Bowflex, Inc. first made its name with tension-based home gyms in the 1980s. Today the Bowflex brand is also a significant competitor in the treadmill market, offering unique alternatives for cardio training. They sell fitness equipment directly to consumers and through major retailers.
BowFlex is based in Vancouver, Washington. The company is owned by Nautilus, which also owns the Schwinn® and Universal® brands of home fitness equipment.
The Bowflex brand stands out for its genuine advertisements: The people you see in their ads actually use their machines and aren’t paid actors.
Our readers might be interested in Bowflex’s two treadmill alternatives, called TreadClimbers and Max Trainers. Each can help you burn up to 2.5 times the calories you’d burn on a treadmill, yet is much gentler on your joints. TreadClimbers are for walking and Max Trainers are for whole-body exercise.
TreadClimbers are low impact fitness machines that make walking much more efficient. These are best described as hybrids of treadmills, stair climbers and ellipticals: They have moving tread belts, but the belts are on separate pedals. The pedals make the machine look like a stairclimber… but the motion produced is smooth and low impact, similar to that of an elliptical trainer. TreadClimbers offer speeds up to 4.5 mph and can hold up to 300 pounds.
The newest TreadClimber models are the TC100 and TC200. The classics are the TC10 and TC20, which are now discontinued. The TC100 and TC200 are distinguished by their more spacious consoles. The new console design includes two cup holders and a media shelf with a dual-purpose USB for smart devices. TreadClimbers include four workouts and have goal-oriented technology for motivation. The higher models from each series have longer treadles, higher top speeds and customizable programming.
While TreadClimbers are ideal walking machines, Max Trainers are full-body trainers. These treadmill alternatives have a “zero impact” design that helps people get incredibly efficient exercise. Spending just 14-minute sessions on the Max Trainer M3, the Max Trainer M5 or the Max Trainer M7 can deliver rapid results.
The three models of Bowflex Max Trainers have the same weight and dimensions. The M5’s advantages include a backlit display, more preset programs, integration with a Bowflex mobile app, and more choices for resistance.
What We Like:
- Challenging Yet Low Impact: Bowflex fills a unique niche. Its machines let people enjoy more comfortable workouts without compromising on challenge. The TreadClimbers are low impact and the Max Trainers are zero impact — yet both options burn calories at rates you can’t achieve on a treadmill.
- Upper Body Workouts: The upper body workout arms on Max Trainers are more powerful that what we see on elliptical trainers. Bowflex says they’re up to 80% more effective.
- Two Profiles: Two user profiles are included on the monitors in each series.
- New TreadClimber Consoles: The newer TreadClimbers have much roomier consoles compared with the TC10 and TC20. Users get two oversized cup holders, a media holder and contact grip sensors.
- M5 Programming: The Max Trainer M5 has a workout menu with manual mode and eight preset programs, which is the most found in these lineups. It can also sync with a free workout app for Apple iOS and Android devices.
- Compact: TreadClimbers are 3-in-1 fitness machines, and Max Trainers are full-body trainers, but each demands less space than a treadmill would. Additionally, TreadClimbers have transport wheels to make storage easy.
- Guaranteed Satisfaction: While the actual warranty made our “what we don’t like” list, for awhile at least you’ll have a “Worry-Free” guarantee. Bowflex also has a satisfaction guarantee.
What We Don’t Like:
- Consoles: While the newer TreadClimbers have improved consoles, Bowflex consoles are still simple. Comparably priced treadmills have additional features such as speakers, cooling fans and touchscreens.
- Warranties: These machines are under warranty for one to three years, depending on the model. Their warranties are short for products at these price points.
- Prices: Max Trainers are priced at $999, $1,599 and $2,199 respectively. TreadClimbers retail between $2,199 and $3,299. They aren’t meant for budget-conscious shoppers but they do show results.
Bowflex is a reputable company known for its solid mid-level machines with unique features. Finding a fitness machine that is low impact yet torches calories so efficiently can be a challenge, but BowFlex offers some great options for those with cash to spare.