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Bowflex, what were you thinking?
Jun 11, 2005
by Jo Levy
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Great console, lots of features and functions, great workout.
Cons:Expensive, can't change the resistance while on the machine.
The Bottom Line: I cannot recommend spending $2199 for a machine that I have to get off of to change the resistance levels.
The Bowflex TreadClimbers have so much potential. The TC 5000 provides a great workout and looks nice as well. However, looks can be deceiving. I have reviewed both the TC1000 and TC3000 models. Bowflex makes three models of TreadClimbers. I am now reviewing the top of the line, the TC5000. Stay tuned for my comparison of them. Because of the nature of these reviews there will be some duplication and overlapping.
Recommend this product?
What is a TreadClimber?
Bowflexs TreadClimbers allow me to walk forward, as I do on a traditional treadmill, and step up, as I do on a stepper. The combination of movements 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 4.2 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 4 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. The TreadClimber essentially uses interval training by combining two different cardio machines in one. If you are wondering about interval training I will give you another example. If I use an elliptical machine for 10 minutes, then hop on a bike for 10 minutes and use a stepper for 10 minutes I am doing interval training.
The TreadClimber TC5000 has two platforms rather than a single flat walking surface like what 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.
A feature on the TC5000 that I like a lot is the footboards. There is a footboard 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 happens 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.
If it seems that the TreadClimber TC5000 is very much like an elliptical machine. That is incorrect. 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 TC5000 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 TreadClimber TC5000 costs $2199. It is 46 inches long by 28.5 inches wide by 55 inches high. The maximum weight is 300 pounds. The machine weighs 185 pounds. The TC5000 has a 5 year warranty on the motor and 3 years on the parts.
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 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:
The speed on the TC5000 starts at .7 miles per hour (mph) and goes up to 4.0 mph. If you are a runner then 4.0 sounds low to you. This machine is not designed to run on. The workout at 4.0 mph is more than adequate in my opinion for even the elite athlete.
The TC5000 gives me 8 functions. They are speed, miles, total steps taken, time, calories per minute, 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, heart rate and a climb indicator. All these functions are on a large console. The climb indicator shows how many feet you have climbed. So you can see if youve gone 100 feet or 1000 feet.
Although the handles on the TC5000 are not as long as I like I feel they are adequate. I think handles are an important feature to look at for safety reasons. To be the safest on a machine you would want to look for side rails. However because of the floorboards I found the TreadClimber TC5000 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 TC5000 is really nice. I found two holders on each side for water as well as space of items such as my cell phone. There is magazine rack as well. The LCD readings are large, bright and easy to read. Also on this console are the faster and slower arrows, a quick start feature if you do not want to input data but a power module that allows me to put in my weight and the resistance level I want to tread at. Here is where this machine breaks down. I really do not know what Bowflex was thinking.
Although I can set the resistance before I move I cannot change it once I am moving. I have never been on a machine (I have been on machines that do not allow me to change resistances easily but they didnt cost almost $2200!) that makes me not only stop the machine but according to Bowflex I should get off the machine to adjust the resistance. The machine gives me 12 resistance settings. This is done by adjusting the pistons. There are knows on each piston that turn easily to the number that I want the resistance on. However I cant even stop the machine and reach down. I did try. It is possible but not safe so I am not suggesting that the resistance be changed in any way other than getting off.
I adjust my resistance constantly. I cannot do interval training on this machine. Thus this defeats, in my opinion, the purpose of the TreadClimber or any machine. Unless every day you want to tread climb at one resistance level and then the next day at another level, this machine wont work for you. It doesnt work for me.
With the TC5000 you will get a training manual and video and a machine mat that goes under the machine to protect your floor.
Jo, Your Personal Trainers Observations and Thoughts:
The TC5000 gives me a great workout if I set the resistance high and dont change it. 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 TC5000 I would not buy it. If it were a couple of hundred dollars I would consider it because it is a nice machine and I would just use it at one resistance level. I doubt you will find it for $200. So I cannot recommend the TC5000. It is an expensive machine and in my opinion, misses the mark. 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 TC 1000 ~ Bowflex Treadclimber TC3000 • Bowflex HighTech Select Dumbbells • Bowflex Xtreme XTLU • Bowflex Ultimate•
Bowflex Motivator 2
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