Need space to use and store
What is the Hydrow Wave?
The Wave is the second iteration of one of our favorite rowing machines, the original Hydrow, which won our Best Upgrade accolades. It’s more compact than the original model and $1,000 less expensive, making it an attractive choice for those with limited home gym space or smaller budgets. Its 6½-by-1½-foot frame takes up less space than many of its competitors, such as the NordicTrack RW900, our previous top pick rower, and it accommodates users up to 375 pounds and a 36-inch inseam. In comparison, the RW900 has a 250-pound weight limit.
The Wave’s 16-inch touchscreen is big enough to allow you to see your instructor and important workout stats clearly, without sacrificing compactness of the machine. Hydrow offers an abundance of rowing classes ranging from one minute to over one hour, as well as off-erg sessions such as strength, yoga, pilates, or recovery workouts—more than 4,000 classes total.
What does the Hydrow Wave cost?
The Wave costs $1,495 for the base unit and an additional $38 per month for membership, adding up to $1,951 for the first year of ownership (then just the membership fee thereafter). In comparison, the NordicTrack RW900 lists for $1,799 for the device itself plus $39 a month for membership. While you could purchase the Wave as a standalone unit, the Essentials Package comes with a mat to stabilize the machine and absorb any vibrations that occur during use for $1,560. If you want to splurge to get the most out of your training experience, the Wave Works package, which costs $1,895, includes the mat, as well as other training accessories that pair well with its complete suite of workouts, such as a heart rate monitor, wireless headphones, yoga blocks, a foam roller, and resistance bands, as well as private video coaching sessions with a personal coach to perfect your form.
How we tested the Hydrow Wave
Before sitting down and strapping in, we established what qualities we were looking for in an erg, including quality of the machine, class variety, and how much we enjoyed using it. We then completed multiple sessions on the Wave, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, and scored its performance accordingly.
What we like about the Hydrow Wave
The beginner-friendly programming
The first thing I noticed when using the Wave is how elegantly it introduces rowing to beginner users. Instead of diving right into programs or a class library, Hydrow recommends three beginner rowing sessions that explain the basics of proper form and what the statistics on the screen actually mean.
I rowed crew in high school so I have some experience under my belt, but I took two out of the three beginner classes to get reacclimated to the movements and warm up muscles I haven’t used in a while. (Hey, a refresher never hurt anyone!) The instructors who teach these classes are welcoming and make rowing seem much more approachable for newbies who may feel intimidated. They take plenty of time to break down how your legs, core, and arms should move and demonstrate slow and steady strokes so users can get the hang of the movement and rhythm of rowing. These classes, as well as the other classes available in Hydrow’s library, make sure rowers of all skill levels can use and enjoy the Wave.
Hydrow’s stellar classes
Rowing is a challenging exercise that builds strength and gets your heart rate up—as Hydrow instructors remind you, rowing uses 86% of the muscles in your body. Even a 15-minute class left me feeling sweaty and tired, but mostly strong and accomplished.
I was worried rowing multiple times a week would start to feel repetitive or boring—I always preferred rowing on the water to indoor sessions on the erg—but it never did. Hydrow’s classes have different goals—some are HIIT classes, some focus on form, some work up to rowing at higher speeds—all of which prevent the sessions from feeling monotonous. Not only that, each session is filmed on location on the water, somewhere around the world. When watching the screen, you see your instructor rowing away in a beautiful locale, with common settings including the Charles River in Boston and Miami Beach, Florida. Instructors direct you throughout class while moving through the water themselves in a one-person boat (known as “sculling”) and you get to see the scenery as they do.
In addition to the challenging classes, Hydrow’s instructors are top-notch, ranging from enthusiastic lifelong rowers to those who trained with Olympic-level coaches. They’re great at reminding you to check on your form, which is important to get the most out of each workout while avoiding injury. Their cheerleading is motivating and helped me power through more challenging parts of our workouts. I challenged myself more than I would have during class, and I was always left feeling excited to use the Wave.
You can also partake in off-rower classes such as yoga, pilates, and strength training to compliment your sessions on the erg. I only took a few short yoga classes for a warmup or cool-down and found they lived up to the quality of Hydrow’s rowing classes, even though there weren't as many options to choose from.
What we don’t like about the Hydrow Wave
It’s not always silent
While the Wave made for a smooth and quiet ride 95% of the time, it occasionally got noisy. I couldn’t figure out what was causing the ruckus, but every once in a while, when sliding forward towards the screen, the Wave would make a fairly loud snapping noise. It didn’t happen during every class, and after a minute or two it stopped on its own, but it disrupted my workout and created an annoyance. I contacted Hydrow to ask about this noise and was put in touch with the company’s support team, who said it was an anomaly and that they hadn't experienced similar complaints. Should you have a similar issue, Hydrow will work with you to determine the cause and replace any parts necessary, or the entire rower if need be.
How does the Hydrow Wave compare to the original Hydrow?
For starters, the Wave is smaller in size, which is a good thing, as the original takes up a fair amount of real estate in a room. The original Hydrow measures 86 inches long, 25 inches wide, and 47 inches high when sitting flat on the ground (both the Wave and the original can be stored upright when not in use). In comparison, the Wave measures 80 inches long, 19 inches wide, and 43 inches tall—shaving off 6 inches in length, 6 inches in width, and 4 inches in height.
The Wave’s 16-inch screen is also 6 inches smaller than the original 22-inch screen, yet I didn’t think the smaller display sacrificed the quality of the workouts at all. On the other hand, the original Hydrow monitor swivels 25 degrees left and right and tilts 15 degrees vertically so you can more easily see the screen during off-rower classes, while the Wave’s does not. This meant I had to occasionally crane my neck to see the yoga instructor, but it wasn’t as bad as I’ve experienced testing exercise bikes or treadmills with fixed screens, as the Wave’s is lower to the ground so therefore easier to see for mat-based workouts.
The Wave’s frame is made of polycarbonate, a type of resin, and weighs 102 pounds. The original’s steel and aluminum frame weighs 145 pounds—this difference could make a difference for anyone who may move the rower around. Also, despite the difference in materials, the Wave feels sturdy and high quality during use, and its new, streamlined design addresses some of the issues we had with the original Hydrow. For one, the handles are easy to grip and feel secure through sweaty workouts, something we felt was missing in the original model. You can also now pause your workouts, a feature missing the first time around (and one that I had to take advantage of once or twice during particularly challenging classes). The display never swayed or vibrated, and overall, the machine felt like it would last a long time.
What is the return policy and warranty for the Hydrow Wave?
If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, you have 30 days to request a return and get a full refund for your rowing machine. After that, Hydrow offers a five-year warranty for the frame and a one-year warranty for the components (handle, strap, seat), screen, and labor.
Is the Hydrow Wave worth it?
Yes, rowers of all skill levels will love the Wave
There aren’t many things I didn’t love about the Hydrow Wave. It’s a quality machine that’s more compact than many of its competitors and a good value considering the amount of workouts that are included with your membership. The intro classes will get novices up to speed in no time, and rowers of all skill levels will enjoy Hydrow’s workouts. Hydrow’s programming is challenging and fun, and I looked forward to incorporating the Wave into my workout routine.
The only downside to the Wave is the occasional noise it makes while in use. This happened rarely and resolved itself quickly, but you can contact Hydrow’s customer support team if it’s a persistent issue.
If you’re looking for a rowing machine, you can’t beat the Wave. It’s a great device and Hydrow’s programming will make you look forward to using it every day.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Health and Fitness
Esther is a writer at Reviewed covering all things health and fitness.
Checking our work.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.Shoot us an email