Review: Stamina ATS Air Rower – How Does It work?
Review: Stamina ATS Air Rower
Rowing machines are used by a wide range of people. Whether you’re into CrossFit and building a home gym, looking for a more traditional heart rate based workout, or you want something to help you train in the offseason, a rower is a great way to enjoy a workout while toning muscle and boosting your heart rate.
There are a lot of rower machine options, however, and after a quick search, you’ll find it’s easy to spend anywhere from $100 to way more than $1000. The Stamina ATS Air Rower is a mid- to a low-priced line that sits somewhere in the middle.
Below, we’ve included a buyer’s guide for rowing machines as well as a comprehensive review of the Stamina ATS Air Rower (both the 1399 and the 1405 models). We cover who will love this machine, and who should pass on it.
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What is an Air Rower and How Does it Work?
Rowing machines have been around since an admiral in Athens during the 4th century BC had machines mocked up to help train his sailors. For Admiral Chabrias it was all about learning timing and technique, but for most modern rowers it’s about putting in the training and building strength during the offseason.
Rowing machines in different forms have been on the scene since the 1940s or 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that Peter and Richard Dreissigacker created the Concept2, which consisted of a flywheel with paddles attached, that air rowers took off.
The Concept2 is still extremely popular and is still considered something of a gold standard. The paddles on the flywheel create wind resistance, so it’s a type of rower known as an air rower. There are three additional types of rowers: magnetic, water, and hydraulic or piston resistance.
Hydraulic Resistance Rowers
Hydraulic resistance rowers are the least popular simply because they don’t have the same real-life feel that a water or air rower has (the hydraulic pistons won’t allow your arms the full range of motion you’d experience in real life).
People appreciate these rowers because they are usually inexpensive and very quiet. They act more like a traditional exercise machine in that you can adjust the resistance. They’re also smaller. If you decide on this option, make sure you opt for a rower with a metal chain and not a fabric cord (attached the handle); many customers report problems with cords breaking.
Water Rowing Machines
Water rowing machines are very popular for several reasons. The first is that they feel and sound like the real thing. When you pull the paddles, the chain attaches to the flywheel which has paddles. The whole thing turns in water, which is enclosed in a tank. You’ll get the feel of water, and you’ll even get the splash!
Water rowers are the most expensive type of rower, but they’re also almost indestructible. They rarely break down.
Air rowers are also very popular among serious athletes for many of the same reasons that water rowers are. Even better, air rowers are less expensive.
An air rowers’ flywheels have fans attached to create air resistance. If completely enclosed, you won’t feel a breeze, but the if the flywheel cage is open you’ll need a nice flow of air while you paddle.
Just like with a paddle in water (or a paddle in the air!), the faster you move the paddle, the harder the water or air pushes back. Some air rowers enable to you alter the vents to adjust resistance, but most rowers follow the simple principle: the harder you row, the more resistance you’ll encounter.
The main complaint that people have when purchasing an air rower is the noise. The flywheel will create some noise as you use the machine, especially if you’re using it at a high level.
A rower is a large purchase that requires thought and research. Here are the most important things you should consider:
Rowing machines aren’t small, but some can be folded and have wheels so they can be wheeled out of the way when you’re finished with them. They also vary in size. While the Concept2, for example, is a whopping eight feet long, others are much shorter.
Size and suitability for tall people aren’t always a direct comparison, however, so keep that in mind. You should carefully consider the leg length limits as well as the weight limits, as, again, these can vary quite a bit from machine to machine.
Finally, height is a consideration. Some machines sit directly on the floor which can make them difficult to access if you have limited mobility. Some will have legs that lift them from the floor. However, these will sometimes cost more.
What kind of data do you want your rower to track for you? Some have very sophisticated data monitors and consoles, while some are very simple. If, for example, you plan on keeping your rower for many years, a simpler data readout that’s less likely to become obsolete will probably more appropriate.
Also, keep in mind that more advanced tech means you’ll pay more. You can find machines, for example, with wireless heart rate monitors and pre-programmed workouts, those these tend to be rare.
Try to make sure, however, that your console is backlit, as this will make for optimal readability.
If it’s possible to try your machine first, do so (if only to test out the seat). You can contact the vendor to try local showrooms or contact local gyms to find out what models they have on the floor (these are usually commercial-grade and won’t be perfect matches, but they might have similar seats).
