Customer Reviews: Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine
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Price:$81.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on February 9, 2013
I was pleasantly surprised and excited when this rowing machine first arrived. It was well packed and the frame, supports and track were of reasonable gauge steel. I tried it out and after 5 minutes of use I was hearing a click and feeling a notch each time I took a stroke. The click was coming from the area of the piston where a metal pin secures the piston to the handle. I removed the pin and saw that it was damaged. I did not see any damage when I first installed it. There were two grooves and some marks on the pin from where it was rubbing on the frame (metal on metal). The pin is made from soft metal and if it can be grooved after 5 minutes of use I can't imagine that it's going to last very long. Also, the Amazon product description includes "Adjustable foot straps." I did not receive any foot straps. It's possible that Amazon made a mistake and the machine does not come with foot straps because I don't see any in the product picture.

It is disappointing to get a new machine like this only to find that it has a flaw already. A hardened piece of steel or perhaps a sleeve for the pin to sit in might improve this. I like the simple design, it's effective and amazing value for the money if everything works as it should. I will add a picture of the pin and the grooving and where it is located on the machine.

If possible I will add some additional information after I have used it for a longer period of time.

I wrote to Sunny, the manufacturer and they did respond after a few days (they apologized). They were kind enough to offer me a replacement pin however I had contacted Amazon by that time and I don't think a new pin would solve the problem unless it was case hardened steel. I actually gave this a second thought until after I used the machine for 30 minutes and the hydraulic piston started leaking hydraulic oil on our carpet. As you work out on the machine the piston gets hot and starts to leak oil. That was enough for me to pack it in the box and I will take it into shipping tomorrow. I need to spend more money and get something that is of higher quality. No more pistons for me!

Too bad, my wife and I really liked the simplicity, weight and action of the machine. It is easily carried around the house and stored in a closet. Foot straps are not necessary by the way. I don't think the amazon product description is accurate in that regard.
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on April 4, 2013
FedEx just delivered my Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine which was shipped in an excellent outer box with absolutely no holes or rips in it! The rower is completely assembled except for the handle bars which bolted on quickly with the enclosed wrench and 2 big bolts. I installed the console which was a simple slide on affair with a simple wire plug in. I never use consoles but I installed it came with batteries included! There were no straps to hold the feet on an NONE ARE NEEDED!

The seat isn't the best in the world but solid and glides easily and smoothly. I might add a small cushion for longer sessions. The hydraulic piston adjusts easily and goes from real easy to real difficult. So far I am estatic about my rower, but time will tell if I remain so. Am 86 years old and after a few minutes on the 2nd setting, I can feel the muscles in my thighs complaining, which is proof positive that the rower is doing the job it is intended for.

NOTE: for those that like to put most of the emphasis on the upper body, just set the piston higher and work the handles without gliding.....great for the arms. Do it underhanded and work the biceps. It is a low priced unit but built like a Sherman tank. BUY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT! Often the simpler things in life are the best!
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on April 5, 2013


Light weight (20ish lbs and can be comfortably carried in one hand when grasped in the middle.)

Simple sturdy construction (i cannot foresee anything braking without excessive misuse i.e. using it as a weapon)

Stupidly simple assembly: (connected the resistance cylinder to the handle bars with the quick release pin; 2 bolts to attach the handle grips (tool included); plugged in the computer and slide it on to the handle bars; and extend and lock the back feet with the over-sized hand screw. DONE! takes maybe 5 to 10 minutes.

Folds flat for easy storage under a bed or leaning in the corner of a closet


Limited range of motion:
If you are looking for a machine with full range of motion then this is probably not for you. Fully extended the handle bars come to about my belly button level. It gets the job done but it doesn't necessarily work my arms much. Also I'm 5'11" and while i do not max out how far back the seat can go, i can't really recommend it for anyone much past 6 feet tall

Resistance cylinder GETS HOT:
The heat its self isn't a problem but as it heats up it losses its resistance. my solution was to simply start at a lower resistance and once it warmed up increase the resistance to the desired level. Also this seems to be a common problem as i found similar comments on reviews of other produces with the same resistance method.

Not the best computer:
it tracks calories burned, number of rows, and time spent actually rowing (if you stop the timer stops too)... the only problem is that it often counts one row as two. Personally I'm only interested in the time spent rowing, but if this is a deal breaker for you, then look elsewhere.

Other Thoughts:

I'm a collage student and i purchased this item because i was looking for a small, cheap, durable, light weight machine, so I could exercise indoors when the weather is nasty, and hide it away when i do not need it. This product meets those needs perfectly.
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on August 17, 2013
I'm just loving my new row machine,it gives me a very all body workout that I was looking for,I'm 200+ size and 40+ yr old woman and its a sturdy machine for a big person,I do highly recomend this machine,I truely enjoy it.
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on February 14, 2014
Surprisingly solid and effective piece of dirt-cheap gear. For the cost of a pair of sneakers ($71 shipped when I bought it in Jan 2014) you get a light, yet durable (I'm 220lb - yes, all muscle...) machine that is well-made and easy to put together. I've used it for about 3 weeks and all is well. That being said, you can fry an egg on the piston after about ten minutes (especially with the machine set to high resistance). This isn't a problem for me but I have to wonder about the durability of the piston, no matter that it appears easily replaceable. Also, as the oil in the piston heats up and becomes less viscous, the resistance fades considerably, leaving me to adjust upwards to maintain the same resistance; this isn't a problem as I adjust upwards during the course of using the machine anyway.

