The Bowflex Max Trainer M8. It is multi-skilled. It is well spec’d. But is it worth buying? We put it through vigorous testing for a month and here are the results, in this Bowflex Max Trainer M8 Review…
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The Bowflex Max Trainer M8 is the flagship model of the Max Trainer range and offers the benefits of an elliptical crossed with a stepper and a treadmill all rolled in to one. This hybrid update of the M6 caught our attention, and so we decided to take the M8 for a full month of testing. Now, we bring you the results in our full Bowflex Max Trainer M8 review.
Bowflex are one of the leading home fitness manufacturers and their pioneering Max Trainer range has become highly sought after in recent years. The M8 promises one of the most gruelling HIIT workouts you can endure, and as such for anyone looking to either build strength and stamina or burn off excess calories, they should be able to do so with the M8 without destroying their joint health – a win win situation!
Bowflex Max Trainer M8 Specs
The Max Trainer M8 is very well spec’d. It is a high-end training machine that not only looks the business, but has been designed and built to a high specification.
To complement the build quality, Bowflex have put a lot of effort into considering the connectivity and have access to their own app as well as others.
Despite being feature heavy, the M8 is surprisingly compact and offers a full body workout with minimal space required wherever you choose to use it.
A floor space of 122cm (length) by 78.2cm (width) is required for the base, with it standing at a height of 165.6cm. Of course, when considering the height you will need to take into account the user height, and Bowflex recommend a minimum ceiling height of user height plus 38.1cm (15 inches).
This will be fine for most spaces including garage gyms, but be sure to check your ceiling height before purchasing. The maximum user weight is 136kg, which makes it accessible to most people.
The M8 features 20 levels of resistance and the range of each of these is quite impressive – meaning that you can opt for a seriously gruelling workout or something much less strenuous. It also leaves plenty of room for progression no matter your current level of fitness. There are 7 pre-set programmes as well as connectivity to the JRNY app and the Explore The World app – both of which bring added functionality and more programmes for users to follow.
There are dual LCD/LED displays, and these create the centre piece of the main console and from a design and usability point of view are absolutely spot on. They not only look like something you’d find in a sci-fi spaceship cockpit, but they also really help you to keep pushing.
The quick select buttons underneath the main display give you access to quick select options such as being able to increase resistance or workout time at the touch of a button.
The handles are well cushioned and can be gripped in a multitude of places which not only allows for the most comfortable workout, but also allows you to focus on various upper body muscles. Two extra stationary handles are ideal should you wish to focus solely on the lower body, but also house the heart rate monitor touch points with heart rate data then displayed on the main screen. There is also a handy water bottle holder conveniently positioned.
When it comes to connectivity, the M8 excels. Not only is there a magnetic tray to hold your device secure, but there is also a USB charging port and connection to the M8 via bluetooth with the aid of the Bowflex Trainer app.
You can create 4 user profiles with the M8, which is two more than the M6 and means multiple people in your household can benefit from tracking their workouts and improvement over time.
The M8 does need to be plugged in for full connectivity and functionality.
Max Trainer M8 First Impressions
The Max Trainer M8 is one of those home trainers that is actually better than most commercial gym trainers. It isn’t often that we review a product that is higher spec’d at home than those you see in the gym, but the Max Trainer M8 fits that category. In a word, it simply exudes ‘class’.
The M8 is solidly built from premium materials that look and feel great to the touch but also when in use. The smooth motion afforded by the hand rails and the stepper are unbelievably fluid and the wide feet plates are not just solid, but comfortable too and feature a uniquely designed rubber grip for ultimate stability and comfort.
Although the M8 is solid and sturdy, it has a total assembled weight of only 67kg and thanks to built-in transport wheels this means you can move it fairly easily from the corner of a room to a more convenient location for a spacious workout.
The first thing that strikes you as you step on to the M8 is that everything just feels kind of intuitive. Of course, this should be the case but with so many cross trainers and treadmills not feeling this way it is always a good feeling to have when getting on board.
The positioning of the impressive dual screen is perfect and thanks to its simplicity and size it is easy to view the futuristic display. The design is reminiscent of a speedometer, and we’re sure there’s some psychology behind the design because it does actually seem to motivate you to push yourself more than usual. Either way – the screen looks impressive and works well in all lighting situations.
