads up).

The Orbital rower comes with a single-button multi-function monitor that tracks important workout statistics such as time, calories burned, stroke count, speed, and distance.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower with Free Motion Arms Monitor

It rests at the foot of the rower and the LCD display can show each statistic one at a time or they can automatically rotate by using the monitor’s ‘scan’ feature that cycles through each statistic every 4 seconds.

Here are some additional details about the fitness monitor:

  • Turn on with the touh of a button or automatically by moving the rower’s seat
  • Turn off automatically after 4 minutes of inactivity
  • Powered by 1 AA battery (included)

Don’t expect it to download MP3’s or let you see your newsfeed on Facebook!

The bottom line – it’s a basic fitness monitor that does what it’s supposed to do – track essential fitness data so you can just focus on working out.

You can see how the monitor functions in the below video.

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Build Quality

Stamina is known for making rowing machines with strong, durable frames and that reputation holds true with the 1215 Orbital Rower.

The frame is made of steel with an aluminum beam so it feels sturdy but isn’t too heavy.  It feels so sturdy that a few users mentioned they use the rower to do sit-ups and dumbbell presses (I don’t recommend doing this by the way– I just wanted to highlight how sturdy the frame feels).

Since it’s a piston-resistance rower, it’s expected to be quiet and users liked this about the Orbital rower.  The lower-priced machines (such as this one) are infamous for making some squeaking and creaking noises, but there was no mention of this by any user!

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The seat is thickly padded and is adequate for normal rowing sessions. However, some users mentioned that when rowing for longer periods of time (45 minutes or more) their butts started to hurt.

If you’re going to row for longer periods of time, you might need to add some more padding for additional comfort.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower with Free Motion Arms Monitor Comfort

The handles are foam grip wrapped which makes them comfortable and sufficient for everyday rowing.

The pivoting footrests allow the users’ feet to move naturally when rowing which provides comfort and more range of motion compared to non-pivoting footrests.

The machine’s free-motion arms are what highlight the comfort of the rowing experience.

Traditional handles can only go back and forth in a straight line, but the arms on the Stamina 1215 can also “swing out” to simulate rowing on the water with oars.  This feature isn’t common on rowing machines so it’s a great addition to have.

A very small percentage of users mentioned the wheels on the bottom of the seat started to wear down after a few months of use.  It’s likely that the cause of the issue was dirt and other fragment build-up in the seat railing.

When the wheels repeatedly go over the dust and other particles, this causes the wheels to deteriorate.  To mitigate the risk of this happening, it’s advised (it’s highlighted in the owner’s manual as part of ‘machine maintenance’) that the seat railing be cleaned periodically.

Overall, the rowing motion for this rower is excellent. The seat glides smoothly on the seat rail and the free motion arms provide a smooth, comfortable row.

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The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower allows easy folding of the free motion arms to reduce its overall footprint.
Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower with Free Motion ArmsIt folds up small enough to fit in a closet or store under a bed.

It is compact and fairly light, so although it doesn’t have wheels, it’s relatively easy to move around when needed.

A user advised to put a piece of cardboard underneath the rower if you’re going to slide it on wood or laminate flooring since the metal from the rower makes contact with the floor.

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Per Stamina, the weight capacity is 250 pounds but users weighing 280 and even 300 pounds claimed to have used the machine for an extended period of time without any issues.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms This shows how strong the machine is and I’m sure the weight capacity given by the manufacturer is conservative.

Piston-resistance rowers have a smaller seat rail compared to rowers with different resistance types, meaning this isn’t the ideal machine for taller people.

Users as tall as 6’2″ used the machine with no issues, but people have different inseam length so it’s inaccurate to say that all 6’2″ users can use the 1215 without any issues.

This rower isn’t ideal for shorter users either depending on how their body is proportioned.

One user that is 5’1″ claimed pushing and pulling the handles felt more like a shoulder workout rather than a back workout because the handles were too high for her.

Based on my findings, I recommend anyone taller than 6’2″ or shorter than 5’2″ to try out a machine at your local fitness store before buying to make sure it feels right for you.

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  • In-Use: 
    • 48.0″ x 32.5″ x 27.75″ (L x W x H)
  • Folded/ Storage:
    • 48.0″ x 32.5″ x 10.0″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 
    • 52 pounds

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The difficulty of assembly appears to be easy to moderate based on various user comments.

Most users who claimed it wasn’t too difficult took them about an hour to put the unit together. Whereas it took as long as 2 hours for a few others.

Expected time to put the unit together is 1-2 hours. Just follow the step-by-step instructions carefully and you will be fine.

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Pros and Cons


  • Solidly built frame
  • Free motion arms mimic rowing with oars on water
  • 5 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Independent rowing arms with its own piston allow each arm to have adjustable resistance
  • Option to raise angle of seat rail to add additional resistance


  • Footrests don’t pivot down far enough
  • Not ideal for shorter or taller people
  • Wheels underneath chair could wear out quickly if machine maintenance is not performed

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Consumer Reviews

Users were happy with the overall quality of the Stamina 1215.  They liked the durable frame and simple yet functional design. They also felt it was a good quality machine for the price they paid.

Read More Here:  Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms Review

Average Rating: 4.3

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  • Frame: 
    • 5 years
  • Parts: 
    • 90 days

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Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower Price

The price of Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms varies depending on where you buy it but Amazon tends to have the lowest price!

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I hope you enjoyed my Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower with Free Motion Arms review! If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below.

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