Bowflex makes three Max Trainers—the M6, M9, and Max Total 16. The Max Total 16 is the most advanced model in the lineup, and one of the most equipped ellipticals you can buy right now. Of course, the extra tech comes at a cost, but if you're looking for a connected machine that provides a low-impact cardio workout, it may be worth the investment.
In this Bowflex Max Total 16 Review, the ACTIVE Reviews Team highlights the features of this luxury machine, going through each one in detail and calling out the pros and cons. We also provide recommendations on who we think should buy it and who should skip it, as well as answer some commonly asked questions about the cardio machine.
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A Quick Look at the Bowflex Max Total 16
- Weight: 155.4 lbs.
- Dimensions: 49.3"L x 30.8"W x 65.7"H
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs.
- Resistance levels: 20
- Screen size: 16"
Bowflex has been a leader in the fitness space since it introduced its first home gym, the Bowflex 2000X, in 1986. While the company still makes (much more advanced) home gyms, it has expanded into a full line of exercise equipment, including adjustable dumbbells, treadmills, spin bikes and specially designed ellipticals called Max Trainers.
Unlike other elliptical machines that have a fully horizontal stride, the Max Trainers are more of a hybrid elliptical and stair stepper in one. The stride is partly vertical and partly horizontal, which maximizes your effort and gives you a killer lower-body burn. There are three Max Trainers available, and the Max Total 16 is the top-of-the-line model. It is the most expensive of the bunch, but it's also loaded with features. Let's take a look.
What We Like
- Large, interactive touchscreen
- Vertical design with smaller footprint
- 20 levels of resistance
- Bluetooth and WiFi enabled
- Oversized pedals that accommodate most feet comfortably
- Solid construction
- Wheels in front for better portability
What We Don't Like
- Requires a JRNY subscription for full functionality
BUY: Bowflex Max Total 16
A Closer Look at the Bowflex Max Total 16
Design and Display
The Max Total 16 is designed to give you a low-impact elliptical-style workout but in a much smaller package. Most full-size ellipticals take up a lot of horizontal floor space, but this has a smaller footprint while still engaging similar muscle groups.
The total footprint is 49.3 inches long by 30.8 inches wide by 65.7 inches tall. Because the design is largely vertical, it needs a larger overhead clearance than other elliptical machines. The brand recommends a ceiling height of at least 15 inches more than the tallest user's height.
At 16 inches, the display is the biggest in the lineup, and it's fully color and a touchscreen, so you can easily navigate through workouts. There are six-position handlebars that allow you to adjust your grip to engage your upper body in different ways, plus oversized textured pedals that work for most foot sizes. There are also Bluetooth hand grips and speakers and a media shelf to hold your phone or a tablet.
This machine has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. All of the Max Trainers actually have a similar design with the same weight capacity. The machine itself weighs 155.4 pounds and has wheels in the front that make it easier to roll out of the way for storage.
The Max Total 16 is Bluetooth-enabled, so you can connect smart devices or a heart rate monitor (it comes with a heart rate armband, too). There are also integrated contact grips in the handlebars so you can measure your heart rate without a separate monitor.
It's iOS and Android compatible, and fully WiFi enabled—you actually need to connect it to WiFi to use the integrated workout app JRNY on the touchscreen. There's also a USB charging port so you can power up your devices during your workout if you need to.
At a retail price of about $2,500, this is one of the most expensive machines in Bowflex's lineup. It's about $500 more than the M9 and $1,000 more than the M6, the brand's entry-level model. It's also one of the most expensive elliptical machines you can buy. On average, you can expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,000 for an elliptical. However, machines with larger screens and better tech capabilities, like the M16, often cost more than average.
BUY: Bowflex Max Total 16
Bowflex Max Trainer 16 Features
The Max Total 16 is the most feature-rich of all the Max Trainer models. It has a 16-inch HD touchscreen that can fully connect to WiFi to stream workouts and/or your favorite streaming services. It's also equipped with Bowflex Radio, so you can listen to tunes instead of watching a show. The touchscreen is adjustable, so you can tilt it to get the ideal viewing angle for you.
There are 20 levels of resistance that you can control via the touchscreen or a large turn dial that's situated on the front of the machine. If you don't sign up for the JRNY membership, you'll have access to three pre-programmed workouts and a manual mode. The JRNY subscription gives you access to additional features like on-demand classes, real-time coaching, milestone and goal tracking, curated music playlists, and streaming services.
