ProForm 550R Rowing Machine Review

Proform R550 Presentation PicWe want to put today on the table ProForm 550R rowing machine. As you know, we take in consideration a lot of particularities before talking about any rowing machine.

As a result, we stopped at ProForm which is an established and reputable company providing quality, economical fitness equipment.

ProForm’s affordability rendered it appealing in terms of purchasing an air rowing machine for at home workouts. We decided decided to try the ProForm 550R Rowing machine.

The first impression was that for the price, the machine was functional, surprisingly stylish, and sturdy. Although it is a lower-end model, I can say with confidence that one can still get in a decent full body workout using the ProForm 550R.

The only issue I have with this machine is that I noticed a bit of a difference between the higher end models found at the two gyms we frequent and the ProForm 550R which we tested. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful machine; it definitely gets a sweat going, it just might be more suitable for someone just beginning their fitness journey. However, it might not live up to the standards or expectations of more experienced fitness enthusiasts.

Since I was just looking for something to help me work up a quick sweat before work, or when I otherwise do not have the time to drive to the gym, it suits me just fine.

Delivery and Assembly

The machine arrived on our doorstep approximately a week after ordering. Fast, we emptied the contents of the box and began assembly. It came with directions and parts. There were only a couple of nuts and four screws, thus it was simple enough to assemble.

For those not too keen on assembling boxed items, perhaps those with poor eyesight, you might want someone to help you. The screws are really small.

Now that you have assembled the rowing machine you can see that this is a really sturdy one. This is done by the steel body incorporated with an aluminum seat rail. And a plus here are the 4 points of contact with the floor. This was done to maximize the stability of the rower, even when a hard workout is performed. Although, this is what you expect for a medium-high budget rowing machine.Proform R550 dimessions

After you placed the rowing machine in your home gym you will see that is taking some space of your room. This is due to the total footprint of it 85’’ Length x 22’’ Width x 25.5″ Height. The dimensions are bigger than other rowing machines but are similar to the ones from Concept2 rowing machines.

Here is a good thing, this rowing machine is foldable. And it is really simple to do this. So, if you are ended your training this is what is needed to be done. There are two handles, one under the seat, and the obvious one on the gliding rail. You will need to grab these two handles, tip forward the rowing machine and let the main rail to fold and lock.

Is not complicated and the entire operation is done in 10s. Like the pit-stops at Formula 1 🙂 .

Being folded you can move it where ever you want as the incorporated wheels in the front of the machine will help you.


The thing about rowers, or rowing machines, is that they work in a manner that creates resistance within the machine itself. The idea is that pulling on the handle one will provide on with the effect of rowing a boat, kayak, or canoe through the water.

The ProForm Rower, like all rowing machines, is operated by the user, who by pulling the handle spins a fan flywheel housed inside of a round chamber. When the user moves backward while pulling the handle, the flywheel will spin inside of the flywheel chamber, sucking air into the chamber creating resistance.ProForm 550R air resistance system

The faster one pulls, the faster the flywheel moves to bring in air thereby creating more resistance. If the resistance is too much for you to operate the machine, it can be adjusted.

There are five levels of resistance making it possible for the user to choose whichever level is best for their individual fitness level.

Damper setting

The adjustment resistance mechanism is one unique feature we quite enjoy about this particular model of air rower machine. This system is called “damper setting” and it is a lever located on the top of the flywheel chamber. This lever can be pushed forward to create more resistance or pulled backward to decrease the resistance. This minor feature-the location of the lever-actually does wonders for me.

ProForm 550R Damper System

What this damper setting is doing, it is to control the amount of air that is going through the flywheel cage. So, if you will select a lower level, the amount of air that enters into the cage will be less and the resistance felt will be lower.

Otherwise, the higher the level is the higher the amount of air that is entering into the cage. This will create a greater resistance with every stroke.

On magnetic resistance models, the resistance is adjusted by moving a knob, usually located on the side of the flywheel chamber, forward or backward. This often requires to get off the machine entirely to move and to adjust the resistance, and some even become more difficult to move over time with the wear and tear of use.

However, even with the ProForm 550R Rower, those with shorter arms or who are just shorter people might very well still have to adjust the resistance before getting on the machine. Overall, the resistance lever of the damper is a huge plus.

Technical Details and Specification

  • Assembled dimensions: 85L x 22W x 25H inches
  • Product weight: 103 lbs
  • Supported weight: 250 lbs
  • Frame: Steel body, aluminum seat rail
  • Footrests: With straps
  • Resistance type: Air with Damper system
  • Performance monitor: Basic
  • Warranty: Frame 5 years / Parts 90 days
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Using LifeSpan RW 1000 magnetic rower

If you are familiar with air rowing machines, then using this machine will be simple enough. If you are not accustomed to using an air rowing machine, then great, I will tell you a bit about the ProForm 550R Rowing machine. Either way, experienced or not, I feel there a few important points about this machine worth mentioning.

Do not worry if you are a tall person because you space to do a comfortable complete stroke event if you have 6’’ 3 – 6’’ 5. The slide rail is long enough for everyone.

