Stamina 1205 Precision Rower Review

Rhian Hunt's picture

The Stamina 1205 Precision Rower rowing machine is terrific for the money you pay. It is a small rowing machine with relatively low cost and entry-level quality. Unlike some stripped-down versions of exercise machines, it includes a monitor allowing you to track your progress, thus making certain you are exercising at the desired intensity.

Although the vast majority of customers are enthusiastic about the machine's performance, value and sturdiness, around one fifth of those reviewing the Stamina 1205 Precision Rower report breakage or other problems within a few weeks of purchase. The Stamina 1205 is a machine you might want to consider when beginning your rowing machine regimen, but also one which you should approach with some caution as well.

Rowing on the Stamina 1205 For Weight Loss

If it is a firm butt or tight thighs that your are after then the Stamina 1205 precision rower should be on your radar. It is possible that you experience improvement in your fitness results very quickly. Once you get up, you will the feel effect of the rower in your legs, abs, buttocks, possibly even in the lower settings. Here is how a user described the rower in her Amazon review:

Rower is easy to use and on the lowest setting, (less tension) I felt immediate results and after using 3 times I have lost 6lbs!!!! and my thighs and rear are getting tight and my abdomen and waist are starting to sink inwards already!

Rickken from Tamarac, FL, shares:

“I've been using it since I got it and the results are great. I'm losing fat and building muscles at the same time.I feel good. Get one.”

Perfect For Strengthening Your Back Muscles

Many people use the Stamina 1205 rowing machine as therapy for a back and shoulder injury. A rowing machine like this can strengthen your back muscles. A user from Denver, CO, said:

“It helped a great deal to aid in healing and regaining full strength on both sides of my body as each rowing arm is separately adjustable. After a year's use, I was probably in the best physical condition of my life.”

Others use the rower because their knees won’t allow them to run anymore. Russel from Houston, TX says:

“I'm pushing sixty......the stamina 1205 is just what I needed. I have had several rowers in the last thirty years, and this one is, by far, the best. Putting it together was fairly straight forward, and took less than an hour. You might as well be lifting weights if you set this thing on a difficult setting.”

What is the Size of the Stamina 1205?

Fortunately for those with limited space, the Stamina Precision Rower is a compact machine that doesn't require gorilla-like strength to handle when putting it in storage or taking it out again. The Stamina is slightly over 32 inches wide and 48 inches long, and the rowing arms can be folded close to the machine to make storage between uses easier. The whole device weights 47 pounds.

How Stable Is the Stamina 1205, and Is It Too Small for Large Users?

At such a size and weight, stability might be a concern, but the 1205's frame is wide and rests directly on the floor, so you will not tip over unless you are making a massive, deliberate effort. Users over six feet tall report being able to make use of the Stamina Precision Rower without difficulty, and the comfortable seat ensures that people of all sizes will be able to enjoy a workout on the machine without experiencing unpleasant soreness. A user from Chicago, IL, says in his review:

“It truly is a whole body workout. It holds my brothers 300lb friend. He went and bought him one as well.”

What Is The Stamina 1205 Constructed Out Of?

The frame itself is made of aluminum (combining lightness and strength) and steel, while many other major parts are plastic. For example, the wheels on which the seat moves are plastic, as are the guide rails for the seat. The seat itself and the handgrips on the rowing arms are padded with comfortable foam. Many users mention how comfortable the seat is to sit on.

Adjustments For Different Workout Levels

The Stamina 1205 makes the most of rowing's low-impact, high-value workout with a set of hydraulic resistance cylinders and a seat that moves smoothly on precision-ground ball bearings. This allows the user to make the smooth, circular motions that real rowing, and other rowing machines, offer, giving most of the major muscle groups a thorough workout without stressing the joints or spine with impacts. The hydraulic resistors can be set to a range of tensions, meaning that different-strength users can get a good workout, and you can increase the resistance as you build up your muscles.

How Smooth and Comfortable Is the Exercise Action?

Most people report that the Stamina is smooth and comfortable at the lower settings, but becomes clumsy and awkward to use at the highest settings. Weak and average rowers will probably find the action to be excellent, while very strong rowers should probably consider a different machine.

What Is the Monitor Like?

