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Home gyms have become increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts and serious athletes alike, and as a home fitness practitioner, you have many cardio machine options to choose from.
However, when it comes to top-of-the-line equipment, it’s hard to beat the Bowflex Max Trainer Series.
This article provides a comprehensive review of the Bowflex Max Trainer models to help you choose the best equipment for your needs.
Founded in 1986, Bowflex is a company that specializes in innovative home workout solutions.
From the company’s original home cable-weight training equipment to its newer lines of aerobic equipment, Bowflex covers the complete spectrum of home fitness needs.
The Bowflex Max Trainer series machines are similar to ellipticals but offer a more upward step movement. Bowflex describes them as a cross between a stair-stepper and an elliptical trainer.
The Max Trainers are designed to be used for high intensity sprint interval training, but they can be used for general aerobics as well.
One of the defining features of the Bowflex Max Trainers is the integration of technology to guide your workouts.
For example, all of the Max Trainers offer programmed interval workouts that can take your fitness level from beginner to advanced.
Plus, newer models also include LCD touchscreens with streaming capabilities for instructor-led classes.
The JRNY app
Many of the Max Trainers offer compatibility with Bowflex’s JRNY app.
JRNY is an exercise app that offers a fitness assessment, workout tracking, trainer-led workout videos, and destination workouts with footage from over 50 locations across the globe for a virtual travel workout experience.
The app requires a monthly or annual subscription that costs either $12 or $19.99 per month depending on your plan.
To use the app, you’ll also need an iPhone or iPad with iOS 12.0 or greater, or an Android with version 6.0 or greater.
Bowflex Max Trainers are designed to provide a high intensity, low impact cardiovascular workout at home.
This makes them great for individuals who are committed to home-based workouts and have the space available for a large piece of home cardio equipment — although the footprint for the Max Trainers is less than that of most home treadmills.
Also, because the workout is low impact, individuals who have lower body joint issues may also prefer using a Max Trainer instead of a treadmill or stair-stepper.
The focus on high intensity workouts is also worth noting. While intensity level can be adjusted to all fitness levels, those who prefer really pushing themselves during a home workout may enjoy the challenge provided by the Max Trainers.
- ergonomic design allows for safe performance at high intensities
- preloaded workout programs remove the need for specific program planning
- integration with heart rate monitoring provides more accurate intensity tracking
- smaller footprint than many other exercise machines
- expensive compared with more basic aerobic equipment
- JRNY app requires a monthly subscription
- full use of all technological features requires time to learn and navigate through the app and HD screen
- M9 and Max Total are more expensive yet offer similar physical functionality as the M6
Bowflex Max Trainers are pieces of aerobic equipment that combine stair-stepping and elliptical training with full technological integration.
The following section breaks down the key specifications for each of the Bowflex Max Trainer models. Note that all of the Bowflex products on this list require an AC wall plugin.
Bowflex Max Trainer M6
- Price: $1,499
- Key features: Works with Android and iOS-enabled smartphones and tablets, includes a free year subscription to JRNY, provides Bluetooth connectivity, provides five integrated workouts
- Pros: The most affordable of the Max Trainer line of products with the smallest footprint
- Cons: Fewer integrated workouts and fewer resistance levels than the other products; only offers individual connectivity for two users
The Bowflex Max Trainer M6 offers a design similar to that of the original M3, but it has a slightly smaller footprint.
The dimensions of the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 are 46 inches × 26 inches × 64.2 inches (117 cm × 66 cm × 163 cm).
It weighs 148 pounds (67 kg) when fully assembled and supports a maximum user weight of 300 pounds (136 kg).
The biggest difference from the M3 model lies in the integration of newer technology, including the JRNY app, which provides access to trainer-led programs.
Additional features include a large console, magnetic media rack for smartphones or tablets, and Bluetooth-compatible heart rate monitor system with integrated contact grips for real-time monitoring. It also offers connectivity for up to two individual users.
The M6 also comes with 5 programmed workouts and 16 levels of resistance, making it a good option for beginner and advanced exercisers alike.
