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Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine Review

Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine ReviewThis Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine review will outline why this model is such a great value!

This rower is lightweight, compact, quiet, and has 12-levels of adjustable resistance.

These features make it great for beginners or elderly people looking to get a great, low impact workout everyday!

Whether you are using it to warm up for other activities or looking to move a little more throughout the day, the SF-RW1205 Rower is an excellent option.

Some user have mentioned it was the best piece of exercise equipment they have purchased!

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 is an amazing low cost option that can burn up to 600 calories an hour and whip you into shape!

However, there are always some downsides to low cost rowers and hydraulic-piston resistance.

Check out my full Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 review below for all the pros & cons.

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Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead!)

1. Resistance Type
2. Monitor/Control Panel
3. Build Quality
4. Comfort
5. Storage
6. Capacity
7. Dimensions
8. Assembly
9. Pros and Cons
10. Consumer Reviews
11. Warranty
12. Price

Resistance Type

The Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine functions using hydraulic-piston resistance.

Hydraulic-pistons are considered “adjustable” resistance because a user can adjust a knob to increase or decrease the resistance.

When the user adjusts the knob to a high resistance level, a valve inside the piston closes, making it harder for the hydraulic fluid to pass through, which in return increase the resistance strength.

When a user adjusts the knob to a lower resistance level, the valve opens wider, making it easier for the fluid to pass through, which makes the resistance easier.

I hope that makes sense!

There are a lot of pros and cons to hydraulic-piston rowers which I’ll outline below.

Resistance Benefits

The Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine is a single-centered piston rower, which is a little different than some hydraulic-piston rowers.

Some hydraulic-piston rowers have 2-pistons attached to each arm, which act like oars in a boat.

The single-centered piston, like the SF-RW1205, is attached to a center rowing arm that provides a smooth rowing motion.

Two benefits of a single hydraulic-piston is it makes the rowing machine cost less and weigh less.

The single-centered piston also avoids the problems of dual-piston rowers, such as uneven wearing of pistons and getting each piston to match resistance levels.

If you want to read more about hydraulic-pistons and other rowing machine resistance types check out my resistance article.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Resistance

The Sunny Health and Fitness Rower has 12 different levels of resistance that can be adjusted by turning a knob. The resistance can be adjusted while sitting on the rower, which is a great benefit.

There is also an inclined seat rail (seen in photo above), which adds another layer of resistance. This means when you are in the “catch” position with your knees bent, you will have to push your body weight up a slight incline, making it a better workout.

The hydraulic piston is very quiet, so users can easily watch TV while rowing and not have to worry about neighbors complaining. Users in small apartments love this rower for this reason!

Most users commented they were happy with the amount of resistance the SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine offered and didn’t complain about it being too easy.

I do however feel that if you are in very good shape or an athlete, this model is not going to provide you with enough resistance.

This rowing machine is great for beginner rowers, elderly people, and people looking for a moderate cardio workout. Rowing machines that provide very strenuous workouts are at least 3-5x more expensive.

Resistance Negatives

One complaint about the Sunny Health & Fitness Rower is that the hydraulic-piston does get hot after about 15-20 minutes of use.

The manufacturer does state to workout for about 15 minutes and then let the piston cool down for 5 minutes. However, some users have rowed for longer periods of time without any problems.

Other users rowed for 15 minutes, then did 5-10 minutes of another workout, and then went back to rowing to avoid this issue.

When the piston heats up, it loses its viscosity, which causes the resistance to lessen. In other words, as you row and the oil heats up, it become easier to row. However, most users just turned the resistance knob to a higher level and continued their workout.

The only other problem I came across was that on a few rowers (less than 1%) users complained that their piston began to leak oil. When this happened Sunny Health & Fitness replaced the piston immediately with no questions asked.

Some users choose to put down a Fold-to-Fit Equipment Mat, which will protect your floor from scratches or oil leaks.

Resistance Overall

Overall, users thought the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine resistance was great for beginners and people looking to get a moderate 15-20 minute workout.

It offers a quiet, smooth rowing stroke at a very affordable price!

