Bringing an industry-leading rowing experience to the masses
Rowing is considered a full-body workout, engaging the arms, legs and core. Outdoor rowing provides the added benefit of connecting with nature. However, it’s a sport that is inaccessible to many as it requires being near a body of water and having the necessary equipment. Rowing machines fill the gap, but are large, mechanical and cumbersome, making them best suited for public gyms.
Bruce Smith, CEO and founder of Hydrow, wanted to bring the benefits of rowing to more people. He envisioned an at-home rowing machine that people would be proud to display — we worked with him to bring it to life. Released in 2020, Hydrow’s connected rower immediately captured investor, media, and consumer interest. Hydrow was named one of the Best Inventions of 2020 by Time magazine and raised more than $255 million to expand market share.
The highly aesthetic, experience-driven fitness solution’s success was remarkable. However, the connected rower mainly appealed to luxury consumers who could afford the equipment and had the interior space necessary to house it.
Smith turned to us to create the Hydro Wave, a more accessible rower for the masses. Since we had initially partnered with Smith to design and launch the Hydrow Classic and its Live Outdoor Reality™ experience, we were already familiar with the company’s goals and vision. Our team provided industrial design and mechanical engineering capabilities to create a lighter, more affordable, and easily shippable solution, the Hydrow Wave.
- Designed Hydrow Wave to appeal to an expanded consumer base
- Preserved the immersive rowing experience of the Hydrow Classic
- Reduced the size and weight of the device, ensuring it can be shipped by conventional carriers
- Developed a rower that can easily be assembled and moved by users
Bringing the benefits of rowing to more people
Rowing provides an exceptional, low-impact workout while connecting people to nature and their teammates. The Live Outdoor Reality experience allows indoor Hydrow users to enjoy a similar immersive, connected experience as their peers do outdoors on the water.
Smith estimates that connected fitness solutions, which allow users to attend virtual workout classes and replicate in-person training sessions at home, have captured just a fraction of the total addressable market. Yet, many consumers are on a budget and live in small spaces, meaning that the Hydrow Classic isn’t a good fit for their needs. In addition, it requires professional help to assemble and move, adding to owner costs and logistical complexity.
Extending a trusted relationship with a design partner
Our team was already a trusted design and engineering partner to Hydrow. This confidence in our capabilities ensured Hydrow selected the ambitious, eye-catching design now beloved by millions. We have also supported the company by integrating off-the-shelf components like resistance units to keep costs down and by helping to select the contract manufacturer used to produce the Hydrow Classic rower.
Working with Hydrow, we aligned around goals for the new rower: it should be lighter, less expensive, shippable, and portable. Our team collaborated closely with Hydrow on this, sharing mood boards, ideas, and sketches.
Since the new rower needed to fit into a standard shipping box, we took those requirements and reverse-engineered a frame that could be broken down and re-assembled easily. Seeking to reduce cost and weight, the team explored using plastics to create structural components.
Our design and engineering teams translated their learnings into numerous 3D mock-ups which evolved into working prototypes that further verified the device would support users of all body types. These initial mock-ups and prototypes drove the decision to introduce metal in strategic areas for rigidity and long-term durability. To facilitate easy storage, our team also created a stand solution that provided upright support when not in use. Our holistic approach extended through support of Hydrow’s work on the unboxing experience, user instructions, regulatory needs, branding, and nomenclature.
Working closely with Hydrow’s team, we transitioned the design to the internal engineering team to wrap up product development. We maintained close communication and support to facilitate the transfer to manufacturing and continued providing support through to launch.
- We consider traits that would make Hydrow more appealing to new audiences, landing on cost, convenience, and space-savings (December 2020)
- Our team confirms shipping weight and size restrictions, and reverse-engineers a shippable model (February 2021)
- We identify areas for strategic metal reinforcement to stabilise the structure (October 2021)
- Hydrow Wave launches into the market, receiving sales (July 2022)
Creating a living manufacturing capability
The Hydrow Wave is now available in market. “With our lower-price, lighter, foldable solution, Hydrow Wave is accessible to a wider range of consumers,” says Smith, CEO. “That helps our company achieve our goal of bringing the joy, community, and health benefits of rowing to more people.”
Hydrow has built the expertise and capabilities to develop connected fitness solutions in-house, meaning its team will be able to match the market demand for continuous innovation.