Rowing: The best cardio workout you didn’t know you needed

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Rowing—the other, more exciting way to get your cardio in—engages your entire body and requires keen attention to your technique. The result? A much more immersive, results-driven way to work out. In fact, a whopping 86% of your body is actively engaged at any given time during a rowing workout, compared to just running or cycling, both of which primarily target the lower body. 

Historically somewhat inaccessible (how many gyms have rowing machines?), rowing has become more mainstream and easy to enjoy, thanks largely to Hydrow, a manufacturer of at-home, high-tech rowing machines. 

Nicknamed the “Peloton of rowing machines,” Hydrow provides an absolutely enthralling workout experience. When you hop on a Hydrow rower, you’re not just rowing. You’re smooth-sailing through the canals of Venice, rowing in sync during team workouts on the Hudson River, or maneuvering mangrove trails off the shores of Miami. 

Hydrow wasn’t lying when it dubbed itself the Live Outdoor Reality™ (LOR) rower: The Hydrow team actually films these workouts live on the water from all around the globe, so you’re seeing exactly what you’d see if you were rowing these destinations in actuality. 

The 22-inch touchscreen display, front-facing speakers, and computer-controlled drag mechanism on the rower all contribute to Hydrow’s seamless, engaging experience. And, thanks to the rhythmic and relaxing nature of rowing, Hydrow workouts hardly feel like workouts—rather, they feel like a rejuvenating breath of fresh air. Trust us, your body is still working hard, but Hydrow removes the typical dread that comes with working out. 

Hydrow’s collaborative membership experience and app represent what the entire brand is built upon: community. When you buy a Hydrow rower, you’re investing in more than just a machine (although the machine alone is worth the investment). You’re investing in an active, uplifting, motivating community and a guild of the world’s best fitness trainers. 

So, yes, the technology is top-notch, but let’s get back to what started this ode to rowers. Scientists have long known that rowing provides more health and fitness benefits than cycling, and those findings still hold true today. Rowing requires you to generate power from your legs, stabilize and engage your core and utilize strength in your back, arms and shoulders. Other forms of cardio, in contrast, require minimal effort from the upper body. This whole-body effect is thought to increase cardiovascular capacity more than other forms of exercise.

In short: If you are a fitness enthusiast looking for a more exciting, more effective way to increase your fitness—or if you’re a beginner who doesn’t want to waste any time reaching your goals—Hydrow is a strong contender that you should consider adding to your home gym. They have a growing library of 1,700+ live and on-demand workouts and even offer On the Mat workouts, such as pilates, yoga, strength training and more.

Hydrow offers a few different packages at different price points, and you can choose to finance for as low as $63 per month, interest-free with Affirm. Hydrow also guarantees a 30-day money-back return, but you probably won’t need to take advantage of that.

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