Everything You Need to Know about Bowflex: Comparisons; This Personal Trainer's Guide.

by
Dec 5, 2004 (Updated Oct 26, 2006)


The Bottom Line Bowflex makes a quality machine but you have to like the Bow technology which is different than stacks or plates. I would consider buying one.

There are a many models of Bowflex machines. This essay will attempt to sort them out for you and tell you some features of Bowflex that may not be available on other machines. However be aware many features are available on other less expensive machines. It is beyond the scope of this review to compare brands. This is addressing the Bowflex brand only.

The Bowflex guarantee:

Bowflex machines are designed and engineered in the USA. They guarantee satisfaction. Use the machine for up to 6 weeks and if you are not satisfied with the results, it can be returned. You will get a full refund but shipping and handling will not be refunded. You must call the Customer Service Department at 888-3467068 to get a return authorization. Note that Bowflex must receive your machine no later than 2 weeks after the return authorization is given.

Warranty:

The models have different warranties which I will note below. The Power Rods, we are told, which can flex repeatedly but cannot be worn out have a no-time-limit warranty. If you do wear them out, they will be replaced for free.

The Technology:

Bowflex uses Power Rod Technology. Power Rod Resistance
which they have patented has been used for 15 years. They are made with Poly Hexamethaline Adipamide which is a high tech composite. After various manufacturing processes this is transformed into Power Rods. The Rods have to pass three separate flex-tests before they are put on a Bowflex machine.

How Power Rods are used:

The larger the diameter of the Rod, the more resistance you will be using. For example the 50 pound rod is thicker than the 30 pound rod. To add or subtract resistance you hook or unhook the Power Rod from the Bowflex cable system. You can use as little as 5 pounds or as much as 410 depending on the machine and your upgrades.

The Cables:

Bowflex works with a cable and pulley system. The cables are the same quality as used on commercial aircraft and strength certified by independent labs. The cables are lubricated and sealed with a protective nylon jacket.

The Frame:

Bowflex uses a high grade carbon steel construction. Bowflex was the manufacturer of Nautilus Commercial Fitness equipment for 30 years and claims the steel is the same as that typically found in gyms.

The Bench:

The type of bench varies depending on the machine. However they are all molded from durable polyurethane which is fused to a high grade PVC covering. This covering is used in the car industry and resists moisture, cracking and tearing.

The Hand Grip:

Bowflex makes an unusual 5-way hand grip or handle which you may know it by. It can be used as a traditional handle; it can be used as a traditional handle but the unusual strap which is on it can wrap around your hand for added support; it can be used around your ankle; it can be used around your foot and it can be used as a shoulder cuff. This is the most versatile and unusual grip I have seen.

The price:

The price varies by machine. I will tell you what they cost per month. Bowflex has a no-money-down financing plan available (800-269-3539). (I do not represent, sell or know anyone in the Bowflex business.)

Features:

All Bowflex machines have the hand grips, some type of bench, and fold. Resistance upgrades on all machines cost $99.00 as of this date and accessory upgrades such as the leg attachment or lat tower cost $200. Shipping and handling range from $99.00-$149.00.

Which machine?

The machine you choose may be based on price, features, size or comfort. I have reviewed a couple. Although many times subtle there are differences which you will want to know about.

Bowflex Sport costs $16.00 per month ($799). It is 7 feet one half inches high x 3 feet 2 inches long x 3feet 2 inches wide. It boasts over 60 exercises and is seen as an entry level machine using the same Power Rod technology. It comes with 210 pounds of resistance which can be upgraded to 310 or 410 pounds. The bench does not have what is called a traditional gym style seating position. What this means is that there is no separate upper pad to lean against or sit against.

It has a 5 year warranty; the leg attachment and lat tower are standard. It has a squat platform and the ability to row. It comes with a training manual.

Bowflex Xtreme costs $19.00 per month ($999). It is 6 feet 11 inches high x 4 feet 8 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. It boasts over 65 exercises and is designed for serious strength training. There are upper and lower pulley positions meaning there is an additional cable at the base of the machine. It has a reinforced X shaped base giving it a lot of stability.

The Xtreme XLU has both the lat and squat stations; the XTLU has the lat and squat stations but in addition it has the leg attachment. The XTLU with the leg attachment costs $1199 plus $129 for shipping and handling which works out to still $19.00 month.

The Xtreme models have a 7 year warranty; 210 pounds of resistance with the same upgrades as the Sport; a height adjustable seat and training manual. The Xtreme does not have a full bench. Rather it has the seat I just mentioned and the padded upper back support. It comes with a training manual.

The Xtreme 2 costs $25.00 per month ($1399). It is 6 feet 11 inches high x 4 feet 8 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. It boasts over 70 exercises and claims to have more variety, greater adjustability and offers a faster workout than the previous two models. There is a reason for this. They have added a no-change cable pulley system which means you can go from squats to lats (back) to leg workouts without changing cables. This is a really nice feature.

This model has a 7 year warranty; 210 pounds of upgradeable resistance; standard lat tower and leg attachment; the back of the seat is the widest I have seen. They call it a contoured extra-wide seat back. This model has the multi function hand grips and short handgrips; a height adjustable seat; training manual and poster.