If you are looking to row with strong resistance at high stroke rates (like something at a Crossfit gym), then I would suggest looking at more advanced models.I give a few suggestions in my final review section.

Monitor/Control Panel

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine comes equipped with a simple to use LCD monitor.

The monitor tracks the following data:

  • Time
  • Count (accumulation of rowing strokes for current workout)
  • Total Count (accumulation of rowing strokes from all workouts)
  • Calories Burned
  • Scan (scans through all functions displayed)

The monitor is simple and very easy to operate.

Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine Monitor

You cannot expect much from a monitor in this price range and it should be seen as a bonus more than anything.

The monitor comes with 2AA batteries, so there is nothing required for setup.

The monitor does have a few drawbacks. Some users said that the monitor skipped some rowing strokes or added two strokes when only one was completed.

The calorie counter is also just an estimate and should only be used to compare between workouts. If you want to track calories accurately check out my article on tracking rowing machine calories.

Overall, the monitor provides fairly accurate data and is great for tracking basic data like time and strokes.

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Build Quality

On lower priced rowers, we always have to be concerned with build quality. Manufacturers are always looking for ways to cut cost and that usually means lower quality.

The Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine is built with a sturdy steel frame and users felt the rower was of high quality for the price. The welds looked strong and the rower didn’t wobble or make creaking noises while using.

SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Build Quality

The rower also comes with rubber caps on the bottom on the frame to protect floors and increase sturdiness while rowing.

Users felt the handle, seat, and rollers were made of good quality parts and should hold up nicely for a few years.

There were very few users who complained about quality issues but some issues were the hydraulic-piston leaking and pins wearing out.

Users who faced these issues were able to contact Sunny Health & Fitness and get the parts replaced immediately.

Overall, the build quality is excellent for the price but don’t expect to get the quality you would receive on something priced over $500.

Check out the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine in action below:

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Now on to the comfort section! The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 comes with a comfortable padded seat and soft grip handle.

The padded handle allows for a soft grip that doesn’t fatigue your hands or cause blisters. Users mentioned the seat was comfortable but seemed to wiggly a little if you were not centered on the seat.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine

The rower also comes with oversized pivoting foot plates with adjustable velcro straps. This allows any user to comfortably place there feet wherever they like and feel secure.

Users felt the single hydraulic-piston provided a smooth, quiet rowing stroke that didn’t lag and provided adequate resistance.

Overall, users said the Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine provides a very smooth, quiet, and comfortable rowing stroke.

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The Sunny Health Rower is extremely lightweight making it very easy to move around and store. While the rower is not able to fold flat, it can be stood up vertically and stored in a closet.

Vertical storage will take up about 4.5 feet of height and a 2.0′ x 2.0′ square of floorspace.

If you want to store the rowing machine under a bed then it is possible but just requires a little more work.

To fold the rower flat, all a user has to do is remove the bolt that connects the rowing handle and hydraulic-piston, then remove the rear support knob.

This should allow the handle and rear support to fold flat and it should fit under a bed or very easily inside a closet.

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The manufacturer weight capacity is listed at 220 lbs but users have claimed to weigh up to 290 lbs and use the Sunny Rowing Machine fine.

I would not recommend using the rower if you weigh a lot over 220 lbs, but anywhere in that ballpark and you should be ok.

Sunny Health & Fitness Rower SF-RW1205 Capacity

Taller rowers may have an issue with the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine due to it being a compact rower.

The manufacturer has the maximum inseam length listed as 37.0″, which is fairly long.

Users as tall as 6’2″ have used the rower but it all depends on your inseam. If you are 6″2″ or taller I would worry that you may not be able to perform a full row or that your knees may hit the handle.

There is no low-end height limitation and it can also accommodate children.

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Rower Weight:

  • 23 lbs.

Shipping Weight:

  • 24 lbs.

Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H):

  • 53.2″ x 20.0″ x 21.5″

Boxed Dimensions (L x W x H):

  • 53.0″ x 7.5″ x 13.5″

Seat Height Off Ground:

  • 7.0″

Seat Dimensions:

  • 12.0″ W x 9.0″ L

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Owners of the Sunny Rowing Machine SF-RW1205 noted that assembly was extremely easy!

