Bowflex has come out with a cardiovascular machine called a TreadClimber. There are 3 models available. This essay will attempt to sort them out for you and tell you some features of Bowflex that may not be available on other machines. However be aware many features are available on other less expensive machines. It is beyond the scope of this review to compare brands. This is addressing the Bowflex brand only.
The Bowflex guarantee:
Bowflex machines are designed and engineered in the USA. They guarantee satisfaction. Use the machine for up to 6 weeks and if you are not satisfied with the results, it can be returned. You will get a full refund but shipping and handling will not be refunded. You must call the Customer Service Department at 888-3467068 to get a return authorization. Note that Bowflex must receive your machine no later than 2 weeks after the return authorization is given.
The models have different warranties which I will note below.
Bowflex’s TreadClimbers use a combination of movements. They allow you to walk forward, as you would on a traditional treadmill, and step up, as you would do on a stepper. The concept makes sense. We know that interval training (switching speeds, height levels and resistance levels during your cardio workout) is a more effective way to train. Interval training forces your heart rate up faster than staying at one level. In addition it is thought that the changes from one level to another increases your heart rate. For example if I am on a traditional treadmill power walking at 4 miles per hour with some incline my heart is going to be pumping hard. If I do this for 3 minutes and then bring the incline down and slow my walking down, my heart rate decreases. However after 2 minutes at that level I bring it back up again, my heart is working hard to get back up there. That is the theory behind interval training in my own words. So the TreadClimber essentially uses interval training by combining two different cardio machines in one. Another type of interval training is to go from one machine to another, let’s say after 20 minutes. With the TreadClimber you have two in one.
How the TreadClimber works:
The TreadClimber has two platforms rather than a single flat walking surface you find on a treadmill. Each platform rises separately. As I put my foot on the left platform it goes down while the right one goes up. If you have used stair steppers you know that you are going up and down in a straight line. Steppers are my least favorite cardio piece (other than a skier). The TreadClimber is different. There is a gradual hill climbing movement that I find is really easy on my knees.
You may think there are some similarities between the TreadClimber and elliptical machines but they are really very different. When I am on an elliptical my feet are locked into the foot pad. I like elliptical machines but if you have feet problems and find your toes or feet becoming numb you might want to think of using something else. The TreadClimber gives my feet a natural range of motion. My feet can move around although the platform is much narrower than on a treadmill.
Bowflex uses a high grade carbon steel construction. Bowflex was the manufacturer of Nautilus Commercial Fitness equipment for 30 years and claims the steel is the same as that typically found in gyms.
The price varies by machine. I will tell you what they cost per month. Bowflex has a no-money-down financing plan available (800-269-3539). (I do not represent, sell or know anyone in the Bowflex business.) You can try the TreadClimber for 30 days and return it if you are not satisfied.
All Bowflex machines have the same frame design though the frames are different sizes. Each model is a little different than the other. All three come with a training manual, an instructional video, the “Fast Fat Loss” TreadClimber Body Leanness Program by Ellington Darden, Ph.D. The most expensive TreadClimber also comes with a machine mat intended to put under the machine to protect floors and carpets. It retails for $99.
The machine you choose may be based on price, features, or size or comfort.
Bowflex TreadClimber TC 1000 costs $25.00 per month ($1499). It is 46 inches long by 28.5 inches wide by 55 inches high. The maximum weight is 300 pounds. The speed goes from .5 to 3.8 miles per hour (MPH). You can track 3 functions. They are speed, time and distance. The console is very simple. There is no magazine rack or water bottle holders. It is the only machine that has arrow buttons on both the right and left sides of the console for ease in adjusting the speed. It has a 1 year warranty.
Bowflex TreadClimber TC 3000 costs $35.00 per month ($1799). It measures the same as the 1000. The weight capacity is the same however the speed starts at .7 mph and goes up to 4.0mph. In addition it has 6 functions that you can track. They are speed, time, distance, calories burned, calories per minute and total steps. Unlike the 1000 the 3000 has an ergonomic console. The console is very nice with places for water, cell phones and a magazine rack. It has a 3 year warranty.
Bowflex TreadClimber TC 5000 costs $45 per month ($2199). It measures the same as those above and the weight capacity is the same at 300 pounds. The speed is the same as the 3000. It goes from .7 to 4.0. It has 8 functions Speed, Time, Distance, Calories Burned, Calories-Per-Minute and Total Steps as well as the only one with a heart rate display and climb indicator. It is also the only one with a quick start feature. The 5000 like the 3000 has an ergonomic console. The console is similar to but more sophisticated than the TC 3000 because of the added functions displayed. It has a 5 year warranty.
All three models have a safety key on the console. If you have balance problems, are a senior with an increased risk of breaking bones if you fall, have a medical risk such as a seizure disorder I would suggest using the key. If you attach it to yourself and start to fall the machine will stop. Falling on a moving machine is not something you want to have happen!
I was a Personal Trainer. These are my thoughts:
There is a major flaw design with these three models. I have not recommended any of them. It is the way the resistance works. Resistance is what makes the machine easier or harder to tread on. It doesn't make the machine go fast or slow. Each machine has that ability on the console. Most machines that have a resistance ability have arrows on the console so I can change the resistance from 1 - 12 which are the levels on the TreadClimber. However the TreadClimber does not put arrows on the console. Rather there is a knob above each piston (the hydraulic system) on the machine. I have tried to adjust them while slowing down almost to a stop but that is unsafe. In fact Bowflex recommends that I get off the machine in order to change the resistance.
I get off and turn the knobs. They turn easily so I can turn them from 1 - 12. However I do not want to get off the machine. Though I like interval training and work at different speeds and resistance levels including treading slowly, stopping completely is not an option for me if I were spending this kind of money on a machine. That is the reason that I am not recommending the TreadClimber. Bowflex, if you read this, I'd love to know why you designed this machine this way and urge you to change the design!
I have attempted to lay out the differences among the three Bowflex TreadClimber models. However these are not complete reviews. They are an attempt to give you a bird’s eye view of the major differences and similarities to help you make a decision.
I believe Bowflex makes good machines but they fall flat on these because of the resistance function. If you love this machine and don't expect to change the resistance during a workout my personal opinion is that if you are looking at the 1000, for $10 more a month you get a little more speed, functions and a nicer console. If you have the money for the 5000, that is the best of the lot. It would be on the top of my list of best machines if I could change resistance levels on the console.
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