First Degree Fitness Apollo Pro V Rower

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FDF Apollo Pro V

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330 lbs78.9 lbsWater,
5 levels
Power Graph,

The Apollo Pro V is one of the fluid rowers released by First Degree Fitness in 2019. It’s quite similar to the older Apollo Pro II but comes with a different fitness monitor which has Bluetooth connectivity. It’s a commercial-grade rower, not exactly the most affordable one, but definitely offers excellent value and quality for the price.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 83.8L x 20.4W x 22H inches (213L x 52W x 56H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 78.9 lbs (35.8)
  • Supported weight: 330 lbs (150 kg)
  • Frame: Wood & steel
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance: Water, adjustable (5 levels)
  • Fitness monitor: Time, 500m/time, watts, calories, pulse, SPM, training data, Bluetooth
  • Warranty: Frame 5 years / Tank & seals 5 years / Mechanical 2 years / Wear parts 1 year

Frame construction

The First Degree Fitness Apollo Pro V combines wood and steel elements in its frame construction. The two main rails of the machine, their connecting elements, and the two side panels of the seat frame are made of hardwood, featuring a hand lacquered American Ash woodgrain finish. The frame that sustains the water tank, as well as several other small parts is steel made. Also, apart from the tank which is made of polycarbonate material, the machine also integrates several parts made of durable thermoplastic material.

The fully assembled rower is fairly large. It is approx. 84″ (213 cm) long and 20.4 (52 cm) wide, while its highest point is approx. 22″ (56 cm) above floor level. It is recommended, though, to leave at least two feet of clearance at the rear of the machine and on each side, for ease of access and correct usage.

The rail tracks are pretty long as well, offering a seat movement span of approx. 35″ (89 cm). The footrests are placed a few inches farther from the front seat bumpers. Thus, the machine should be able to accommodate users up to 6’7″ (201 cm) with no problem.

The rower is fairly heavy as well. Its net weight (without water in the resistance tank) is 78.9 lbs (35.8). However, once assembled it can easily be moved with or without water in the tank as its front base integrates a set of large transport wheels.

The rower does not have a folding frame like the Sunny Health & Fitness Phantom, for example, but can be stored vertically. The water can remain in the tank when the machine is stored in vertical position.

Seat and other parts

The seat included with the FDF Apollo Pro V is not designed for super comfort but its top section does integrate a layer of padding. It is also contoured and textured in order to prevent slipping. Its frame is mostly made of steel but its side base panels are made of the same wood as the base frame for a stylish touch. The seat and the rails are rated for a maximum user weight limit of 330 lbs (150 kg).

The seat is equipped with eight wheels. Four of them slide on top of the rail tracks, the other four slide on the inner side for improved stability. The wheels integrate sealed bearings for smooth travel and have a thick layer of high-density rubber on the outside. They also have top covers as well as small brushes on each side which keep the rails clean during every stroke.

The seat height is approx. 12″ (30 cm). It’s not super high above the floor, but not too low either. However, there’s an available elevation kit for the rower, but it is not included.

The FDF Apollo Pro V is equipped with a set of 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.

The machine is equipped with an ergonomic handle featuring high-density foam grips for improved contact. It does not integrate pulse sensors or other control. It is attached to a heavy-duty nylon mesh strap which connects to the resistance mechanism of the rower. Since the machine uses a strap, not a chain, like the Concept2 rowers, lubrication is not necessary.

Resistance system

Unlike other fluid rowers, the FDF Apollo Pro V features a water tank with an adjustable water level mechanism. The tank is divided into a passive chamber and an active chamber. It has a 5-level dial on top which allows you to change the water levels between the two chambers. Therefore, if you set the resistance to the highest (the 5th level), most of the water will move into the active chamber, leaving the inner, passive chamber almost empty. Conversely, if you set the dial to level 1, most of the water will move into the passive chamber leaving the active chamber with a low level of water which results in less resistance.

The main resistance element is a 3-blade impeller that spins inside the tank. Evidently, its three blades that generate the resistance, spin in the active chamber. The impeller is connected to the internal pulley mechanism and to the pulling strap. Thus, when you pull the handle, it will spin inside the tank generating resistance.

The water tank is made of durable polycarbonate material. Its walls are clear with a slightly gray hue. Its capacity is 4.5 gal (17 liters), and in order to generate resistance, it requires a quantity of water between 2.3 gal. and 4.5 gal. (9-17 liters). It is recommended to be filled to its maximum capacity of 17 liters, in order for you to benefit from the 5 distinctive levels of resistance.

Apart from the adjustable resistance elements, the machine also generates a dynamic response during rowing. In other words, the resistance depends on your stroke rate. If you pull faster, the impeller will also spin faster inside the tank and will generate more resistance. This is similar to rowing a real boat through the water.

Fitness monitor

The First Degree Fitness Apollo Pro V includes a pretty decent fitness monitor. To begin with, it features an LCD display divided into 9 sub-sections in order to show as many workout metrics as possible at once, so you don’t have to keep selecting the ones you want to view. It tracks time, 500m/time, watts, calories, distance, pulse, and strokes per minute.

The fitness monitor unit does not have pre-set workout programs but does have a Power Graph function. This shows data gathered from each workout and displays it in a power curve setting or a cumulative power graph. This way, you can make comparisons between workouts and keep track of your progress. Also, a wireless HR chest strap for the pulse reading function is not included.

The monitor itself does not adjust the machine’s resistance in any way. However, it has Up/Down level controls so you can correlate the data with the selected resistance level. For example, if you select level 3 on the water tank, you should also select level 3 on the monitor so that it can provide a more accurate watt and calorie reading.

Bluetooth connectivity is available on this monitor unit. It is also compatible with the First Degree Fitness rowing app available for iOS and Android systems. Therefore, you can install this app on your smartphone and sync it with the monitor unit for only workout history tracking, set goals for your workouts, etc. The app itself is not super (at least not for now) but the monitor itself does provide pretty accurate data.

The monitor unit is battery-powered. It requires two D-type batteries which are included. It begins recording your metrics when it detects activity on the rower. It also automatically powers off after 5 minutes of inactivity on the rower.

Assembly and Maintenance

The tank unit comes pre-assembled. However, the rest of the parts require user assembly. This being said, you will have to connect the two rails to the tank unit, the rail stabilizer board, the seat, and the transport wheels. This shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes of your time. The manual provides clear assembly instructions and all the necessary tools are included.

For maintenance, you only need to periodically add a water treatment pill into the tank. The water treatment pills are included. 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;
  • Water resistance system, delivering a dynamic response and a natural rowing feel;
  • Dual-chamber water tank, with 5 distinct water resistance levels;
  • Contoured, textured, and ergonomically designed seat;
  • Adjustable footrests;
  • The seat is fairly high, offering an easy entry and exit;
  • Fitness monitor included – it tracks time, time/500m, distance, watts, calories, SPM, and pulse;
  • Power Graph function for workout data comparison;
  • Bluetooth connectivity – compatible with the First Degree Fitness app;
  • 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 V is a fluid rower made for both commercial and residential use. It is equipped with a dual-chamber water tank with adjustable water resistance. It features an Ash wood frame with long rails, an ergonomic seat, adjustable footrests, and a multi-function fitness monitor. It’s a great machine for a full-body cardio workout, muscle toning, stamina development, interval training, and weight loss.

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