Bowflex Max M8 Trainer review – is this 3-in-1 machine the best out there?

We've tried and tested the Bowflex Max Trainer M8 model at home – here's our verdict...

Bowflex Max Trainer M8
(Image credit: Bowflex)
Livingetc Verdict

The Bowflex Max Trainer M8 is an impressive and compact piece of kit that can get your heart rate rising fast, whether you have 10 or 45 minutes to spare. It's a 3-in-1 machine that's a great addition to any home gym and it boasts four user settings. This space-savvy buy offers a gym-quality workout at home – and it's a challenge at any fitness level. It ticks all our boxes, though this comes at a hefty price tag.

Reasons to buy
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    Solid piece of kit

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    Easy to use

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    7 pre-set programs

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    Comfortable to use

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    Simple to navigate

  • +

    20 resistance levels

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    On wheels

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Short cable

  • -

    The smartphone holder isn't the best

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    Expensive price

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    The fan can be loud at a high resistance

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    No warm up or cool down programs

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    Short cable

Building a home gym? If you are looking for the ultimate piece of home gym equipment to work all of your muscles at one time, and fast, then the Bowflex Max Trainer – the M8 model – could be just what you are looking for. This impressive piece of kit is packed with everything you need to squeeze in a quick yet tough workout. We've been testing this piece of home gym equipment for quite some time now, and we are impressed, to say the least. Not just at its various capabilities but also at its size and just how fast it can get you sweating.

This space-savvy trainer is a combination of a cross trainer, a treadmill and a stepper. It can burn calories impressively fast, it makes it somewhat easier to reach a fat-burning zone, all while boasting a smooth and low-impact operation.

A little bit about me, the reviewer: I write all of the UK-based fitness guides and reviews on Livingetc. I have been testing this trainer in my large home office, atop a fitness mat to prevent it from moving. I am five foot two in height so finding gym equipment that's comfortable for me to use is a proven feat. I tested this trainer without the use of the JRNY app, which is a subscription service that you can use along with this trainer, for an extensive look into your workout. Here's what I thought of the Bowflex Trainer Max M8, after testing it for several months at home...

Head to our best home gym equipment guide for more great suggestions on what to buy when it comes to decking out your new home gym.

About the Bowflex Max Trainer

Bowflex Max Trainer M8

(Image credit: Bowflex)
  • Total floor size: L121.7cm x W78.2cm x H165.6cm
  • Weight: 67kg
  • Resistance levels: 20
  • Programs: 7
  • Max user weight: 136kg

Who will the Bowflex Max Trainer suit?

The Bowflex Max M8 is not a light-hearted piece of gym equipment. In fact, it's best suited to someone who is really looking to push themselves. Though saying that, since you can adjust the fan resistance, it can be used by anyone – even beginners who are hoping to improve their fitness. It'd also be a great piece of gym equipment to add to a smaller home gym since it's a 3-in-1 treadmill, stepper and cross trainer. It also boasts four user profiles so that everyone in the family can get good use out of it. On the other hand, should you be after something that can make you work up a sweat fast, or if you have limited time to work out in a day, then the Bowflex M8 can do just that – and much more.

Our first thoughts of the Bowflex Max Trainer...

Bowflex Max Trainer M8

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Our first thoughts of the Bowflex Max Trainer were impressive. Though a large piece of kit, it does have a small footprint and it's surprisingly easy to move around a room.

This cross trainer did take some time to assemble – around an hour – and it's worth us noting that while it does boast a small footprint, it is quite bulky so you may struggle to get it out of a room once it is assembled. It's definitely not a piece of gym equipment you can move around your home with ease, though it is on wheels and it's impressively lightweight.

What is the Bowflex Max Trainer like to use?

Bowflex Max Trainer M8 feet pedals

(Image credit: Bowflex)

This machine is smooth to use, that's for sure, while it's also easy to work. It needs to be plugged in at all times while using, and it has fan resistance so it's quiet until you really start working hard. The machine boasts multi-handlebars to make it comfortable to use and anti-slip feet platforms make it safe. 

Once you have turned the machine on and selected a user from one to four, then you can choose a program or opt for a manual workout. On the display, you can track your progress from calories burned to RPM and more. Should you stop moving at any time, the machine will automatically pause. It's a simple machine to use, though tracking your workout can be difficult since it doesn't save your progress anywhere. Alternatively, you could use a fitness tracker to do this or note down the calories you burn, afterwards.

Bowflex Max Trainer display

Bowflex Max Trainer M8

(Image credit: Bowflex)

The Bowflex Max Trainer boasts a sizeable dual-mode LCD/LED display. This display allows you to see your workout – in the form of a bar chart – while it also displays calories burned time, RPM, distance, calorie burn rate, heart rate and resistance level. There is a Burn Rate Dial at the top of the display, this is where you can see both your personalised target burn rate and your actual burn rate together, to help motivate you to work harder. 

There are just a few buttons on this machine, all of which are pretty self-explanatory. There's a user program button that you'll need to press to switch from user to user as well as a programs button that you can press to switch through and choose a program. You will also find start/enter and stop/pause buttons as well as a volume button to turn down the bell noise. The AddTime button can be pressed to add a little more time to your workout if you are enjoying it and lastly, a Max 14-Minute Interval button sits in the middle so that you can easily reach this popular program. Resistance level buttons sit at either side of the machine so you can switch the intensity of your workout to suit your needs with ease. 

