First Degree E216 Fluid Rower Review

Price: £999
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Overall Rating: 4
Ease of use: 5
Console Features: 3
Comfort: 5
Value for Money: 4

The E216 fluid rower from First Degree Fitness is the entry level model from the Fluid rower range. Unlike the models below it (Neptune and Pacific rowers) the 216 has a vertical water drum to form part of the resistance system instead of the typical flat drum found on all other water based rowing machines.

The drum incorporates a Direct Drive System which puts you in direct contact with the water where a clever gate system allows you to drastically alter how much water you are physically pulling round the chamber when you row. This is adjusted by the simple turning of a lever on the front of the drum and provides 16 levels of resistance from feather light to an Olympic sprint for the even the fittest of users.

The E216 feels well made with a weight capacity of 136kg and is also pretty compact. The foot print is just 190cm long x 56cm wide which is considerably shorter than an equivalent air based rower. It can also be stored or moved very easily by lifting the rail at the back and simply standing it on its end or pushing it along on the transportation wheels at the front. The seat is ergonomically designed and very comfortable and the foot plate system is fixed instead of pivoting, with an adjustment for foot size very easy to do.  I should mention that the webbed straps for your heel didn’t appear to be particularly robust and I suspect heavy use of the rower would see you replacing them in time. This is something which has been improved on the higher spec model E316.

The console has all the basic requirements displaying time, distance, stroke rate and calorie counter and the option of adding a heart rate receiver kit is available for an additional £39.95 which will then work with any Polar non coded chest strap.

There is no doubt that water based resistance rowers in general are the most natural type of rowing machine in terms of feel and from an efficiency perspective they will work you harder than the alternatives. The sound of the water sloshing around is therapeutic which is bound to provide some motivational appeal.


  • Natural, continuous resistance
  • Motivational appeal
  • Compact and easily stored


  • Foot straps a bit flimsy
  • Basic console features for the price.

In summary then, if price isn’t the major factor when choosing your rowing machine then a fluid rower is certainly the way to go. The E216 has the edge over the water rower range with its impressive range of variable resistance and its easy to use storage and transportation design will appeal to those with space restrictions.

Price: £999
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Proteus PAR5500T Rowing Machine Review

Proteus-Par5500-Rowing-MachinePrice: £599
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Overall Rating: 4.5
Build Quality: 4
Ease of use: 4
Console Features: 5
Comfort: 4
Value for Money: 5

The Proteus PAR5500 rower is an air based rower with variable magnetic resistance.  With the majority of air rowers having to try and live up to the market leading Concept 2, there is nearly always a compromise when it comes to seeking out a more reasonably priced alternative.

It is often the case that mid range or budget home use air rowers, forgo the facility to adjust resistance levels. This results in a self regulating system which requires the user to put in more effort to their stroke rate in order for the rower to react and create a greater degree of resistance.  As many people are not overly motivated when it comes to exercise, the result can be that the workout becomes too easy and not challenging enough.This obviously negates the efficiency of the overall workout benefits.

So how does the Proteus stack up?  Well to begin with as with most air rowers this is a large product, at 260cm long by 49cm wide you will need plenty of floor space to use it.  It can be folded easily for storage which reduces the overall length to 100cm.  Transportation wheels also allow the rower to be moved around for practical storage.

Proteus-Par5500-Rowing-Machine-ConsoleThe seat is a large moulded PU affair which is comfortable and well capable of handling users of up to 150kg.  A single aluminium rail coupled with a roller bearing slide provides a smooth and quiet ride. The footplates are pivoting, adjustable, non slip with a Velcro strap and will handle even the largest feet with no difficulty whatsoever. The tension control system incorporates 16 levels of electronically controlled magnetic resistance and the auto-rewinder system gives a smart reactive feel to the recoil of the handle, even when rowing at real pace.

The electronic resistance means the console has been packed with some really great features in terms of programs. There are user defined options, heart rate control (wireless strap included), wattage control and even a race option over 500m giving the user the chance to compete against the monitor over 15 different levels. In addition to this there are 12 preset profile programs similar to those found on cycles or ellipticals.  Feedback of time, distance, strokes, calories and heart rate are all clearly displayed on a large back lit colour screen.

Build quality seems very good and the Proteus is also no slouch in the looks department with a contemporary silver and black finish to the frame.  It does require mains power for all the monitor functions and the product is backed with a solid 3 year parts and labour warranty.


  • Smooth, even resistance
  • Plenty of console options for motivation
  • Great build quality and specification for the price


  • Fan is noisy when rowing at speed

In summary then, to find an air rower with this many features and this amount of resistance at under £600 isn’t easy.

The Proteus really delivers on all fronts and is a great solution for those looking for a more cost effective alternative to the Concept 2.  It isn’t as enjoyable to use as more expensive water based rowers but it is certainly better than the alternative air rowers at this price point.

Price: £599
Buy From: Fitness Superstore