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Rowing is a fantastic full-body workout. It’s good cardio, and it’s also low-impact and suitable for everyone from beginners to seniors to athletes to pregnant women. Although rowing may not get the same hype as running, there are plenty of good reasons to incorporate rowing into your home workout routine. 

If you’re on the hunt for a rowing machine for home use (which I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this), my Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower review will help you decide if this is the right piece of exercise equipment for you.

sunny space efficient rower 2

Row, Row, Rowing Our Way to Help You

Whether your priority is stocking your home gym with high-quality fitness equipment or reaching fitness goals on a budget, our team can help you find the right products. When it comes to rowers specifically, I’m pleased to report that I’ve used more rowing machines than I truthfully ever cared to—and the range runs the gamut from bottom-of-the-barrel to the most high-end—so I’m poised to help you make the right choice for your home.  

Space Efficient Rower

Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Magnetic Rower

Product Highlights

  • Space saving rower 
  • 16 levels magnetic resistance 
  • Model Number: SF-RW5987

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Affordable rower
  • Cushioned seat
  • Tilts upright for vertical storage
  • Floor stabilizers to keep rower level
  • 30-day money back guarantee

Cons

  • Shorter slide rail
  • Device holder blocks LCD display when in use
  • Resistance is weak
  • Screen difficult to read

Bottom Line

The Sunny Health and Fitness Space Saving Rower is a good rower at an affordable price, especially for beginner rowers.

A Quick Look at the Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower 

If you’re looking into a Sunny Health & Fitness magnetic rowing machine, you probably know by now that it’s important to know the different model names—seeing as the brand offers nearly a dozen different magnetic rowers. The Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower is the SF-RW5987 (or the SF-RW5935 if you choose the multifunction model), and it’s one of the brand’s popular magnetic models

My Tips

  • There are two models of this rower: the SF-RW5987 and the SF-RW5935. From what I can tell, the only difference is that the SF-RW5935 has a component that allows you to use the handlebars in an upright position in addition to the seated row position. 
  • Although this rower has 16 levels of adjustable resistance, Sunny products aren’t exactly known for providing challenging cardio workouts. If you’re a very conditioned person, you’ll want to look at something with more power and a heavier-duty flywheel, such as the Concept2 rower or, for magnetic tension, something like the NordicTrack RW600.

Pros: 

  • Affordable 
  • Compact and foldable for easy storage
  • Device holder 
  • 16 levels of resistance
  • Non-slip handlebars
  • Floor stabilizers to prevent shaking
  • Padded seat
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • Bottle holder

Cons: 

  • Short slide rail (44”); users with longer inseams may not fit on this rower
  • Weight capacity is below industry standard 
  • Tiny LCD monitor 
  • Won’t provide a great rowing workout for conditioned individuals
  • No Bluetooth or heart rate monitor connectivity

Best Rowing Machines Video Review

Is the Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower Worth It?

This machine costs about $320 when not on sale, but you’ll often find it for less than $300. To be real, there are a TON of basic rowing machines available at this price point, and based on my experience with several of them across several brands, you’ll get the same experience with any of them. 

Rowers are like massage guns in this sense: There are a handful of really great ones (typically at high price points) and then literal hundreds of inexpensive dupes that’ll get the job done.

That’s what this rowing machine is: a decent entry-level option that will get the job done for beginners and/or those who want to try indoor rowing but aren’t sure if they’ll keep up with it.

Great for:

  • People on a budget
  • Those who have small home gyms and need compact equipment
  • People looking for low-impact cardio exercise
  • Anyone looking to try indoor rowing without committing to a big purchase

Not recommended for:

  • Tall individuals (the slide rail is short)
  • Conditioned exercisers (it won’t be challenging enough)
  • People with a bigger budget and/or more space who can dedicate resources to a higher-end machine

Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower Specs

Footprint72” L x 18.5” W x 24.8” H
Weight49.4 lbs
Weight capacity285-lb weight limit
FoldableYes
Transportation WheelsYes
SeatCushioned seat
Resistance TypeMagnetic resistance
Resistance Levels16 levels of resistance
DisplayLCD digital monitor + device holder
ConnectivityNo Bluetooth or WiFi
MetricsScan, time, stroke total count, calories burned
ProgrammingNone built in
Warranty3-year structural frame / 180 days on other parts and components

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are largely positive on the Sunny Health and Fitness website. On Amazon, reviews are more mixed. 

