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First Degree Fitness Vortex-3 VX-3 Fluid Rower Review

First Degree Vortex 3 Review



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When I hit the gym I am always drawn to the rowing machines, most gyms tend to go for air resistance machines such as the hugely popular Concept 2.  I would really like to see more water resistance machines they give a great feel and a tough workout, but generally these are confined to home use leaving users of high end gyms wanting.  Today we are looking at a Commercial Water Rower from one of the most prestigious brands, the Vortex 3 (or VX-3) Fluid Rower.

vx-3-05 High Resolution
Click to See in High Resolution

Before we kick into the review, take a look at the high res image of the VX-3.  To get an idea of the quality and attention to detail that First Degree have put into their Vortex check out the quality of the welds!

Our Analysis:

The Vortex 3 is at the top of the Vortex range from First Degree.  It is designed as a high end commercial rower and has some great features that will make it popular with gym managers round the world.

Water Tank

Most of the concerns about water rowers comes from the water tank.  All First Degree rowers feature a blue polycarbonate tank.  There are two reasons for this.  The polycarbonate is the same material that police riot shields are made from.  Incredibly strong and able to resist breaking under all normal use.  The blue colour not only looks great, but it blocks out all the green light needed for anything to grow inside the tank.

This means that the water will always look crystal clear and minimises maintenance.

Designed for the Gym

There are some great features built into the Vortex 3 that makes it ideal for the gym, I have touched on the low maintenance of the water tank.  In addition the whole machine is solidly built designed to perform under the hardest conditions and it can take riders of 204kg (450lbs).

To ensure that it can be stored out of the way, it can be totally lifted on its end in this image you can see the end foot that it will rest on.

Vortex 3 Rowing Machine

All of the user parts are covered in hard wearing rubber, no foam that can wear out that will require replacing.  The saddle is mounted on smooth running rollers, its cable is made from a high end polymer and not from a chain, again low maintenance.

Good for the Gym and for the Users

We think that this model provides a great experience for the users, the high seat is mounted high enough that the riders are not left feeling like they are sat on the floor, and are still part of the gym.

All the surfaces, while covered in high quality rubber and provides a comfortable, high quality and tactile feel to the rower.


As with all rowers the Vortex 3 is equipped with a console.  This First Degree call this the Interactive Performance Monitor (IPM) which shows all the normal features that you would expect: time; speed; distance; stoke rate; calories per hour; watts; 16 level adjustment, pacer, and has a heart rate receiver built in.  The HR sensor is compatible with most standard chest straps.

The comfortable and solid foot plates have a great feature that allows them to be height adjustable and straps that don’t come loose easily when under high force.

Specifications and Warranty

For great peace of mind there is a full  commercial warranty: 10 years on frame, 3 years on tank & seals, and 2 years monitor and wear items

Dimensions: Length: 190cm (74.8”), width: 80 cm (31.5”), height: 85cm (33.5”)

Pros and Cons of the Vortex -3


  • Optimally designed for use in Gyms and high end home use.
  • Comfortable user experience
  • High quality high end materials
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to store


  • The water will require topping up and addition of chlorine tablets


This is a beautiful and well built rower.  At this price you are getting a machine that will compliment your workout space and wow your customers.  It has a long warranty, and will require minimum maintenance no matter how hard it is worked in your gym.

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