LifeCORE Fitness R90 Rowing Machine

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LifeCORE R90

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The LifeCORE Fitness R90 rowing machine shares many similarities with the R100 model that we’ve previously presented here. It’s also a well-built machine and has a construction and range of features pretty close to a commercial rower; however, the R90 is considered an in-home model, offers only 300 lbs of weight capacity as opposed to the 600 lbs of the R100, and comes only with an in-home warranty.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 96L x 18W x 41H inches (244L x 46W x 104H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 80 lbs (36.2 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs (136 kg)
  • Frame: Steel and aluminum
  • Footrests: With adjustable straps
  • Resistance type: Air & magnetic, 6 levels
  • Exercise meter: Included
  • Warranty: Frame lifetime / Parts 3 years / Labor 1 year

Frame construction and parts

The LifeCORE Fitness R90 rowing machine combines both steel and aluminum parts in its frame construction. The seat slide rail is made of durable aluminum for a smoother glide, while the rear base, front base and the front part of the frame which sustains the flywheel, are made of steel. The machine’s steel parts are powder coated with industrial-grade corrosion-resistant paint; the sides of the sliding rail are also painted, but its top and bottom parts don’t have any paint finish, featuring their natural silver polish.

Compared to other rowing machines, the LifeCORE R90 is quite a large model, especially lengthwise. When fully assembled, it measures 96″ (244 cm) in length and 18″ (46 cm) in width. On top of that, it is recommended to keep at least one foot of clearance at the front of the machine, and at least two feet of clearance on the sides and at the rear, for safe operation. These being said, it the R90 rower may not exactly be the best choice for a fitness machine if usage space is an issue.

On the other hand, this LifeCORE rowing machine is foldable. The seat sliding rail folds up, and with it folded up its length is reduced to 41″ (104 cm). Also, the front base of the rower and the middle part of the frame feature transport wheels. So, when the machine is folded it rests on all four wheels which facilitate its transport and handling. Also, both rear and front bases are equipped with rubber pads which enhance the machine’s stability.

This rowing machine is equipped with a padded and contoured seat, ergonomically designed in order to provide optimal comfort. The seat’s frame is metallic and features six wheels which integrate stainless steel ball bearings for smooth operation. Also, the seat stands at 19.5″ (49.53 cm) above floor level, which considerably facilitates entry and exit; this feature can be extremely useful for users with disabilities.

The machine’s rail is long enough to accommodate users up to 6’7″ (201 cm). It can support users up to 300 lbs (136 kg).

The LifeCORE R90 rowing machine features highly durable metallic footrests. They’re size-adjustable, being able to accommodate athletic shoes of all sizes. They incorporate adjustable straps and heel guards to provide maximum stability during rowing. However, they’re fixed, they do not pivot and their angle cannot be adjusted. They’re set at a standard a ~45° angle.

Finally, the pulling handle is a simple straight bar, featuring high-density foam grips for optimal comfort. It is attached to a heavy-duty nylon strap and not a chain as for the Concept2 Model D. But nonetheless, the strap is meant to last for many years of use, and as opposed to a chain, it doesn’t require maintenance and doesn’t generate any extra noise.

Drive and resistance

The LifeCORE Fitness R90 rower features an air and magnetic resistance system. It’s equipped with a large PVC flywheel-fan which provides a dynamic response to the rowing motion. In other words, its resistance will vary depending on how hard or fast you stroke. However, this rowing machine is also equipped with a magnetic brake, which gives you the possibility to adjust the overall resistance. The tension adjustment is done from the dial on top of the main frame, above the footrests.

The magnetic tension system features 6 resistance levels. The 1-2 levels are perfect for beginners, elderly users or users who require recovery training. Conversely, the 5-6 tension levels supply a more consistent resistance, recommended if you want to undertake a more demanding workout.

As opposed to the R100, the magnetic brake of this rower is not motorized. Differently put, the machine doesn’t require to be connected to a power circuit in order to make available the resistance settings.

