As you may know, we’re currently exhibiting at the Ideal Home Show at Olympia London, and on the opening day we had a visitor to the stand who had a little something to say about his experience with the renowned Bowflex Max Trainer M5. Meet Philip Herlihy! We took this opportunity to find out a bit more about Philip’s story, and just what makes this machine so special…
Which Max Trainer do you own, and how long have you had it?
I own the Max Trainer M5, which I’ve had for just five months.
What did you do for exercise prior to owning your Max Trainer?
I had a reasonably decent elliptical for over ten years, though in recent years I’d slowed right down and was only using it for about five minutes per day (still very much better than nothing!), on a very low setting.
How often do you use the Max Trainer?
About every other day, though it varies. Admittedly more, rather than less, lately!
How has the Max Trainer impacted on your life?
It’s no exaggeration to say it has transformed my life. I’m 64, overweight, and was getting used to the idea of slowing down. As I’d puff grudgingly up the stairs at the tube station, I’d eye the lift, and wonder how soon I’d be overcoming the residual shame which kept me from using it. Now I run up them – several flights in fact! Though two at a time still feels tough at the moment.
The first time I tried the Max Trainer using the (defining) Smart-Max programme, I couldn’t get more than half-way through it, and I seriously wondered if I’d ever do better. On the second day I reached the full 14 minutes – and was wasted all day. Except that later that day I spontaneously ran up the stairs, for the first time in over ten years. I learned that week not to work out every day, but once I’d got that, I went from strength to strength. Now a full 14 minute Smart-Max workout leaves me energised instead of tired out, and I sometimes start it again and do some more, though I do still have to pace myself. I feel at least ten years younger. It is the best money I have ever spent. I’m not an old man anymore!
What is your favourite thing about the Max Trainer?
It’s not just one thing, it’s the whole package, and that’s what I really want to get across. The Max Trainer is designed around High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I’d heard of that – you run fast for a bit, then slow for a while, but anything remotely like that was way too hard for me, given my age and weight. Outside a lab environment it’s just about impossible to set the right intensity, and timing. Anything other than a gentle, short workout would leave me feeling ill and defeated.
Once you’ve entered your personal stats into the Max Trainer, it sets you carefully calibrated personalised targets for both time and intensity that in my case were obviously exactly right – both stretching and achievable. You work like mad for just over 20 seconds, thinking the first few times “I’ll never get through this”. Then you realise that the display is counting 6, 5, 4…, the bell dings three times, and the target drops to something less challenging. “I can’t do another one of those!” you’re thinking, but after 90 seconds or so, you’re ready to go again.
So within days, my five-minute soft workout became a 14-minute vigorous one – and I was loving it. The machine indicates your target burn-rate zone with a group of LEDs that sweep around the display for each phase of the chosen workout programme, and it’s up to you to push the needle (like a speedo) into that indicated zone. With the Smart-Max programme, the machine adjusts the resistance to help you do it, and it’s just so motivating! The combination of the personalised targets, the measured intervals, the natural movement action, and the irresistible challenge of driving that needle up the scale makes this machine such a winner.
What differentiates the Max Trainer M3, M5 and M7?
I downloaded all three manuals to make a comparison of the M3, M5 and M7 – which is new and exclusive to Fitness Superstore – and have shared my comparison of the three models, and a comparative chart of the programmes available, on the (unofficial) Bowflex Max Trainer Facebook group.
In summary, the M3 is a perfectly good option if you’re looking to keep the cost down, though don’t be afraid to splash out on an M5 or better still, the M7, as you’ll certainly use the extra facilities. I doubt many who buy the newest model will regret the difference in cost, given how important it rapidly becomes as part of your life! Something of a new life for me, even.
What advice would you give to someone looking to invest in new cardio equipment, such as the Max Trainer?
The short version? Buy one. It’s the best value for money I’ve ever had – and what value for money it is!