BowFlex Machine & Clones

I see all the TV ads for BowFlex exercise machines and they never mention price. I guess they don’'t want to scare you off. I happened to be in Dick’s Sporting Goods the other day and say they had a similar machine priced at $999. Don’t know the brand, but it was yellow.

The BowFlex TV ads say 20 minutes, three times a week. I could fit that into my schedule. :smiley: But if I don’t, I’d rather be out $999 rather than perhaps the $1999 that the BowFlex might run.

So if they use the same technology of flexing rods to provide resistance, would there really be a difference in the two? Does anyone own one and happy with it? I’m not looking to get “ripped” as I’m in my 60’s, but readily admit that I can use some help. :wink:

Go to Craigslist. These machines are dominant on there, and they’ve done nothing but hold up clothes/laundry, so you can get one like new and hang your laundry on it.

I would recommend free weights. The best things those machines have to offer are great ads and a bunch of models who wouldn’t be caught dead building their lean body on one of those machines… unless they were handed a fat check.
Read up… from some users:

I don’t have experience with Bowflex but most of these products lure people by making them think they can throw money at the exercise problem. You don’t need expensive equipment. There’s a machine out there for around $1500 advertised in well-known magazines that claims you can get weight training plus aerobic conditioning in a 4-minute workout. :rolleyes:

I also think 20 minutes, three times a week, is not enough. IMHO 45 minutes three times a week is miminum for general conditioning.

However, I’ll add that the discussion linked by **Philster ** is largely content-free. The only post that attempted to offer a rationale was flawed. It claimed that Bowflex resistance starts out light then maxes out as you finish the lift. That’s not all bad, and corrects a basic flaw in the physics of free weights, which is also one of the things that Nautilus got right. When doing a curl, for example, the maximum resistance occurs when your forearm is parallel to the floor, but half or more of the lift occurs after that point. One theory, and I don’t know if it’s correct, is that the more contracted the muscle, the more fibers come into play and the greater resistance needed to load the muscle. So increasing resistance throughout a lift should more efficiently load the muscle.

Thanks for the replies. I’ve never used Craig’s List, but will check it out. If I’m buying something to hang clothes on, I want to spend as little as possible. :smiley:

$14,615 :eek:

Yeah, that’s the one. Their web site sounds desperate and combative, compared to the magazine ads I’ve seen. I wouldn’t trust anyone’s expert opinion on physiology who spells “tendinitis” wrong. And they offer a “risk-free” trial period where you *rent *the machine for 30 days for $1500, which I suppose is how they actually make any money off this thing.

OW! :dubious:

I think the ROM’s price is so expensive because they have been advertising in every airline magazine for as long as I can remember. I really don’t get why it’s so expensive (unless it dual tasks and performs fellatio after a workout).

CookingWithGas, My link was just to provide some user feedback from people who bought the machines. It wasn’t meant to link to anything factual about results/tests/etc.

One would be best equipped with a nice set of free weights and a small training bench (esp. one that inclines).

For someone looking to do what the OP is interested in, a small training bench and a set of dumb bells would be perfect. You don’t need a huge weight lifting bench, an expensive ad-driven machine or massive bar bells and plates to navigate around.

There are dozens of effective exercises that a small training bench and dumb bells would be great for. Makes sense from a health and budget standpoint. You practice basketballs core skills using a basketball and hoop. You need a ball, glove and bat for baseball. For weight training, you need weights and a bench. Think in simple terms.

I bought a bowflex about 6 months ago on the cheap off of Craigslist. While I’d prefer just a good set of dumbbells, the bowflex is doing a solid job at, as noted above, around 45 minutes 3 times a week.

So take this as an endorsement, provided you can find it cheaply. If you can find free weights cheaper, though, I’d lean towards that.

When I bought my house I decided to turn one of my extra rooms into an exercise room. After looking at different options I selected the Bowflex for the following reasons:

  1. I wanted a machine that was light weight and wouldn’t tear up the carpeting. Since the Bowflex uses the tension in the rods as its source of resistance it does very little damage to anything else in the room.

  2. I felt that the machine was safer for home use. Whenever I do weight training I want my last set to go all the way to failure. I prefer to use free weights, but anytime I do so I want to have a spotter to help me out when I just can’t go any further. When I’m at home by myself I feel better working out on a machine.

  3. Legs - Dumbells are great, and I use them frequently, but I’ve not found many exercises using dumbells that can apply to legs. My Bowflex has 410 pounds of resistance which means I have plenty of weight for even the big muscle groups.

The commercials saying you only need 20 minutes a day 3 days a week are misleading. There is no way you can get in shape (or stay in shape) without practicing the holy trinity of fitness: eat well, cardiovascular fitness, and resistance training. For just the resitance training, the bowflex works fine as advertised. It really did improve my muscle tone and gave me some good muscle definition. There is no way I could compete against anybody that was serious about weight training, but it served its purpose well for my goals.

