The Bowflex has become one of the largest selling pieces of exercise equipment of all time.
Having said that, let's examine the reasons for this popularity.
In a word... Infomercials!
Who hasn't seen at least part of one of those continuous commercials with all the ripped models/actors demonstrating and explaining the benefits of the this machine with the magic power rods. These TV spots are extremely well done and compelling. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a body like those folks? And if the Bowflex can do it, maybe you should have one too!
But is it as good as they claim?
In our humble opinion the answer is yes and no!
First, let's look at the positives...
The traditional 'power rod' Bowflex is a well-thought-out home gym that can work all the major muscle groups. Using 'power rods' rather than a conventional weight stack, the unit is much lighter than some home gyms which is a real advantage in shipping costs and in moving it around your house. The fact that it is relatively light and folds up means you don't have to dedicate a room, or part of one to a permanent installation.
As with any good home gym, it can be used safely by yourself . You won't need a spotter.
The Bowflex Ultimate 2 Home Gym (I found one for less money... here), which is the top-of-the-line power rod model with all the optional attachments, comes fully loaded with a Lat Pulldown Attachment to build upper-body strength, a Low Pulley/Squat Station for your glutes and core muscles, Leg Extension/Leg Curl Attachment for leg muscles and a built-in Adjustable Pulley System to vary how you target your muscle groups. The power rod resistance is 310 lbs. (upgradable to 410 lbs.) and this unit has something I haven't seen on many other multi-station home gyms and that is a built-in rowing machine. There are 95 different exercises that can be performed on the Ultimate 2.
All that and the convenience of foldup storage, and there is no question that this is a quality, versatile machine. The 6 week money-back trial period lets you check it out at no risk. They even have an online financing plan allowing you to buy it for as low a $38 per month, which is convenient because the price tag is a bit of a shocker. It certainly meets all the criteria that make for a recommended buy.
My only beef is the steep price tag. The model described above with all the bells and whistles comes in at over $2000 plus tax plus shipping directly from the Bowflex website. (Have a look at Amazon.com for Bowflex and you will find some much friendlier pricing. Amazon also gives the option of purchasing some used equipment at much reduced prices.) I don't really understand how a retailer can give better prices than the manufacturer, but it is certainly worth shopping around.
There are 4 different categories of models with several variations in each category bringing the total to 14 versions of this home gym. The differences, with the exception of the versatrainer, are in the power rod resistance and the options. Each option or upgrade costs extra. The lowest priced unit comes in at about $700 but does not not have the lat tower or the leg-curl attachment and only 210 lbs in resistance and therefore cannot deliver the same number of exercises (about half) as the Ultimate.
If you have thought longingly of having a Bowflex but balked at the price, there are a few things you should think about...
Laura Muney, Wellness Coach and featured model in the best selling book "Fit Over 40" as well as owner of 'PhysicalMind.com...Innovative Fitness and Wellness' puts it very well when she describes the Bowflex as follows..
I found the best place for pricing is not necessarily from Bowflex directly. As you will see by the ad below, Amazon.com comes in way below the list price of over $2000 for the Revolution.
For all of the reasons set out above, if you are looking for a good home gym that doesn't take up much room, is portable and will give you a resistance workout similar to free weights, then the this one is recommended.