The Origin OR1 Rowing Machine is our new rower aimed at full commercial use. All the features you would expect a rower to include are featured at a great value. Its modern and slick design makes it a piece of cardio equipment that’s easy on the eye.

To test out how they perform against the rival brands, I have been asked to put the Origin OR1 through its paces and give an honest review against the rival brands in the industry right now.

I am Claire Tracey, the Master Trainer for Origin Fitness, and I have had a little over 10 years of rowing experience, most of which has been spent on a Concept2 indoor rowing machine, so I consider myself critical of the indoor rowers I generally use.

OR1 Footprint and Mobility

The Origin OR1 Rowing machine uses the same floor space as most other commercial rowers in the industry. It is also light, with wheels to allow for it to be easily moved around your gym.

OR1 Feel and Build

The OR1 feels like a great rower. I have tried many different brands and always revert to my original rowing brand, however, I would happily row away on this if it was provided in my local gym.

Similar features including:

  1. Self-generated power, fan belt as usual.
  2. Heavy duty aluminium mono rail, allowing for smooth seat sliding action.
  3. Adjustable foot plates and straps making it suitable for all individuals.
  4. In depth computer screen providing all the data required and includes all the programmes, games and even some testing modes. It has a colour screen and is set up differently to the Concept2 PM monitors, so I explored the different options available. It covers all the areas you would expect of a commercial rowing machine.
  5. Heart rate connection also available, which is a great feature.

There are a few differences compared to using a Concept2 rower:

  1. The OR1 has a material belt rather than a chain. In all honesty, I did not feel much of a difference here. The belt felt smoother and quieter than chain driven alternatives, but in terms of the overall experience it was very similar.

A slight difference could be felt at the ‘catch’, (the beginning of the stroke), but nothing that would affect the session as a whole.

  1. The 500m split times I hit throughout my workouts were pretty much spot on. There are bound to be inconsistencies in performance reviews when switching between brands, but from my personal experience the OR1 was reliable and comparable to the chain driven rowers I am used to for my training.
  2. One thing that took a while for me to get used to was the angle and position of the foot plates. They are positioned at a slightly different angle and width (due to a wider mono rail), and located a little bit lower as well.
    It is worth keeping in mind that this is a minor difference that I noticed because of my background in rowing, but the general gym-goer would probably not feel this difference due to the positions they hit. The positions of the footplates still allow you to achieve a good position to get a decent drive.

A few added features I found interesting:

  1. The resistance/drag levels are selected through the computer screen rather than adjusting the fan directly.

With the experience I have gained throughout the inductions I have completed for our customer’s facilities as well as during my time working on the gym floor, not many people know what a ‘drag factor’ does unless they are a rower. A standard user will just jump on to the rower and treat it like a ‘resistance level’, so it’s not a major loss for the general population.

The Origin OR1 can also adjusts ‘resistance’ within some of the programme selections per the level you choose at the start. This I feel is a bit more user friendly in the grand scheme of commercial use.

  1. There are also workouts that give you fitness level feedback based on your heartrate. This is great for individuals who are only just getting to grips with improving their fitness, as it will give them good targets to aim for and surpass. These are the recovery and fitness test options which rank you from extremely unfit to super fit; ten levels in total.

OR1 Summary

The Origin OR1 is a great indoor rowing machine at an extraordinary value for money. With most of the key features that a Concept 2 rower offers, plus some little added extras that in my opinion, suit the general population that will be using it more regularly.