Lots to consider, and Craig’s list to check before the weekend.


edit: got price wrong, see below comment.

I’m not a big fan of these to be honest. They try to pose as a quick fix, but those guys that model it probably don’t use it. They use free weights, watch their diet and have been doing so for years and years.

Twenty minutes a day of only lifting is probably possible at the beginner level, but to get gains later you will not only need to lift more often with more reps and such, you will NOT get big using bowflex. (I’m not interested in turning this into a debate, but I believe this with the same conviction I’d say “you need oxygen to live”)

The other thing, bowflex is like 1500 dollars. I built my own gym with a lot less than 1500 dollars. (probably half that). It is much more utilitarian as the bowflex. For those interested, an olympic bar with enough weights for me , power-rack, muti-bench, and an adjustable dumbell set only ran me about 800 bucks. And I bought them all at Dicks sporting goods. If I had bought them on craigslist or shopped around I could have gotten them cheaper. (this price also includes mats and extra weights for the adjustable dumbells)

edit: gonna leave the price alone, but apparently 900 is the usual price these days. When I bought my stuff, and almost bought a bowflex, it was much more (though like 6 years ago). However, weights themselves are probably much cheaper too and the utility is greater. (they do take up a little bit more room though, lol.

I’m a fat, lazy guy who has avoided exersize for the last 40 or so years (and I’ve done an admirable job of avoiding it).

After being Diagnosed as a Diabetic I HAD to start exersizing so I started looking at alternatives. I ended up with one of those “lay-on-the-floor” Crunch machines, I do about 30 minutes (200 crunches) every other day and I’ve lost a bunch of weight and toned up CONSIDERABLY.

The AB-machine-thing cost me $40.00 (I think it was made by Tristar).


I am living proof you can get a great body with those bowflex or soloflex type machines.

I started out at 21 when I bought a Soloflex for $2,000.00 best investment I ever made.

The key to fitness is simple, whatever you do, DO IT.

This is why I tell people when they look to join a gym, “If it isn’t convenient, you WILL NOT go.” And I am no exception to that rule.

No matter what you do, if it isn’t convenient you won’t use it. I used to ride past Bally’s Health Club on my way home from work and I can’t tell you the number of times I got off the bus, 'cause I saw the gym. If there wasn’t one on my way home, I wouldn’t have gone.

You don’t even need weights really, it is possible to get nice body using things like sit ups, push ups, chin ups and other things around your home. You won’t get ripped but you’ll get buffed up. Of course push ups are very boring, so people quit quickly.

Two reasons I can think of:

  1. Status object. “When people come over to my house and see my ROM, they’ll know I paid $15K for it.” Sort of like a diamond ring… a person doesn’t want a diamond ring because it’s beautiful. They want a diamond ring because it’s expensive, and (more importantly) other people will know it.

  2. Reverse supply and demand. When something is expensive, some people will automatically think it’s better, and hence desire it even more.

I seem to remember reading…the whole approach to marketing exercise machines is very different from most products. The manufacturer’s know that the vast majority of units sold will never get used long enough to deliver any results. People quicly lose their resolve. So they are designed to only look like they’ll deliver results, with minimum effort. (of course they have to be safe also)

I.E. they’re made to look like they work and land the sale, not actually work.

The above could be baloney but I’m quite sure I read it somewhere…

I’m a firm believer in using simple stuff… especially for the goals you laid out. You’ll be able to do everything you would want to do with the following dirt-cheap things:

  1. A simple set of dumbbells
  2. A pull up bar
  3. A jump rope - for some solid cardio
  4. A comfy place to do push ups and sit ups (or buy a yoga mat)
  5. A sturdy chair for incline push-ups, back-flys, etc.
  6. The Internet - to look up new exercises you can do with just the equipment you have.
    There are an awful lot of fundamental moves you can do with just a pair of dumbbells… let alone different permutations on push-ups, pull-ups, squats, etc. Use your own body weight as much as you can.

You could probably get all this equipment for less than $100 on Craigslist. And the poster up thread is right… never buy new fitness equipment because the Internet is awash with used stuff.

Really, unless you are trying to get super ripped, these are the only pieces of equipment you need for just basic conditioning and firming up.

Back in teh early 90s I rented a place which came with a Bowflex. So I tried it a few times. In those days I also did a nautilus plus free weight routine about weekly. So I had some basis for comparison, but I’m no expert either then or now.

Under tension the thing felt less safe than free weights. It always seemed to me the bows were an out of control accident waiting to happen. It was disconcerting enough that I really never wanted to go whole hog with the thing.
And I’ll add another vote that exercise gear is one of those consumer products to never buy new. You can always find it pre-owned but unused for a huge markdown via Craigslist, classifieds, etc.