An Unpaid, Unbiased Review of the Bowflex Revolution – What Bowflex Doesn’t Tell You

I recently purchased Bowflex’s new entry to the home gym market – the Revolution.

Before I get started, I want to let you know that I am not a Bowflex employee – never have been. I am not being compensated for this article; I am just a fitness enthusiast that wanted to share my experience with you so you can make an intelligent buying decision when it comes to this unit.

I was disappointed that you couldn’t try the machine out before purchasing it – I bought a Smooth Fitness Elliptical machine that fell short of the mark about a year ago without having a chance to use it first, but that’s another article. I would strongly recommend that you use and get comfortable with any piece of exercise equipment before investing in it. In Bowflex’s case, that’s not possible – something the executives over there should seriously think about. Bowflex allows you to try the machine out for 6 weeks, but let’s be honest guys – the machine comes in five gigantic boxes. Re-boxing all of the equipment in the exact boxes that it came in and getting it ready to be shipped is going to be a painful, arduous task I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Before you make any buying decisions, I suggest you look online for nonbiased reviews like this one. Look for professional trainer’s opinions as well as amateurs like me. Here are a couple of points I thought you should know about before you decide to buy…

The Bowflex Revolution would be a good fit for you:

  • If you have a home office and or if you want convenience
  • If you dislike fighting the primetime crowds at the gym, which begin to amass at about 5:00 PM and go until about 7:30 PM
  • If you have ample room in your home
  • If you are an intermediate or advanced user – or you have a professional trainer get you started; I’ve been lifting weights for years and it took me a little time to get used to it
  • If you are either strong or don’t plan on moving the machine: this machine is heavy and it’s bulky. It does have a foldaway feature, but it does require a fair amount of strength. Moving and folding away the machine can be dangerous for most people, my suggestion to you is not to move it or fold it up unless necessary – even then, be careful.
  • PROS:

  • The overall range of motion was quite smooth, there was constant resistance throughout the exercise, for many of the exercises I found it to be comparable to professional gym equipment
  • Versatility – if you are an experienced weight trainer, the amount of exercises and variations is only limited to your imagination
  • Convenience – no, the Revolution can’t compete with going to the gym, but if this is what you’ve got to work with, it’s the next best thing
  • The machine makes little noise
  • Customer service was friendly and easy to reach
  • The plates are compact and extremely lightweight
  • CONS:

    • Bulky, heavy machine, don’t move it or lift it unless it’s necessary
    • Switching attachments and adding plates can be a little bit of a nuisance but you can get quicker with this over time. Don’t be fooled by the commercials and DVD, it’s not that easy to move from exercise to exercise – but you will get faster over time.
    • There is a learning curve with the exercises, have some patience when you first get the machine. It took me about 2-3 work outs before I started to feel comfortable and efficient
    • The markings on the plates should have been more obvious. The graphics look good on the plates but the numbers should have been larger so they are readable from a distance. Perhaps they might have color coded them.
    • I often had to check to see how much weight I had on each side of the machine – too bad there wasn’t a display on the front of the machine that told you how much resistance there was on each arm
    • Bowflex is slow in sending out the order, they indicated they would provide an email and a phone call when the unit shipped – they did neither in my case
    • Putting the Revolution took about 1.5 – 2 hours to do. It does require some ingenuity and elbow grease to get everything assembled. When I was done I needed a shower and a long break.
    • The bench has only 2 positions: incline and flat, no variations in between
    • Attaching the footplate leg press accessory is a pain in the rear. It’s bulky and it’s heavy. For some people, attaching the footplate can be dangerous.

    Here’s the Bottom Line:

  • Can the Bowflex compete with the machines found at your local fitness gym – no. But in all fairness, the Bowflex while a little bulky, doesn’t require 3500 square feet to be effective.
  • The Revolution is the best home exercise machine in it’s price range and size
  • Yes, knowing what I know now about the Revolution, I still would have purchased it. It was a pain in the butt to assemble, find room for and learn to use, but I think it’s a quality machine. There are certainly some drawbacks to the machine, but for under $3000 and still fitting in a normal size home – this was a good buy for the intermediate/advanced fitness enthusiast that either can’t get to the gym or wants to supplement his/his workouts. I hope this article has been helpful to you, best of luck in your decision.