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The EnergyFit SKI-ROW is a combination of both a rowing and skiing machine in one (semi) compact unit. The biggest consideration should be how it compares to the Concept 2 Model D Rower and Concept 2 SkiErg and after comparing the two, Concept 2’s machines are vastly superior. Although we like the novel idea of the SKI-ROW, we do think there are some issues that need to be addressed before we can fully recommend it.
The 2-in-1 function of this machine is likely the strongest pull for any potential buyers. Unfortunately, this seems to be one of the primary selling points the EnergyFit SKI-ROW is capable of sporting. While featuring many of the mechanics of a ski-erg and rower in one, there is a lot missing from this machine which is not available at a cursory view. In this review, we'll go into the different purchase options one will definitely want to take into account before adding this machine to the cart. There are a few things we like about the SKI-ROW, but there are even more which cast a lackluster glow on this semi-gimmicky piece of equipment.
Minimizing space usage while maximizing versatility is one thing a home gym owner should always consider when purchasing new equipment. The EnergyFit SKI-ROW was obviously designed with exactly that in mind and is marketed directly at home gym owners.. The 2-in-1 feature this product boasts is quite interesting, as both aspects use the same Flywheel system to operate. In order to ski you simply lift the rower up to the skiing position, and in order to row you simply do the opposite. The addition of a gas-assist cylinder helps in lifting the beam and lowering it to the ground, so you don't have to worry about it slipping and banging against the ground, causing unnecessary damage.
Unlike some other ski-ergs or rowers, this product uses a digital interface to control resistance. There are many ski-ergs and rowers which have a digital interface, but few (if any) which make use of a "Magnetic Brake". Included with this digital interface is a Bluetooth and ANT+ Heart Rate Connectivity, which basically means it will connect to whatever smartwatch you have monitoring your heart rate. I'm not quite sure what the usefulness of that is, however, since anyone with a heart rate tracking wristlet will certainly have apps that do all the tracking they might desire.
The rust-proof extruded-aluminum seat-slider makes for a smooth rower glide, and front-mounted transport wheels assist in moving this bad boy from one spot to the next. This alongside the ski-erg means you're basically getting all the amenities of a premium ski-erg and rower in one rather compact package. At a current price point of $2,099, we'd suggest you read further to see why we think you may be better off with an alternative purchase decision, or maybe waiting for some improvements on this machine. The MSRP on this machine is $2,299, but due to the recent events involving COVID-19 they have introduced their temporary, lower "Beat COVID Pricing".
The SKI-ROW does come in two different versions, however. The SkiRow AIR+PWR version features the Magnetic Brake while the SkiRow AIR stips away this feature and comes at a considerably lower price. As of this review's release, the SkiRow AIR is only $1,699, but goes for $1,899 MSRP without the aforementioned "Beat COVID Pricing".
Obviously the primary selling point of this machine is its compact package. Limited space is a constant battle in most home gyms, and making the best use of that space is what I find to be the primary goal. My vision of a perfect home gym is one which fills every corner with use, and leaves no square footage awry. So for other home gym enthusiasts, I can see why this product may peak your interest. Having a ski-erg and rower in one compact package is appealing especially considering the rise in popularity of both cardio formats. This is certainly the primary appeal of the EnergyFit SKI-ROW.
On top of the compact nature of this machine is the satisfying transition from ski-erg to rower. All it takes is a quick pressing of the foot lever for the upright position to transition to the lateral seated position.
While being easy to transition between uses, this machine is also rather sleek looking. Coming in a matte black finish with red accouterment (ski handles and highlights), the EnergyFit SKI-ROW won't cause concern as an eyesore. The cheaper version, which comes in silver and orange is also rather pleasant looking.
Lacking in Comparison
When compared to alternatives on the market, this product really doesn't quite match up. I'm sure EnergyFit would not be quite privy to the comparison to Concept 2, but if I want to illustrate to you the difference in quality you could get between two machines at similar prices, it's pretty much necessary. We'll go further into those differences later in the article, so for now I'll just convey what turns me off from this product.
First off is the digital interface. Having the addition of a screen can certainly be helpful, especially considering the Bluetooth/ANT+ Heart Rate Connectivity functionality. This is all well and good, except for the fact that the magnetic resistance can only be changed through this interface, and is truly quite finicky. Watch our video on the SKI-ROW to see for yourself how frustrating it can be to increase or decrease resistance, and how dissatisfying, and almost unnoticeable the resistance change is.
Upon pulling on the ski-erg handles, one will immediately notice a considerable amount of slack before resistance kicks in. Possibly due to the shared cable system between the ski-erg and rower, this makes for a less than assuring start-up and possible interruption of flow if you are letting up high enough between ski pulls. On top of this is the unfortunate jostling which the machine exhibits while in the upright position. While not exactly getting in the way of one's exercise, it is certainly distracting and leads me to concern on the long-term reliability of this aspect of the SKI-ROW.
Of course, efficiency and convenience are two things that fit snug in the free market, but past market history shows that it isn't always a surefire bet. Much like the printers of the late-90's and early 2000s which tried to do everything in one machine, yet would fail if just one function of that machine broke, the EnergyFit SKI-ROW may very well suffer the same fate. Although the machine is quality-made so far as I can tell, it's definitely a concern that needed noting.
Aside from coming as a 2-in-1 set, this piece of equipment doesn't hold as much as a candle to the Concept 2 Model D Rower and SkiErg, and for more reasons than one. The two pieces of Concept 2 equipment simply blow both functions of the SKI-ROW out of the water in most categories, and maybe even the one category it strives to fill, compact design.
One would think that since the EnergyFit SKI-ROW comes as an all-in-one package it would at least be cheaper than both of it's biggest competition's pieces combined, but this isn't really the case. Even at it's current "Beat COVID Pricing", the SKI-ROW AIR+PWR is considerably more expensive than just buying both of the Concept 2 pieces of equipment, and the stripped-down SKI-ROW AIR is basically the same price. On top of this, the Concept 2 Model D Rower and SkiErg fit rather snug when coupled in a corner, just about as compact as the SKI-ROW even. If you really are looking for the easily accessed back-and-forth mechanism the SKI-ROW provides, it might be for you, but otherwise, I think you would be better off just buying the 2 Concept 2 pieces together.
The Concept 2 SkiErg, for example, exhibits no jostling or empty resistance at the start of the pull. It's just a quality piece of equipment and is a staple in my gym alongside its rower counterpart. No dealing with problems involving the digital interface, no magnetic resistance that doesn't seem to add much resistance it all. Just quality machinery that provides a solid cardio exercise.
So conclusively, we here at GGR suggest rethinking the purchase of the EnergyFit SKI-ROW until they either fix a few rather important problems we've uncovered, or lower their price to become a more sensible option for home gym enthusiasts trying to maximize their gym's versatility while minimizing their overhead. There is a lot to like about the SKI-ROW, but these aspects are outweighed by the aforementioned pieces of Concept 2 equipment.
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