Bowflex Max Trainer M9
- Price: $1,999
- Key features: Works with android and iOS-enabled smartphones and tablets, includes a free year subscription to JRNY, provides Bluetooth connectivity, provides seven workout programs
- Pros: A good mid-level option that balances price and features; offers as many resistance levels and almost as many workouts as the more expensive Max Total; provides connectivity for up to four users
- Cons: No integrated touchscreen for immersive workouts or integration with entertainment apps to stream shows on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime
The Bowflex Max Trainer M9 is an upgrade from the M6 model.
The dimensions of the M9 are 47.9 inches × 30.8 inches × 65.2 inches (122 cm × 78 cm × 166 cm).
When fully assembled, it weighs 148 pounds (67 kg) and has a maximum user weight of 300 pounds (136 kg).
Unlike the M6, the M9’s handlebars are dual-positioned, sculpted handlebars with the aero bar upgrade for added comfort during intense training sessions.
The M9 also includes 20 resistance levels, which is 4 more than the M6. As a result, the M9 model is a better choice for experienced athletes.
Other notable features of the M9 include integrated heart rate monitor grips and connectivity for up to four individual users.
It also comes equipped with a USB charging port and an enhanced, dual-mode LCD/LED screen.
Bowflex Max Total 16
- Price: $2,499
- Key features: Built-in touchscreen, WiFi-enabled, free year of the JRNY app, custom workouts and virtual coaching, Bluetooth connected, access to Netflix and other entertainment apps, upper body training
- Pros: A more immersive experience with the built-in touchscreen, and more personalized workouts with the JRNY app and virtual coaching; more integrated workout programs than the other products
- Cons: It’s the most expensive of the Bowflex Trainer line of products; it’s also the largest of the Max Trainers, but only by a few inches
The Bowflex Max Total is the newest Max Trainer product.
Its dimensions are 49 inches × 30.5 inches × 65.5 inches (124.5 cm × 77.5 cm × 166.4 cm), allowing this model to fit neatly in many home workout areas.
The Max Total also supports a maximum user weight of 300 pounds (136 kg) and weighs 148 pounds (67 kg) when fully assembled.
The model features 20 resistance levels and 8 workout programs, including 7-, 14-, and 21-minute interval programs, an upper body interval program, calorie burn, fat burn, stairs, and manual options. It also comes with integrated heart monitor contact grips and an arm band for real-time monitoring of your workout intensity.
Additional features include a water bottle holder, USB charging port, and WiFi connectivity for streaming your favorite entertainment apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
The Max Total comes with a 3-year factory warranty for the frame and parts, and 90-day warranty for labor.
The Max Total must be purchased through third-party sellers that can be accessed through Bowflex’s retailer locator feature.
Bowflex products come at a range of prices and technological features, ranging from basic functionality to full integration with smartphone technology and applications.
The Max Trainer products offer unique and comprehensive fitness programming for aerobic exercise.
The following is a brief comparison chart on the prices, specs, and special features of Bowflex’s current models:
|Bowflex Max Trainer M6||Bowflex Max Trainer M9||Bowflex Max Total 16|
46 in. × 26 in. × 64.2 in. (117 cm × 66 cm × 163 cm)
|49.2 in. × 30.5 in. × 65.1 in. (125 cm × 77.5 cm × 165.4 cm)||49 in. × 30.5 in. × 65.5 in. (124.5 cm × 77.5 cm × 166.4 cm)|
|Weight capacity||300 pounds (136 kg)||300 pounds (136 kg)||300 pounds (136 kg)|
|Resistance levels||16 levels||20 levels||20 levels|
|Special features||– full integration with JRNY app|
– media rack
– heart rate monitor grips
– 5 programmed workouts
|– full integration with JRNY app|
– media rack
– heart rate monitor grips
– 7 programmed workouts
|– full integration with JRNY app|
– HD touchscreen
– streaming compatibility
– Bluetooth integration
– heart rate monitor grips
– 8 programmed workouts
|Warranty||– 2-year frame and parts|
– 90-day labor
|– 3-year frame and parts|
– 90-day labor
|– 3-year frame and parts|
– 90-day labor
Bowflex offers financing options to help make the machines more affordable.
While the M3 is no longer available from Bowflex, it was originally listed for $1,400 MSRP and may still be available at select retailers.
All of the Max Trainers come with a 90-day warranty on labor. However, the M9 and Max Total offer a 3-year warranty on the frame and parts, compared with 2 years for the M6.
