Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Review

The mid-range rowing machine segment contains some very powerful competitors, including the likes of the Velocity Fitness CHR-2001 Magnetic and others from Kettler and Stamina. Hence, it is natural to consider any new entrant in this price segment with both interest and a little skepticism. Thankfully, when it comes to the Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine, interest far outstrips doubts when one considers the excellent specifications and features offered by this hybrid (air + magnetic) resistance rowing machine. Still, one needs to study a product thoroughly to dispel all doubts and confusions, and therefore, we shall analyze each of the parts and features in detail so as to gain a complete idea of the capabilities of this rowing machine.

Technical Specifications

  • Resistance Type: Air and Magnetic
  • Product Dimensions: 96 x 31 x 19 inches
  • Product Weight: 100 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 280 pounds
  • Storage: Foldable
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on frame, 4 years on parts (if used at home), 2 years on parts (if used in a gym)

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Ease of Assembly

The Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine comes with most of the parts unassembled, so assembly does take about an hour to complete. That said, all washers and other assembly tools are included, so one does not have to run to the hardware store for additional supplies. Furthermore, the instruction manual is clear and highly instructive, and if followed carefully, will ensure a smooth assembly process.


Proteus has a reputation for producing products that are well built yet good looking. In terms of looks, users were particularly inspired by the unique sports car-style design of the hybrid resistance assembly. The shaft and seat segment, on the other hand, is simplicity exemplified, giving the product a well rounded premium appearance. More important than looks, of course, is the functionality of the design, and here too, the Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine scores high.

To begin with, the frame is constructed with high quality aircraft grade aluminum, which ensures that the product is never at risk of bending or breaking under extreme pressure. Additionally, the use of aluminum instead of steel helps make the frame extremely light. This allows the product to weigh just 100 pounds despite having a rather large and heavy hybrid resistance unit. If that weren’t enough, the aluminum construction also guarantees a maximum user weight capacity of 280, whereas the average rower in this price range can offer no more than 250 pounds.

Finally, Proteus offers users complete peace of mind through a lifetime warranty on the frame. The warranty on the parts is four years for home use and two years for commercial use. Though this may appear slightly confusing, one should keep in mind that very few manufacturers offer commercial products in this price bracket, and perhaps none at all offer a two year warranty on the products offered.

Ease of Use

The hybrid rowing machine is meant to provide the combination of natural water rowing experience using the air resistance along with the noiseless and smooth experience of the magnetic resistance. Insofar as this is the aim of this resistance assembly, the Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine succeeds by a decent margin, providing a highly beneficial yet comfortable rowing experience at all resistance levels (see below).

Furthermore, the extra large seat is ergonomically designed and contains a horizontal molded pattern on the top surface that helps maintain traction between the body and the seat during heavy workout.

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The handle is conveniently located in the middle of the shaft that runs between the footrests and holds the display, such that the display and handle do not interfere with each other. This, along with the ergonomic design and the rubber coating of the handle, ensure that anyone who knows how to use a rowing machine can use the Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine without any inconvenience. Indeed, this is one of the few rowing machines which can be used forcardio training and endurance training with equal ease.

Furthermore, since the resistance system is a hybrid one, the rowing mechanism makes much less noise compared to the average rowing machine in this price range.


The most interesting part of any hybrid resistance rowing machine is the resistance system itself. Proteus has not spared any effort in this segment, and so we get a flawless and extremely comfortable performance regardless of the resistance level. Since the product’s air vents are at the side, the cooling effect produced by the air resistance unit is unfortunately absent.

This flaw is however more than compensated for by the seamless electronic integration of the two resistance systems, such that you can modify the resistance system from the display control panel (see below) or allow the built-in programs to set the resistance for you. Further, due to the use of this electronic integration, the machine offers 16 resistance levels, which make it one of the best rowing machines insofar as the sheer number of resistance levels is concerned.

The frame and seat are highly stable. Their stability is improved by the fact that Proteus has provided the frame with excellent underside seat rollers which ensure a smooth seat movement even at very high speeds.

One part that is often forgotten when buying a rowing machine is the footrest, but with the Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine, you can rest in peace because the footrests are ergonomically designed. Further, they provide 5 different adjustment levels so you can choose the level at which your feet are most comfortable.


A poor display can ruin a good workout, but thankfully, this is not the case with this rowing machine. The display is sufficiently large to accommodate the multi-level display parameters without compromising on character size, and hence, legibility. Further, the display is placed strategically between the footrests such that it is neither too low nor too high for the user. If that weren’t enough, the display can be moved slightly forward or backward depending on the user’s height.

Below the display sit a number of responsive push buttons that allow the user to cycle between the different display modes and the preset programs. Unlike in many products in this price range, the program modes cater to almost all major exercise modes – heart rate control, race, lap measurement, race against a virtual boat, etc. In all, there are 15 programs available, which cater to each and every user who can possibly use this rowing machine. Since this is marketed as a commercial product, this feature is perhaps geared towards gyms and fitness training centers, but it does a wealth of good for a large family as well.

Finally, the display metrics include all possible types of information, including distance traveled, 500m split time, strokes made, speed, power, distance, calories burnt and heart rate. However, the heart rate measurement belt is not included, and this entails an additional expense on the part of the user.


The Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine can be stored away by raising the shaft and seat section vertically till it is at right angles to the resistance assembly. The shaft can be locked in this position till further use, and stowed away using the wheels at the base to a convenient storage location.


  • Aircraft-grade aluminum frame
  • Extra large seat with horizontal molded pattern for ease of sitting
  • High quality seat rollers for smooth movement of the seat
  • 16 smooth, electrically controlled resistance levels
  • Large display with multilevel parameter layout
  • 15 programs covering all exercise formats available
  • 5 level adjustable footrests for ease of use
  • Well designed ergonomic handle with rubber coating for easy handling
  • Lifetime warranty on frame, good warranty on parts
  • Can be used commercially in small gyms and fitness centers


  • Slightly large despite folding mechanism
  • No heart rate belt included


The Proteus PAR-5500 Commercial Club Series Rowing Machine, however, is not only a rarity, but a powerful competitor to much higher priced rowing machines by virtue of its huge number of training programs, wide range of resistance and excellent build quality. Indeed the combination of price and features is lucrative enough to place this product among the very few rowers that can be purchased by small-scale gyms that are running on a budget and large families who have many exercising members but cannot afford to go into the high-end rowing machine section.

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