Review: LifeSpan Rower

By JILL ADLER

My physical trainer looked at me dully when I announced that I used my stair-climbing machine three times a week for 30 minutes a pop. I explained that I was working to get ready for the upcoming ski season and for hiking backcountry near my home in Utah’s Wasatch Range. “You want an overall workout?” the trainer schooled. “Get a rower.”

Rowing machines, he continued, can give a full cardio immersion mashed with a toning workout. It’s full body, not just legs like my stair-climber. It will help me cross-train for the ski season, the trainer continued.

PCE Health and Fitness Lifespan RW1000 rower

Unfortunately, most rowers take up some serious real estate in your home. Most are pricey, too. After some research — and more nudging from my trainer — I eventually bought a rower from PCE Health and Fitness, a company in my home town of Park City, Utah.

The Lifespan RW1000 rower folds up and rolls into a corner in my home. It retails for $495, which didn’t break the bank. Now I have a machine that’s tidy and efficient, with a new workout regimen, too.

I stashed the unit in my living room, and it’s been a perpetual prod to get off the couch. In use, the Lifespan RW1000 is smooth and quiet. Its track can support up to 300 pounds without annoying the downstairs neighbors.

There’s a manual dial that adjusts to five resistance levels and a “no-slack retrieval system” that retracts the rowing strap. All of this sums up to mean you hop on a foam seat, strap your dogs into plastic footprints, and pull on the grips of a padded handle while you push with your quads. The bar is low enough to work your lower back and traps and just high enough to hit your deltoids and triceps.

Lifespan RW1000 rower folded up

Professional oarsmen might complain about the slight incline from the flywheel to the top of the track, but I dig it. That setup adds oomph to my quad workout. In addition, the pull action on the handle bar doesn’t quite emulate a true row like a fan or water model can, but you’ll still break a sweat.

There’s a battery-operated display for distance, time, calories burned, stroke count and strokes per minute. It works as your seat passes the sensor on the track but it’s only an estimate. For example, a tall person passes the sensor less often and so your distance may read less than what it should. To get a more accurate dashboard you’ll need to spend more on the company’s top-of-the-line machine.

If you can only do one pre-ski-season exercise for winter, make it 30 minutes a day on a rowing machine. My trainer was steering me the right way, and I am now a fan of this workout routine. The RW1000 is easy to transport, easy to assemble and easy to store. The only thing that is hard about this machine will be your workout.

—Based in Utah, Jill Adler is a Level-III certified ski instructor. As a writer, she covers skiing, adventure sports, and travel for publications including Sunset, SkiPress, Salt Lake magazine, FuelTV, and MSN.com.

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