Most users, who are not mechanically inclined, were able to set the rower up in about 10 minutes.

Setup requires 3 bolts and can even be done without looking at the instructions. The SF-RW1205 comes with all the tools and batteries needed.

Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine Assembly

The rowing machine comes almost completely assembled (as shown in the photo), which is such a benefit for people who do not want to deal with a million parts and complicated instructions.

If you had any worry about assembly, do not worry at all!

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Pros and Cons


  • Great for beginners
  • 12-levels of adjustable resistance
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy assembly
  • Smooth, quiet, and sturdy
  • Compact
  • Lightweight


  • May be insufficient resistance for experienced rowers
  • Simple monitor
  • May be small for tall users

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Consumer Reviews

Owners of the Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine love this rower and some have said it is the best piece of exercise equipment they have purchased! It has received very high ratings but keep in mind the very low cost has a lot to do with how the rower is judged.

Consumers noted the rowing machine is not like more expensive rowers but for the price it is an excellent buy.

Users also mentioned that Sunny Health & Fitness had great customer service and replaced broken parts immediately. If you are new to rowing or looking to get a little extra workout in during the day then this is a great rowing machine.

Click to see more Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine Reviews here.

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Average Rating: 4.5


The warranty on this rower has been updated, which is great to see!

  • Structural Frame: 3-Years
  • Parts & Components: 180-Days
  • Model #: SF-RW1205

Seeing the warranty bump up from 1-year and 90-days is such a great sign! It shows Sunny Health & Fitness has a strong business and is confident in their product quality. As I previously mentioned, they also have great customer service behind their warranty!

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Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine Price

As I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this review, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 sells for a great price. It’s one of the main reasons people love this model so much.

I’ve searched around the internet on different retailers and most have this model priced exactly the same. In my opinion, Amazon is a great place to buy rowing machines because they offer a large selection, competitive prices, free shipping on qualified orders, and act as a layer of protection between the manufacture and consumer.

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Overall Review

Overall, the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine is an excellent beginner rower. Most people who enjoyed it were new to the rowing scene or elderly.

Basically, people looking to purchase a low-cost rower and get a decent workout everyday really loved their purchase.

People who didn’t find this model so appealing were looking for something of a higher caliber. Usually they wanted more resistance or a rower that could handle more abuse.

For these people, I suggest buying an air or magnetic rowing machine. These rowers can handle high stroke rates and are a bit more robust.

If you are looking for an air rowing machine, I suggest the Stamina 1399 Air Rowing Machine. Click the link for my full review of that model. I rated it the best budget air rowing machine on the market.

If you are looking for a magnetic rowing machine, I suggest the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rower. Click the link for my full review of that model. I rated it the best budget magnetic rowing machine on the market.

I hope you enjoyed my Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine Review! If I missed anything or if you have any questions please leave me a message in the comments section below!

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  1. Any thoughts on free arm motion rowers versus one central bar on rowing machines- seems like they wold better mimic real rowing, but higher quality machines seem to never use this option. thanks !

    1. The issue with free-motion arm rowers is that they need to use hydraulic-pistons. Hydraulic-Pistons don’t mimic the resistance of real rowing very well, which is why higher quality machines do not use them. Most higher quality models are used to get a rower in cardiovascular shape for rowing on water but the techniques are better practiced on water.

      The difference between 1 and 2 pistons is really a matter of cost. It’s just less expensive and an easier model to have 1 piston than 2.

      If you want higher quality hydraulic-piston rowers, then you should look into the Kettler rowing machines

  2. Hi, thank you for such detailed review. I am new to rowing machines, and I do have a question that I hope you could inform me. I am not sure what’s “Total strokes” data for? Like, if I row 990 total strokes, what does that mean? Hope you could advise me! Anyway, thank you so much for your reviews. Have a nice day :)

    1. Hi Lynette! The “total strokes” on this monitor displays the “accumulation of rowing strokes from all workouts”. So each workout that number will increase unless you reset the monitor.

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