Ergatta Review: Machine turns rowing into a game


Ergatta Review: Rowing machine makes movement a game

“Play your way to fitness with Ergatta’s water-based rowing machine.”

  • Compact size with vertical storage

  • Beautiful wooden frame

  • Calibrates to your fitness level

  • Playing is motivating

  • Water mimics rowing

  • No video training

  • Demanding for beginners

  • Open row is monotonous

Not everyone wants to endure the monotony of running on a treadmill or stepping on a bike. As a result, more and more people are turning to rowing for cardiovascular and core strengthening workouts. Most rowing machines stick to the basics, but the Ergatta water rower defies convention with its beautiful wooden frame and playful training experience. Does the Ergatta deliver more than just good looks and good games? We put the rower to the test to find out.

Installation and setup

Installation and setup of the rowing machine took less than 30 minutes. The unit arrived almost fully assembled, with wheels that made it easy to roll it exactly where I wanted it to be. The technician filled the rower with water and he was ready to go. Before I left, the technician gave me a quick tour of the basics of folding and turning on the Ergatta.

It was my responsibility to connect the rowing machine to my Wi-Fi network and set up my Ergatta account. It’s also worth noting that Ergatta charges $ 199 to ship and install the rowing machine, in addition to the $ 2,199 for the machine.

Looks like luxury furniture

In contrast to the industrial look of most rowing machines in the gym, the Ergatta is characterized by the fact that it looks more like a piece of furniture. The cherry wood frame and the transparent water tank go perfectly with any decor. It definitely looks unconventional, but it is for sure the best looking rowing machine available right now.

The Ergatta is made by WaterRower, a well-known brand in the rowing world, and it shows. Everything about the rowing machine is of high quality. The seat rolls smoothly, the pull on the oar handle is even and the display is easy to read. Exercise equipment shouldn’t have to be intimidating. With the Ergatta you get a feel for nature because it feels like you are rowing a boat across water.

Compact size for storage

I have a small gym and I was afraid the rowing machine wouldn’t fit. When it arrived I was shocked at how little space the Ergatta takes up. The rower is narrow and not too long, so it doesn’t take up much space when using it. I was able to slide it between the wall and my treadmill. The Ergatta is also amazingly light and compact. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to move it – anyone can lift it to store it or roll it to a new location.

When you have finished your exercise, you can reclaim your living space by keeping the Ergatta upright. The engineers behind Ergatta thought about it a lot and made it incredibly easy. It takes three simple steps: flip the monitor flat, lower the monitor arm, and lift the end until the Ergatta is upright. When it’s upright, it takes up about the same space as a dining room chair. This is important because most other cardio-based machines tend to take up more space. The Ergatta is perfect for apartment residents.

Smart rowing

To start with, Ergatta introduces you to rowing with some tutorial videos and a 2,000 meter series to calibrate the machine to your fitness level. Once your basic fitness is established, the software can choose workouts that are neither too easy nor too difficult. After 10 activities you will be asked to calibrate again. If you think these workouts are too difficult or too easy, you can always recalibrate them.

The ergatta uses water as resistance to mimic both the feel and the sound of rowing outdoors. The rower increases or decreases the resistance depending on how fast or hard you are rowing. There are no magnets or resistance bands involved. The faster or more forcefully you row, the harder it gets.

Addicted to rowing

Ergatta does not offer live training or video training that is taking the world of the home gym by storm. The rower instead plays the workout experience and sets it apart from all other home fitness equipment I’ve used.

With the Ergatta you can choose between training and competition. During the exercise, you will be asked to row at a certain speed or with the right force. Instead of having a coach yell at you to “row harder” or “keep going”, the Ergatta uses a virtual ball to show how hard or fast you are rowing. In a game you have to hold the ball in a pre-defined zone for a certain amount of time. If you row too slowly or too quickly, you will leave the target area and will not be able to complete this level.

This gamification was extremely committed. Time flew by as I concentrated on keeping my virtual ball in the target zone. I didn’t count the minutes or the number of strokes – I was totally involved in the game. Sport should never feel like work or work – it should be fun and rewarding, which is exactly what you will find at Ergatta.

Race for the prize

When you are done training, you can join a race with eight other rowers of the same skill level. Some races ask you to row long distances while others use sprint intervals. Your times will be recorded and you will be listed among other racers as well as on a global leaderboard. I spent most of my time on the Ergatta taking part in the various races. I usually start with a quick warm up and then jump straight into the races. After three or four races, I was sweaty and tired.

I pushed myself to the limit during the race and enjoyed every minute.

Open rowing was disappointing

Ergatta also has an open row option that allows you to row at your own pace without thinking about racing or training goals. I eagerly opened this section to see how Ergatta applies its approach to the game to free line training. I was disappointed when I discovered there weren’t any. There was no game to challenge me, no competitors to push me. It was just me and my stats.

After using Hydrow and iFit, I longed for a video scene, video trainer sharing stories, or some other visual stimulus. Unfortunately, Ergatta does not accept video training. If the company ever did, the open range would be an ideal area to implement it.

Demanding for beginners

As a beginner, I found it difficult to get into a groove. The tutorials were helpful, but I missed the video instructors. With Hydrow, I was able to mimic the coach’s strokes and shape while rowing. I didn’t have this feedback on Ergatta and got sloppy, especially when I was tired.

I also found that some of the workouts were too long for a beginner. I started the simplest 30-day training series and was encouraged after the first workout. It was short but challenging. The activity on day two was twice as long and I couldn’t complete it. I was discouraged by my performance and the endurance that Ergatta expected on my second day.

I felt similarly challenged by the races and training sessions. Most of them were longer than I could handle. I found some short races and training sessions, but most of the training sessions lasted 20 minutes or more. Ergatta is always adding new content so I hope more sessions in the 5 to 10 minute range are added.


The Ergatta is priced at $ 2,199, plus an additional $ 200 for shipping and installation. You can buy it in a lump sum or finance it over 24 months. Like most smart home fitness equipment, the Ergatta rower requires a monthly subscription. You can pay $ 29 monthly ($ 290 annually) to access the full library of workouts and races. You can also add an unlimited number of accounts for your partner, roommate or children to join.

You can use the Ergatta without a subscription, but you lose access to the races and training games that make the rower well worth the price.

Our opinion

It may look like it belongs in a showroom, but don’t let the Ergatta’s stunning looks fool you. It’s a powerful rowing machine with a game-based interface that motivates you to exercise.

How long it will take?

The Ergatta is a tank with a solid wood frame that can hold up to 500 pounds. Treat it well and it will last a long time. The frame comes with a five-year warranty with a three-year parts warranty and a one-year tablet warranty.

Is there a better alternative?

Thanks to its game-based training and cherry wood frame, the Ergatta is in a class of its own. If you want a more traditional rower with video training, consider either the Hydrow or NordicTrack RW900 rowing machine. Both rowers offer instructor-led exercises and strength training outside the rowers for a full-body workout.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely. If you enjoy rowing and are short on space, the Ergatta is worth every penny.

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