How to Connect Garmin Watch to a Concept2 PM5 Rowing Machine

Last updated October 3, 2022
Connect Garmin to Concept2 PM5 Rowing Machine

The progress made in the smartwatch space has seen them go from a useful tool for measuring heart rate to a must-have data collection device for anyone serious about their rowing training.

With so many data points, working together with online app support, smartwatches can help tailor your training and overall health, giving you guidance based on accurate data from your workouts and general lifestyle.

In this article, we’re going to look at pairing Garmin watches with the Concept 2 RowErg.

Garmin watches do work great with Concept 2

In terms of multisport smartwatches, Garmin is leading the pack. They cram a huge amount of tech into their smartwatches, so if you want to track as much data as possible, they’re a great workout partner for a rower.

Garmin watches connect well with RowErgs, and you’ll see that Garmin smartwatches took 3 of the top 5 spots in our ‘Best Watch for Rowing’ review article we completed recently…

In this article we’re going to look into connecting at Garmin with the RowErg, how to do it and what data you can collect from your Garmin whilst rowing. 

Displaying Heart Rate Data on Garmin Devices

  1. Open the heartbeat widget and hold MENU
  2. Select options, and head to Broadcast Heart Rate (keep in mind that you can view the heartbeat widget only when broadcasting heart rate data from the widget).
  3. Pair your Garmin devices as per their specific requirements and guidelines that you can find on the manual or how-to guides.

However, you may need to connect your Garmin devices without a USB drive in some situations. Don’t worry, as the process is simple and easy to follow…

Pairing without a USB Flash Drive

  1. Start by turning your watch on by pressing any button on the power monitor.
  2. Look for the “More Options” display on the screen and select it.
  3. Select “Connect Heart Rate;” the Garmin device will show the identification information within 10-15 seconds. The general identification information can include brand/model information/ or a model number for the device.
  4. Choose your watch ID and tap on connect.
  5. Select Confirm and pair your device

Pairing with A Flash Drive

  1. Hit any button on the Performance Monitor and turn your Garmin device on.
  2. Insert your USB flash drive and wait for the welcome screen to appear. You need to wait until you see your user name and then move to the next step.
  3. Find the main menu and access “More Options.”
  4. Tap on “Connect Heart Rate,” and the device will display identification information within 10-15 seconds. The identification information may include your brand/mode or user name, depending on what is available.
  5. Select an ID corresponding to your watch.
  6. Ensure selecting the “Remember Belt” option to save your watch ID on the USB flash drive so the Performance Monitor detects your watch in the future. This way, you do not have to repeat the whole process every time.

Concept2 Garmin Connect

Garmin’s online platform is called Garmin Connect. It serves several major purposes…

It allows you to diarize your workouts, so you can track your progress and keep and ongoing account of what training you’ve done and how effective it was. These workouts all have different profiles, meaning you can tell your watch if you were rowing, using the gym, running etc.

It also allows you to keep track of your general health status. Your personal health data which is collected via your device is then used to make suggestions and recommendations for you. Examples include training, sleep, hydration and recovery suggestions, plus female health monitoring.

The app can track your training and ‘coach’ you, making workout suggestions tailored to you and your goals. The are smart suggestions, made based on your training and health status. It can do this accurately based on the other health details and data collected over time.

There’s a social element to the app too. You can connect with friends who are Garmin Connect users, helping to motivate each other. You can also share your progress via social media from the app, which serves as motivation/inspiration! 

You can customize what you want to view on the app and view weekly, monthly and annual progress in a comprehensive way. It also lets you connect with friends who own a Garmin device and displays physical training accomplishments as badges on the app. You can choose different methods to record and share data to avoid duplication.

Row Indoor

Several Garmin watches have the row indoor option that lets users see basic rowing data…

  • Stroke rate
  • Workout time

If you want more specific rowing detail from your workout, using ErgData is a better option. There you’ll have access to details such as watts (power output), stroke rate, speed etc. 

Erg Data

The Concept 2 logbook is the easiest way to share all your workouts on Garmin Connect. Your meters continue to count towards challenges when you include your workouts in the logbook. 

You can even share your log information online over to Garmin Connect. You can find this option in the applications section under your Concept2 logbook.


Can I get per Stroke Data on my Garmin watch?

You can, but it needs additional tech in order to work. The previous solution (detailed below) is notoriously unreliable…

Indoor Rowing - best way to sync with Concept2? - Forerunner 935 - Running/Multisport - Garmin Forums

Word of caution here - it appears to be VERY temperamental. So temperamental, in fact, that I’d suggest you avoid it entirely as an option. Instead, if you want the data, there’s another solution…

The ‘Vaaka Distance Per Stroke Data Field App’ has good reviews and claims to show live stroke data…

‘Owners of a Vaaka Paddle Cadence sensor can now see distance per stroke data, as well as stroke rate data as they paddle. The Vaaka Distance Per Stroke app now makes it possible to see your distance per stroke displayed on your Garmin device in real time.

Remember though, you’ll need to purchase the separate Vaaka Paddle Cadence sensor to make it work. I suppose you have to ask yourself, “how interested am I in my individual stroke data?” Before you go ahead and buy…

If you do go for it, you’ll be able to connect to almost every Garmin watch.

Can Concept 2 connect to Garmin?

Generally yes, very easily. Depending on the model you have though, this isn’t an entirely straightforward answer, so let me clarify…

Most of the most up-to-date (made within the last couple of years) Garmin watches will connect to the PM5 automatically, using a Bluetooth connection and nothing else. (Do check if your watch will connect to the PM5 beforehand, though.)

If your watch doesn’t connect automatically, you CAN connect your Garmin to the PM5 computer on the RowErg using a Garmin HRM-Dual Heart Rate Transmitter (usually sold separately). This is a chest strap heart rate monitor that connects to the PM5 via Bluetooth or ANT+.

It’ll give you very accurate yet limited workout data on the RowErg…

  • Heart rate
  • Calorie burn
  • Elapsed workout time

For the most part, that’s all you’ll need. Especially if you’re rowing simply as exercise rather than training to become a better rower.

You can get all the other data from the computer as you row, but your watch won’t store additional rowing-specific data.

What data can I get out of a Garmin watch while rowing?

If you row both indoors and outdoors, the Garmin watches are excellent. For outdoor rowing in particular, you can collect a lot of additional rowing data.

The rowing-specific data you can collect via your Garmin device is…

  • Stroke frequency
  • Lap times
  • Recovery
  • Distance per stroke
  • Speed
  • Workout time
  • Distance

This information is only useful outside (speed, distance per stroke, distance covered) because it uses GPS, and on a RowErg you’re stationary!

If you spend a lot of time rowing outdoors, your GPS will track routes, distances, times (and therefore speed), conditions, recovery, etc. It’s a real asset to rowers, so if you’re serious about rowing and interested in your data, go for it. You won’t be let down, especially in the newer Garmin models. 

Garmin to Concept 2 Row Erg - Concluded

The Garmin watches are an excellent rowing workout partner. They connect easily to the Concept 2 Row Erg and provide you with a good, accurate data set.

Much of the data is best served for outdoor rowers, but if you want stroke data from your RowErg, you can pair it with external apps that will feed data to your Garmin device and turn your watch into a live feed of your stroke information.

It’s a great solution and provides you with all the rowing data you could possibly need, whether indoors on a RowErg or outdoors on the lake or river.

About Steve Hoyles
Steve Hoyles is a personal trainer and weightlifting coach with two decades in the industry. He is the owner of MyGym, a strength and conditioning facility in the UK. His fitness copywriting has been featured in magazines and websites all over the world.
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