First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower

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FDF Newport
first degree fitness newport challenge water rowing machine
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300 lbs60 lbsWaterFrame: 5 years
Tank: 3 years
Seals: 3 years
Mechanical: 2 years
Parts: 1 year

Water-based rowing machines in general, offer quality, design and the natural rowing feel. That’s why many professional rowers use fluid rowing machines, rather than air-based, or magnetic. They simply offer the best training setting for off-seasons. And not only that, they’re also excellent fitness machines for cardio, stamina building and calorie burning. So, regardless if you’re a professional rower, or just a person who would like a machine for a consistent daily workout, which also helps you relax your nerves, a water rower is pretty much a great choice.

When it comes to fluid rowers, First Degree Fitness (FDF) is a brand that offers multiple models. The Newport Adjustale Resistance Water Rower is one of the best machines within their selection, which also fits best to home use. Therefore, let’s see what the FDF Newport rower can do for you.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 77.8L x 20.9W x 20.1H inches (197L x 53W x 51H cm)
  • Product weight: 60 lbs (27 kg)
  • Supported weight: 300 lbs (136 kg)
  • Frame: Aluminum / steel / acrylic combo
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance type: Water
  • Performance monitor: Yes
  • Warranty: Frame 5 years / Tank and seals 3 years / Mechanical 2 years / Wear parts 1 year

Frame and parts

The most important piece of the frame, the seat’s gliding rail, is made of anodized aluminum, like in most rowers with a metallic frame, such as the SOLE SR500 or Velocity Exercise CHR-2001 for example. It’s quite durable and enables the rower to withstand users up to 300 lbs (136 kg). It’s also long enough to accommodate users up to 6’8″ (203 cm), with an inseam up to 39″ (99 cm).

However, the other metallic parts of the frame, such as the water tank’s support, the base of the footrests, and of course, the bases of machine, are steel-made. These are actually the heavy elements within the frame, which add consistence and sturdiness to the overall build of the machine, rendering quite stable during workouts.

The frame features 3 main bases, all of them finished with round caps, which add stability to the frame. The front base also features transit wheels, to provide easier relocation or storage of the machine.

This rower does not have a foldable frame, but it can however, be stored in vertical position. When in vertical position, it only takes 20″L x 21″W of floor space. And in case you’re wondering, the water can remain in the tank, when the machine is in upright, storage position. When fully assembled and regular, training position, the FDF Newport rower has a 78″L x 21″W footprint.

The seat is made of highly-durable acrylic material, featuring a molded design, for maximum ergonomics. It glides on low friction, Delrin® rollers with precision bearings, along a concealed track for safe and smooth operation.

The rowing handle also has an ergonomic design, slightly curved towards the user, in order to prevent any strain on arms, hands and wrists. It’s also covered with rubber foam material, for a solid grip, and to prevent blistering or any damage to your hands. The handlebar is attached to a highly-durable nylon strap, 1″ (2.5 cm) wide, but the pulling mechanism also features a sheated bungie cord for return.

Last but not least, the First Degree Fitness Newport rower features size-adjustable footplates, which can accommodate feet of just about any size. They’re also made of acrylic material, also featuring straps and heel guards, to ensure the maximum stability of your feet during workouts.

Water tank and resistance system

The water tank on the Newport rower is made of solid polycarbonate material, with a maximum capacity of 17 liters (4.5 gal). In order for the rower to be functional, it requires to hold a quantity of water between 9 liters and 17 liters (2.3 – 4.5 gal). However, it’s recommended that the tank is first degree fitness newport water tankfilled up to its 17 liter maximum capacity, so that you can benefit from the maximum resistance setting.

The water tank is equipped with a triple-bladed impeller, offering instant catch, and no dead spots. It supplies consistence with each rowing motion, and the all-natural rowing feel.

When it comes to the resistance of this rowing machine, since it’s a water-based model, resistance varies with each stroke, depending on how hard you pull. In other words, the resistance is pretty similar to rowing an actual boat. However, the water tank is equipped with a dial, and the average resistance can be adjusted.