Bowflex Max Trainer features

Bowflex Max Trainer M8 display

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Resistance
There are 20 resistance levels on the Bowflex Max Trainer. You can change the resistance yourself by pressing the arrow buttons on either side of the machine. Alternatively, when you are in a programme, it will automatically adjust the resistance for you. It goes without us saying that resistance 20 offers a difficult workout and your glutes, in particular, will feel like they have been worked.

Comfort
There are no doubts about comfort when it comes to this machine. With large feet plates for placing your trainers inside, these plates are also anti-slip to keep your feet from moving – and that they do. The machine also has multi-grip handlebars so that you can hold on in front of you – and track your heart rate at the same time – or place your hands higher than the machine while working out, or by your side. Either way, you'll be sure to find a position to place your hands and arms whether you want to move them as you workout or keep them still.

Accessories
This machine has a holder for your phone, keys or a bottle of water, as well as a magnetic smartphone or tablet holder. You can only use the tablet holder with your device vertical, or it may fall as the machine moves. It's also worth us nothing that if you are using the smartphone holder this will cover the display so you won't be able to see your workout progress.

Sturdiness and noise
As we expect, and as you would expect for the high price tag, this machine is very sturdy when in use, even when working at the maximum resistance level. You might want to place it atop a fitness mat to prevent it from moving around on wooden flooring, but other than that there are no worries about the build of the machine. If anything, it's an impressive build – especially since it's so compact. In terms of noise, the machine sounds a bell noise during program, which can be quite loud. The fan resistance also gets louder the higher the resistance, and the faster you are going. It's definitely not quiet, though we wouldn't say it's loud enough to wake someone up if they were sleeping in another room.

Bowflex Max Trainer programs

Bowflex Max M8 Cross Trainer console

(Image credit: Future)

There are a total of seven pre-set programs on the Bowflex Max Trainer, as well as a manual mode. Unfortunately, there are no warm up or cool down modes, so you might want to use the manual mode to do a warm up, choose a program, then go back onto manual mode for your cool down.

Back to the programs: the most popular among them is the Max 14-minute Internavel program – and we couldn't agree more. This program is perfect if you only have a small amount of time to spend sweating, while there's a button in the middle of the display to reach it with ease. You can always press the AddTime button during your workout, too, if you are enjoying it and don't want it to finish quite so soon.

Other programs include: 7 Minute Interval, 21 Minute Interval, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Stairs, Manual.

What else to know about the Bowflex Max Trainer?

As mentioned briefly above, you'll need to be careful if you are over 6-foot and you want to use this machine in a room with a normal ceiling height. You may end up hitting your head every time you move. Bowflex suggests measuring and adding 15-inches to your height to ensure you can use this machine in the room you would like.

If you are using the Bowflex Max Trainer on wooden floors, then you will want to buy a fitness mat to place it atop to prevent the machine from moving and edging away from the plug socket.

The plug that this machine comes with is also quite short in length, so you'll either need to get an extension cable or place it beside a plug socket.

It's pretty much impossible to track your workout (for free) when using this machine, so if you have a fitness tracker you might want to put it to good use. Switch it to elliptical mode and get working! You could use this trainer along with the JRNY™ App, which you will have to pay for, to personalise your workouts or guide you on your fitness journey. This app can also be used to track progress and also for in-depth training analysis. You can also use it for dynamic coaching, trainer-led videos, rewards and more.

Lastly, this machine does have a magnetic smartphone holder, but this smartphone holder can only be used while your device is vertical, or your smartphone or tablet may fall out as you exercise. That and using this holder will cover the display of the trainer, so you won't be able to see your workout progress. Just something to bear in mind.

Bowflex Max Trainer pricing

The Bowflex Max M8 Trainer is highly-priced at around £1,800 – £2,000. We think that this piece of home gym equipment is definitely worth it, more so when it is used along with the compatible app. Our reasons to buy are that it's 3-in-1, it can be used by four people in total and that it boasts an impressively small footprint. If you are after just one piece of home gym equipment, and you want something that's great for all fitness levels and can offer a tough at-home workout, then this is without a doubt the piece of kit you want.

That being said, the JRNY™ App, if you choose to subscribe to it, makes this a completely different machine to use. This app allows you to partake in everything from personalised workouts to in-depth training analysis, dynamic coaching, trainer-led videos, rewards and more. When using this machine along with this app, we can completely understand the high price tag.

In the UK, you can only buy the Bowflex Max Trainer M8 through Fitness Superstore right now. Over in the US, the Bowflex Max Trainer M8 is available to buy at Amazon US.

About our review – and our reviewer

Bowflex Max M8 Trainer in Annie's home

(Image credit: Future)

Annie Collyer is the UK Shopping Editor at Livingetc – she also looks after all of our UK-based fitness content. She has tried and tested a range of equipment in her spacious home office/spare bedroom which is now technically her part-time home gym.

Annie has been testing the Bowflex Max M8 trainer for a few months in her home office. She uses this trainer atop a mat and has been switching between programs as well as using manual mode. Annie is just 5 foot 2 in height so using this machine hasn't been an issue for her, she is also moderately active and finds this machine to be an excellent workout, especially if time is of the essence – or if you don't enjoy working out and want it over as quickly as possible.

Where to buy the Bowflex Max Trainer?

Annie Collyer
Annie Collyer

Annie is the UK Shopping Editor at Livingetc, with the majority of her time spent advising you on what to buy for your home – whatever the season, or the latest trend. Whether that be a design classic floor lamp for your cinema room, a comfortable new chair for your home office, or a high-quality exercise bike for your home gym. She's also our fitness guru, with hands-on experience with some of the best home gym equipment around. Otherwise, you can find her forever painting the walls and reorganising the furniture inside her modern London flat, or going on long walks with her pug.