Proform 550R Rower Review and Rower Buying Guide

When you decide to train or build your personal gym at home, there are more than dumbbells, weights, and gym mattresses that you have to watch out for. While the most basic training kit might be enough, it’s always ideal to diversify your training routine.

In this respect, today we’re going to talk about the Proform 550r rower – a rather unusual gadget for some, but a must-needed machine for others. As its name implies, a rowing machine mimics rowing when used, but it keeps you dry and in the comfort of your home, so to say.

Without any further ado, let’s jump into this Proform 550r rower review that will detail everything you need to know about this helpful training machine. We’ll conclude with a short buying guide describing the things you need to pay attention to if you want to buy a different rower or a different Proform model.

Proform 550R Review

This particular model is part of the Proform rower series of products. Judging by its online feedback and ratings, it seems to be one ideal product for beginners and semi-professional gym-goers, if we may say so.

With a rating of almost 4.5 stars on Amazon, the Proform 550r rower is extremely easy to assemble. It also features on-point material quality and sturdiness and, naturally, its value for money is highly appreciated.

But these are things anyone can find out with a simple Google search. Let’s do a deep dive on this product!

Who is Proform?

If you’re new to the gym and fitness scene, then you might not know about Proform. The brand is, for many people out there, the to-go distributor of highly affordable fitness machines and equipment. Not only that but, as mentioned above, Proform doesn’t sacrifice material quality.

In short, it is a budget brand – but one that comes with the style and quality of high-end brands. On top of that, if you’re looking for more than just rowers, then Proform most likely has whatever you’re looking for.

The Proform R Rower Series

The latest model available in Proform’s series of rowers is 750R. Since that might be unavailable or too feature-packed for some people, we decided to cover the 550R model instead. It is not an old model in terms of features and characteristics. However, as ratings suggest, it is a significant improvement compared to the 440R model.

In the end, our sincere recommendation would be the 550R model – if you want a rower in your home as soon as possible. The affordable model comes, as you’ll soon see, with everything you might look for in such a product.

Proform 550R Rower Comprehensive Review

As with most quality rowers out there, this one operates using an adjustable air resistance mechanism. This mechanism basically simulates water resistance and creates a genuine rowing experience. It might not help you make it on your country’s national rowing team, but it will help you train properly!

Adjustable Air Resistance System

The system can be easily adjusted via a handle. You can experience both light and heavy resistance, according to your needs. Since the system is air-based, it goes without saying that some air will flow out of the machine.

Well, the engineers at Proform decided to give that air an extra use and have it flow back onto you. What’s the catch? Well, the air is cool and, basically, the system acts as a built-in cooling fan for you.

Review and Specifics

Air resistance systems are not only one of the best on the market, but also extremely similar to actual water rowing. How does such a system work? Well, it’s quite simple.

Fan blades are attached to a flywheel inside the rowing machine. When the user pulls and starts rowing, the blades will interact with the air. Obviously, if you pull harder and faster, the air resistance will increase.

The resistance adjustment we mentioned earlier refers to how rowing feels. Even if you have the rower set on light resistance, pulling faster will still increase the overall resistance. In terms of manual adjustment, the 550R model features 5 levels of adjustment.

Overall, the majority of users states that the model feels very realistic and doesn’t have any major drawbacks. On the other hand, some mentioned how it can get a bit noisy, especially when they try to push themselves with intense sessions. Another small downside could be the built-in fan, as it is accompanied by the usual fan buzzing sound.

Convenient LCD Display

We all love stats and information, especially when it comes to training resistance and resilience. As such, this piece of equipment features a conveniently-placed LCD display – right under your very eyes.

The display shows a number of various statistics for those that want to keep track of their achievements. For example, you can see the total number of strokes, the average strokes per minute, total distance rowed, total time rowed, as well as an estimate of the calories burned so far.

Review and Specifics

The display is rather large and is suited for all types of people. Among its interesting features, we have a scan mode that will show the user’s data across rowing cycles. On top of that, you can also choose which data the monitor will display on a regular basis.

