Looking to burn more calories in less time? If so, the Inspire Fitness CR2 Cross Row might be the right machine for you!
This newly designed fitness rower has bi-directional resistance to activate all the muscles in your body and have you shedding body fat in no time.
There are several versions of the machine, CR2, CR2.1, etc. The latest is the CR2.5 Cross Rower, which is the only one available at major retailers and on the company website as of June 2023. The info in this review will apply to the CR2.5 Cross Rower unless specified otherwise.
I don’t own the machine, but I’ve used the CR2 in a gym and have trained a client who owns the newer CR2.5 Cross Rower. So, I’ve tried both the old and new versions.
One thing that will strike you right away is how cool the machine looks!
To provide some quick guidance…
The Inspire Fitness CR2 Cross Row works much like a rowing machine but hits all the major muscles of the body. While great for conditioning, the CR2 isn’t recommended for those who want to get into rowing later.
I.e., if you get into the sport later, you’ll have to relearn rowing technique, since the skill part won’t transfer.
The CR2 is usually quite pricy but I’ve seen it on sale before.
When using the CR2, I found the resistance to be quite smooth. The machine uses magnetic resistance. This means the resistance is controlled by moving a magnet closer to or farther from a spinning metal flywheel.
The closer the magnet is to the flywheel, the stronger the resistance and vice versa.
To control the resistance (the distance of the magnet), simply spin a dial on the handle. It’s really that easy!
Because you can increase/decrease the resistance, we call this “adjustable” resistance. This differs from air rowers, where the resistance is controlled by how fast or slow you row.
You can read more about the difference between air and magnetic resistance here.
Magnetic Bi-Directional Resistance
As mentioned, the CR2 Rowing Machine is a magnetic resistance rower with 18 levels of adjustable resistance (confirmed by Inspire Fitness).
The 26 lb (12 kg) flywheel makes for a super smooth rowing motion and a silent drive chain to minimize noise.
The adjustment dial on the handle makes it super easy to change resistance levels while working out.
As mentioned, the CR2 offers bi-directional resistance. This means there is resistance on both the pulling and pushing motion of the row (source). This is very different from traditional rowing machines that provide resistance on the pull and then active recovery on the push/return.
There are also 3 different grips a user can apply to change the muscles that are targeted while using. This provides another way to hit all the muscles of the body in one workout!
So, a major benefit of bi-directional resistance is activating more muscles (especially the chest and triceps), which translates into a harder workout and more calories burned.
You won’t find much negative feedback on the CR2 resistance. I was quite out of breath after using the machine for 10 minutes and my client who owned the machine said the same thing.
So, if your concerns are about the Inspire CR2 being too easy, you can check that one off your list!
The CR2 monitor isn’t super fancy but it tracks the most important data:
- Pulse (if using a heart rate monitor)
- Age (helps accurately calculate calories)
- Total Strokes
- Distance (miles or meters)
- Calories (must be using a heart rate monitor)
- Strokes per Minute
The upside of “basic” is that it’s easy to operate. Unfortunately, the monitor isn’t backlit.
It has buttons for 2:00, 5:00, and 10:00-minute workouts. Simply push the button and a timer will count down from the selected workout.
There is also a “mode” button that allows a user to set their own limits for time, calories, and distance.
If you are interested in using a compatible heart rate monitor you can use a compatible Polar HRM. Inspire Fitness said you can use a T31 (which may fall out of range quickly), a T34, or the H7. Check out the Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor here.
Inspire Fitness Cross Row App
Are you usually confused about how to start a training program or what workouts to choose each day?
The app lets you stream new videos added daily featuring workouts that are performed on the CrossRow. You can log all of your workouts in the app and keep track of important progress like your weight and other measurements.
Overall, the monitor is fine. I’m not super impressed with the monitor itself given the price point. In my opinion, at this price, a monitor should be fairly advanced with more workout programs.
But if you plan to stream the workouts, this won’t be an issue.
When you pay a lot for fitness equipment, you expect good quality and the CR2 won’t let you down in that respect. You can see from the image at the beginning of the article that it’s a pretty sturdy piece of equipment.
It has a heavy-duty steel frame with a matte black powder-coated finish.
The handles are polyurethane dipped for better grip and durability.
Due to the bi-directional resistance, users need very good foot straps so they can grip the CrossRower to push and pull the handles. For the CR2, Inspire Fitness uses comfortable, durable foot straps that resemble those used on snowboards.
Another unique feature is the 26 lb. flywheel, which is about double the weight of most rowing machine flywheels. This makes the resistance (and machine) smooth and quiet.