When using the M8 for the first time we opted for the 10th level of resistance as a starting point. This was too high for beginner or even intermediate users for a prolonged workout, and there is a fair bit of variance between each setting – this is ideal as you get the impression that the 20 levels of magnetic and air resistance will be ample for all levels of users no matter the workout goals.
Max Trainer M8 In Use
Although your legs and glutes might not feel like it after 10-15 minutes, using the Max Trainer M8 is a breeze. Whether you are looking for a quick HIIT workout that targets the upper and/or lower body or a full-on cardio session, the M8 is perfectly equipped.
With 7 built-in programmes there is plenty to get you started, although Bowflex have clearly left the built-in programmes to a minimum to encourage use of the JRNY app which features a multitude of workouts along with trainer-led sessions.
It is worth noting that there is a subscription fee for the JRNY app once the initial two-month trial is over, but this is excellent value for money given the added functionality it provides. It is not 100% necessary to use the app but it really does make a big difference. Not only can you enjoy a more interactive experience, but you can also use it to track your progress, aim for rewards and unlock new sessions – all designed to motivate your further to excel beyond your goals.
It is also worth mentioning the Explore The World app which can also be used with the M8. Although this is also a paid app, there are three free courses available and they are well worth exploring. This app allows you to take to courses all over the world and you can even race against your own avatar to encourage you to push beyond your previous best times. Again, like everything with the M8, it is extremely motivational and puts the fun and competition back in to your workout.
The workout options available on the machine itself are easy to navigate to, and there are a variety of options available including a short 7-minute workout for those in a rush and the standard 14-minute workout that has become the staple HIIT workout for the Max Trainer series.
For those who wish to manually control the workout this is easy to do, and you can add time to pre-programmed workouts with the touch of a button too. When it comes to programming and controlling the M8 there has been a clear focus on simplicity being the key – and again, this feels intuitive and really is easy to use with little to no guidance.
The real beauty of the M8 trainer is the low impact felt on your joints while still being able to get a real hardcore workout in. Unlike running, your joints are not going to take a hammering by using the M8 and we would go so far to say that this is as close to a high-quality zero-impact workout you can get.
We love the multi-grip handles as they allow you to target a wide range of upper body muscles in addition to the lower body workout you get from each session. When you want to work the upper body more, you can simply adjust your grip and increase the resistance. In fact, just three grip positions will account for over 80% of your upper body muscles, so there is no need to learn a wide variety of complex grip positions in order to get a really extensive workout in.
The heart rate monitor works well as you would expect, and although the sensors are not on the main grips it is easy and quick enough to check your heart rate whilst giving your arms a quick rest. Of course, if you are looking to just target the lower body, then the static grip handles with the built-in heart rate sensor are ideal and give you maximum stability.
We used the M8 for 30 days and exercised with it using a combination of the built-in programmes and the JRNY app programmes. We did this for 5 days per week with each session lasting 14-17 minutes.
Each week we were able to progress to the next resistance level and try more challenging workouts, and although we did really like the JRNY app, there was plenty of room for progression from the standard programmes. You really will feel the improvement over time and we would suggest anyone looking for an all-in-one HIIT and cardio workout using resistance will benefit from using the Max Trainer M8.
Having 4 user profiles is a masterstroke from Bowflex as they have listened to user feedback from the previous Max Trainer models and given users what they want. Having 4 user profiles means that most households will be fully catered for and makes the M8 even more cost-effective.
The much older M7 was plagued with issues around parts wearing out quickly, but there have been no such concerns about that with the M8. In fact, all the reviews we were able to find from long-term users were incredibly positive, and the two-year parts and labour warranty that comes with this Max Trainer means you can make your purchase worry free.
Max Trainer M8 – Our Verdict
The Bowflex Max Trainer M8 is not cheap, but you tend to get what you pay for and with a premium price comes a premium product that is the flagship of the Max Trainer range. Anyone looking for low-impact, high-intensity workouts will go a long way to find anything better suited than the M8.
The connectivity is second to none, and the addition of not one but two top-quality apps propels the M8 into the elite league. Think Peloton on speed with less strain on your joints and you are getting close to how brilliant this Max Trainer really is.