Everyone is busy, and for those individuals who want to get in shape but don’t have the time to go to a professional gym, a home trainer is a great option. Ellipticals allow low-impact exercise that eliminates undue strain on joints. A home trainer is superior to a treadmill as they often have an upper body attachment that creates a workout similar to cross-country skiing. Machines like the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 allow users to get a great workout in a minimal amount of time.For this review, we’ve subjected the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 to a variety of tests. We’ve assessed this machine in terms of its durability, construction, aesthetic elements, workout potential, results delivered, and price. We know that space in primary living areas is always limited, therefore, the overall size of any piece of exercise equipment will always be a big determining factor, too. Our conclusion is that if you’re in the market for a home trainer, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 provides the perfect combination of durability and effectiveness while also being compact and affordable.
What Is the Bowflex Max Trainer M5?
The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is an elliptical training machine featuring multiple-position hand grips. The machine allows you to engage your arms, legs, and core in a full-body workout. The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 boasts a 14-minute max interval workout that will help you achieve your fitness goals quickly and efficiently. There is also an attractive, easy-to-read display featuring speed, time, and other information critical to monitoring the intensity and duration of every workout you tackle.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is much more compact than other trainers in its class. It measures at 46.1” x 25” on the floor with an overall height of 62.9”. The minimum ceiling height for this trainer is the user height plus 15”. The assembled product weight is 143 pounds, and this includes integrated transport rollers to make the machine easy to maneuver around your home if needed. The maximum user weight for this trainer is 300 pounds.
It is possible to purchase the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 for around $1,600. The unit is available from online retailers such as Amazon and the Bowflex web page. The trainer is also available at select local retailers of sporting and fitness equipment.
How It Compares
To fully and fairly test out the Bowflex Max Trainer M5, we compared it to several other trainers in its class. For comparison, we selected the Bowflex Max Trainer M7, the Nautilus E618, and the SOLE Fitness SC300 Hybrid Stepper/Elliptical Machine. These machines are all ellipticals that feature hand bars for activating the upper body and core to create a full-body workout. The machines featured a wide variety of design and engineering features which differed in terms of performance.
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Bowflex Max Trainer M5
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Ease of Use
The blue back-lit display is easy on the eyes, and the numbers are large enough to read even during an exceptionally difficult workout. The machine itself has virtually zero impact on joints and is great at activating all the muscle groups the user wishes to target.
Some listings indicate a four-hour assembly time is required, but for us, that was not the case. The machine arrives virtually complete, with minimal steps remaining, and we could follow the included instruction manual with no difficulty.
As we expect from Bowflex, the M5 trainer is a well-designed and well-engineered product. From its ease of assembly to the proven ability to withstand prolonged use, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 can keep pace with any trainer on the market. Also, to our eyes, it was the most attractive elliptical we tested.
Again, keeping with the standard set by Bowflex, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 comes with a solid 2-year warranty.
- Low-impact, high-intensity workout
- Attractive and durable machine
- Great warranty
- Significant investment, though not out of the range of competitor pricing
- Shorter users might have difficulty reaching arm grips
Bowflex Max Trainer M7
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The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is a similar machine to the Bowflex Max Trainer M5. It measures 49″ x 30.5″ on the floor and is 65.5” high. Just 15” plus the user height is the required ceiling space, and maximum user weight is 300 pounds. The M7 is essentially one level up from the M5 in the Bowflex line of elliptical trainers. Like the M5, the M7 features hand bars that can activate the full body in an intense and efficient home workout. The display system on the M7 is an oversized, high-contrast, dual back-lit LCD/LED screen that gives an abundance of readings that enable you to monitor your workout effectively.
The unit is available online through the Bowflex web page and at select sport and fitness retailers.
Ease of Use
The M7 is a more deluxe model than the Bowflex Max Trainer M5, and as a result in this case, it’s not as easy to use. The digital display offers an almost overwhelming flow of information, and we found we were referencing the manual continually to get everything we could from this machine. The display is nice, but we preferred the setup and display flow on the M5 machine.
Added size and features resulted in an increase of assembly time when compared to the Bowflex Max Trainer M5. Like the M5, however, the unit has a good design, and it comes with a clear and easy-to-follow instruction manual.
We didn’t find the M7 to be as attractive overall as the Bowflex Max Trainer M5, and this is a consideration because this unit is likely to occupy a prominent space in your home. This trainer is certainly stable, solid, and well equipped to handle long-term, heavy usage. The additional readout features will be attractive to many users.
The M7 is even better than the M5 in this category, offering a 3-year warranty.
- Deluxe model offers plenty of additional features
- Durable, sturdy design
- Great warranty
- Bigger than the M5
- More expensive
Nautilus E618 Elliptical
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Like the models from Bowflex we tested, the Nautilus E618 Elliptical is an elliptical machine with armbars and grips capable of activating muscle groups in the full body. The machine measures 50” in length by x 21.5” wide with a height of 33.5”. The maximum rated user weight is 350 pounds. The required ceiling height for this unit is the tallest user’s height plus 21 inches. The unit comes with an LCD display, but we found the readouts to be too small for our liking. We found the elliptical action to be acceptable, but overall, this unit felt less stable to us than the Bowflex units we tested.
