Pros: Great workout; nice console, safer than many pieces of equipment.
Cons: The way the resistance changes is a deal breaker for me.
The Bowflex TreadClimbers look wonderful. Bowflex makes three models of TreadClimbers. I have reviewed the TC1000. I am now reviewing the next step up, the TC3000. Stay tuned for the top of the line TreadClimber and then my comparison of them. Because of the nature of these reviews there will be some duplication and overlapping.
What is a TreadClimber?
Bowflexs TreadClimbers use a combination of movements. They allow you to walk forward, as you would on a traditional treadmill, and step up, as you would do on a stepper. The concept makes sense. We know that interval training (switching speeds and resistance levels during your cardio workout) is a more effective way to train. Interval training forces your heart rate up faster than staying at one level. In addition it is thought that the changes from one speed to another or one resistance level to another increases your heart rate. For example if I am on a traditional treadmill power walking at 4 miles per hour with some incline my heart is going to be pumping hard. If I do this for 3 minutes and then bring the incline down and slow my walking down, my heart rate decreases. However after 2 minutes at that level I bring it back up again, my heart is working hard to get back up there. That is the theory behind interval training in my own words. So the TreadClimber essentially uses interval training by combining two different cardio machines in one. Another type of interval training is to use an elliptical for 15 minutes, then hop on a bike for 15 minutes and use a stepper for 15 minutes.
The TC1000 and TC3000 are identical in basic design. The design varies in their console as well as features and functions.
The TreadClimber TC3000 has two platforms rather than a single flat walking surface you find on a treadmill. Each platform rises separately. As I put my foot on the left platform it goes down while the right one goes up. If you have used stair steppers you know that you are going up and down in a straight line. Steppers are my least favorite cardio piece (other than a skier). The TreadClimber is different. There is a gradual hill climbing movement that I find is really easy on my knees.
Features I like on both models are what are called footboards. These are on each side of the TreadClimber. They are long enough to make it helpful for me to get on an off. They dont run the entire length of the machine which wouldnt be necessary. If you have ever been on a treadmill, you know that you have to be careful not to be standing on the tread it if you have it set to start at 3.8 miles per hour or you may lose your balance. I have often jumped onto the sides of a treadmill rather than waiting for it to slow down. In the case of the TreadClimber neither of these dangerous situations happen because of the footboards. I have often said that the stepper can be a nightmare to get on and get going on. Considering the TreadClimber is a combination of a stepper and treadmill again you will not have the problem of attempting to keep the steps up while you set the pace.
At first glance it seems that the TreadClimber TC3000 is very much like an elliptical machine but they are very different. When I am on an elliptical my feet are locked into the foot pad. I like elliptical machines but I often find that my toes become numb. The TreadClimber TC3000 gives my feet a natural range of motion. My feet can move around. Note though that the platform when together is a comparable width to a treadmill. However each platform alone is much narrower giving those footboards even more importance.
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.
Bowflex TreadClimber TC3000 costs $1799 versus $1400 for the TC1000. It is 46 inches long by 28.5 inches wide by 55 inches high. These are the same dimensions as the TC1000. The maximum weight on both machines is 300 pounds. They both weigh 185 pounds. The TC3000 has a better warranty than the TC1000. Rather than one year there is a three year warranty on the motor and two years on the parts.
Bowflex machines are designed and engineered in the USA. The company guarantees 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.
Functions and Features:
You will get a little more speed on the TC3000. Rather than starting at .5 it starts at .7. It goes up to 4.0 miles per hour rather than 3.8. Remember however that this is not a treadmill. If 4.0 sounds low to you it is because you are used to running. This is not designed to run on. The workout at 4.0 mph is more than adequate in my opinion for even the elite athlete. Rather than the 3 functions the 1000 gives me, the 3000 gives me 6. They are speed, distance, calories burned, time, total steps taken and calories per minute. Although it is common knowledge that machines can be off by 20% if I use the same machine then I get a relative sense. I like the calories burned feature that I dont get on the 1000. I also like to see calories per minute another function not on the TC1000.
Of the three models the TreadClimber TC3000 is the middle model in terms of features functions and price. Whether it is worth $10 more a month to get a bit more speed and a larger nicer console will be up to your pocketbook. If this were a machine I liked I would spend the extra $300 total.
Although the handles on the TC3000 are small I feel they are adequate. I think handles are an important feature to look at for safety reasons. However because of the floorboards I found the TreadClimber TC3000 to be as safe as any machine is. There are always dangers. Please do not let your children play around fitness equipment.
The console on the TC3000 is very nice. It is a huge upgrade from the 1000. You will get water bottle holders on each side. You will get the ability to stop the machine with a safety key (most machines have this feature.) I found 5 easy to read LCD windows which display the features mentioned above (speed, etc.)
The next aspect of the TC3000 which is a deal breaker for me is how I have to set the resistance. Like the TC1000 the machine gives me 12 settings that I can adjust for the intensity or resistance. This is done by adjusting the pistons. I adjust my resistance constantly. I like to do Interval training. For example I would power walk for 3 minutes, slow down for 5, go to 3.4 for 8 minutes, etc. On this machine that is almost impossible to do and this is why. The resistance is changed by turning a knob on the pistons or hydraulic systems. These are two mechanisms on each side of the machine in the front. On top of the pistons are easy to turn knobs with easy to see lines that show me the numbers for the intensity. But I have to get off and stand on the footpads in order to do this. I certainly cannot do it while power walking and it really isnt even safe to do it while walking slowly. Thus this defeats, in my opinion, the purpose of the TreadClimber. I first found this on the TC1000 and was really disappointed by a major flaw in what could be a fantastic machine.
I have tried over the months to change the resistance without getting off. It is really dangerous. In fact Bowflex recommends that we get off the machine to adjust the resistance. My not wanting to take the risk is not based on fear but on the real life danger to my safety.
Jo, Your Personal Trainers Observations and Thoughts:
The TC3000 can give me a great workout if I set the resistance high and dont change it. Like the 1000 the treads are nice and smooth and the machine is quiet. The treads go up and down smoothly. My feet do not hurt because there is so little impact. It is like walking on a treadmill only better because I get the addition of the stepping motion which is great for my calves, hamstrings (back of thighs), butt, quadriceps (front of thigh) as well as the cardio vascular workout.
In spite of all the positives of the TC3000 I would not buy it for $1700 and will not recommend you do either. In fact this is not a machine I would enjoy using even at half the price. I hope this has helped but please feel free to leave me a question or comment.
What you should know about the Bowflex Brand • Bowflex TreadClimber • Bowflex HighTech Select Dumbbells • Bowflex Xtreme XTLU • Bowflex Ultimate•
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A fairly comprehensive list of my fitness equipment reviews can be found on my profile page. Thanks for reading. jo