The adjustable resistance (AR) tank actually features two chambers: the “storage” chamber and the “active” chamber. Water moves between these chambers, depending on the resistance setting. For example, if you set the resistance to “MIN” on the tank adjuster, it will take about 10 strokes to fill the central (storage) tank, leaving only a minimum amount of water in the main (active) tank, resulting in less demanding strokes. As opposed to that, if you set the resistance to “MAX”, the water will pass into the active tank, providing the user with higher resistance.

The rower comes with small pump, for filling the tank with water. The box also contains water treatment conditioners, for preventing algae growth inside the tank. The water treatment conditioners supplied with the rower should last for several years of use.

Performance monitor

The console equipped on the First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR rower is quite an advanced unit. First of all, it displays all the values that a rower performance monitor should track, such as distance, calories per hour, strokes per minute, wattage, time and 500M time, and pulse. Distance goals can be set via a specific key on the console. Also, it features two LEVEL fdf newport performance monitorbuttons (“UP” and “DOWN”), which enable the console to synchronize to the resistance level of the water tank. Evidently, the level on the console (1-4), should be always set the same as the current resistance level on the water tank.

The console is powered on as you commence rowing. It automatically pauses 5 seconds after ceasing any activity on the rower, and it will automatically shut down after 5 minutes. Within the pause time, the SPM, 500 Meter, Watt will be reduced to zero, Distance/Time will be saved and Cal per Hour will default to Total Cal. Once the computer shuts down, all values will revert to zero.

The unit can track your pulse, but it requires a compatible heart rate chest strap. This accessory is not included with the rower, it must be purchased separately.

One of the neat capabilities of the console system supplied with the FDF Newport rowing machine, is its online, USB connectivity. You can connect it to your PC or laptop, and compete with other rowers or use Virtual Reality 3D environments via the NetAthlon 2XF for Fluid Rowers.

Last but not least, the console uses 2xAA batteries.

Assembly and Maintenance

In terms of maintenance, this rowing machine does not require much. All you have to do, is keep the gliding rail of the seat free of any dirt or debris that may cause dents in it. Also, you must apply water treatment from the supplied packs from time to time, to prevent the formation of algae in the water tank.

Assembly doesn’t require much either. The water tank comes already attached to the front part of the frame. All you have to do, is attach the seat rail to the main frame, install the seat and the rear base, add the supplied batteries into the console, and fill up the water tank.


Just about everything about this fitness machine is a plus, as it’s a gym-grade rower. But anyway, if you’re looking for a summary on the pros regarding this rower, here it is:

  • Solid frame construction, and excellent balance;
  • Appealing, professional design;
  • Rower for users of all levels, including pro athletes;
  • Can be stored vertically to save space;
  • Transit wheels for ease of storage and transport;
  • Comfortable, contoured seat;
  • Hidden track for the seat rollers, for cleaner and smoother operation;
  • Ergonomically designed handle;
  • Adjustable footrests;
  • Water resistance system, which offers the most natural rowing feel;
  • Adjustable resistance levels;
  • Performance monitor, covering all the necessary values an athlete requires to know during their workout;
  • PC connectivity via USB, and the possibility to compete online with other users;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Quiet;
  • Low maintenance.


The only downside that we could find regarding this complete rowing machine, is the fact that it’s not designed to support users heavier than 300 lbs (136 kg). Other rowers of this caliber, such as fdf newport challengethe Concept2 D, or the WaterRower Natural, can support much heavier users, up to 500 lbs (227 kg) or even more.


The First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower is one of the best fluid rowers that you can get at the moment. It’s an excellent rowing machine for users of all levels, including professional rowers, a machine great for cardio training, stamina building, weight loss, or simply a machine that can diversify your daily workout by a lot. On top of that, it’s much easier on the joints than other fitness machines, and involves multiple muscle groups. And finally, the Newport rower also comes with an extraordinary price/quality ratio.

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