Bottom line, for hard-core rowers looking to replicate a true rowing stroke or train for competition, obviously there are better choices, for more casual folks looking for a serious work-out at a cut-rate price, this may be the ticket as (in my opinion) the issues I have with the machine are minor and easily trumped by the price. That being said, I can't help but remain suspicious due to the low price and will update the review if things go south.

UPDATE: As the price of this unit begins to approach $150 (late March) this becomes less of a no-brainer. Shop around a little.

UPDATE 2: The piece that regulates the tension on the piston wore out so adjust with pliers. This isn't ideal as I have to do it while I'm rowing, still, I maintain my 5 star rating.
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on October 20, 2015
So I just received this today. It took about 10-15 minutes to put together. So far, I have to say, that for the price, this was a great buy! After reading all the reviews about how the piston gets hot I decided to go slow on the machine, taking an effort to really work the muscle groups intended. It really made a difference. The piston did get warm but I wasn't going fast. I started on level 3 and while I could feel the work out in my legs and glutes I wasn't really feeling anything in my upper body. I decided to take one of my strength resistance bands and fashioned it around the handle bars, as you can see in the picture. What a difference it made. So I did 45 minutes and I could feel the burn. I have not had an issue with my feet slipping out like some other reviewers did. The foot straps are fed thru these little slots on the underside of the foot plate so they stay in place. I'm very pleased with this purchase so far. I can see myself doing this every day as I clear out my DVR.
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on February 7, 2014
I was looking for a rowing machine to see if I would find rowing more enjoyable than a treadmill or exercise bike - I had used one years ago and really liked it. I looked at some VERY nice rowers that were nearly $1K - a lot more than I wanted to spend on an experiment! So I was very happy when I ran across this, sub $100 rower. Other rowers I'd looked at in this price range had the individual articulating arms, which I'd used before and knew were problematic, difficult to get into any real rhythm with and a pain when one of the pistons wore at a different rate - it gave you an uneven rowing experience. I was also attracted to the sheer simplicity of design on this one... a seat that moves up and down, a place to strap in your feet, a single arm with wide handles attached to an adjustable piston. From a maintenance standpoint it couldn't get much simpler. In full disclosure while I would have preferred to buy this from Amazon they were out of stock (!!!) so I purchased mine from a big box store.

As other reviewers have noted, it took me about 10 minutes to assemble this - literally it only involves attaching the piston, attaching the monitor and threading in the foot straps. Easy! Using it has turned out to be pure joy! The unit is very compact and very light, so picking it up and moving it is a breeze. I moved it into my den to put it right in front of me and right in front of the TV, making it super convenient to use.

The counter will monitor your time spent, your strokes, the total cumulative strokes, and calories burned. It's not sophisticated, there's no way to input your current weight or age so the estimation of calories burned is only that - an estimation. But I ignore everything but the strokes anyway, aiming for upping my stroke count as I go.

Some reviewers noted the seat is a little wobbly, and that's true, but I have found that if you take a moment to center yourself on the seat before you start that wobble goes away completely. I find the seat is quite comfortable for a brief workout, but is a little hard if you're rowing for longer than 15 minutes or so, which I resolved easily enough by adding a cushion to it.

The rowing motion is very smooth - how could it NOT be with such a simple back and forth design? I really like that the piston is adjustable, so as I build endurance and strength over time I'll be able to increase the resistance.

My original thinking was I'd spend less than $100 to see if I enjoyed rowing as a cardiovascular exercise, and if I didn't I wasn't out that much money, and if I did I could always upgrade to something better down the road. But I have to say I am quite happy with this unit as is - I don't see me changing to a higher end unit anytime soon. It gives me quite a workout - by the end your heart is pounding and your legs feel like rubber! - but I also really like that it is a true all-body workout - every major muscle group gets involved.

Overall, for the price and quality, I don't see how this can be beat - I'm VERY happy with this purchase and would highly recommend it.
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on January 2, 2015
This machine is awesome for the price. Let me just say that I am a former typewriter repairman and I know something about machines. This is well made and well designed. I am replacing an old Lifestyler that was my father-in-laws. On that machine the seat rollers had become so worn that it was a very bumpy ride and even would catch sometime which seems potentially dangerous. I tried to rehabilitate it but replacement rollers were not available.

