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Tried and Tested: The Hydrow Wave

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About a month ago an email popped into my inbox, Hydrow – the ‘Peloton for rowers’ company that’s “known for bringing the on-water experience of rowing straight to your home” – was launching a smaller, more compact and cheaper version of its state-of-the-art rowing machine. The Hydrow Wave, the email revealed, was 30% lighter and £600 more affordable than the US-based company’s original machine and promised to address two of the biggest barriers that preventing people from bringing Hydrows into their homes: space and cost.

Given that I live in a one-bedroom London flat, I was, to say the least, interested. Because while rowing machines gather dust in gyms up and down the country, their benefits are undeniable. For example, a study published in Biomedical Materials and Engineering reported that by jumping on a rower, 24 people were able to significantly improve their body composition, muscle strength, muscle endurance, muscle reaction, agility, flexibility and explosive power. Meanwhile, another study by the English Institute of Sport found a session in the rowing hot seat works an impressive 86% of your body’s muscles. So when Hydrow offered to let me trial the new Hydrow Wave, I jumped at the chance, but did the machine live up to the hype?

Hydrow Wave: What’s in the Box

The Hydrow Wave was delivered in three separate pieces: the body and seat, the patented dynamic resistance machine and the 16” touchscreen monitor. It’s Ikea-ness meant the bemused (“I don’t often deliver to these type of buildings”) delivery driver had no problem getting it into my flat. Putting the pieces together was also quick and simple, with 5 minutes, an allen key, a screwdriver and a wifi password being all that was needed to get me started.

On first impressions, it’s difficult to argue with the fact that the Hydrow Wave is a beautiful piece of kit. It’s undeniably sleek and elegant, and it looks like you’re getting something for every penny of its £1395 cost. That being said, small it is not, and once it was installed, my living room immediately became the Hydrow room. It totally dominated the space, and it didn’t take long for me to realise that the company’s claim that it had eliminated space as a barrier to entry was slightly hyperbolic.

The Hydrow Wave measures 204cm long, 49cm wide and 110cm high. So while it may be smaller than its predecessor, this is a big machine and buying it is a big commitment. Do you really want to turn that second bedroom, office, conservatory or garage into a space for your rower or would you, as most people do, prefer to go somewhere with the space to house one of these things, like, I don’t know, a gym. Your choice.

Still, if space is a concern, Hydrow does sell an additional piece of kit that means it can be stored upright. That could be enough to solve the space problem for some people, but it is sold separately and does costs an additional £70.

hydrow wave review

Hydrow Wave: Performance

Now we’ve got that out of the way, we can get onto how the Hydrow Wave performs, and let put it this way, once you’re on the Hydrow Wave, its size, its heft, its cumbersomeness, pale into insignificance. To be honest, judging it on size alone is equivalent to buying a sports car and hating it for being impractical, not loving it for how it makes you feel when you’re out on the open road and the wind’s caressing your hair.

Starting your day with a row down the Charles River or the River Thames really does transport you from wherever you are in the world to a different place entirely. This feeling is only enhanced by the Wave’s tech, with the Hydrow being powered by magnetic resistance, rather than a fan or water tank, which, while there is still some sound, provides a much quieter workout and makes your row much more serene. It’s also useful because it makes hearing the coaches’ advice (and their enlightening, amusing and let’s face it sometimes inane chat) much easier. Although, the rower does give you the option to turn them down and turn the music up.

Hydrow Wave: Workouts

For £38 a month you’ll have access to the Hydrow Wave’s catalogue of live streamed and recorded workouts. You can filter them by things like location or DJ style, but most of the time you’ll choose a workout that belongs to one of three difficulties: breathe, sweat and drive. Breathe is for when you are just looking for a pleasant ride down Lake Tahoe. Sweat is for when you’re looking to turn the difficulty up a notch, and drive workouts are dripping-with-sweat, balls-to-the-wall, pedal-to-the-mettle, all-out assaults. You can flick through all these workouts on the Wave’s touchscreen, where, in addition to rowing workouts, you’ll also find warm-ups and cool-downs, as well as yoga and Pilates classes for your recovery days.

Classes run from between five and 45 minutes, and are led by GOAT rowers, such as Olympians Aquil Abdullah and Aisyah Rafaee. Abdullah actually takes you through your first session on the Wave and introduces beginners to the “legs, core, arms, arms, core, legs” rowing technique. The inclusion of these coaches is one of the Hydrow’s greatest features. Where else would you have access to experts of this calibre and be able to join them on the water and even take part in Olympic training sessions?

If you’re looking for something more difficult than a drive session, you’re a masochist and you need help, but the Hydrow does allow you to turn up the resistance it provides. It doesn’t encourage you to do this however and says it’s out-the-box drag setting of 104 replicates being on the water perfectly anyway. I never felt the need to mess with the resistance, and choosing the appropriate workout was enough to make the Wave as easy or difficult as I needed it to be.

hydrow wave review

For the technophiles out there, the Wave makes measuring how you’re doing in a workout simple too. On the screen you’ll find your strokes per minute and time per 500m. You can also connect the rower to external devices and calculate your calories burned and BPM. I found that connecting with a heart rate monitor was easy enough, but pairing it with something like an Apple watch was infuriatingly difficult. To connect your watch to the actual rower requires a third-party piece of tech. Apparently, you can connect an Apple watch to Hydrow’s accompanying app, but you’ll probably give up before you get the chance.

Hydrow Wave: Is It worth It?

So is it worth it? The Hydrow Wave is a beautiful machine, not to mention a serious piece of workout kit. It does take up a lot of space, but delivers everything from meditative to intense workouts.

I said earlier that a possible alternative would be to just use the rowing machine at your local gym, and you could. Hydrow has an app that allows you to access their workouts regardless of the machine you’re sitting on. But that’s missing the point. The Hydrow Wave feels and rides like a love letter to rowing. It was built by rowing enthusiasts for use by rowing enthusiasts, new and old. Rather than making me want to jump on any old rowing machine, taking a ride on the Wave made me want to get out on the open water. For most people, including me, that’s not possible or practical, so I suppose the Hydrow Wave will have to do, and as second options go, it’s a brilliant one.

Hydrow Wave colours

hydrow.com

Alongside the original Black, the Hydrow Wave is now available in Sunset, Sunrise, River and Forest. The new Hydrow Wave colours are available at hydrow.co.uk and priced at £1,695.

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