As we said the maximum weight limit is 250lbs and can accommodate with easily users slight above this limit. That’s because of the solid frame with which Sunny created this rowing machine.


All air rowing machines create noise as they suck air into the flywheel chamber to create resistance.

However, the noise does not typically surpass that of an ordinary box fan. One will create more noise at faster rowing rates while using the ProForm 550R Rower, but it is unlikely to be too bothersome to neighbors.

There are, however, a couple of caveats that come to mind when considering the noise level of the ProForm 550R rower.

ProForm 550R air resistance

First, if you live in a small apartment with extremely thin walls and grumpy neighbors, the noise might be an issue.

Secondly, if you use the machine in a home with light sleepers, then it might be best to just wait until everyone is awake.

Just keep in mind that with more intense workouts, the noise will increase. This is just the way an air rowing machine functions to create that resistance that will really get your heart rate up and muscles working. In conclusion, all air rowing machines will create noise, so if that is an issue, then maybe the ProForm 550R rower is not for you.

However, it is important to note that the SMR (silent magnetic resistance strip) on the wheel makes this air rowing machine a relatively quiet model.

Suppose the noise level depends on what the user considers noisy. For us, it is not a problem.


ProForm 550R Rower SeatThe ergonomic seat is designed to allow the user to sit comfortably for lengthy periods of time. The padding provides extra cushioning, which we find quite nice. The material quality of the seat is very good and this can felt at first training.

We tend to use the air rowing machine for upwards of 30 minutes, so sitting on a little extra cushion goes a long way. So, there is no back pain, as the seat is tacking all the upper body weight and use the lower back as a pressure point and pivoting point in the same time. It is a well designed seat.


Handle and Footrest

The cushioned handle helps prevent blistering, slippage, and discomfort. It is soft to the touch and easy to grip. It might seem like an insignificant detail, but these little added comforts can go a long way in a lengthy, intense workout session.

ProForm 550R Rower Handlebar

Which leads me to our next point-footrests.

ProForm 550R Rower Foot RestAh… footrests. Poorly designed footrests are the bane of my air rowing machine workouts. When I’m at the gym, it seems as though I’m endlessly adjusting the foot straps on the air rowing machine. I usually just give up trying to tighten them, accepting that I will have to modify my movements as I row to avoid worsening the awkward motions resulting from the loose foot straps. However, with the ProForm 550R Rowing machine, we have had no such issue. 

Therefore, that is why we can confidently say that the rower’s pivoting footrests and foot straps keep my feet stable and secure during an intense workout. Just another small feature that goes a long way.

Control Panel

A large LCD display, the monitor, enables the user to keep track of the workout. All the necessary data is here:

  • Watts (power)
  • Strokes per Minute (SPM)
  • Time
  • Strokes (total)
  • Calories

The monitor has 3 areas where the data is displayed and you can navigate between them using the ‘Priority Display’ button. This way you will have the desired info about your training. You can use as the main “Watts” info which is showing how much power you are using. Or “SPM” to help you keep the pace of the strokes.ProForm 550R Rower Monitor

The user can manually set goals for the workout by inputting information into the user-friendly control panel, or simply begin rowing. The latter option still allows the user to see the statistics at-a-glance in order to keep track of progress.

Finally, we think if this monitor had an option to add a heart rate belt to track your BPM would make it great. That is why the calories counter is showing average data. And for you to known exactly how much calories you have burned, the calculator would be needed to know the age, weight, sex, and bpm.


A last word

Overall, for the price, it is a great machine. The ProForm 550R Rowing machine is sturdy, stylish, and has several wonderful features. The resistance lever is cleverly placed, user-friendly, and unique.

It can accommodate most body-types; up to 250 pounds and 6’6 in height.

The Silent Magnetic Resistance Strip is a lovely added feature for both the resistance mechanism and noise level.ProForm 550R Rower Folded

The seat is located on an oversized steal rail for quick adjustment for height. It is cushioned to provide extra comfort.

The cushioned handles are easy to grip and help to prevent blisters and slippage. The pivoting footrests secure the foot nicely in place.

The user-friendly control panel, or LCD panel, is great for keeping track of your workout progress.

Additionally, the ProForm 550R Rower can be folded and is atop transport wheels. This makes it easy to move out of the way to create space when needed.

Now, having said all of this, one draw-back is that there are only five levels of resistance. This is one distinguishing factor I noticed that separates the ProForm 550R rower from other models. One cannot increase the resistance to as high a variable as other machines. However, this does not mean it will not provide the user with a full body workout. It will just require much faster rowing.

Overall, for the price, The ProForm 550R Rower is a great choice for an at-home air rowing machine. Adults and children, both, can use this machine. It might be best for a beginner, but it is still a reasonably priced option for anyone at any fitness level. Especially if shelling out several hundred more dollars just isn’t an option, or if you need something that can be easily stowed away. In the end, it is well worth it.

Other options 

You can compare this rowing machine with other options available on the market. 

Stamina X Air Rowing machine, which cost a little bit less, but it doesn’t come with a damper system. 

Or you can check a budget rowing machine like Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399

Spend your money wisely, read before “Add to cart”. 


ProForm 550R Rower using it


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