The Stamina 1205 Precision Rower's monitor is a fairly standard electronic monitor, located up front where you can see it while working out. The company recommends that you should maintain around 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate; unfortunately, although a heart rate monitor is included, the sensor is located in the grips and the machine's heart rate measurement is therefore less accurate than a belt-based heart monitor.

Besides heart rate, the 1205's monitor also displays the speed you are "rowing" at, the distance you've covered, the time you've been rowing, the number of strokes, and the calories you've burned. Thus, you can measure your progress and make sure you're meeting your exercise goals exactly as you can on a more expensive machine (although lack of support for a belt heart monitor is something of a design flaw). One interesting detail is that the monitor's clock only runs while the user is actually rowing, so if the user stops to take a breath while sitting on the machine, the clock stops until the arms begin to move again. This ensures that you count only the duration of the actual exercise, not the number of minutes you were just sitting in the seat of the rower watching TV! This is a good feature which other rowing machine companies would be wise to imitate.

How Quiet or Noisy Is the Machine?

The Stamina 1205 Precision Rower is a quiet machine straight out of the box, but tends to quickly develop a number of painfully loud squeaks. Some times the squeaking noise comes from an overtighten bolt on the right or left shocks. A little adjusting will fix the problem.

Some of these squeaks come from places where it's possible to oil the machine, and keeping a can of WD-40 or three-in-one oil handy would be prudent for these annoying but repairable noises.

Some of the squeaks come from inside the shock absorption system, however, and there is no way for these to be oiled. The noise must either be endured or the part must be replaced entirely.

Pros and Cons of Stamina 1205


  • It is very stable and sturdy. You will notice that it will not rock at all while you use it.
  • It is incredibly quite. You can hardly hear the pistons moving. However, some users have reported that the instrument starts squeaking over time.
  • It is lightweight and easy to move and uses very little space
  • You feel very comfortable in the seat
  • Some people find the pistons stiffer than they initially thought, which allows for a very challenging upper body workout


  • Some users report that the assembly instructions as described in the manual are a little confusing. However, others find the assembly easy, clear and simple to follow. The consensus is that the machine can be set up in less than an hour or 30 minutes with two people. You may need a socket wrench.
  • It is difficult to store it as it does not fold, collapse or stand on itself by vertically. However it stores easily under a bed or against the wall.
  • A few people have reported breakage of the shocks or the plastic wheels after very little use.
  • The handles are not adjustable. Here is what Winifred from Chicago says about it:

“I am 5'4" and the unadjustable handles are too high for me. They seemed fine at first, but then I used the Concept 2 at the gym and realized that I naturally hold the handle lower down (as opposed to up near my shoulders) when I have the option.”

Problems of the Stamina 1205?

Unfortunately, despite such positive features as a comfortable seat, a useful monitor with some extra features, and generally smooth rowing action, a lot of users also report problems with the Stamina 1205 Precision Rower. Besides the noise mentioned above, many of the parts have an alarming tendency to wear out quickly or simply break after a few days or weeks of use.

Not all users report these problems, so they probably manifest themselves most often with people who are serious rowers and who put a good deal of normal stress on the machine. Casual users or those who are physically unable to row for longer than a few minutes a day will probably be much less likely to encounter these difficulties.

Among the breakage and other problems which occur, the shock absorbers sometimes break off at the weld (in some cases, almost immediately after the first use); the plastic wheels on which the seat moves rapidly become worn or broken, resulting in a bumpy motion rather than smooth gliding; the shocks go flat and offer extremely unpredictable, uneven resistance; and the shocks become so hot that they can actually melt plastics that are in contact with them (such as flooring).

These problems are significant enough and numerous enough to make the Stamina 1205 best as either an introductory model, to get the feel of rowing and seeing if the user wants to pursue it in the future, or as a low-cost machine for the casual exerciser who only intends to use it once or twice a week, rather than daily.

Where Can I Buy the Stamina 1205 at the Best Price?

The Stamina 1205 Precision Rower is available for a good combination of price and shipping at Amazon, which also offers free shipping if you don't mind waiting a bit longer for your purchase.

Stamina 1205 Rowing Machine

Not only did the shocks break down in three months of use, the replacement ones didn't even last three months. Stamina's lack of customer service is most frustrating as they don't answer emails and/or US Mail letters sent directly to them. Take your money and RUN!
I wish I had read the reviews of this product and of the company before buying. I would never have bought it and I certainly will never buy another product from them!
RDL Annapolis

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