Life Fitness, Inc. was originally started as LifeCycle, Inc. until it was sold to Bally Manufacturing Corporation in 1984, becoming Life Fitness, Inc. The brand was founded in 1977 with their first piece of fitness equipment: the Lifecycle exercise bike, which was the first electronic piece of fitness equipment. Since then, the company has introduced the LifeRower in the 1980s, and then their first treadmill and line of strength training equipment in the 1990s.
Known for their innovative, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, Life Fitness was the first brand to create cardio equipment with iPod compatibility, and the first to create a fitness app that works directly with fitness equipment.
Today, the brand manufactures a wide range of commercial and home fitness equipment and currently operates as a subsidiary of Brunswick Corporation since its acquisition in 1997. Based in Schiller Park, Illinois, the brand has 9 other offices worldwide.
Life Fitness builds two indoor rowing machines, both with water tanks for smooth resistance: the GX Rower ($2219) and HX Rower ($1699). Each is club-quality and beautifully emulates the stroke path you’d use outdoors. Each can meet all body heights and ability levels too, though the GX Rower has more choices for preset resistance (16 instead of four). Other key differences between Life Fitness rowers are that the GX frame is all metal and has one rail, and the HX frame is part wooden and has two rails. Both Life Fitness water rowers need little floor space and are easy to move for storage against your home gym wall.
- Water Resistance: Water resistance rowers are preferred by many people for a number of reasons. For one, the sights, sounds, and feel of the water is an attractive quality of water resistance rowers. The experience is more pleasant, and the feel is fluid and natural as opposed to other types of resistance rowers. They aren’t as noisy, and the noise that you do hear is the pleasant sloshing of water. These particular models use the patented Fluid Resistance Technology system that creates a smooth feel, with the ability to modify levels of resistance without having to add or remove water.
- Appearance: Both models have different “looks”, with the Row GX featuring a more modern, sleek design, while the Row HX features a natural wood look that is better tailored for in-home use.
- Resistance Controls: With many water resistance rowers, you can only affect the challenge of the rower by empting or adding to the refillable water tank, but these models have a unique design that gives users the ability to choose precise levels of resistance with a turn-dial. You can’t change the resistance mid-row, but the ability to choose precise levels is helpful!
- Adjustable Footboard: Make your workouts more comfortable with an adjustable footboards and foot straps. These models don’t have pivoting pedals, but it’s nice that you can make these adjustments.
- Higher Weight Capacity: Both the HX and GX models have a weight limit of 330 pounds, which is well above average!
- High-Quality: Life Fitness is a premier brand known for their durable, high-quality fitness equipment and these rowers are no exception! Built with steel frames and commercial-grade quality parts, durability is a top characteristic of these trainers.
- Easy to Store: Not only are these rowers compact, they also feature transport and a folding frame design. When folded vertically, they are just under 7 feet.
- No Heart Rate Data: Heart rate monitoring is the perfect way to track calories burned, but neither of these rowers have heart rate monitors included. Life Fitness offers an optional “tracking package” where you can purchase a receiver and chest strap, but for the price it would be nice if this feature were included with the cost of the trainer.
- Smaller Display Screen: It’s hard enough to read a display screen while rowing, but it’s even harder on these models with small display screens that aren’t back lit either. You’ll get the basic workout data readouts but you might have trouble seeing it!
- Lacking Console: Adding to the limited features of the display screen, you won’t find any built-in workout programs, audio options, or anything of the sort on these rowers. This is pretty surprising from a brand known for their innovative consoles and high-tech offerings on their other fitness equipment models.
- Limited Warranty: You can purchase extended warranties from Life Fitness, but if you stick with the standard warranty included, you’ll get limited coverage that includes just 1 year on parts and up to 3 years on parts.
- Price: As stated, water resistance rowers are going to be pricier anyway but the price tag on these rowers is particularly a factor that’s not-so-great since they really lack any special features other than the Fluid Resistance Technology.
Life Fitness rowers are designed to provide the sensation of true water rowing, using a patented, state-of-the art water resistance system unlike many others. These rowers provide multiple customizable options that allow you to affect the challenge of your workout, and options to make your rowing experience more comfortable. These total-body, low-impact rowers with attractive designs are the perfect choice for users of varying skill level, ideal for anyone who wants more control over their workouts while enjoying the simulated experience of water rowing.