If you’ve been tempted to buy-in on Peloton and get a piece of smart home gym equipment, but haven’t been able to pull the trigger due to space constraints (Tread isn’t the easiest to squeeze into apartments, even less so if your floors can’t handle the impact) or lack of interest in modality (cycling isn’t everyone’s jam), Peloton Row might pique your interest.
Today, Sept. 20, the company unveiled its sleek erg as well as some new instructors. We got a chance to demo the new rig at Peloton’s Manhattan West Showroom and chat with some of the brains behind the design.
What It Is
When you’re a pioneer, you need to innovate. You’re also held to a higher standard, so it’s no surprise Peloton Row is gorgeously designed. The 24-inch HD Swivel Screen pivots 45 degrees, like Bike+, to make a seamless transition from the rower to the floor if you want to do Row Bootcamp and Strength classes. In fact, because the rower is at the same plane of view as you, it’s arguably the best piece of equipment for bootcamp-style classes because you don’t have to worry about the machine’s configuration in your room impacting your ability to fully see the screen, lending a more immersive experience.
Peloton Row offers vertical stowability (a must these days). Thoughtful features include an upright wall anchor and a rail handle to easily fold the machine when not in use. That attention to detail carried through in all parts of design in the form of an accessories try to stash your phone and water bottle, and an ergonomic handle. Designers didn’t want the rower to feel like a boat that mimics the experience of rowing on water. The bar sweeps 10 degrees back rather than forward like oars, which engages more of your lower back, and keeps your wrists from pronating and shoulders from fatiguing as quickly. Moreover, the bar has a middle triangle so you can grab it with one hand to adjust a foot strap or get a sip of water mid-workout; this design is also suitable for adaptive athletes.
The seat is sizable and contoured to relieve pressure points (45 or 60 minutes on a rower is no joke). The seat carriage also has eight wheels to keep things sliding smoothly. In the same vein, Peloton Row uses a flat belt (think tether), rather than a chain, that uses technology-enabled, electronically controlled resistance so every stroke is frictionless and practically silent.
You’ll notice some rowers have a damper lever on the side of the flywheel housing or fan cage to play with resistance. On Peloton Row, you create the resistance. The harder you pull, the greater the resistance. You can manually go into the settings and adjust the Drag Factor (light 100, medium 115, heavy 130), though it’s only recommended if you’re an advanced athlete. In any case, it maxes out at a ceiling of 230.
This damping mechanism is also more sophisticated than what Peloton has used in the past, so you won’t disturb others while rowing (can’t do anything about your labored breathing, though).
Why We Like It
A beautiful piece of fitness equipment is just a beautiful piece of fitness equipment unless functionality brings it to the nth degree. That’s where Peloton’s really outdone itself. The Tread and Bike are intuitive to use. Rowing is far less so. To tackle the main issue of form competency, Peloton has a calibration process called Form Assist that goes through the main components: catch, drive, and finish. You’ll watch a video demonstration and hold each position for a short amount of time so the machine can learn your body’s unique range. After all, everyone has different limb length, mobility, and flexibility.
Sensors collect data on your body’s positioning, as well as the length of the tether and seat position. Once you go through this calibration, the in-class screen will show a mini version of you. As you move, so does your avatar; it’s like a mirror. During class, you’ll get real-time feedback on your form so you can make tweaks to optimize your stroke. If you lean too far back, your avatar’s spine will flash red. If you shoot the slide, your lumbar and glutes will light up. If you open up too early in the stroke, your arms and back will glow. It’s a brilliant visual tool that helps you feel and see how well you’re moving as if you had a coach or personal trainer overseeing your workout.
Aside from Form Assist, the class screen will also show Heart Rate, output (stroke power), Rhythm Wave (helps achieve a smooth stroke), Pace (time it would take to go 500m at current speed), and Stroke Rate (current pace in strokes/minute). A ring will fill up green on each interval to act as a visual representation of completion. If you just want to lose yourself in a workout, double tap the screen to hide all metrics.
Personal Pace Targets are another great tool that makes classes suitable to all skill levels. Maybe your hard effort isn’t the same as someone who rowed competitively in college, so Peloton offers customizable pace targets that contextualize instructors’ cues so you know how much intensity to bring to each interval. Matt Wilpers likes to think of them as fitness buckets. You can level up, but will never feel alienated.
In terms of offerings, you can choose among Instructed Row and Row Bootcamp with Guided Scenic and Live classes coming early next year. Row coaches will include some OGs and some new faces: Matt Wilpers and Adrian Williams are adding Row to their repertoire, and Peloton welcomes new instructors Ash Pryor, Alex Karwoski, and Katie Wang.
As with any Peloton experience, the goal is to make fitness habitual. Fun is at the core of the brand’s wildly successful model, and that’s largely thanks to the wide range of personalities and music. Rowing tends to have a stigma of being inaccessible to beginners. Peloton wanted to demystify and take away the intimidation factor to make it more approachable. You’re guaranteed an effective workout with rowing (you can hit 86 percent of muscles in as little as 15 minutes), but with Peloton you get the added bonus of fun-first content.
Post-class analytics and insights are another major draw. You’ll get a form rating so you can track your performance and progression over time. In the moment, the screen will break down how effective and efficient you were in the catch, drive, finish, and recovery stages. I trialed Matt Wilpers’ 15-minute Tabata workout and got an overall form rating of 86 percent (catch: 86%, drive: 64%, and finish: 93%). The specific feedback where I could see the greatest room for improvement was the drive.
Instruction on proper form cues is shown on-screen: “Start by pushing with your legs, then lean back and finally pull the handle into your chest.” But it goes a step further and provides more granular feedback on my unique drive errors. In 36% of strokes, I opened up too early. Coupled with the in-class feedback, this is a great way to see areas of inefficiency so you can really master a skill, not just sweat.
Starting Sept 20, you can pre-order and/or trial Peloton Row in showrooms. Delivery begins December 2022.[From $3,195, includes delivery and setup; does not include optional accessory packages and $44/month subscription cost; onepeloton.ca]