I was somewhat skeptical about the narrowness of the rail. It seems this would make the seat wobbly. In fact, if you take some care to center your butt on the seat both side to side and longitudinally, it isn't a problem. The two large rollers that the seat rides on may actually outlast the ones on more expensive machines that have four smaller rollers. I read tons of reviews on Amazon an couldn't believe how well rated the was for the price. I took a chance and am thrilled with what I got.

It is easy to assemble--didn't even look at the directions--just three bolts. One man complained the the bolt attaching the cylinder wore out very quickly. I think this can be overcome if you tighten the bolt snuggly against the bracket but not so snuggly that it binds the bushing on the cylinder. That way the bushing takes all of the wear as intended--not the bolt. The straps keep you feet snuggly in the foot rests, but aren't even necessary, as the slant of the bar provide enough gravity to keep them in place.

I really like how light this is. Due to family obligations I live in several locations during the year. This is light enough to take with me. I could even fold it flat by removing the cylinder bolt and the stand knob. The electronic module is simple and provides all the necessary information including a mode that scans time, strokes, and calories. It comes with HD batteries which you may want to replace with alkaline when they wear out. There is just one button and an auto on/off.

The cylinder had a slight delay in engaging when I first tried it, but that problem went away after a few minutes of use. There are 12 strength settings and the range seem to be good, affording a very strenuous workout and down to one that was comfortable for me initially. It can easily be change while sitting on the machine. The seat is not large but comfortable enough. The handle are well padded for comfort. What really impressed me is that the rear feet are what we used to call in the business "eccentric" so you can turn them to compensate for any unevenness in your floor, so the machine doesn't wobble. This is an attention to detail that I would not expect in a machine in this price range. The fit and finish is generally excellent.

I am 5' 10" and I can extend my legs fully with a 3-4" to spare. The "oar" range is such that I can also lean back at the end of a stroke for a better ab work-out.

The rollers will wear out on any machine, so I recommend ordering a spare set while they are available and that will double the life of this machine. You won't have to throw it away after when they wear out as I had to with the old Lifestyler. You actually only need one spare as the bottom roller never actually gets any wear and can be pressed into service if needed.

I expect this machine to serve me well until I either get tired of this form of exercise or decide to get a top of the line machine.

Update: I have used the above machine almost daily for a few months with no problems. Still happy with it. So much so that when I move back to my home in Iowa, I ordered a second one. All of the above applies to the second machine except for one thing: the rail has a slightly rough or wavy spot in the middle of it where a hole was made for the sensor that detects each stroke. At first I thought I had some bad rollers, which would have been easy to fix. Upon more careful examination I found it was the rail and that would require a new frame. The machine is still functional and gets the job done. I don't feel there is any danger of the carriage hanging up, but it does detract from the experience, especially since the original machine back in Maine is as smooth as silk. I haven't decide yet whether I will try to get something done under the warrantee. I would be a big hassle if I had to send the frame or entire machine back, and it is usable. I am downgrading my rating form five to three as a result

Update: The bumpy seat on the second machine got to be annoying. I contacted the manufacturer. They said since it was the frame I would have to return it to Amazon. They only provide smaller parts. I ordered a third machine which arrived today. It is as smooth as silk. I am return the bumpy one to Amazon. Also, this latest machine doesn't have the problem of delayed engagement of the resistance during the first minute or so of use, like the other two did. Upgrading to four stars. Basically a great machine, but not perfect.
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on March 23, 2013
I bought this to do Crossfit with until I can save up for a C2 rower. It isn't great if you are over 6'2 or so, and it says on the label that it doesn't support more than 220 lbs. it also doesn't mimic the rowing motion very well, as you can't "finish" by bringing the bar to your chest. But, for $80, it is adequate enough for now.
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on January 3, 2014
I have a ton of equipment and not much room left but really wanted something 'different' that wouldn't take up much space. I've eyeballed rowers in the past but they were always too expensive. After reading the reviews here on Amazon (THANK YOU REVIEWERS!!) I decided I'd go for it. It arrived today.

The time it took to put it together (if you can even call it that) from when I cut the box open to finished assembly took 13 minutes (that includes the time to read the instructions and un-wrap everything!). It's almost fully assembled, you just have to straighten out and secure the back support bracket, put the handle on, plug in and secure the sensor to the handle bar and it's ready to go. Unbelievably easy! It's REALLY compact and super light.

I got on it and went from 1 to 12 to feel the various tension levels and this is pretty sweet. It glides smoothly, doesn't make any noise and the tension levels are adequate for what this is. I've trained for years in gyms on a LOT of equipment and while this isn't gym quality, it's under 75 bucks and an excellent deal. I played around with it a bit and found I can do calf raises and leg presses on it as well, though obviously with a whole lot less weight then I would at the gym - but I lift really heavy and most women don't care to do that. I see this as a really nice addition to my training and know I'll be on it a lot. I've always loved to row and THIS IS A SWEET PIECE OF EQUIPMENT. I am friggin THRILLED with it!
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