I was never really into gym much, although I tried memberships at both chains and local facilities for short stints. I mostly stayed in shape by playing tennis, volleyball, softball and many other sports. Three decades later, intramural sports have waned. And although I’m not as out of shape as I could have been, I could certainly stand to tone up and feel less windy while chasing the kids. So I decided to plunge into the world of home gym machines. There’s a ton out there, but I thought I was ready for Bowflex’s new Max Trainer M9. Of course, at first I was a little intimidated by such phrases high intensity And total body cardio. But after spending several weeks with this take-out elliptical, I’m glad I persisted.

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The first big workout was when the Max Trainer M9 arrived with two huge boxes and placed them where I wanted the exercise equipment to be. It took 35 minutes to unbox the parts you see in the photo below, and—despite initially looking daunting—the M9 only took 2 hours to build. Bowflex offered someone to help with the installation; And separately, some support representatives were called over the phone to offer assistance. But both proved unnecessary, and I’m proud to say that this DIY project has resulted in a structurally sound, fully functional machine.

adaptive workout

After connecting the M9 to Wi-Fi, it was time to enter general data (height, weight, age) along with some of my top goals (burning calories, toning up, losing weight…). Then it went through (elliptical?) a 14-minute assessment session for me to get a base reading on the meaning of low, medium, and high intensity. Since then, whenever I’ve stepped on the pedals to activate the machine, the Just for You tab on the Workout home screen has displayed my top four suggestions from Bowflex’s proprietary Journey platform.


These suggestions automatically change whenever I expect them. They’re sized according to the workouts I choose, my quick post-workout feedback (tick two boxes about my satisfaction level) and whether I’ve set a particular workout as a favorite. Plus, I can manually adjust duration and intensity (Easier, Just Right, Harder) based on what I’m doing for a particular day, and the M9 will give me four suitable suggestions. And, likewise, my wife has a separate profile, in which she finds suitable suggestions for herself.

video vs program

Videos are essentially pre-recorded classes, broken down by skill and/or experience. They can be filtered by time, difficulty, activity type, and special trainers. Together they’re basically like a fitness buffet, where I can try a variety of things and then go back for seconds (and thirds) to find the stuff I love the most.

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Programs, on the other hand, focus more on the rhythm of the activity. For example, it could be a repeating series of successively rising levels that look like steps followed by decreasing levels to form a pyramid shape, or a predetermined or random series of highs and lows—today. K can be pretty standard fare for treadmills and stair-based machines. . But taking it a step further, I can choose from one of seven time categories, workout style, whether or not I want a virtual coach, and more: such as setting just the desired resistance and going at my own pace, that 14. Redo minute evaluation sessions to use a favorite fitness app or even connect to my phone wirelessly.

Entertainment and world exploration

Whenever selecting a program, I have the option of listening to music (its stations, broken down by genre, or piped to my phone via Bluetooth), watching shows (Netflix, Disney Plus, on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or HBO Max) or Explore the World. I enjoy mixing and matching. For example, I might choose to be sufficiently distracted by a comedy special, staying on target hearing the system beep and showing my live metrics on an overlay at the bottom of the screen. Or I could listen to techno while strolling through Shangri-La, country music while trekking the Swiss Alps or hard rock stranding the Las Vegas Strip.

Besides being an option in programs, Explore the World has its own offerings as well. But instead of choosing the itinerary first and then what amazing vistas I want to travel through, it’s the other way around. Here again, the M9 offers a bunch of great filters. I can choose the region, season, type of scenery, whether I want coaching, and more if I want it to be an adaptive workout or just at my own pace. With coaching on, the voice of a natural-sounding human coach tells me what I’m going to do, when I have time to give it my all, when to rest and even breathe and remember. To bring also. And finally, when I’m winding down, she shares stats about the workouts I’ve done.

data in abundance

Statistics are a great way to not only assess what I’ve done but to positively reinforce my use and achievements on the machine. For me, statistics are a big motivator. It’s not even like I’m trying to count calories or lose a certain amount of weight. It’s more fascinating than that: I’m really curious about all the different types of measurements and rewards and seeing what I can unlock. But rest assured, if you want to know your heart beat, average RPM and how many calories you have burned in a particular week, this one does that and more.

Should you buy Bowflex Max Trainer M9?

I like how this device is relatively compact: about 4 feet long by 2.5 feet wide and 5.5 feet tall. And that I can tilt it forward so that it can be rotated in or out of position. I’m a (newly introduced) fan of the low-impact, high-intensity, full-body workout this elliptical offers. And I didn’t even get to mention all of its great features, like its 10-inch HD touch screen and good quality Bluetooth speaker, the fact that it includes thoughtful features like a wireless heart-rate armband, or the ability. Freely adjust the volume of music, coach, system notifications and more.

I also really like Bowflex’s Junior platform, which comes free for the first year and is about $150 a year after that. It would be easy to get overwhelmed by all the choices of on-demand classes, program patterns, music options, streaming video services and virtual natural exploration, but the organization, filtering and artificial intelligence built into the platform make it quite digestible. At the end of the day, the fact that it’s friendly to me (and separately, to anyone else in my household who builds their profile) makes this home fitness product a big winner.

Buy on Bowflex for $1,999.

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