Many reviewers wrote that they are happy with the product for the price, but most have minor qualms. For instance, one reviewer wrote: 

“So far, using it is great, with a few minor issues: The display isn’t working right for me….if you just get on and start using the clock will start, but every time I have used it once it gets to around 22 minutes, it just stops. I have no idea why, and there don’t seem to be any settings to change it. Not a huge deal, but kind of eliminates any value from the display.”

The reviewer goes on to say, “It is very quiet, however twice after about 20 minutes of usage it has started making a creaking noise. I have tightened the screws in the base (the pre-assembled part, not what I had to put together) and that seems to work for a while. My hope is that they won’t keep coming loose and having this problem going forward, but time will tell.”

sunny space efficient rower 3

“Overall I am happy,” the reviewer writes, “especially for the price, but I’m hopeful that it doesn’t have constant quality issues in the future.”

It seems that a majority of reviews on Amazon have this same sentiment: For around $300, the rower is fine, but it could be better. Well, that’s probably how you’ll feel about any piece of cardio equipment that’s under $500. 

Workout Experience on the Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower 

Based on my experience with other Sunny rowers, I would venture to guess that the workout experience on this very similar machine is decent at best for a conditioned individual. However, for beginners, the 16 levels of resistance may provide an adequate challenge. 

There is a device holder, so although there isn’t any built-in programming, you can stream rowing workouts on a tablet or your smartphone. 

sunny space efficient rower 6

This model has a bottle holder and a comfy seat, but the slide rail is quite short at 44 inches. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall, I’d probably be fine, but taller individuals will probably not find this rowing machine comfortable to use. For context, the Concept2 RowErg has a 54-inch monorail and supports inseams of up to 38 inches. 

On other Sunny rowers, I noticed that the angle of the machine isn’t super comfortable, either. I’d find myself tilting my neck down to look at the monitor, which can cause achiness over time. 

One thing I want to call out about this machine—at least the multifunctional version (SF-RW5935)—is that you can use it for upright rowing in addition to seated rowing. 

As a bottom line, I’d say this rower is probably okay for short-to-average-height people and anyone who isn’t looking for a super-intense rowing workout. 

Footprint and Portability

sunny space efficient rower 7

One of the best features about Sunny rowers is their compact size. The Space Efficient Rower measures 72 inches long by 18.5 inches wide by 24.8 inches high. You can fold it up when it’s not in use, in which case it measures 72 inches high by 18.5 inches wide by 24.8 inches long. 

This model features front-mounted transport wheels, too, so you can wheel it away for storage. When folded, it’ll fit in an average-sized closet. It weighs about 53 pounds, so most people will be able to move it around with ease.

Durability and Construction

sunny space efficient rower 4

This is a budget rower, so don’t expect to be stunned at the build quality. There are many plastic parts, and despite the floor stabilizers, you might experience some wobbling. I say this based on my experience with other Sunny rowing machines, most of which have shaken during use, even for me, who is well under the 285-pound maximum user weight. 

That said, for around $300, it isn’t terrible. Aside from the slight shaking during use, this rower will likely hold up for a while under moderate use. However, I expect most people who decide they enjoy rowing will probably upgrade before the machine fails. 


The good news is that there is no fancy display or wireless connectivity to fail you! 

The Ergonomics

sunny space efficient rower 8

Like most other rowing machines at this price point (and like most Sunny rowers across the board), the Space Efficient Rower is small and low to the ground. It does not have the most ergonomic build, particularly for taller individuals, who will find the 44-inch slide rail much too short to support a full rowing stroke. 

Due to the low seat height, older adults or anyone with limited mobility and/or balance might have a tough time getting on and off of this machine. Most people will also find themselves looking down at the monitor due to the angle of the machine, which could result in neck pain. 

The textured adjustable footplates are nice, as is the wide, cushioned seat and the non-slip handlebars.  

