NordicTrack RW500 Review – High Quality Mid-Range Rowing Machine

by Kevin Lee

February 14, 2020

NordicTrack RW500 Rower Review

Indoor rowing has become a popular workout option among athletes and non-athletes alike.

Rowing entails high upper-body engagement and demands great aerobic and anaerobic system exertion. It employs all major muscle groups, which makes it a great all-around activity for cardio, core development, and arm and leg strengthening. It’s now a standard inclusion in the training routines of runners, wrestlers, mixed martial artists, and other combat sports athletes.

When it comes to indoor rowing equipment, the NordicTrack RW500 Rower may be a choice worth considering.

The most recently introduced model in the brand’s line of rowers, the NordicTrack RW500 is a mid-range machine that offers high-end capabilities at an accessible price.

At a Glance:

Like any other equipment from NordicTrack, a name that’s also famous for its line of treadmills, stationary bikes, and ellipticals, the RW500 rower is a great choice for individuals seeking a sturdy, feature-rich in-home exerciser. And because it’s iFit enabled, the RW500 can give you virtual access to personal trainers and rowing classes.

The NordicTrack Brand

NordicTrack was founded in 1975 by Minnesota-based mechanical engineer Edward Pauls. Pauls invented an indoor exerciser for skiers—the “Classic Pro Skier”—so that he and other avid lovers of the sport could train safely even during cold, rainy days. News about this "ski simulator" sparked interest among the cross-country skiing community, and, as orders for the machine piled up, he set up NordicTrack.

Then, in the late 1980s, the Pauls family sold their company to the CML Group. CML spent the next years developing a wide array of new NordicTrack exercise equipment, from treadmills and ellipticals to weight training and sit-up machines, until it was acquired by Icon Health & Fitness in 1998.

Today, NordicTrack continues to produce premium fitness equipment under Icon. It aims to elevate users’ exercise experience through product quality and features and through its partnership with iFit.

The RW500: What’s Great About It?

NordicTrack RW500 Rower_2

Space Efficient

The NordicTrack RW500 measures 86 inches long, 22 inches wide, and 42.8 inches high. However, with its patented SpaceSaver design, the rower can be folded up and collapse to a mere 37 inches. It will occupy a smaller space in your home when not in use.

NordicTrack RW500 Rower_3

Ergonomic

Designed with user comfort in mind, this machine features a modifiable cushioned, molded seat and pivoting, oversized pedals with adjustable nylon foot straps. It also has Soft Touch handles that can help prevent wrist fatigue from long workouts.

And with its silent magnetic resistance and inertia-enhanced flywheels, the RW500 can operate quietly and smoothly.

iFit Enabled

The purchase of an RW500 comes with free one-year access to iFit. Hook your tablet to your home internet connection to select from iFit’s ever-growing selection of one-on-one virtual coach-led training, studio classes, and scenic waterway backgrounds.

Through iFit, you can access 12,000 on-demand video workouts and stream them at your own convenience. You can schedule your workouts according to your availability and customize them to meet your personal goals.

NordicTrack RW500 Rower display monitor

Challenging

The RW500 has 26 resistance levels that users can work their way up to. The machine's airflow control can even be activated for a more intense workout.

And even without an iFit subscription, you can still challenge yourself with the rower’s 30 preset workout programs.

Packed with Value-Adding Features

The NordicTrack RW500 comes with a 10-inch Portal 10i tablet, which will be your window to a plethora of personalized iFit training videos. There’s a tablet holder right along the dashboard.

You can track your performance—speed, time, strokes, revolutions per minute, and calorie expenditure—in the RW500's backlit console. The display can be lowered or raised, depending on your desired height.

The machine also has built-in speakers so you can play music while you row.

With Notable Build Quality and Warranty

The RW500’s seat rail is made of solid steel, while high-quality foam covers its seat and handles. Its Industrial-grade ball bearing rollers allow the seat to slide smoothly back and forth on the rail.

The machine carries a 10-year warranty for the frame, a two-year warranty for its parts, and a one-year warranty for labor.

Great Bang for the Buck

Considering its abundance in features and its superior quality, the RW500 is a bargain buy. The machine, which can rival more expensive options in terms of offerings, is priced below $2000.

What RW500 Owners Are Saying

Users of the RW500 consider it a great upgrade from its predecessor, the RW200. However, there has been some disappointment over the machine’s lack of a heart rate monitor, which NordicTrack equipment usually has.

Some owners have also complained about the equipment’s weight—they’ve said that it’s hard to move around despite its foldable feature and transport wheels. Part of the reason for the extra weight is the quality construction which is important.

FAQ:

How heavy is the machine?

The RW500 weighs 97 lbs.

What is the rower’s maximum capacity?

The machine can support a maximum user weight of 250 lbs.

What are the other NordicTrack rowing machines?

NordicTrack’s line of rowers also includes the RW200, an entry-level model, and the RW900, which is a more advanced rower.

What are the differences between the RW500 and the RW200?

The RW200 has fewer resistance levels and workout programs. It also doesn’t come with a free tablet. The RW500 has a wider console with more info about your performance.

What are the differences between the RW500 and the RW900?

The NordicTrack RW900 is a bigger, more advanced rower. It’s comparable to the machines you’d see in a gym. It’s more expensive than the RW500.

Would the RW500 be suitable for professional rowers?

Advanced rowers might prefer a more commercial-grade machine. The RW500 would be more suitable for casual exercisers.

What is iFit? Does it come free with NordicTrack RW500?

iFit is an interactive online platform that allows you to track your sessions and monitor your progress, stream studio classes or scenic backgrounds, and be guided by coaches. A purchase of NordicTrack RW500 comes with a 1-year iFit subscription.

Final Thoughts:

The NordicTrack RW500 Rower is a fantastic option for casual rowers seeking a high-quality, comfortable, and budget-friendly machine for home use. Made by a reputable brand, the RW500 offers more programs, adjustability options, and experience-enhancing features than competitors within the same price range. It’s especially recommendable for people who would enjoy the immersive experience and motivational prompts that iFit offers.

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About the author 

Kevin Lee  -  Health and fitness have always been a passion for me; whether its being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and love of fitness with others.

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