The Nautilus E618 unit is available through Amazon and other online retailers and at local stores that sell sport and fitness equipment.
Ease of Use
The machine requires a greater ceiling clearance because it puts the user higher above the floor. The result was that we didn’t feel as stable as we did on either of the Bowflex machines. Also, the display had a lot of information but we found it difficult to read.
This machine lacks the superior engineering found on the Bowflex models for quick and efficient assembly. The included manual was unclear and frustrating for our reviewers.
The Nautilus takes up significantly more floor space than the Bowflex Max Trainer M5, and yet it still doesn’t seem as stable. The overall elliptical action of the trainer was effective, but we felt the overall aesthetic of the machine was lacking, too.
Nautilus offers a 15-year warranty on the frame, a 5-year warranty on the electronics, and a 2-year warranty on the labor. This is a great, fully comprehensive warranty.
- Great warranty
- Good overall elliptical action
- Low price
- Machine felt unstable compared to others tested
- Hard to read the display
- Overall, not as attractive a design as competitors’ elliptical trainers
SOLE Fitness SC300 Hybrid Stepper/Elliptical Machine
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The SOLE Fitness SC300 Hybrid Stepper/Elliptical Machine is a trainer that offers 20 levels of incline to adjust the steepness of the workout. This trainer is 18” x 56” and stands 60” tall, with a 350-pound maximum user weight. The machine features a large digital display that seems more suited to a treadmill than an elliptical and wasn’t to our liking. There are also two static handles mounted somewhat awkwardly in front of the display with thumb toggle controls on the top.
This trainer is available on Amazon or from the manufacturer and select local retailers of sport and fitness equipment.
Ease of Use
This machine had the least appealing and useful display of all the machines we tested, and we didn’t like the static handles with the thumb toggle controls. Also, the incline feature on this elliptical seemed unnecessary and didn’t measurably improve the difficulty of our workout.
This machine took us the longest to assemble of all the units we tested. We would recommend paying the additional fee for professional installation on this unit.
The unit is narrow and top-heavy, making it the least stable of all the elliptical trainers we tested. We didn’t like the hand grips as we don’t feel they provided much variety in hand positions.
The SOLE Fitness SC300 Hybrid Stepper/Elliptical Machine features a great warranty. There is a lifetime guarantee on the frame a five-year guarantee on the electronics, a five-year guarantee on the parts, and you receive two years of labor coverage as well
- Great warranty
- Incline feature
- Difficult to assemble
- Unit feels unstable
- Hand grips provide limited variation
A good elliptical trainer should allow the user to achieve a tremendous, full-body, low-impact workout in the comfort of his or her own home. Multi-grip handles attached to the trainer allow the user to activate the core, upper and lower body to achieve a tremendous workout in a minimal amount of time. Trainers typically take up less space than a home gym and engage users aerobically. A good control display can help motivate the user to get the most out of every workout.The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is a compact, stable unit with an effective and smooth elliptical motion. We liked the variety of the hand grips, and the 14-minute interval workout is as efficient a full-body workout as we’ve encountered. The control and display panels on this unit were very intuitive and easy to read. Also, the price point on the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 was very competitive and represents good value for money spent.
Three Other Worthy Competitors for Best Trainer in this Class
The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is slightly larger and considerably more expensive than the Bowflex Max Trainer M5. The M7 offers additional features to the M5, but with the additional features comes an additional level of complexity. The design, engineering, and durability of this unit were up to the Bowflex standard, but we preferred the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 for affordability and ease of use.The Nautilus E618 Elliptical had effective elliptical action, but the overall design of the machine meant that it had to occupy a greater amount of floor space. Even though the Nautilus E618 Elliptical is longer than either of the Bowflex models we tested, it requires the user to operate at a higher position. The result was that the machine did not feel stable. The display was too small for our liking, and the machine required a greater ceiling height than the others tested.The SOLE Fitness SC300 Hybrid Stepper/Elliptical Machine had an incline feature we didn’t like and featured a display that reminded us of an “off-brand” digital watch more than typical, high-quality trainer displays. The lack of a variety of grip positions on the hand grips didn’t impress us, and we weren’t fans of the static bars in front of the display screen with the thumb toggle controls. Overall, this was our least favorite of the trainers we tested.The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 represented the best combination of features, quality, and competitive pricing among the trainers we tested. We loved the compact nature of this trainer, and the included workout programs were as effective in activating full body muscle groups as anything we tested. The control panel was easy to operate, and the display contained easy-to-read, relevant information. The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 also looks good and will make a great centerpiece in any home fitness area.