Bowflex Max Trainer 16 Construction
The Bowflex Max Trainer 16 is built to take up less space. It has a vertical design that minimizes the footprint, while also ensuring the machine stays stable as you use it. The body of the elliptical sits on two steel beams that are connected to front and rear steel stabilizers. Four easy-to-adjust levelers are positioned under the stabilizer beams. It also has wheels in the front of the machine to make it easier to move if needed.
Bowflex Max Trainer 16 Workouts
The Bowflex Max Trainer 16 comes loaded with three workout programs: fat burn, calorie burn. and stairs. You can also operate the machine manually, controlling resistance as you go. However, the real draw of a machine of this caliber is the streaming workouts you access if you subscribe to Bowflex's fitness app, JRNY.
If you do, you'll get access to hundreds of virtual, trainer-led workouts that you can stream on demand. There are all types of classes, from HIIT to recovery and endurance, as well as immersive experiences that take you through more than 200 virtual workouts in global locations. The workouts are also adaptive, so the more you use the machine, the more it will track (and adapt) to your current fitness level. JRNY also supports the most popular streaming services, like Netflix and HBO Max, so you can watch shows or movies while you're following along with a workout.
JRNY does require a monthly or yearly subscription, though. It's $149 if you pay for the year in full or $20 per month. The subscription applies to all Bowflex machines, so if you have a treadmill and a Max Trainer, you can sign in on both. It also allows unlimited users, so your whole household can share one subscription.
Who Should Try the Bowflex Max Trainer 16?
- Those who want a smart cardio machine
- People who want an immersive fitness app
- Anyone looking for a compact elliptical machine
- Those who like larger screens on their cardio equipment
Who Shouldn't Try the Bowflex Max Trainer 16?
- People who don't want to pay for a fitness app
- Anyone looking for a basic cardio machine
- People on a strict budget
Is the Bowflex Max Trainer 16 worth it?
If you want the benefits of an elliptical workout and you value fancy tech, the Bowflex Max Trainer 16 is worth it. It has an enormous screen and 20 resistance levels, plus it fully supports streaming services so you can watch your favorite shows as you work out. If you don't care as much about the screen size, you can downgrade to the M9, which has similar features but a 9-inch touchscreen.
The Bowflex Max Total 16 is a high-end elliptical machine that works best with its companion app, JRNY. If you're looking for a well-built machine with a large touchscreen that supports immersive workouts, this is a good option for you (as long as you don't mind paying an ongoing subscription fee). If you want a budget-friendly elliptical for basic workouts and don't want to pay extra for tech, you may want to look elsewhere.
FAQs About Bowflex Max Trainers
Does Bowflex Max Trainer help you lose weight?
The Bowflex Max Trainer is a cardio machine that burns calories and engages the muscles in both your upper and lower body. Because of this, it can definitely help you lose weight when used consistently. When weight loss is your goal, it's important to make sure you're paying attention to your diet and other lifestyle factors, like proper sleep, too.
Can you use Bowflex Max Trainer without a subscription?
You can use the Bowflex Max Trainer without a subscription but the features are very limited. It comes with three pre-programmed workouts and a manual mode, but you won't be able to follow along with immersive exercises on the large screen. The streaming capabilities are also integrated with JRNY so you won't be able to access that feature either.
Is Bowflex harder than Peloton?
Bowflex and Peloton provide the same type of workout. They can both be equally hard or easy, depending on which streaming workout you pick and/or how much resistance you have on the machine. Peloton only offers a bike and a treadmill though. Bowflex offers these as well, along with the Max Trainer and other strength-training equipment.
Is the Bowflex Max Trainer hard on your knees?
The Bowflex Max Trainer is designed to give you a low-impact workout that's easier on your knees than higher-impact activities like running. Ellipticals also place the knee joint in a more desirable angle to help reduce the load on the joint.(1) That being said, if you have knee problems, always check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
- Paquette, M. R., Zucker-Levin, A., DeVita, P., Hoekstra, J., & Pearsall, D. (2015). Lower limb joint angular position and muscle activity during elliptical exercise in healthy young men. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 31(1), 19-27.
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