Technology Benefits and Conveniences

sunny space efficient rower 5

Tech is not the name of the game with this rowing machine. It doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity nor any built-in programming, although it does have a device holder so you can stream workouts from fitness apps or YouTube. 

Sunny Health & Fitness Space Efficient Rower vs Sunny Health & Fitness SPM Rower

SPM Rower

Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Interactive Rower

Product Highlights

  • Smart magnetic rowing machine with a 44-inch folding slide rail 
  • Transport wheels make it easy to move and store out of the way when not in use
  • 16 levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance
  • Maximum user weight is just 285 pounds
  • A small digital monitor for key workout metrics including calories, count, time, total count, and scan

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Compact and can be moved easily
  • Device holder
  • Quiet
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Highest level of resistance still not strong
  • Reports of monitor breaking
  • No pre-programmed workouts
  • 6.4-lb flywheel

Bottom Line

For less than $500, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Interactive Rowing Machine offers a lot of bang for your buck in a durable yet compact package for beginners on a budget.

ModelSF-RW5935/SF-RW5987SF-RW5941SMART
Footprint72” L x 18.5” W x 24.8” H80.7” L x 22.6” W x 22.4” H
Weight49.4 lbs53.4 lbs
Weight capacity285 lbs285 lbs
FoldableYesYes
Transportation WheelsYesYes
SeatCushioned seatCushioned seat
Resistance TypeMagnetic Magnetic 
Resistance Levels16 16
DisplayLCD digital monitor + device holderLCD digital monitor + device holder
ConnectivityNo Bluetooth or WiFiBluetooth
MetricsScan, time, stroke total count, calories burnedScan, time, stroke total count, calories burned
ProgrammingNone built inNone built in
Warranty3-year structural frame / 180 days on other parts and components3-year structural frame / 180 days on other parts and components

As you can see from this spec chart, these two rowers are nearly identical—the main differences being the dimensions and connectivity. The SF-RW5941SMART is slightly larger and has Bluetooth functionality. 

Read our full Sunny Health and Fitness SPM rower review.

Sunny Health & Fitness Space Efficient Rower vs Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Magnetic Rower

SF-RW5801 Rower

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Magnetic Rower

Product Highlights

  • Costs less than $300
  • Weighs just 50 lbs
  • Easy to store
  • Good entry-level purchase to find out if you enjoy rowing for exercise

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Costs less than $300
  • Weighs just 50 lbs
  • Easy to store
  • Good entry-level purchase
  • Folds for storage

Cons

  • Shorter seat rail
  • No preset workouts
  • Lots of plastic parts

Bottom Line

The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5801 is an inexpensive magnetic rower and a good "starter" rowing machine to find out if you enjoy it for exercise.

I tested the SF-RW5801 at our equipment testing facility in Missouri, and my impression of the SF-RW5935 (the subject of this review)—is that it’s largely the same. There are some minor differences, summarized in the spec chart below. You’ll notice the differences lie in the product dimensions and weight, and that’s about it.

ModelSF-RW5935/SF-RW5987SF-RW5801
Footprint72” L x 18.5” W x 24.8” H77” L x 23” W x 22.5” H 
Weight49.4 lbs49.6 lbs
Weight capacity285 lbs285 lbs
FoldableYesYes
Transportation WheelsYesYes
SeatCushioned seatCushioned seat
Resistance TypeMagnetic resistanceMagnetic resistance
Resistance Levels16 levels of resistance16 levels of resistance
DisplayLCD digital monitor + device holderLCD digital monitor + device holder
ConnectivityNo Bluetooth or WiFiNo Bluetooth or WiFi
MetricsScan, time, stroke total count, calories burnedScan, time, stroke total count, calories burned
ProgrammingNone built inNone built in
Warranty3-year structural frame / 180 days on other parts and components3-year structural frame / 180 days on other parts and components

Read our full Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW801 rower review.