Another aspect to mention here regards the level of noise generated by this rower. Considering the fact that it uses an air resistance system, its operation does generate a certain level of noise. However, the generated noise during workouts isn’t extreme. It shouldn’t cover the sound of the TV.

This rower uses features a belt-drive; the main connection between the flywheel and the main pulley is made by a heavy-duty Poly-V drive belt, which means that the machine’s transmission doesn’t require lubrication. It also doesn’t generate extra noise.

Exercise meter

The LifeCORE Fitness R90 comes with a mid-range console, featuring a multi-panel LCD display. Its readouts are 500m time, total time, total strokes, strokes per minute, watts, calories, speed, distance, and pulse. The distance and speed readings can only be displayed in metric units. Also, the unit can only read your pulse via a wireless HR chest strap, and this accessory is not included.

The console unit has two main programs: Manual and Race. For the Manual program, you can set up your own targets for distance, strokes, calories, pulse and time. Once you have selected a target value for one of these readings, the unit will begin to countdown from it to zero as you commence rowing. If you don’t want to select any targets, you can use the Quick Start mode, and the values will start from zero and count up until you stop rowing.

The Race Program is designed to simulate a competition against an opponent. The console will prompt you to enter various workout metrics such as pace boat speed, distance, and resistance level. There are 15 levels available for this workout, with preloaded time intervals ranging between 1:00 min. to 8:00. You can change each interval in 30-seconds increments.

The unit also makes available a Recovery program. This function measures your pulse rate over a time interval of 60 seconds, and depending on the result, it will give you a score which determines your fitness level (i.e, F1 – excellent, F6 – poor).

The console unit does not have any online connectivity functions. It uses 4 C-type batteries which are included. It’s fairly easy to operate. The Start/Stop button allows you to initiate and pause your workout when needed. The Down/Up buttons serve for increasing and decreasing your target values. The Enter key is used to confirm a selected target value. The Recovery key covers the Recovery function. And finally, the Reset key allows you to clear all the values on the console to zero.

Assembly and Maintenance

The main part of the rower with the flywheel, resistance system, pulling handle, and pedals, comes already assembled. So, for the assembly task, you only have to attach the front and rear bases, the rail, and the seat. This shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes. The box includes a 6mm hex wrench / Phillips screwdriver tool which is all you need for assembly, while the manual provides very clear, step-by-step assembly instructions.

For maintenance, it’s recommended to remove the dust that may accumulate on the flywheel fan. Check the rail before each use to make sure there aren’t any fibers or small objects on it that may damage the seat or the rail. Also, it’s recommended to periodically check for loose bolts and parts, and re-tighten them if necessary.

The Pros

  • Sturdy construction – can hold users up to 300 lbs;
  • Folding frame, space-saving design;
  • Transport wheels at the front and middle;
  • Rubber pads for floor protection and stability;
  • Size-adjustable footrests with straps;
  • Contoured, padded and spacious seat supplying excellent comfort;
  • Air resistance for a natural, dynamic response during rowing;
  • 6 levels of magnetic resistance for overall tension adjustment;
  • Multi-panel display with LED backlight which indicates time, time/500m, meters, strokes per minute, total strokes, watts, calories, pulse;
  • Target settings for time, distance, strokes, calories, and pulse;
  • Race program with 15 levels of intensity;
  • Recovery function;
  • Fairly quiet for a rower with air resistance;
  • Easy to put together;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • HR chest strap is not included;
  • No online connectivity.


The LifeCORE Fitness R90 is a rowing machine featuring air & magnetic resistance, equipped with a mid-range console which can track time, time/500m, meters, strokes per minute, total strokes, watts, calories, pulse. It has a sturdy construction, similar to the Concept2 models, a folding frame, and a comfortable large seat. It’s a machine for users of all levels, perfect for light to intense, full-body cardio training, interval training, endurance gain and weight loss. And finally, it’s not exactly an affordable rower, but it’s pretty safe to say that it offers a decent value for the price.

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