Check out the video below:
Comfort is important when sitting for long periods.
First, we can start with the seat. Inspire Fitness has several Cross Rower models, the CR2.1, the CR2.1X, and CR2.5
The CR2.1 had a “bucket seat” which can be adjusted forward and backward based on your height.
They later created the CR2.1X which switched from a “bucket seat” to a longer, flatter seat. This allowed increased comfort due to your back never hitting the “lip” that was on the bucket seat. It also allows for more adjustment so the user can find the optimal sitting position.
The CR2.5 has the same flat seat of the CR2.1X that slopes from back to front.
Second, the handles are comfortable to grip and not made of the cheap, foam material you find on some equipment.
They’re polyurethane dipped and non-slip to allow for a comfortable grip that helps prevent blisters from forming. The resistance adjustment is also built into the handle so you can have full control without stopping your workout.
Third, let’s talk about the footrests. Due to the CR2 Rower having bi-directional resistance, there is more force applied to the footrests than on traditional rowing machines.
So, Inspire Fitness added comfortable and durable foot straps to the model. Like with snowboard foot straps, you can easily ratchet them down and use the quick-release feature to loosen them!
I contacted Inspire Fitness to make sure the seat and handles are the ones displayed in the photos. They did confirm and said the photos will match the unit you are buying.
All of the videos currently feature the CR2.1 using the “bucket” seat, but they are working on updating the videos to feature the CR2.5.
The rowing motion is smooth and quiet so it’s quite comfortable.
The only thing to note is the major difference in the motion compared to other rowing machine models.
As you will see in the videos, the motion is more elliptical rather than back and forth. This will feel a bit odd in the beginning if you are used to rowing on a traditional rower, but you will get used to it.
Also, you will be required to bend over most of the time, so if that will be an issue (i.e., back problems), you might consider going with a traditional rowing machine.
If you are looking to purchase a piece of equipment that can store under a bed or inside a closet, this is not the machine for you.
While it’s not huge, you can’t fold the machine and it does take up decent some floor space.
Being fairly heavy, it does come with wheels so you can at least move it into the corner of the room and out of the way.
It weighs 183 lbs, so if you’re planning on moving it up/down stairs, it’ll take a couple of people at least.
The max user weight is listed at 300 lbs (the brochure says 350 lbs), which is good, but not great. Most traditional rowers in this price range have weight limits over 500 lbs (some up to 1,000 lbs!).
I couldn’t find a maximum inseam length for the CR2 Cross Rower but I did ask Customer Service if someone who was 6’7″ could use it and they confirmed they could.
The seat on the CR2.1 can be adjusted. Seats on the CR2.1X and CR2.5 allow the user to slide all the way back.
Another cool feature of the Inspire CR2 (all models) is that you can adjust the handles up and down for a user’s height. So, shorter and taller users can have the handles placed at the optimal position for their workout.
Overall, if you are shorter than 6’7″ and under 300 lbs., you should have no issue using the Inspire CR2 Rower.
- Assembled (L x W x H)
- 70.0″ x 32.0″ x 43.0″ (from product brochure)
- 67.0″ x 41.0″ x 41.0″ (from website)
- Same as assembled
- 183 lbs.
- Frame: 10-Years
- Parts: 3-Years
- Labor: 1-Year
- Model #: CR2.1 or CR2.1X
Inspire also has a “Light Commercial” warranty, which is 10 years on the frame and 1 year on the parts & labor.
Overall, I think the CR2 Cross Row is a great piece of fitness equipment for the right person.
If price is not an issue and you like unconventional fitness equipment, then it might be a great fit. Rowing is thought of as a full-body workout, but the Cross Row takes better lives up to that claim in that you work all major muscles more thoroughly.
The lowest price overall will be one that includes shipping.
If you’re looking to get into rowing as a sport (down the line), you’ll want to go with a traditional rowing machine.
For a traditional rowing machine, I highly recommend checking out the Concept2 Model D Rower which costs a lot less and is the bestselling rowing machine on the market.
It’s used by a lot of professional athletes and rowers and is the chosen rowing machine by Crossfit. It is air resistance, which is a bit different than magnetic, but I think it’s well worth a look. See my full review of the model here.
A great traditional rowing machine with magnetic resistance is the Stamina Avari Rower. It has a monitor with preset workout programs and also comes with a heart rate monitor. See my full review of the model here.
Another option to consider is the Matrix rower which also offers magnetic resistance.
You can also browse all my reviews and rowing machine options in my full comparison chart here.
I hope you enjoyed my Inspire Fitness CR2 Cross Row review! Please leave any questions or comments below.
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.