It needs 4 double-A batteries that are not included in the package. However, given it is an LCD display, those batteries will last for quite a well. The display also switches off automatically.

While it does show a wide range of stats, some users have complained that it doesn’t feature heart rate monitoring. For those that prefer cardio training (and stats) overall, this might be a deal-breaker.

As a notable feature, we have the watts meter. Basically, the stat shows how much power you produce via your rowing strokes. Thanks to it, users can also determine if their overall stroke power is going down or up during training. Later in this Proform 550R rower review, we’ll take a look at why the LCD screen is an essential feature.

Accessible and Space-Saving Design

Many users of this rowing machine praised its accessibility and ingenious, space-saving design. In very simple terms, this complex rowing machine can be simply folded up and carried wherever you want.

Not only that, but you can also store the machine in smaller spaces. With this rower, you don’t have to sacrifice an entire strip of your floor for its placement. Moreover, a space-saving design is always appreciated in medium- to large-sized equipment.

Review and Specifics

When talking about the design, it’s ideal to take the frame of the product into account as well. Since you can’t possibly test the product on your own before purchase – in most cases – you must find another way to appreciate the frame’s quality and build.

One way to do this is to take a look at the product’s weight capacity. As we’ll mention below, the product has a 250 lb. capacity. Compared to other rowers, this is a mid-level capacity, so to speak. However, we do have to consider the fact that this is a lightweight model – and one that can be packed away as well.

Moreover, the weight capacity becomes rather irrelevant when you pair it with the product’s other features. The highly ergonomic chair, space-saving design, transport wheels, and overall lightweight build make for a convenient product.

Overall, the users’ only complaint was the weight capacity. If you’re looking for budget rowers to help you lose weight, this might not be the one for you.

These were the most notable features of the Proform 550R rower. As you can see, so far it comes with everything that can make a rower both needed and wanted in a home. The product is light, can be folded, features an LCD screen, as well as an impressive air resistance mechanism.

Now, let’s take a look at some additional features that make this product even better.

Proform 550R Rower – Additional Features

In the following lines of our Proform 550R rower review, we’ll take a look at the additional features that this product packs.

Ergonomic Handle

As expected, the main rowing handle is ergonomic and features a soft-touch surface. At the same time, it is a non-slip handle and has added padding as well, for increased comfort.

Enhanced Flywheel

The product’s flywheel is enhanced with the help of inertia. The main result of this technology is a steady and smooth pedal stroke. The flywheel is designed with performance in mind but does not lack when it comes to durability.

Steel Seat Rail

The seat on this particular model is oversized and features a steel rail as well. However, despite all of that, the seat is still lightweight, making for a lower overall weight of the product. Naturally, it makes it easier for you to settle in, so to speak, when rowing. This is, in part, thanks to the cushioned seat as well – which can be adjusted to your liking.

Pivoting Pedals

The pedals of the machine feature pivoting technology and are also equipped with adjustable straps. As such, your feet will stay in place while you train. The chances of them slipping out of the pedals is really small.

Transport Wheels

Since Proform likes to take a stand when it comes to accessibility and portability, the 550R model is equipped with front-mounted transport wheels. You don’t have to put your back under any stress as you can just drag the rower around.

Increased Weight Capacity

The Proform 550R rower can accommodate up to 250 pounds. Given its lightweight build and design, this weight capacity is more than just ideal.


Naturally, anyone wants a comprehensive warranty when purchasing such a product. Luckily, Proform hands out a 5-year warranty for the frame of the product and a 90-day warranty for parts and labor.

How is the Proform 550R Rower Assembled?

One of the most common questions people ask when it comes to rowers is how they are assembled. Given that some models can be quite big, it’s only natural that users have doubts and think they might not be able to assemble the rower.