At the very least, pay careful attention to reviews.
If your feet are larger than normal, make sure the footplate will accommodate you comfortably. This is a small thing, but it’s a non-negotiable.
Chain or Cord
A chain is more durable but must be maintained (oiled) regularly. A nylon cord is a less expensive alternative but is also less durable. If you are using light to medium force and/or are purchasing a machine with a solid warranty, you can probably get away with a nylon cord (another option would be to research how easy it is to replace the cord on your particular machine in case it does snap or become worn).
If you are heavily training, however, we recommend a metal chain.
How much assembly is required? Will it take all day? Is customer support available if you have questions? Will you need another person’s assistance?
Warranty and Customer Service
We’ve already referenced the importance of good customer support, but make sure to pay special attention to the warranty information provided, as well as customer reviews indicating experience with the customer support team. Is it easy to get issues resolved?
A few disgruntled reviews shouldn’t signify concern; however, a multitude of reviews indicating the same problems with support should indicate a pattern of bad service.
The Breakdown on the Stamina ATS Air Rower (Both Models)
Stamina is an established maker of exercise equipment and is known for creating a value product. Depending on the outlet, you’ll be able to purchase one of several available models from retails or from Stamina directly.
The Stamina ATS Air Rower line includes the 1399, 1402, and 1405 models. All are air resistance machines, making them great options for people who want to train under realistic conditions without paying for a water rower.
Quality Construction at a Value Price
All three of the Stamina ATS Air Rower models are solid mid-range machines that provide all the rowing benefits at half the price of the Concept2. All are built on metal frames that can be folded and wheeled away easily and simply. They’re also all easy to assemble; no missing parts or pieces that won’t align.
They don’t have a great size range; they’re only slated for a maximum of 250lbs. Most people, however, report feeling that all models feel solid, even past 250lbs. We do appreciate that all models come with large, adjustable footplates. You shouldn’t have a problem, even if your feet are on the larger side.
You’ll also find a nylon strap on the 1399 and 1402 models which, while not our favorite option for high-intensity over prolonged periods of use, does help to keep cost down. Plus, we don’t see reports of straps breaking (the strap on the 1402, especially, is visibly thick).
Each model comes with an upholstered, padded seat and padded rowing handles.
Here are the main differences between the models:
1399 vs. 1402
The 1399 is about $50 cheaper than the 1402, but the differences are fairly small: the 1402 has an aluminum rail to help provide a smoother ride (as opposed to the 1399’s steel rail).
It is a few pounds heavier, and it also comes with a better monitor. Instead of a single metric on the 1399, you’ll be able to track strokes per minute, total strokes, distance, speed, and calories burned.
1402 vs. 1405
The 1405 is another $50 increment above the 1402 Stamina ATS Air Rower, and comes with a few additional features: namely, a metal chain and a comfort foam seat that utilizes ball bearing rollers.
It is worth noting, however, that purchasing the 1399 or 1402 directly from Stamina means they’ll double the warranty. Since it’s relatively short, to begin with (only three years), this is a big plus. The 1405 is unavailable for purchase directly from Stamina at this time, which means you’ll have to stick to the regular warranty.
Since we see almost zero breakdown complaints, however, even after combing through thousands of reviews, we feel this isn’t much of a gamble and is worth going with the 1405 if you’ll do anything more than light or medium training.
What Customers Are Saying
Stamina ATS Air Rowers do well on the customer review front. They’re not luxury rowers (people familiar with the Concept2 are quick to point this out), but by and large, people feel they are comfortable, easy to assemble, and a delight to use.
Many also specifically make a note to say that the noise is not obnoxious since many are concerned about this before their purchase. The common conclusion seems to be that you might need to turn the television up or use the closed captioning, but people in the next room won’t be bothered.
What We Think
We like the Stamina ATS Air Rower line. In fact, we like it quite a lot. At less than $400 with easy storage options and great reviews, it’s a solid option for somebody who wants a value-priced machine in their home gym.
If you’re a serious trainer, you might want to spring for the Concept2 or even a water rower, but most of us don’t need the extra that comes with those huge price tags. Instead, we feel confident that the ATS rowers from Stamina will provide a fantastic workout without working out your bank account.