planet fitness

Planet Fitness Rowing Machine Reviews

planet fitness

Exercise equipment has evolved and isn’t just for gym rats anymore. There is a machine available today for whoever wants to exercise, whether the user is just starting out, an elite athlete, or somewhere in the middle. Do you have limitations due to age, disability, or just years of avoiding exercise? Planet Fitness has a machine that you may not have tried: the Planet Fitness rowing machine. To compare the Planet Fitness rowing machine with other types of exercise equipment, we’ve reviewed the most common cardiovascular and weight machines

The Planet Fitness rowing machine is only available at Planet Fitness, but if you get into rowing there are machines available for your home gym. To try out the Planet Fitness rowing machine, take Planet Fitness up on its offer for a free tour and day pass, which is available at most locations. At the gym, the Planet Fitness rowing machines are in the same class with treadmills, stationary bikes, or elliptical machines. But before taking a trip to the  gym, learn how the usual suspects in exercise equipment – bike, treadmill, and elliptical – stacks up against rowers like the Planet Fitness rowing machine.

What Is a Rowing Machine?

Like all exercise equipment, rowing machines recreate the outdoor exercise experience – in this case, being seated in a boat and rowing across a lake or against a current, up a river. Rowing requires use of the whole body, producing what is called a “full-body workout,” because arms, core (abdomen), and legs are engaged in repetitive but fluid motion. The nearest similar exercise to rowing is cross-country skiing or swimming, both of which are difficult to simulate using a piece of equipment.

Planet Fitness Rowing Machine Specs

The Planet Fitness rowing machine uses resistance in a seated position to work the “posterior chain” or lower body plus core (abdominal area). The machine itself is stationary, uses a pull T-bar, and involves mimicking rowing by pulling the T-bar toward the core, engaging the gluteal, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles as the user pulls forward with arms and pushes back with legs.

Pricing

This product can be purchased at major sporting good stores, starting at around $200 for a cheaper model. We recommend, if purchasing, choosing a more expensive model that is built to stay in one place. Most consumers choose a gym, such as Planet Fitness, to use rowing machines because they require a dedicated room unless the model is foldable. Like foldable treadmills, rowing machines can be stored in order to save space.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar exercise machines that are available at Planet Fitness to compare with the Planet Fitness rowing machine. All of these are on the market and can be purchased, but for most people, using a nearby gym is more convenient.    

  • Treadmill

  • Elliptical

  • Stationary Bike

Rowing Machine

Fit man training on row machine in gym

Ease of Use

Health Benefits

Muscles Effected

Recommended Interval

Ease of Use

Like the stationary bicycle, the rowing machine is a matter of sitting down, placing feet in stirrups (pedals), setting the resistance, and going. There are no safety issues, and the only control to manage is resistance.

Health Benefits

Rowing machines work all muscle groups, and regular use of the rowing machine builds the largest muscles in the body–the legs–which creates better circulation through healthier blood vessels, as well as the arms, which tones the upper body for a fit look. The rowing machine not only works all muscle groups, but provides an excellent cardiovascular workout on par with other whole body exercises like running or swimming.

Muscles Effected

The Planet Fitness rowing machine – in fact, all rowing machines – provide a simple workout that exercises triceps, biceps, shoulders, core, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. In addition, rowing machines exercise chest muscles through their pulling motion.

Recommended Interval

The Planet Fitness rowing machine requires only three workouts per week, because it builds upper and lower body while providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. Twenty minutes provides a good workout, and the recommended range is twenty to thirty minutes for most users. After building up a level of fitness, the rowing machine can be used for 45 minutes.

Pros

  • Full body workout
  • Cardiovascular and muscle building
  • Easy to use
  • A nice change of pace

Cons

  • Large machines can take up home gym space

Treadmill

treadmill

When the treadmill was invented, it changed the exercise game. Running has long been considered the best cardiovascular workout and the most natural. Runners engage the full body, and running is considered among the best cardiovascular workouts. Like swimming, running activates the whole body in a natural way and improves balance. A treadmill machine will recreate running outside quite well, offering the ability to alter incline and speed.

Ease of Use

Health Benefits

Muscles Effected

Recommended Interval

Ease of Use

Treadmills are straightforward: the machine provides a conveyer belt for the user to jog, run, or sprint on. The concept is simple, but for newbie exercisers the machine can be a bit intimidating. Of all the machines, the treadmill is the only one that can injure an unsuspecting user and could cause problems for someone with balance issues. For the vast majority of users, it is safe; but it should be used at low speed the first few times.

Health Benefits

Running is arguably the best cardiovascular exercise but can adversely affect joints, especially knees, over time. A treadmill is a better option than concrete sidewalks or asphalt roads, and about the same in terms of joint wear as trails or grass.

Muscles Effected

Although running on a treadmill mainly exercises the lower body, the natural use of arms and core does make this a full body exercise. The upper body does not get the same workout as the elliptical or rowing machine, but the natural motion of running engages the core and tones the whole body. Running will build the large leg muscles at least as well as the elliptical machine, but is much more effective at keeping up with those smaller muscles that we engage to stabilize.

