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Bowflex Max Trainer M9 review: A huge cardio workout that’s small enough to fit anywhere

Updated Oct 22nd, 2021 1:09PM EDT
Image: Bowflex

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Countless Americans have spent the past year starting or building out their home gyms. It obviously goes without saying that going to a communal gym in the midst of a pandemic caused by an airborne disease is ill-advised. With that in mind, people have turned to home gym gear in order to get in shape or stay in shape. After all, not even a global pandemic is a good enough excuse to ignore your overall health, and exercise is one of the most important factors in staying healthy.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the gym. On one hand, I love having access to dozens of different machines so my workouts never get stale. I can also see why people love exercise classes so much, since working out in a group can really help keep you motivated. But the beauty of modern home gym gear is that pretty much everything has a screen built in these days, plus you can use one of several popular interactive exercise services on your tablet or TV. You get the same effect as working out in a class and you have a great trainer to lead your workouts, but you can do it on your own time in the comfort of your own home. And now, I’ve found what has quickly become my new favorite piece of home gym equipment: The hot new Bowflex Max Trainer M9 that so many people are buzzing about.

Bowflex Max Trainer M9 — High Intensity Total-Body Cardio Bowflex Max Trainer M9 — High Intensity Total-Body Cardio $1,999.00 Available from a partner

I’m fortunate in that I have a nice big finished basement with a layout that’s perfect for building the ultimate home gym. Of course, that doesn’t mean I have an unlimited amount of space, and things are starting to get a bit cramped down there.

The biggest piece of equipment I have is the Bowflex Blaze Home Gym that I love so much. It’s wonderfully versatile so it’s definitely worth all the space it takes up. There’s also a big treadmill down there, an exercise bike, and an awesome NordicTrack rower. On top of all that, my FightCamp punching bag takes up plenty of space since I need to be able to move around it.

Each piece of equipment I have is crucial to my routine, but there’s one particular gap that I’ve really wanted to fill. I have chronic ankle and foot issues that prevent me from doing any high-impact exercises, which is why I love ellipticals so much. You get a better aerobic exercise than walking on a treadmill without any stomping or even stepping. It’s perfect for me, but there’s one main reason I never got an elliptical for my home: They’re huge.

I’ve always viewed the elliptical as the biggest puzzle piece that’s missing from my home gym, but I accepted the fact that these great machines simply have too big a footprint to make sense for me. I would definitely need to at least get rid of my rower in order to fit one in, but I don’t want to lose that terrific core and upper body workout.

That’s when Bowflex reached out to me and asked if I was interested in testing the Bowflex Max Trainer M9.

Image source: Bowflex

It was like a lightbulb going off above my head. How had I never thought of this before?! Machines like the ones in Bowflex’s Max Trainer series essentially combine an elliptical with a step climber, giving you the benefits of both workouts in a footprint that’s so much smaller than any top-rated elliptical. Long story short, I couldn’t say yes fast enough when Bowflex asked if I wanted to test one.

Bowflex Max Trainer M9 — High Intensity Total-Body Cardio Bowflex Max Trainer M9 — High Intensity Total-Body Cardio $1,999.00 Available from a partner

Bowflex’s new Max Trainer M9 is a recent addition to the company’s lineup that takes everything people love so much about earlier Max Trainers and adds a nice big 10-inch HD touchscreen console. With it, you get access to the JRNY digital fitness platform for great interactive workouts in the same vein as Peloton.

We’ve discussed JRNY a few times before here on the site, most recently when I reviewed the Bowflex VeloCore Bike. It’s a terrific service that gives you access to a wide range of on-demand workouts led by professional trainers. There are also all sorts of metrics available to track your progress along the way. Or, if you’d rather do your own thing, you can access all your favorite streaming on the screen, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney+.

The machine itself is extremely sturdy and is built with the quality we’ve come to expect from Bowflex products. It also has some fantastic bells and whistles like 4-grip handlebars that monitor your heart rate no matter where you grip them, oversized pedals with terrific non-slip texture, and a built-in media shelf along with integrated Bluetooth speakers.

Even more important, of course, is the fact that the Trainer M9 gives you a fantastic full-body workout. Max Trainers are all about high-intensity interval training that burns more calories than you would on a treadmill or a conventional elliptical, yet it’s still low impact so it’s not tough on your feet, ankles, joints, legs, or back. 20 different resistance levels ensure that you’re always going to get a fantastic workout, regardless of your skillset and strength.

The bottom line is that the Bowflex Max Trainer M9 is a fantastic addition to any home gym. It pulls double duty, replacing an elliptical and a stair climber with one compact machine. The small footprint is a huge benefit here, since the Max Trainer M9 can fit in tight spaces where other workout gear cannot. It’s about much more than just saving space, however. You also get a wonderfully complete workout that’s strenuous without being high impact, and awesome interactive classes if you decide to join JRNY.

Trust me, this machine is going to kick your butt in the best possible way. It’s available right now on Bowflex’s website for $1,999.

Bowflex Max Trainer M9 — High Intensity Total-Body Cardio Bowflex Max Trainer M9 — High Intensity Total-Body Cardio $1,999.00 Available from a partner
Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.