Bowflex Ultimate comes in 4 models all of which are $39.00 a month. All models have a 10 year warranty; boast over 90 exercises; start with 310 pounds of resistance (upgradeable to 410) a low pulley and squat station; a bench which slides to allow for rowing, leg presses and leg curls; a T-bar at the top of the machine which will work triceps and shoulders; the multi function handle; and a leg press belt (which I never use). It comes with a lat bar; you do not have to buy it as an accessory. It comes with a training manual; workout video; poster; folds and rolls on wheels.

The base Ultimate costs $1599. It is 6 feet 4 inches high x 5 feet 10 inches long x 2 feet 3 inches wide. It comes with no attachments; has a low pulley/squat station but is the bare minimum.

The Ultimate XTU costs $1799. It is 6 feet 4 inches high x 8 feet 2 inches long x 2 feet 3 inches wide. This is the base machine with the leg attachment which costs $200 so essentially these two are the same machine. The first one you will have to buy the attachment if you want it and I encourage you not to buy a machine and go without a leg attachment.

The Ultimate XLU costs $1799. It is 6 feet 11 inches high x 5 feet 10 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. This one comes with the Lat Tower/Pulldown Attachment (A $200 accessory) but no leg attachment. If you take my advice and get the leg attachment, this machine will cost $1999. This doesn̢۪t include a lat bar which is an additional accessory.

The Ultimate XTLU costs $1999. It is 6 feet 11 inches high x 8 feet 2 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. You get the leg attachment, lat tower, squat station, adjustable pulley system, and squat bar, an angled lat bar, the T-bar and leg press belt. This machine is complete. In my opinion if you are choosing among these 4 Ultimate models spending an additional $400 makes sense to get the XTLU.

I am a Personal Trainer. These are my thoughts:

Exercise machines are very personal decisions. I have attempted to lay out the differences among the Bowflex models. I believe Bowflex makes a good machine though it is certainly more expensive than others on the market which give you many if not all the same features. However you may really like the Bow idea. If you are just starting out I like the Sport. It is really functional and has a lot to offer for the price.

If you can spend more or are more advanced and are looking at the Ultimate line, I would go with the XTLU without question. It makes financial sense.

Again this is a personal decision. I have used machines with benches and machines with seats. You can perform chest presses effectively on either. However I prefer a bench if I were to buy one so that would (for me) eliminate the Xtreme series.

Based on a reader's question I have added the following:

Hi thanks for writing. The problem with comparing this brand is that they all are a little different in various dimensions. Think about which way you have more room. For ex. do you not have height but you have lenght? Is your ceiling high but the area is narrow. Not sure if you saw my comparison but I'll write it here and we'll look at it.

Bowflex Sport is 7 feet one half inches high x 3 feet 2 inches long x 3 feet 2 inches wide.

Bowflex Xtreme is 6 feet 11 inches high x 4 feet 8 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. THIS IS SHORTER BUT LONGER AND WIDER THAN THE SPORT.

The Xtreme XLU is 6 feet 11 inches high by 5 feet 10 inches long by 4 feet 2 inches wide. THIS IS A LONGER MACHINE BUT SHORTER THAN THE SPORT AND EXTREME.

The Xtreme 2 is 6 feet 11 inches high x 4 feet 8 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. THIS IS THE SAME AS THE XTREME

The base Ultimate is 6 feet 4 inches high x 5 feet 10 inches long x 2 feet 3 inches wide. THIS IS SHORTER AND NARROWER THAN THE ABOVE BUT 2 FEET LONGER THAN THE SPORT.

The Ultimate XTU is 6 feet 4 inches high x 8 feet 2 inches long x 2 feet 3 inches wide. THIS ONE IS THE LONGEST.

The Ultimate XLU is 6 feet 11 inches high x 5 feet 10 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. ANOTHER LONG ONE.

The Ultimate XTLU is 6 feet 11 inches high x 8 feet 2 inches long x 4 feet 2 inches wide. AND ANOTHER LONG ONE.

SO IF LENGTH IS AN ISSUE YOU DON'T WANT TO GO WITH THE ULTIMATE.

IF HEIGHT IS AN ISSUE BUT YOU HAVE LENGTH THE XTREME IS THE SHORTEST.

IF YOU HAVE A NARROW SPACE BUT NO OTHER ISSUES THE ULTIMATE AND ULTIMATE XTU ARE THE NARROWEST.

HAVE ANOTHER MEASUREMENT THAT MIGHT BE HELPFUL:

IT IS THE FOLDED FOOTPRINT SO YOU CAN TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT THEY ARE LIKE FOLDED UP.

SPORT 52" BY 38" LENGTH BY WIDTH

XTREME 56" BY 50"

XTREME 2 56" BY 50"

THE ULTIMATE (BASE) 48" BY 27 1/4"

IT IS THE BENCH ON THE ULTIMATE THAT MAKES IT LONG SO WHEN FOLDED THE BENCH GOES UP BUT SINCE THE SPORT IS THE TALLEST OF THEM ALL THE FOOTPRINT OF THE SPORT IS STILL LARGER THAN THE ULTIMATE.

EITHER THE SPORT OR THE ULTIMATE WILL SAVE YOU THE MOST SPACE DEPENDING ON WHICH WAY YOU HAVE SPACE.

FOR THE RECORD I GAVE THE SPORT 4 STARS AND THE ULTIMATE 3.

(To my readers- sorry for the caps. I answered the letter that way and truthfully didn't want to retype the entire letter so please forgive me. I am not yelling:) jo

Some of this material has come from the Bowflex website www.bowflex.com.

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