Bowflex Max Trainer M9 Review: Does it Live up to the Hype?

Bowflex Max Trainer M9 Review: Does it Live up to the Hype?

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The Max Trainer is no news to those who are into home fitness. It has been a favorite for gym goers for quite some time now, as it combines an elliptical machine and a stair stepper into one zero-impact hybrid that’s capable of burning 2.5x the calories.

Bowflex M9 is the latest addition to their Max Instructor lineup. The updated model comes with a new 10” touchscreen HD display (replaces a 9.6” Galaxy Tab E of the M8), which opens up all kinds of exercise opportunities. The model also expands on the brands commitment to online training through the JRNY digital fitness platform, offering a free two-month trial with every purchase.

Entering the market at around $1,999 at the time of writing, it seems like a great bargain, especially when compared to more expensive competitors. Still, the M9 does come with a wide range of features and benefits for users of any fitness level. Whether it’s one user or an entire family, the M9 is designed as a multipurpose fitness machine.

In other words, if you’re in the market for a new Limit Trainer that you can not only enjoy to use but also effective, then the Bowflex Max Trainer M9 is a perfect choice. But is it really worth your money? Well, in this review, we’ll discuss everything the M9 has to offer and make a recommendation on who should buy it.

Bowflex Max Trainer M9: New Features and Upgrades

a side profile of a woman working out on the new model

Max Trainers are just some of the several innovations that the company has developed over the years. From their original offering, the home gyms aptly named Power Rod to the VeloCore Bike, the company has made a name for itself for thinking outside the box.

It’s actually refreshing to see a company that continually pushes the envelope, especially in an industry like home fitness where it often feels like it’s the same old machines everywhere you look. Limit trainers are part of the many technologies that Bowflex has actually produced over the years.

One of the most obvious distinctions you will instantly notice on the M9 compared to the M8 is the larger touchscreen display. This is quite a welcome feature considering that the M9 is cheaper than the M8 (more on that later). There are also some nice upgrades, such as the oversized pedals, steel resistance dial, workout tracking for unlimited users, and transport wheels.

Apart from this, fans of the previous model will easily recognize the same basic idea of a high intensity, non-impactful, cardio performance design.

Why I Love the Max Trainer: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Designed to give the user a high-intensity yet low-impact workout, the M9 essentially answers the question of how you can do HIIT workouts without damaging your tendons or joints. While even the most cushioned of treadmills will still result in some bounce to the feet, Max Trainers are designed to provide a smooth motion by the way of air and magnetic resistance.

The motion of the trainer is such that it combines the movement associated with an elliptical and a stair climber, which in turn makes for a more comprehensive body workout. While elevating the heart rate is vital for cardio, moving fast without injury is key. With this in mind, the M9 promises a solid workout in less than 14 minutes, allowing for intensity bursts instead of allowing users to coast along with the machine’s motion, and avoid injury from poor form.

Pros of the Bowflex M9

  • 10-inch Touchscreen, HD Display
  • Interactive online training through the JRNY Digital Fitness Platform
  • Premium media rack for holding keys, phones, tablets, or any other devices
  • 20 levels of air and magnetic resistance
  • Four separate grip handles that allow users to change their hands position during workouts. This is something to consider considering the total body focus on this machine
  • Integrated heart rate monitors on the handlebars as well as an included Bluetooth armband. This lets you track your cardio without much worry
  • Only weighs 148 pounds when fully assembled
  • Compact frame at 49.2 inches x 30.5 inches x 65.1 inches, and weighing in at 148 pounds. This makes its ideal for just about any home, and can be moved around rather easily
  • Large, textured pedals
  • USB charging port
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Great pricing – The M9 is competitively priced, and it’s rather easy to come across deals where a free workout mat and shipping is provided with every purchase. Bowflex also regularly provides other specials


The provided warranty is only three years for parts and the frame, and a 90-days warranty for labor. This is quite short, especially in comparison to what the competition offers

  • The machine lacks a cooling fan in the console
  • There are considerably fewer workout programs in favor of the app
  • You need to have a stable internet connection to use the JRNY app
  • Subscription to the JRNY app will set you back $19.99 a month or $149 per year

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How The M9 Works with JRNY App

picking a JRNY workout on the built in HD screen

Every purchase comes with a 6-month free trial of the JRNY Digital Fitness app. This is essentially a dynamic workout app that can be accessed on a variety of devices for remote exercise and analysis. It comes complete with features like fitness assessments, virtual workouts from all around the world, workouts designed to adapt to your performance and goals, virtual coaching, trainer-led videos, and connectivity to live streaming entertainment formats like Amazon Prime Video.

The integrated touchscreen display makes it a lot easier to use the app, including making selections and seeing the metrics during exercises. It also functions really well with displaying the virtual locations accessible through JRNY.

While it’s optional to sign up for JRNY, the app will give you access to unlimited exercises as needed. The workouts are ideally instructor-led and custom made for you. You can be coached while watching your application of choice. There are also 4 basic exercise programs included in your purchase that you can access without subscribing to the JRNY app.

