First Degree Fitness Apollo Pro II Black Rowing Machine

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FDF Apollo II Black

Check Discounted Price
330 lbs75 lbs
(112 lbs
with water)
4 levels
Frame: 5 years
Tank: 3 years
Mechanical: 2 years
Wear: 1 year

The First Degree Fitness Apollo Pro II Black is basically the same as the “regular” Apollo Pro II that we’ve previously described here. It’s a commercial-grade machine featuring a durable frame construction and a patented, twin-chamber water tank which allows you to adjust the overall resistance. It’s definitely a professional trainer, equipped with a meter that covers all the parameter required by an Olympic athlete.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 84L x 22W x 21H inches (213L x 56W x 54H cm)
  • Product weight: 75 lbs (34 kg) w/o water; 112.5 lb (51 kg) w/ water
  • Supported weight: 330 lbs (150 kg)
  • Frame: Wood (Ash) & steel
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance: Water, adjustable (4 levels)
  • Fitness computer: Time, distance, strokes per minute, watts, calories/hour, 500m split time, HR capable, USB port
  • Warranty: Frame 5 years / Tank & seals 3 years / Mechanical 2 years / Wear parts 1 year

Frame construction

The Apollo Pro II Black from First Degree Fitness features a frame that combines wood and steel elements. Its main rails are made of American Ash wood coated with a protective black paint, while the front part of the frame which supports the water tank, is made of steel tubing.

The machine is not too heavy; it weighs approx. 75 lbs (34 kg) without water inside the tank, and approx. 112 lbs (51 kg) with water. It can be handled, transported and stored with ease, though, as it has a set of large silicone wheels at the front.

Just like several other First Degree Fitness rowers, the Apollo Pro II Black can be stored vertically. The water can remain in the tank when the machine is in a vertical position. Its storage footprint is 22″ x 21″ (56 x 54 cm), but when it is placed in the usage position, this rower is fairly large, especially lengthwise. It measures 84″ (213 cm) in length and 22″ (56 cm) in width, and on top of that, it is recommended to leave at least two feet of clearance on each side and at the rear, for safe operation. Also, the machine’s side rails are long enough to accommodate users up to 6’7″ (201 cm).

The machine’s frame offers excellent stability. It rests on four large rubberized stabilizers. These are non-adjustable, though. Therefore, if the floor or the surface where you’ll be using this machine is uneven, it’s recommended to use a rubberized mat.

One last aspect to mention here regards the paint finish of the metallic frame of the water tank. In order to match the rest of the machine, the color used for this section is also black. The paint finish is corrosion and scratch-resistant.

Other parts

The FDF Apollo Pro II Black features a durable seat which can support users up to 330 lbs (150 kg). It has a contoured and textured surface to prevent you from sliding off. It doesn’t integrate extreme cushioning but does have a layer of padding. Thus, we can safely say that it provides optimal comfort.

The seat is designed for smooth and quiet action. It’s equipped with four heavy-duty wheels which integrate industrial grade ball bearings. Each wheel has a top cover, in order to prevent clothing or other objects to be caught by the wheels. However, they’re not entirely concealed such as for the FDF Vortex VX-3, for example.

The top of the seat is situated at approx. 16″ (40 cm) above floor level. Differently put, it’s almost as high as any office chair. Therefore, entry and exit can be done with ease, which is quite a plus for users with disabilities or elderly users.

The gliding beams on which the seat glides, are made of heavy duty PVC material. This comes with several advantages. First of all, they reduce the noise generated by the rollers of the seat during rowing. Second of all, the gliding surface is also much tolerating with any small particles that may fall on it. As opposed to that, if the gliding beams of a rower are metallic, even the slightest dirt particle fallen on it will result in bumps and clicks during rowing. But nonetheless, the small brushes on each wheel casing will remove any small particles, dust or sand.

The FDF Apollo Pro II Black is equipped with adjustable footrests. Their angle cannot be adjusted. The metallic plate on which they’re mounted has an angle of approx. 45°, which is pretty standard for most rowing machines.

The footrests are length-adjustable, though; they’re designed to accommodate athletic shoes of all sizes. They feature heel guards and adjustable straps in order to deliver maximum foot stability.

Last but not least, the rower is equipped with a slightly curved pulling handle, in order to reduce the stress on the wrists during exercising. It features high-density foam grips for optimal comfort and is attached to a heavy-duty nylon strap.

Water tank & drive system

Just as most other First Degree Fitness fluid rowers, the Apollo Pro II Black is equipped with a durable polycarbonate water tank which integrates a unique 3-bladed impeller, designed to deliver an instant catch and a consistent resistance throughout the whole stroke. 

