Monday, 20 May 2024

Rowing Machines

Kettler Coach M Indoor Exercise Rower Review

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The Kettler Coach M Indoor Exercise Rower is a significant upgrade over their Kadett rowing machine. But being in the same price bracket as the Concept2 and WaterRower, does it really have what it takes to compete?

This is what we’ll be finding out in our review, by taking a look at the design features, workout programs, and display console feedback.

We’ll also check whether workout data can be uploaded to your computer, for historical tracking and rowing performance analysis.

Design features

A magnetic resistance system reduces the size and weight of this rowing machine

One of the most interesting things about reviewing high-end rowing machines over any other type of cardio equipment is that many of the models use completely different resistance systems.

We’ve already seen water used in the ProRower and WaterRower designs, and a damper and flywheel with the Concept2, but this is the first rowing machine we’ve reviewed that uses magnetic resistance.

The Kettler Coach M also offers a simple way to choose one of the 10 different levels, which is by adding a simple hand wheel just below the console, within easy reach of your rowing stroke.

Out of all of the rowing machines we just mentioned, this has the benefit of being the quietest, as you’re simply working against the force of electromagnets.

To ensure the seat glides smoothly over the main support rail, Kettler have created a roller system that passes over both the rail itself and two metal bars underneath.

This has the effect of stopping any unwanted movement in the seat during workouts at higher resistance levels.

The ergonomic contours of the seat padding also help to provide some much needed support and cushioning, which can lead to longer workouts as a result.

In addition to rowing, the Coach M provides an additional 16 muscle building exercises with the included quick attach backboard and front footplate.

Kettler Coach M Indoor Exercise Rower

Kettler Coach M – Features Summary

  • High-performance indoor rower with center pull oar, infinitely variable resistance range, and manual resistance settings from 1 to 10
  • Sturdy powder coated frame with transport casters
  • Top grade ball bearings for a smooth glide along chrome plated steel rails
  • LCD training computer display with heart rate (HR) programs
  • Polar T34 wireless chest strap and built-in HR receiver included
  • Quick Attach backboard and front footplate (both included) provide 16 different exercises
  • Stores upright to save space
  • Computer recovery feature provides a cardio wellness grading indexed from 1 to 6 to track improvement
  • Biomechanically correct footplates for a natural pivoting action providing a full longitudinal rowing motion
  • 16 different exercises for unmatched flexibility
  • Thickly padded seat comfort
  • Sealed ball bearings eliminate need for lubrication

Transport and storage

If you’re considering buying a new rowing machine but don’t want it to take up too much space, you generally have two options.

Firstly, you can choose a rower that uses hydraulic resistance, as these often have actual rowing arms instead of the single handle.

Although it may not seem like it, these models can usually be folded down to a very compact size, making it easier to store them away between workouts.

The second option is to buy a rower like the Kettler Coach M, which has a handle built into one end and allows you to lift the machine to a vertical position to minimize its footprint.

This particular model also uses magnetic resistance, meaning you don’t have to worry about the extra size and weight that’s added by a water tank or fan.

Display console design

The display console offers much more feedback than we were expecting, but no historical data storage

One of the design features we were particularly impressed with was the display console, where the main LCD screen has been split into clearly defined segments.

This is similar to the way Kettler displayed the information on their Kadett and Favorit rowing machines, but with a considerable improvement in the amount of information displayed.

In fact, even their Stroker Rower has a much more basic design, which in our opinion makes this Kettler’s best rowing machine in terms of the console feedback.

Depending on which area of the screen you look to during your workout, you could choose to keep track of your calories burned, heart rate, stroke frequency, time, total distance, and even an animation of simulated wave movement.

This last piece of feedback is something that’s truly unique to the Kettler Coach M, and can be used as a useful indication of your current rowing pace.

In terms of button functions, these are actually slightly less innovative, offering the same ‘Recovery’ and ‘Set’ functions as the lower priced Favorit model.