Recommended Interval

A treadmill program is effective with just three days a week, for 20 minutes. Especially if using interval training such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), three days a week is plenty. Some runners enjoy varying the workout to include two HIIT days and two longer days of 30 minutes or more. Often, treadmill user aim for distance rather than time, slowly improving the ability to run farther at the same pace.

Pros

  • Comes closest to recreating outdoor experience
  • Humans are naturally proficient at running
  • Superior cardiovascular workout
  • Builds and maintains smaller, stabilizing lower-body muscles
  • Running burns more calories

Cons

  • Can create joint wear over time
  • Can lead to injuries
  • Machine should be used with caution

Elliptical

group of people doing Elliptical exercise machine

The elliptical machine is a favorite because it is low impact, unlike the treadmill, but involves standing, unlike the stationary bike or rowing machine. Elliptical machines emphasize fluid movement for a full-body workout that includes lower and upper body, and to some extent, the core. Like the treadmill, this is a solid all-around workout. If you sit all day, any exercise in a standing position is a plus. Elliptical machines are one of the pricier options for purchase to use at home.

Ease of Use

Health Benefits

Muscles Effected

Recommended Interval

Ease of Use

The machine uses a simple standing position, not unlike a cross-country ski machine, but is easy to achieve balance. Once standing in the foot pads, which are generous, the user simply accesses the electronic programming module to set incline and resistance. If balance is an issue, the elliptical is not the optimal choice, but for most people it is practical and safe.

Health Benefits

The elliptical machine is an excellent compromise between the treadmill and the stationary bike. Like a treadmill, it offers a strong leg workout and excellent cardiovascular benefits. Like the bicycle, it allows the user to relax and is not as intense as jogging or climbing. But the health benefits are not quite as good as one would get from rowing or running.

Muscles Effected

The elliptical machine focuses on the lower body, uses the upper body through pulling and arm extensions, and requires some use of the core to attain balance. The smaller muscles that are engaged when balancing are only slightly affected.

Recommended Interval

The elliptical machine requires use of the whole body and can give an intense cardio workout, therefore three days a week for 20 to 30 minutes is sufficient to maintain cardiovascular health and muscle mass. Elliptical workouts rival running in terms of calorie burning, so 20 minutes is plenty.

Pros

  • Low impact
  • Involves upper and lower body
  • Easy to get into a rhythm
  • Easy to learn
  • Can provide an intense cardio workout

Cons

  • Expensive for home purchase
  • Can get repetitive
  • Not recommended for those with balance problems

Stationary Bike

group of women doing exercise in a Stationary Bike

Stationary bikes were developed long before treadmills and are one of the old-school gym staples. Like the rowing machine, the stationary bike attempts to recreate the experience of riding a bicycle outside, up and down hills, and at different speeds. The simple stationary bicycle used by NASA to maintain muscle mass in astronauts has evolved to include recumbent models, “spinning” bikes for intense cardio workouts, and at-home trainers that hook up to your bicycle.

Ease of Use

Health Benefits

Muscles Effected

Recommended Interval

Ease of Use

Any exerciser can use this machine. It is the most accessible piece of gym equipment because it does not require balance and can be used at a very low resistance setting. It is highly recommended for individuals who have never exercised and are building up endurance and fitness.

Health Benefits

Exercise bicycles have health benefits, but the user has to design a program to increase intensity. They are excellent for interval training, such as HIIT methods, but it is easy for the user to stay at a low level and avoid challenges.

Muscles Effected

Bicycles focus on leg muscles. If only one muscle group can be targeted, legs are the best choice because quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles are the largest in the body. Yet today’s machines offer full body workouts, and those are superior.

Recommended Interval

Bicycling is a workout but usually involves long, less intense workouts. Bicyclists who exercise outdoors typically take long rides several times a week. It is recommended that the stationary bike be used at least five times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Stationary bikes are superior to riding outdoors in terms of creating an intense workout like spinning classes provide. Because leg muscles are the largest in the body, “sprints” on a bicycle can be as intense as other exercise; but most people use stationary bicycles at fairly low intensity.

Pros

  • Low impact
  • Great exercise for older individuals
  • Easy to combine with reading, TV
  • Can be designed for intensity

Cons

  • Does not provide full-body workout
  • Does not engage the core
  • Requires no balancing to work smaller muscles
  • Can be dull and monotonous

Conclusion

Exercise is the only way to counter our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and a gym is the logical choice. Using gym equipment creates a regular routine, because machines such as the elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike and rowers are all easy to master, safe, and provide a great daily or alternate day workout routine. In a gym, you are surrounded by other exercisers, and many gyms, including Planet Fitness, cater to new exercisers.

For regular gym use and working the most muscle groups, the rowing machine, treadmill, and elliptical are the best choice. For truly full-body workouts, however, the treadmill and rowing machine are superior. In the case of the treadmill, running is simply a more intense workout than elliptical because it requires balance, acceleration, coordinating both arms and legs for propulsion, and engaging the core to stabilize the body. In the case of the rowing machine, arm and leg muscles are equally engaged and exertion creates an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Ultimately, we recommend rowing and the Planet Fitness rowing machine in particular. Rowing doesn’t stress the joints, and using the machine is 100% safe for all exercisers, no matter the skill level.

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