Warren's WaterRower to the Stars

The athletic equipment has made a cameo on "House of Cards."

One of the characters on the hit Netflix series, “House of Cards,” is from Rhode Island. It might not be a human role, but it certainly plays a big part. It’s Kevin Spacey’s rowing machine, a WaterRower made on Metacom Avenue in Warren.

Back in 2012, the series contacted WaterRower to express interest in a handmade wooden piece of exercise equipment for the lead character, Frank Underwood, a South Carolina state rep, to work out his aggression. There were some script requirements, including an episode in season one in which the machine must break. “They were very willing to take our insight on what we would desire to fail, as it would appear near impossible to our future clients,” says WaterRower’s director of sales and marketing, David Jones. “We came to a common ground where we thought it was a great spot and from there it’s history.”

The local company has experienced a great deal of success, not only through “House of Cards,” but by being featured on “The Biggest Loser,” as well as through the launch of group fitness classes called Indo-Row and ShockWave in hundreds of locations around the United States and beyond, including Australia. The appearances have only helped WaterRower grow. “We were extremely excited to think that Kevin Spacey was going to use our machine, but beyond that, we didn’t know quite how impactful it would be.”

The company, established in 1988, now produces more than 1,000 machines each week and has fourteen global offices, though Warren is the manufacturing and North American headquarters.

High-end fitness clubs have invested in the rowing machines, and even New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) sells it in its store. The sleek, simplistic, American-made wood construction is attractive for those seeking a certain aesthetic. “This piece of fitness equipment has an actual design element to it that draws so many likeminded people in terms of their client and membership base,” says Jones. waterrower.com