Other Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machines

The few rowers covered in-depth in this rowing machine review are a far cry from the full line of rowers available from Sunny Health and Fitness. The brand manufactures more than a dozen different rowing machines at the time of writing, both with magnetic tension and hydraulic tension, as well as water rowers

The SF-RW5515, for instance, is another popular magnetic model. There’s also the SF-RW5941 and 5941SMART; the SF-RW5935; the SF-RW5622; and many more. The important thing to know is that all of these rowing machines are extremely similar in design, function, and price. If you’re a beginner at rowing for exercise, any of these models will suit you just fine. I wouldn’t get too caught up in the minute differences between them. 

Customer Experience 

When buying a Sunny Health and Fitness product, the customer experience depends largely on where you purchase the item. On Amazon, for example, you’re subject to Amazon policies; your experience might be different if you buy directly from the Sunny website. 

The policies on the Sunny Health and Fitness website are as follows: 

  • 30-day returns with free return shipping if the error is manufacturer-related. Buyer will pay shipping if the return is not due to a manufacturer defect.
  • Refunds contingent on the reason for return and the state of the item and packaging upon arrival at the Sunny facility (damaged items and packaging will affect the amount of your refund). 
  • Manufacturer’s limited warranty lasts three years for the rower frame and 180 days for parts and labor. 

Customer support is available via phone, email, and chat; there is also a help center with frequently asked questions.

Ordering and Assembling the Sunny Health & Fitness Space Efficient Rower

Although we didn’t assemble this specific rower, our team members have assembled various other Sunny rowing machines and other Sunny cardio equipment. It’s typically pretty easy. Sam Presley, GGR Operations Manager, had this to say about the SF-RW5801: 

““The SHF rower was an easy build. Simply attach the rail, seat, feet and foot holders and you’re ready to go. It comes well-packaged in a small box that is easily movable.”

Since the SF-RW5987/SF-RW5935 is so similar in specs, I’d expect the build process on it to be very similar. 

Final Verdict of Our Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower Review

This is a budget rowing machine with basic features. It’ll get the job done for beginners, but we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is serious about rowing and/or is looking for an intense conditioning tool. 

  • The Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower is compact and affordable.
  • It has a small LCD screen that displays basic metrics, although customer reviews indicate said metrics may not be accurate. 
  • It has 16 levels of magnetic resistance, but it still likely won’t be challenging enough for people with a long cardio training history. 

Full Rating

Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower

Our Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower review details the specs of this machine and compares it to other similar models to help you choose.

Product Currency: $

Product Price: 329.99

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
3.28

Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower

Footprint & portability – 4.3

Delivery & setup – 4

Durability & construction – 3

Customizations – 3

Ergonomics – 3

Workout experience – 3

Tech capabilities – 1

Customer reviews – 4.5

Warranty, financing, returns – 3

Customer service – 4

Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rowing Machine Review FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about the Sunny Health and Fitness Space Efficient Rower and rowing machines in general.

What is the best rowing machine from Sunny Health? 

“Best” is always subjective, and Sunny Health and Fitness makes so many indoor rowing machines that we can’t pick just one as the objective best. The brand has a wide range of both budget-friendly and pricier rowers, and the best for you depends on your budget and needs. We’ve tested a couple of Sunny rowers and think they are best-suited for individuals with moderate exercise needs. 

What is the best rowing machine for a home gym? 

Our team has tested dozens of rowing machines, and our top picks are: 

Best Rowing Machine Overall: Concept2 Model D Rower
Best Smart Rowing Machine: Hydrow Wave
Best Interactive Rowing Machine: Aviron Impact Series Rower
Best Folding Rowing Machine: ProForm 750R Rower
Best Budget Rowing Machine: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801
Best Rowing Machine for Cross-Training: NordicTrack RW900 
Best Water Rowing Machine: WaterRower
Best Compact Rowing Machine: Lifespan RW1000 Indoor Rower

You can read our full guide to the best rowing machines for more information on each one.

Are magnetic rowing machines any good?

Sure, magnetic rowing machines are great exercise machines. The better question would be if a magnetic rowing machine is right for you, or if you’re better off with a treadmill, elliptical, exercise bike, or even a different type of rowing machine. All types of cardio machines can have a place in a home gym, but you should choose the type you’re most likely to use consistently.

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