Sunny Health Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine. The first Sunny model we tested in 2014 was a very basic, low-priced machine that unsurprisingly had its limits. So when we opened the box for this magnetic paddle from the same brand, our expectations weren’t particularly high.
But we have to say that after giving it a spin and testing it for a week, it’s pretty good. For starters, it’s a magnetic machine which is a huge advantage over the usual hydraulic models we see in this price range. If you’re not familiar with the types of resistors available and the pros and cons of each category, read about them here.
Sunny Health Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
Regular visitors to this site will know our beef by the names used by different brands for their machines. See What’s in a name? But if you can get past the nonsensical catalog name of SF-RW5515 (see if you can remember it in 5 minutes), this offers a pretty good experience for something that costs around $250.
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The rowing position is quite good. We’ve definitely sat in better seats, but it’s good enough for a budget rower, plus a thin foam cushion will make it bearable if you really struggle with it. The footpegs are up to the job of keeping your feet firmly in place as you paddle, although we recommend removing the Velcro regularly as nothing ruins a good session more than loose feet.
As mentioned above, this is a magnetic paddle, which means that it uses magnets placed on top of a flywheel to resist the pull of the handles. One of the advantages of a magnetic model is that it is quieter than a pneumatic machine and smoother than a hydraulic one. But while the mechanism is fairly quiet, the seat squeaks a bit on the beam when the rollers stick a bit. This shouldn’t be a reason not to buy in and of itself and can easily be masked by music, especially if you use an iPod.
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Health Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
It has eight different levels of difficulty that can be selected using the knob below the screen. More expensive rowing machines can do this automatically with preset programs based on your work rate using your pulse, but with an inexpensive model you have to stop and change the settings yourself.
The difference between the highest and lowest settings is large enough to provide a good range of workouts, but keep in mind that it’s a myth that the highest settings get the best results. Mid-level resistance often provides the best cardiovascular benefits, as you can row at a higher stroke rate and keep your pulse in the optimal heart rate zone.
For a budget machine, it has a reasonable screen and console. The LCD screen is a good size and is easy to read when exercising. It displays the basic data needed to monitor your progress, such as time rowed, stroke count, and estimated calories used per workout.
It doesn’t show distance though, so you won’t be able to do time trials, which is a great way to see how you’re improving.
It has a scan mode, so it changes the display mode every 6 seconds.
If you’re looking for a sensible machine for around $300, then this will fit the bill. It won’t win awards for looks and features, but it costs less than a third the price of machines that do. We don’t think it can handle multiple users with regular long training sessions, but you get what you pay for and for the average user it should be up to the job.
Nice try, Sunny. Let’s see more in this price range!
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