Also keep in mind that the JRNY app costs an additional $12 or $19.99 per month, depending on your plan.
Bowflex Max Trainers have premium technological features and ergonomic design, but they’re fairly expensive and require a separate subscription for the full features.
Generally speaking, across all major review sites like Trustpilot, the Better Business Bureau, and Amazon, the Max Trainer line of cardio machines receives positive reviews, indicating the products are high quality and easy to use. Bowflex has also been around a long time as a well-respected fitness product manufacturer.
That said, on the review site Trustpilot, many reviewers cite poor customer service.
|Bowflex Max Trainers||$1,699–$2,799||– unique upward elliptical movement that’s part stair-stepper, part elliptical|
– lots of integrated workouts and personalized features through the JRNY app
|some of the most expensive products||individuals who want custom workouts and new technology as part of the workout|
|Proform HIIT Trainer||$1,300–$1,699||– very similar to the Max Trainers with more integrated workouts and more resistance levels||– more of a stair-stepping motion, rather than an elliptical motion|
– smaller range-of-motion overall
|individuals who like the features of the Bowflex Max Trainers but are on a tighter budget|
|Horizon Peak Trainer||$899–$1,899||– affordable high intensity, low impact cardio machine||– more of a stair-stepping motion|
– smaller range of motion overall
– very basic in terms of technology and workout features
|individuals on a budget who want a solid, low impact cardio workout without the tech-focused bells and whistles|
|Schwinn 570e Elliptical||$2,699||– longer range of motion to mimic a real stride|
– moveable handles for upper-body integration
– lots of integrated workout programs and resistance/incline options for a personalized workout
|– more of a traditional elliptical motion|
– no apps or tech features for personalized workouts
|individuals who want maximum upper body and lower body engagement with every workout|
Which Bowflex Trainer is right for me?
Choosing a Bowflex trainer depends on your goals, wants, needs, and budget. All of the Max Trainers provide a high intensity, low impact cardio workout.
Your decision to choose a higher-end model versus the lower-end options comes down to your desire for technological integrations, how many people will be using the trainer, and how many resistance levels or integrated workouts you feel you need to maximize your home workout.
Which muscles do Bowflex Trainers work?
The Bowflex Max Trainers offer total body cardiovascular training. The stair-stepping/elliptical motion focuses on the muscles of the lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Given that all the Max Trainers offer dynamic handles, it’s also possible to work the upper body musculature, including the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back. The core is also used to help maintain stability and proper form.
That said, Max Trainers work the lower body more than the upper body, with the exception of the Max Total, which offers upper body-specific workout options.
Are Bowflex Trainers similar to ellipticals?
Like elliptical trainers, Bowflex Max Trainers provide a low impact cardiovascular workout. That said, the motion is a little more like a cross between an elliptical and a stair-stepping machine. The motion is more of an inclined, up-and-back motion, rather than straight forward and backward.
Are Bowflex Max Trainers better than treadmills?
The best home cardio machine is the one you’ll actually use. Treadmills and Bowflex Max Trainers are both fully capable of providing an excellent cardiovascular workout that targets the muscles of the lower body.
That said, Bowflex Max Trainers offer a lower impact workout with the option of some upper body training. As such, it has the potential to help you burn more calories and increase total-body strength more than a treadmill might.
Are Bowflex Trainers good for your knees?
Bowflex Trainers offer a low impact cardio workout. This means that your lower body isn’t experiencing the same pounding that affects the ankles, knees, and hips when walking or running on a treadmill.
It’s important to understand that high impact workouts aren’t inherently bad for the knees. That said, for individuals who have knee pain, knee injuries, or have been instructed by a healthcare professional to stick to low impact workouts, the Bowflex Max Trainers may be a good choice to limit or reduce knee pain.
If you’re looking for an aerobic training machine that comes with a full range of technological features, Bowflex Max Trainers are worth considering.
The intense interval training programs maximize your calorie burn and aerobic fitness without the need for hours of tedious cardio every day.
Plus, despite the high price, Bowflex offers financing options that allow you to pay over time as opposed to shelling out $2,000 or more at once for your equipment.
With a variety of training options, high tech features, and price points, the Bowflex Max Trainer series is a great addition to any home gym.