Luckily for all of us, this budget rower comes roughly 90% pre-assembled. The only things that are not already attached to the mainframe are the seat and a couple of other small parts.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the majority of buyers really appreciated the fact that this product is very easy to assemble. But, if you plan to buy another product, keep in mind that this might not always be the case. For example, the assembly process of the 440R model from Proform is reportedly rather challenging.

The Benefits of the Proform 550R Rower

So, why should you consider the Proform 550R rower if you plan to buy a rower for you or for the entire family?

Well, let’s keep in mind that a rower, as a fitness machine, can be used for a lot of things. For example, it can be used to lose weight, improve cardio, favor and enhance muscle growth, but also to help people become better at rowing.

Given the many types of rowers and systems they employ, it goes without saying that a single rower might not be able to do everything you want it to do. However, as mentioned many times in this Proform 550R rower review, our product features an air resistance system. Here’s why this particular system brings only benefits to the table:

You can use any type of rower if you want to improve your cardio condition or lose weight. The system or features don’t really matter as long as the rowing machine is a challenge for you.

But when it comes to muscle gain and growth, resistance comes into play. Namely, you need increasingly more resistance as you train. As such, air rowers – and magnetic and liquid ones – are the best choices for muscle growth.

Ultimately, for those that want to practice rowing, liquid or air rowers are the best choice. This is because these mimic real-life rowing with great accuracy. Naturally, it does help that they have adjustable resistance.

It is also worth mentioning that air rowers are ideal for families or for multiple users. Obviously, once again, this is due to their adjustable resistance.

Things to Consider When Buying a Rowing Machine

As mentioned earlier, we will also provide you with a short buying guide, just in the case that the Proform 550R rower doesn’t cut it for you. Given the great variety of brands available on the market, you might want to choose something more affordable or a product that is actually easily available for you to purchase.

Essential Features

For home/personal use, we consider accessibility and a lightweight design the most important things in a rower. At the same time, if you have the space to spare, a fixed rower might be good for you as well.

One important thing, however, is the LCD monitor/display. If you’re careful about your calories, the time you spend training, and so on, then you shouldn’t buy a rower that has no monitor. Moreover, depending on how you want to train, you might want to choose a model that features preset workouts as well.

Last but not least, we have to mention ergonomic seating and pedal straps. These make the overall rowing experience much more comfortable and pleasant. But don’t sacrifice, for example, adjustable resistance or an air resistance system, for better/padded seating.

Price Range – Duration of Use

Overall, if you want a rower that will last for more than five years, then it is worth spending more money on such equipment. But if you’re not looking for something too complex or too high-end, a budget rower will easily last you around five years without any major damage.

Nonetheless, when it comes to budget, don’t be afraid to pour in an extra $50 to $100 for a high-quality rowing machine. Set your budget reasonably and consider the fact that you might find a much better option for like 10-20% of the total price of your initial choice.

Ease of Maintenance

Before buying a rowing machine, check if are willing and have the time to perform maintenance on it. It might not break if you skip its maintenance sessions, but the product might lose some of its performance if you let too much dust gather in it, for example.

Still, lightweight rowers usually require little to no maintenance, especially if they don’t come with extremely intricate features and additions that need to be taken care of.

Operation Smoothness

Last but not least, a rowing machine must operate smoothly when used. Even if it’s meant to show some resistance to your strength, you mustn’t feel uncomfortable when using it. The overall rowing training session should get you tired, not annoyed, to say the least.

Therefore, test the rower as soon as it gets delivered. If you notice something off when you pull, you might want to consider a return. Speaking of this, make sure to test it in all circumstances – slow pulls, normal pulls, and strong/fast pulls as well.

The Bottom Line

This is everything you need to know about the Proform 550R rower and, as a bonus, what you should keep in mind when looking for a rowing machine.

Such fitness equipment is not easy to buy. Moreover, the decision to move from basic weights and such to this type of complex equipment is not easy as well. Being introduced to so many types of rowers and features might seem daunting at first.

However, we hope that our Proform 550r rower review and buying guide will help you make the wise and inspired decision. Naturally, we also hope that the rower fits your training needs and expectations!

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