That being said, the Recovery option is still quite useful, and can be used as a basic form of fitness test. If this isn’t something you’ve used before, the console will essentially measure your heart rate when the button is pressed, and again after 60 seconds.

This is best used at the end of your workout, as it calculates how quickly your heart rate returns to normal after exercise and provides you with a fitness score based on the results.

The fitness score can then be used again in the future as a basic form of performance tracking, where you can see how much your score has improved.

Workout programs and heart rate monitoring

Kettler Coach M Indoor Exercise Rower

Due to the fact that the rowing handle for the Kettler Coach M doesn’t have heart rate hand sensors built into it, the heart rate feedback that displays on the screen relies on you wearing a heart rate chest strap.

Fortunately Kettler have actually included one of the higher quality designs – the Polar T34, which is all you need to transmit your heart rate to the receiver in the display console.

This also means that you can take advantage of the target pulse rate monitoring options, which are designed to help keep your heart rate within a specific range throughout your workout.

There are two settings to choose from; one that sets your target heart rate at 65% of maximum (designed for fat loss), and the other at 75% of maximum (designed to improve overall fitness).

However, these are only the preset levels, and you still have the freedom to choose a much more specific heart rate level if you want to.

If you prefer your rowing workouts to follow a set pace, then this can also be achieved using the simple console functions.

After setting your target rowing stroke frequency, the console will then bleep in time with your target frequency, acting as a pace setter.

Should your pace deviate too much from your target, the plus and minus arrows will flash, depending on whether you need to speed up or slow down.

Ease of assembly

Although the user manual is written in many languages, the assembly instructions are clear diagrams

One of the unfortunate things we’ve noticed about the Kettler user manuals is that they tend to be written in a large number of languages.

Due to the simplicity of the assembly, this isn’t usually too much of a problem. Although the language used is clearly labelled at the top of each page in the user manual, it can still take some time to find all the information you need.

In terms of the assembly itself, for the most part Kettler have avoided any translation issues by almost exclusively using diagrams t explain each step.

To make this easier, the entire flywheel casing, console, and seat rail sections arrive already pre-assembled.

This means all that’s required is to attach the front base stabilizer bar, foot pedals, and seat, before you can start enjoying your first workout with your new rowing machine.

Battery replacement for the console can be a bit more awkward than similarly priced designs due to the fact that the console is sunk into the flywheel housing rather than being attached to a monitor arm.

Again, this isn’t a particularly big issue and instructions for this step are thoroughly explained in English.

Due to the amount of pre-assembly that takes place before it leaves the factory, you should have no trouble getting the Kettler Model M setup in less than 25 minutes.

Customer reviews


  • Quiet rowing motion due to the magnetic resistance
  • Long warranty period on the frame
  • Supplied with a heart rate chest belt and several useful heart rate controlled programs
  • Comfortable seat
  • Smooth rowing motion
  • Backlight behind the LCD console screen makes workout feedback easier to read in low light


  • No way to connect the console up to your computer. This is an option with the Concept2 which is available for around the same price
  • Having this much workout information displayed on the screen at once can make it difficult to read while rowing
  • Possibly a little overpriced for the level of features and console functions

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 3 years

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

3.5 / 5

Although we certainly liked the ability to set target stroke rate and heart rate targets, we would still have expected to find the Kettler Coach M for closer to the $700 mark.

At the time of this review, it's currently priced at closer to $1000, and when you consider that the Concept2 is less than this and the WaterRower isn't far off either, we really expected more from the display console.

If we saw some form of workout tracking software or an innovative rowing app that could sync your workout stats from the console to your phone or computer, then we could have understood the price a little better.

Overall, if you're looking for a rower at this price point, we feel that there are better models available.

For such a competitive price range that also includes the ProRower H20 RX-750 and RX-950, we hope that Kettler can bring out some form of upgrade or software that makes their rower more of a serious contender.

Product dimensions: 81" (L) x 21" (W) x 27" (H)
Product weight: 96 lbs
Weight limit: 285 lbs

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