Test of the Bowflex Max Trainer M9: virtual jogging with a smart cross trainer

As nice as it can be to jog in the woods in the spring or summer – those who suffer from hay fever usually have little joy. On average, it rains almost every three days in Germany, and it can get quite cold in the winter. It is no wonder that many people prefer to go to the gym and work out with a crosstrainer (advice), treadmill (advice) or bicycle ergometer (advice).

It is much more comfortable to play sports at home – as long as there is enough space. Of Bowflex Max Trainer M9 With its compact dimensions, it is ideal as a fitness device for your own four walls. Thanks to smart features and app integration, training is a lot more fun. The times when you looked tired out the window during workouts are now a thing of the past. Our fitness test reveals what’s in the smart crosstrainer and where the catch is.

Bowflex delivers Max Trainer M9 with courier in two large packages. You need to have some space ready for mounting and it is best to do this in pairs. All components are well and safely packed, but it requires some effort when unpacking. However, the instructions for use are precise and easy to understand, and all the necessary tools are included with the crosstrainer. You should allow about 1.5 hours for assembly.

The housing of the house is made of plastic, the majority of the training unit is made of metal. The craft manages without major gaps and is a success all around. The device is a hybrid of an elliptical trainer and a stepper. Bowflex adjusted the crosstrainer vertically. This has an upward ellipse. Due to the high blow, such as walking on stairs, the device trains the gluteal muscles more intensively, but also allows hard training at high speed.

Unlike a classic crosstrainer, the flywheel is not at the rear, but at the front in an elevated position, embedded in a torso-shaped housing. The brake system is located under the flywheel. Another side effect: With a length of 127 cm and a width of 78 cm, it is still compact enough to accommodate it in a room. The device itself has a height of 170 cm and weighs 67 kg. Unlike a treadmill, there is no need to reserve space behind.

At the top is the training computer. In front there is a padded shelf for a smartphone with a holder for a water bottle and the rotary knob for adjusting the resistance. To the right and left of the cup holder are two short handles with hand pulse sensors. In addition, there are handles on the side to hold on to during training. The footrests are very large and run vertically along a rail. These are also connected to the flywheel. There are two transport wheels in front. If you tilt the crosstrainer forward, you can roll comfortably through the apartment.

The training computer has an LCD with a diagonal of 10 inches, supports touch inputs and has an HD resolution. This works independently as a standalone system, but requires a WLAN connection. The entire training program is based on JRNYapp from Nautilus, the company behind the Bowflex brand. To access the full program, you must have a paid account. Membership is free the first year. Then there must be 20 euros for the offer, the annual subscription is 150 euros. Schwinn – also part of the Nautilus – does a similar thing with the Indoor Cycle 800 (test report).

The training computer is WLAN-enabled and also offers Bluetooth. There is also a USB-A port on the side. On the back of the screen there are five buttons, such as the power button, a home button and volume buttons. Below the screen, there are two speakers for playing music, the coach’s instructions, or content from Netflix and the Disney + streaming services.

The range of delivery includes a heart rate monitor for the wrist including a magnetic charger that you plug into the monitor’s USB slot. The connection to the crosstrainer is via Bluetooth. Alternatively, the two small handles next to the beverage holder are suitable for measuring your heart rate. The power is supplied via 9 volts with a power pack. The step length is 40 cm, the lifting height is 48 cm. Max Trainer M9 is designed for people up to 136 kg.

The braking system is unusual: it combines air resistance with a magnetic brake. A magnet on the flywheel regulates the resistance. This is ensured by a magnetic field that becomes stronger the closer the magnet is to the flywheel. There is no physical contact, which actually does not lead to significant wear. In addition, a braking system with air resistance is used. The blades on the impeller generate air resistance. However, this ensures that there is some noise when stepping on the pedals due to the air turbine. With less than 70 db, this is still within limits, which is a bit quieter than a vacuum cleaner. A treadmill is significantly higher when you run.

Max Trainer M9 gives an extremely solid and robust impression during training. No matter how hard you step on the pedals, the device always remains stable and you stand safely. The handles allow different holding options, making the device suitable for both small and large people. We tried it out with a test person around 165 cm and 185 cm – the device was extremely comfortable for both of them. The device even handles sprints well.

The tray for the smartphone is very practical, the rotary knob allows you to adjust the resistance – even if it reacts a little too late to our liking. Unfortunately, there is no special hook for a towel, this is best placed over the shelf for the smartphone.

As good as the hardware is, the software could not quite convince us. The system crashed twice – which we assume is due to simple Android-based tablet technology. The selection of different virtual running routes is very diverse and beautifully implemented. These are originally filmed locations from around the world – from Beijing to Bahrain to the Black Forest or Heidelberg. However, these are only included JRNYaccount available. Nautilus is continuously expanding the platform. This makes training fun. If you want, you can use Netflix or Disney + directly via the device – this is a powerful feature that we previously only knew from gyms.

The individual training sessions last from five minutes to well over an hour and are divided into different intervals. A coach issues messages about when and what intensity is required. The intensity range to stay in is displayed on an on-screen display. Alternatively, there are also classic programs without video accompaniment that you can use without an account. Depending on the program, the resistance is automatically adjusted at certain intervals. However, it is not always easy to recognize the pedal intensity with which the interval must be performed. Annoying: We were unable to connect the Soundcore Life Q30 Bluetooth headphones (test report) to the Bowflex Max Trainer M9.

The Bowflex Max Trainer M9 is anything but a coup and costs a full 2700 euros. At Akw-Fitness there is a kettlebell for free. The predecessor models Max Trainer M8 and M6i are somewhat cheaper.

The Bowflex Max Trainer M9 is a fantastic cross trainer that combines the benefits of an elliptical trainer with a stepper and enables particularly intensive interval training. Thanks to the multimedia system with virtual running routes, a coach and the connection to Netflix and Disney +, entertainment is provided during sports. There is no boredom.

Unfortunately, the software does not seem quite mature for us, so it crashed occasionally. Without one JRNYaccount, the offer is also limited. However, admission is free the first year. The price of the Max Trainer M9 is very high, which is equivalent to a two-year membership in an exclusive gym.

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