Anyone who's ever competed in crew has spent countless hours on
an ergometer, a rowing machine made up of a vertical flywheel, a
bicycle chain and a seat sliding along a central metal support.
But slaving away on an erg (as rowers call it) offers only a
passable imitation of propelling a racing shell. The stroke is
jerky, the seat teeters along the thin beam, and the roar of the
flywheel is a poor substitute for the gentle slap of water
against a boat.
The WaterRower, made by WaterRower U.S., of Warren, R.I., tries
to address these shortcomings. Its mechanism moves horizontally
in a tank containing three to four gallons of water, producing a
more even stroke. Its sliding seat, like a racing shell's, has
support in all four corners, which eliminates wobble. The
result: a smoother workout that's more like rowing on a lake
than on the North Atlantic, accompanied by the soothing sound of
The WaterRower can be ordered in three types of wood: cherry
(pictured), which costs $1,195; walnut, which retails for
$1,745; and ash, which goes for $995. For more information call
800-852-2210, or check it out on the Web at www.waterrower.com.