Evidently, it’s a twin-chamber tank, featuring a “storage” chamber and the “active” chamber. The dial on the top of the tank allows you to change the water level in the active chamber in order to adjust the overall resistance. For example, if you have all the water in the active chamber, the machine will generate the maximum resistance level possible, providing the training setting required by pro athletes. Conversely, if you set the dial to the minimum level, 3/4 of the water will pass into the storage chamber, and the machine will generate 3/4 less resistance.

The water tank capacity is 4.5 gal (17 liters), and in order to generate resistance, it requires a quantity of water between 2.3 and 4.5 gal (9-17 liters). It’s recommended to be filled to its maximum capacity of 17 liters, in order for you to benefit from the 4 distinctive levels of resistance.

Since it’s a fluid rower, the Apollo Pro II Black generates a dynamic response during rowing, and a feel similar to rowing a real boat. Differently put, the resistance varies proportionally with the speed and strength you put behind each stroke, regardless of the selected resistance level. This is quite a plus for users who want to train at a professional level, as the whole drive and resistance of the machine can prevent them from developing bad habits or an improper form.

Finally, the level of noise generated by the water tank is minimal. The First Degree Fitness fluid rowers are far less noisy than air resistance rowers. In fact, the sound generated by the impeller in the water tank can have a relaxing, disconnecting effect.


The Apollo II Pro Black is equipped with an advanced ergometer. To begin with, it has a large LCD display divided into multiple panels, so all the workout metrics can be viewed simultaneously; you don’t have to use a scan function to rotate them. 

The unit shows time, 500M time, strokes per minute, distance, pulse, watts, and calories per hour. For distance, the meter unit offers the possibility to add 1000m for each press of the larger button. Also, this button covers the unit’s reset function. By holding it down for 3 sec., the unit will reset.

Since the water tank features four levels of resistance, the ergometer unit also has a level difficulty function. Therefore, in order to benefit from correct readings, it is required to correlate the resistance on the water tank with the resistance level selected on the ergometer. For example, if the dial on the water tank is set at MAX, the console must be set at level 4, in order to provide optimal tracking of the fitness statistics displayed.

The unit has a USB port which allows you to connect it to a PC via USB cable, in order to use various First Degree Fitness apps, such as the “NetAthlon 2 XF for Rowers”. These apps give you the possibility to save and track your workout data online or to compete with other rowers.

The meter unit is telemetric; it can read your pulse via a wireless HR chest strap transmitter, but this accessory is not included. It uses two AA batteries, which are also not included.

Assembly and Maintenance

The machine’s water tank comes pre-assembled and integrated into the metallic frame. Therefore, you will only need to attach the two main rails of the machine, the seat, the footrests and the console; then, connect the bungee cord to the hook under the rear board of the frame, and fill up the tank with water. The included manual will guide you through the whole process. All the tools needed for it are included. The task shouldn’t take more than one hour.

Maintenance requires you to periodically add a chlorine pill into the water tank to prevent the formation of algae. The chlorine pills are included. The rails should be kept clean, free of any objects or textile fibers that may damage the seat’s wheels. Also, it’s recommended to periodically check the integrity of the machine, check for loose or broken bolts and parts and re-tighten / replace them if it’s the case.

The Pros

  • Durable construction and a weight capacity of 330 lbs (150 kg);
  • Elegant design;
  • Can be stored vertically to save space;
  • Easy to handle and transport;
  • Adjustable footrests;
  • Water resistance system, delivering a dynamic response and a natural rowing feel;
  • Dual-chamber water tank, with 4 distinctive water resistance levels;
  • Contoured, textured and ergonomically designed seat;
  • The seat is fairly high, offering an easy entry and exit;
  • Advanced ergometer included featuring a multi-panel LCD display which shows time, 500m time, pulse, distance, strokes per minute, calories per hour and watts simultaneously; 
  • USB connection, for online workout data tracking, or using online apps;
  • Smooth and quiet operation;
  • Rowing machine for users of all levels;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • No backlight on the fitness meter;
  • HR chest strap transmitter and receiver are not included;
  • The base stabilizers are non-adjustable.


The First Degree Fitness Apollo Pro II Black is a commercial fluid rower, equipped with a 4-level water tank and an advanced ergometer. It has an aesthetic design, combining American Ash wood & steel components, being able to support users up to 330 lbs (150 kg). It’s a great machine for users of all levels, from beginners to Olympic athletes, perfect for full-body cardio workouts, interval workouts, endurance development, and weight loss. It’s not an affordable fitness machine, but considering that it offers commercial-grade quality, the price-value ratio is not bad at all.

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