How to connect your Apple Watch to Hydrow and share your workouts to Apple Fitness - MrLiambi's blog


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Tuesday, 30 November 2021

How to connect your Apple Watch to Hydrow and share your workouts to Apple Fitness

You've got yourself a Hydrow rowing machine and you want to connect your Apple Watch to it. It's a logical question and one that you think would be delivered with a simple answer, but sadly not.

The Apple Watch can't directly connect to Hydrow via Bluetooth to be used as a heart rate monitor, nor can Hydrow directly share completed workouts with the Apple Fitness app.

Hydrow states that: "Hydrow is not compatible with Apple Watch as it requires, among other things, a PIN number to pair for any Bluetooth Heart Rate functions which makes it incompatible with Hydrow right now. This is something that could potentially change in the future, either with changes to Hydrow or with development of an Apple Watch app. However, we have no timetable for either of these features right now."

And before you ask, Hydrow doesn't support Apple's GymKit platform that allows fitness equipment to share data and workout information directly to the Apple Fitness app either.

The good news though, is that there are ways to get either the Apple Watch connected to Hydrow or Hydrow connected to your Apple Health data and share those workouts. Read on to find out how.

Connecting your Apple Watch to Hydrow with Watch Link

Before you start any workout on Hydrow, there is the option to add a Heart Rate Monitor via Bluetooth.

Even though the Apple Watch has a heart rate monitor, as we've detailed above, you can't directly connect it to the Hydrow rowing machine. Instead, to connect your Apple Watch to Hydrow you'll need to buy a third-party dongle called the Watch Link that acts as a bridge between your Watch and the Hydrow rowing machine.

The Watch Link, which is currently only available in the US, costs $55-$60 and works wirelessly via ANT+ or Bluetooth. Once working, it will allow you to monitor your heart rate on the Hydrow workout screen and have it record the data for analysing later.

It can also work with other fitness equipment including Wahoo, Bowflex, Concept 2, Peloton, and others. You won't need to wear it, but it does need to be close to the Watch and Hydrow (30ft) to work.

To connect it to your Hydrow follow these steps:

  1. Download the Watch Link app to your phone and Apple Watch. 
  2. Open the app on your watch, tap Tap to Start, then tap Connect Now. 
  3. Bring the pod close to your Apple Watch to pair (within 1" for best results).
  4. On Hydrow's touchscreen, pair Watch Link as an Heart Rate Monitor
  5. Select your workout type in the Watch Link app.
  6. Tap Row on Hydrow to begin the workout!

It's worth noting that you must manually pair the Watch Link pod to the Apple Watch app before beginning the workout, and then manually unpair the Watch Link pod after your workout. You don't however, have to do the same with the Hydrow each time.

Recording your workouts to the Apple Fitness app via Strava

If you want to record your workouts and have the data shared with Apple Health and therefore the Apple Fitness app to count towards your rings etc, you'll have to create and connect a Strava account to Hydrow.

The settings are managed via the Hydrow app on your phone.

Once you've got a Strava account go into the Hydrow app > Profile > Connections > and connect to Strava. The process will take you to a connection page to approve the request.

Back in the Hydrow app we would also recommend turning on "Automatically share workouts" to save you having to do it manually each time.

This will now automatically record your workouts to Strava, which in turn will share your workout data with the Fitness app so you can see it when you check your activity progress.

It will still not record your heart rate however, unless you either have a heart rate monitor that is compatible with Hydrow or the Watch Link we've described above.

Sharing data with Hydrow via Apple Health

Where things can get confusing is that within the Hydrow app you can opt to allow Hydrow to read Apple Health data to improve your workouts and personalise your experience.

Opting to approve this feature means that Hydrow can read your Health data for its understanding, but doesn't mean that it can write any of that data back to your Health app to share, in the same way it does with the Strava connection.

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