Speaking of, you can access up to 50 or more picturesque paths from locations all over the world, which make it seem as though you’re running in an exotic or gorgeous place. You can also track all of your workout metrics along with your established objectives, and even see individual bests. You can also strap in the included Bluetooth armband or grab onto the handles to check your heart rate.

Entertainmentwise, the touchscreen gives you access to a number of in-built apps that you could watch during workouts. These include Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+, etc. However, note that you will need to have your own subscription for each.

Some users have complained that the console could be more user-friendly when it comes to using these apps in the device, but this is something that Bowflex could work on and fix with future software updates.

Specs and Dimensions

Perhaps one of the most compelling aspects about Limit Trainers is just how portable they are. Unlike ellipticals and treadmills, these HIIT equipment usually don’t take up a lot of space, which makes them ideal for apartments and smaller homes.

The M9 ideally takes up a footprint of only 49.2 ″ L x 30.5 ″ W. In terms of ceiling elevation, Bowflex claims that 15” is the minimal ceiling elevation you should have to avoid any form of head injuries. And while the framework is quite compact on the M9, it doesn’t mean that they have compromised on its structural integrity.

The frame is sturdily built, and comes with a weight limit of 300lb, which is quite remarkable for any form of home workout machine. The machine itself only weighs 148 pounds, making it stable enough to remain put during exercise, while not too heavy such that it would require a permanent position.

The machine comes with 20 levels of resistance, both air and magnetic. With this in mind, users of any level will be able to test their limits on the machine. When it comes to the overall conditioning, these trainers are quite tough to beat. The ability to reach maximum speed with bursts of HIIT or remain in one long, slow ride is a welcome plus. Novice users can advance well into the upper levels of fitness without needing to change the equipment.

Heart Rate sensors come integrated into the handlebars, and the machine also comes with a Bluetooth HR armband. We all know that no matter the fitness level, the importance of tracking the heart rate cannot be overstated when doing exercises. Most of the users who are looking for a trainer know this, and you will be happy to know that heart rate tracking is included in the purchase.

M9 Price: Is it Worth it?

Fans of ellipticals aren’t strangers to the sheer number of benefits the Max Trainer M9 can offer. The pricing for the M9 starts at $1,999, which is a great bargain considering what it offers. A similar machine, the NordicTrack FS10i FreeStride Trainer starts at $2,499. While the M9 doesn’t ring as many proverbial bells and whistles as the more expensive offerings, the M9 remains to be a reputable machine for its operational efficiency and sheer performance.

And as mentioned earlier, the new model is cheaper than the model it replaces, the M8, though the switch from an included table to a screen seems to be the reason. The only real drawback here is the limited 3-year warranty, which is quite short for a machine of this level of complexity and price.

*Pricing current at the time of publication – see most up-to-date prices at Bowflex website

Final Tips for Deciding if You Should Buy an M9

  • ­Is the Bowflex M9 Worth It?

Based on our independent testing and review, we think so. We like the fact that it’s priced lower than its predecessor, and that it’s a solid machine with a remarkable app package and inbuilt programs. It can easily handle any user regardless of their fitness level.

  • Is it good for beginners?

Undoubtedly yes. The M9 features a virtually unlimited range in terms of programming, which means that it’s quite hard to outgrow the machine. However, keep in mind that the easier and slower workouts are afforded here just as readily as the advanced ones.

  • Will it require WiFi?

While the trainer itself will work well without an internet connection, the JRNY fitness app along with all its related programming will require an active internet connection.

  • Can it Pair to other devices and applications?

While the machine comes with its own heart rate monitoring systems, it’s evidently built to work with JRNY. However, MyFitnessPal and GoogleFit will sync with the machine seamlessly.

  • Does it come with a warranty?

Bowflex ideally backs the M9 with a 3-year warranty for the frame, 3-year warranty for parts, and 90-day warranty for labor.

The Bottom Line…

The Bowflex range of Max Trainers is a great line of cardio equipment that are a great choice for anyone looking to move away from treadmills and ellipticals. The M9, just like the others, is designed to use HIIT to maximize the amount of calories you burn in a short amount of time.

And as Limit Trainers go, the M9 is one of the most technologically advanced ones. The large touchscreen display works perfectly with the JRNY application, which gives you an unlimited workout opportunity and home entertainment alternatives, so long as you don’t mind paying the membership price. For those who would rather not pay for the JRNY subscription, we do not recommend the M9. Why? Well, much of the cool features will require using the JRNY application.

Technology aside, the M9 is well-built and can deliver terrific workouts for the whole family, no matter the fitness level. We liked the extra large pedals and the multi-grip handles account for the different workout requirements. Such attributes, combined with the fact that the overall package is compact, makes this one of the best Limit Trainers for home use.

Our biggest complaint would be the short warranty, which is arguably limited for a machine of this complexity and price point. However, we have no doubts that it will do the job.