Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine Review

Rowing machines with free motion arms are more popular with those who want the experience of rowing to be as close to real rowing as possible. The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms comes is one such rowing machine which works with piston resistance. By virtue of the latter, it is far cheaper than the air and magnetic resistance machines, and it brings a lot of useful benefits. However, it does have some shortcomings, as the following analysis will reveal

Technical Specifications

  • Resistance Type: Hydraulic Piston.
  • Dimensions:  50 x 32.5 x 31 inches
  • Machine Weight:  47 pounds.
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds.
  • Storage:  Handles fold down (can slide under bed).
  • Warranty : 5- year warranty on frame.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms

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Why is the Stamina 1215 Orbital one of the best-selling on Amazon. The reason is that it has fairly good quality, basic functions and very soft price. Here we will take a look at some of the common features of this rowing machine.

Ease of Assembly

While some rowing machines come almost ready to use, piston rowing machines like the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing need to be assembled carefully. This is a time consuming work, but within this class, this rowing machine’s assembly method is among the simplest. Most users who used this machine could put it together within an hour, and others within two hours.


Considering that it is priced quite low, you would naturally doubt its build quality. The good news is that the build quality is quite solid, with the body and the pulling mechanism both being made of tough metal. In fact, some users claimed to have carried out push ups using the lower frame of the Stamina 1215 Orbital.

Ease of Use

This type of machines are typically not very difficult to learn. This rowing machine has two arms (handles), each of which can be configured with a different piston resistance. This is especially useful for those who have an unbalanced upper body or have differing strength on two arms (due to natural causes/surgery,etc). Even if one is not tied down by such problems, one can innovate by using slightly different movements with each of the two arms.

An interesting feature of the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with is that it allows the handles to be pushed outwards, apart from moving them forward and backward. This rare, almost unique feature, allows you to get a much more realistic rowing experience. Further, this feature can be included in the innovation suggested above to break away from the boredom of the same exercise routines.


Piston rowing machines are typically very quiet when it comes to noise from the mechanism. This rowing machine lives up to this expectation, and you will not hear even the creaking sounds which one may fear from a rowing machine as affordable as this.

As far as comfort is concerned, the machine is very smooth, with the seat gliding easily on the rail, the handles moving properly and the resistance working as expected. One should note that the machine has two sets of resistances, one for each arm, and each set of resistance in turn has five levels. Strangely, the highest difficulty has been set as level 1, with the lowest being level 5. Hence if you assume (naturally) that it is the other way round, you’ll end up with a far higher resistance, and conclude that the machine is not made for beginners like you!

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The seat is pretty comfortable for short sessions not exceeding 45 minutes, with decent padding being provided. However, if you’re a fitness enthusiast who intends to exercise for longer durations, some additional padding may be called for. The handles have foam casing which makes them easy to use for beginners.

An interesting innovation  is the rotating footrests. This allows one to stretch their legs and generally modify their leg position as per need. However, whatever position you use for the footrests, rest assured that they will not let your legs slip.


The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms has perhaps a simpler control panel than a higher end rowing machine. Running on a normal AA sized battery, it includes a normal LCD display with the on/off button on the face of the display. One can also turn it on by simply moving the handles, which means that if you begin rowing, the machine will automatically begin showing you the details.

These details include the standard distance covered, calories burnt,  time taken, etc. The display size is large enough for it to be viewed clearly even when one is at the farthest point on the machine. Using the monitor’s scan feature, one can have these details shown cyclically, with each being displayed for four seconds.

Great Space-saver

The Stamina 1215 Orbital is a great space-saver, taking up an area of only 32.5 x 48 inches and weighing only 47 pounds. It cannot be folded up except for the arms, which fold inwards onto the machine. However, in this position, it is small enough for you to store it under the bed or against it against the wall. However, it is advisable not to store it in places which have a lot of dust, as this will clog up the mechanism.


  • Excellent build quality with smooth functioning of all parts
  • Swing-out movement of arms allows for a highly realistic rowing experience
  • Comparatively affordable compared to other rowing machines
  • Footrests adjustable according to user’s needs


  • Strange resistance numbering.
  • Short users may find the machine slightly difficult to use

Who is the Stamina 1215 Orbital best for?

The machine is ideal for those who weigh less than 250 pounds and have a height between 5’3″ and 6’2″. Shorter users might find that reaching out for the handles is itself an exercise, and the net result is more of a shoulder than a back exercise. However, users weighing up to 300 pounds have used this device without any problem.


The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms is perhaps one of the best rowing machines that a price conscious buyer can consider. Though it comes with a pretty basic display and has some other issues, its excellent build , innovative arms and footrests and overall ease of use ensure that it comes across as an excellent choice for anyone who seeks a good rowing machine that not only replicates the real action of rowing, but is affordable and brings a lot of interesting and highly useful features with it.

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