No workouts other than rowing
Ergatta is a connected rowing machine—also known as an ergometer or “erg” for short—that features an interactive 17.3-inch touchscreen placed atop a rower that uses water resistance, rather than magnets or air. This means the intensity increases based on how hard and fast you pull, and you can’t set a specific resistance on the machine. For its connected programming, instead of following along with cues from a trainer on the screen, the user’s efforts guide an avatar on the screen through challenges or races.
The Ergatta itself measures 86 inches long (just over 7 feet), 23 inches wide, and 40 inches tall—comparable in length and a little less tall than other rowers. You can tilt the screen down, which brings the height to 22.5 inches, or prop the rowing track upright against the wall (as long as your ceiling height allows it), where it will stand over 7 feet tall. Ergatta is rated to support weights up to 500 pounds and has a height limit of 6 feet 8 inches.
The machine costs $2,199 with an extra $199 shipping fee (that includes “white-glove” assembly) applied at checkout. No-interest financing is available starting at $62 a month for 36 months. You must purchase at least one month of the $29 Ergatta membership at checkout—after that first month, you can opt out of the membership and simply use the rower while the tablet displays your basic metrics. This puts the grand total of the first year of ownership at $2,746, provided the rower is paid in full and you choose to continue using its app. This is a big investment, and one that’s about the same as our best upgrade pick, the Hydrow, which comes to $2,701 for the first year of ownership.
How does Ergatta work?
When you’re just starting out, you take a brief fitness test, and the machine calibrates and recommends games to match your fitness level. When choosing a workout, you can pick between “push programs” (a collection of workouts intended to help you reach a certain goal), interval training (classes that encourage you to hit certain benchmarks over the course of the workout), and races, which allow to challenge a previous or current user or race against anyone who has rowed the course. You can also choose an “open row,” which allows you to row through a scenic body of water in virtual reality, in which the scenery on the screen moves as you row—at any speed and however long you’d like. After each row, the screen shows how you did in that workout compared to other ones, so you have a visual representation of your progress.
In the games, Ergatta tells you to row at different intensities for certain intervals, from a gentle “paddle” to an all-out “race,” and your avatar on the screen shows whether you’re meeting the goal—if you are, you may collect tokens along the way. In the races, the aim is to beat the other rowers, so the display just tells you how fast you’re going. No matter what you do, the screen shows metrics like distance (in meters), time, strokes per minute, and a calorie burn estimate. Before starting each workout, you choose to play music from various genre “stations,” including pop, country, and old school hip-hop (it’s real music, too, not the canned approximations of popular songs that some workout apps play).
The game-based approach doesn’t exclude beginners, either. Ergatta makes a brief exception to its instructor-free rule with an introductory video, in which someone sits at an Ergatta and shows you how to use correct form with the machine. This is a great way to acquaint yourself with the mechanics and learn how to make the most of your workouts.
What we like about Ergatta
Solid, high-quality equipment
One of the best things about Ergatta is how it excels as a standalone rower. The foam rubber seat feels supportive and slides evenly across the beam, and the rubber-coated handles are easy to grip and resist slipping, even during sweaty workouts. The water in its tank makes some noise during rows, but it’s a pleasant swishing sound, not anything grating. Overall, the whole machine feels sturdy and well made—and, with its 500-pound weight limit, it’s one of the most inclusive options we tried.
I’m no design expert, but the Ergatta is also the most aesthetically pleasing rower I tested, thanks to its sleek, understated wooden frame. Other than the tiltable screen, it doesn’t fold up, but I don’t think it needs to—if you have the floor space to use it, you’ll want to keep it out in the open. Plus, it has wheels, so it’s easy to move around if needed.
Game-based approach feels unique
I’ll be honest: I really, really like instructor-led workout classes. The corny mantras, inspirational speeches, charisma overload—I live for it all. That said, I enjoyed Ergatta’s trainer-free classes, and someone who doesn’t fall hard for the motivational jargon as much as I do will probably enjoy them even more.
Playing a game as part of my workout, and watching my avatar correspond with my rows, kept me engaged for up to 35 minutes (the longest session I logged—and I test equipment during the work day, so I probably would have gone longer if I hadn't had to return to my email). In a way, it made the objective of the workout more clear, as I didn’t have the distraction of a trainer trying to talk me through a workout. On the flip side, I found my attention occasionally waning more than I do during trainer-led workouts, but I don’t think someone who tends to roll their eyes at instructors will have the same problem.
What we don’t like about Ergatta
Lack of workout variety
One thing that bummed me out about my time with the Ergatta is that it only offers rowing classes, and no off-machine classes like yoga and HIIT for cross-training, like most other connected machines do. (This is likely because it’s difficult to replicate the instructor-free game model when you’re off the rower and don’t have something to physically track your moves.)
Rowing machines engage more muscles than most other pieces of workout equipment—86% of them, according to one oft-cited study—but it’s still important to mix up your workout routine. Ergatta’s $29 monthly membership fee is less expensive than most other pieces of connected workout gear, which usually cost about $39 a month. And, if you’re OK with not having classes play on your rower’s touchscreen, you could always sign up for another workout app or peruse YouTube for cross-training classes. Still, not having those off-rower options at my fingertips felt like enough of a miss to dock some points.
The Ergatta comes with a five-year warranty on the frame, three years on components, and one year on the screen—not the best warranty out there (that title goes to NordicTrack), but comparable to most other high-end pieces of workout equipment. You may also purchase an extended warranty that provides an extra two, three, or four years of full protection for an additional $209, $299, or $369, respectively.
What owners are saying
Ergatta lists 323 user reviews and a 4.9-star rating on its site. Most reviewers love its thoughtful design and video game-esque approach. “The workouts are incredible and you can really feel that your entire body has been worked,” writes a reviewer. “On top of that, the gamification of Ergatta literally makes you forget you are working out. It looks incredible, is easy to store, and really has made me enjoy working out again.”
Other buyers have issues with the rower’s footholds, with the main complaint being they are too close together. “The only thing that prevents me [from] giving it 5 stars is the lack of ability to adjust the width of your foot placement,” writes a reviewer. “I have large legs, and the narrowness can be quite uncomfortable, especially putting pressure on the outside of my knees.”
Should you buy Ergatta?
Don’t mind paying top dollar for a top-quality connected rower and like the idea of being motivated to exercise by a gaming system? Go for it! You’ll have to find another way to do non-rowing workouts, but that’s a minimal flaw in an otherwise very worthy system. Once the Ergatta is set up in your house, we think you’ll be thrilled to have it.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Sara Hendricks is an editor with Reviewed covering health and fitness.
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