Bowflex Blaze Home Gym Reviewed and Rated
The Bowflex Blaze is, for Bowflex, a mid-priced home multi-gym machine that lets users perform over 60 different exercises. The machine uses Bowflex’s proprietary power rod system, which provides natural feeling resistance to work your entire body, minus the use of free weights. The power rods also help you enforce form, though at the cost of locking you into a prescribed arc.
Is one user’s full range of motion the same as the next? Chances are the answer is no, since human bodies are as diverse as the people who own them. But this potentially limited range of motion is common to all gym machines. It is why we do not recommend the Bowflex Blaze, or a similar machine, as your only form of exercise. Switch it up with some cardio, weight training, group fitness classes, or anything else you find fun that also keeps you moving and gets your heart rate up.
As for the Bowflex Blaze, it will help you maintain and build strength. It is designed for quick workouts, so you do not lose time adjusting plates on barbells and the like. If you can learn the different exercises, you will use the Bowflex Blaze on most days.
Offers 60 weight exercises, plus the seat slides for use as a cardio rower
Base resistance can be upgraded to as much as 410 pounds max
Can fold the bench for storage, and Bowflex put transport wheels on the unit
Pulley assemblies can move, so you train muscles from different angles and challenge new muscle groups
The Blaze comes with a placard and flip chart of all the exercises, which mounts on the machine
Handgrips are multifunction, contoured, and support you as you change positions on the machine
Bowflex Blaze assembles easily, according to manual and user reviews
Maximum user weight of 300 pounds, so many bodies will be excluded
Limited range of motion means power rods do not target every muscle group as weights can
What is the advantage or point of difference with the Blaze? For one thing, it is less expensive than may Bowflex offerings. That does not mean it is cheap, but you will save some money over a larger unit. The Blaze is compact, too, at least compared to larger Bowflex units. There are not many folding, compact machines that offer quite this many exercises. And the 60+ movements you can perform don't get overwhelming or confusing. You can use the DVD that comes with the machine, or look up exercises in the user manual. Bowflex makes the manuals for all their multi gyms easy to find, and free even if you never purchase a Bowflex.
Those exercises include motions that mimic lat pulldowns for your back, as well as bench presses, dumbbell flys, squats, all manner of rows, and curls to isolate any arm or shoulder muscle you can name. You can also do several different kinds of crunches, and go incline or decline with the bench. A leg station opens up leg extensions, curls, presses, and more for your leg muscles.
If you are considering purchasing the Blaze, or any Bowflex home machine, we strongly suggest looking up the manual first just to see the sheer number of exercises. We cannot even list them all, as it is beyond the scope of this review. Just trust us--there is not a muscle or muscle group you cannot target with the Blaze, and that includes your heart thanks to the rowing capability. And there aren't many home gym trainers that are easier to use than a Bowflex. You change resistance by attaching or loosening bands, and the bands come in increments as low as 5 pounds. You are able to dial in your workout, and there is always the option of upgrading so you get as much as 410 pounds of resistance to work with.
The Bowflex Blaze weighs 195 pounds. It is not as lightweight as some machines you could get, but the folding bench and installed casters do help make it portable. The total footprint is 90 inches long, 38 inches wide, and 83 inches high. Folding the bench brings the length to 52 inches, but does not change the other two dimensions. When you order the unit, the total potential resistance is 210 pounds. The rods can adjust in increments as low as five pounds, so there is room to make a little deliberate progress almost every time you work out.
If you want to get more advanced, there are upgrade kits to take the resistance to either 310 or 410 pounds. But if you are going to spend over $1000 USD--for the Blaze and the extra rods--why not just buy a bench, squat stand, and set of Olympic weights? You will have access to a greater range of motion, and most heavy lifters prefer the look and feel of iron in our experience.
The user weight limit is 300 pounds.
Keep in mind that the footprint we quoted is not the same as the Blaze's working area. According to the manual, you will need over 8 by 6 feet of free space to use the machine safely. This will allow the pulleys to move through their prescribed arcs and give you as full a range of motion as the machine possibly can. Also, if you want to put a gym mat under the machine, make sure it is a firm rubber one without a lot of give. One of the manual's warnings is that the Blaze must be used on a hard, level surface. If your only available space is in a carpeted room, the Bowflex Blaze may not be the best choice for you.
Physically, the Bowflex Blaze looks like a beefed-up weight bench with a few modifications. Up top, you have the lat pulldown station, with pulleys and cable handles. This attaches to a tower, with the placard centered on the tower and all the power rods behind it. The pulleys that are closer to the floor are for your chest, and there is also a squat bar that looks like a long, narrow, horizontal metal rod. The very bottom foundation of the Blaze is a squat stand, with the adjustable padded bench and leg station above it.
Despite their cheesy infomercials, Bowflex is an established and trusted company that you can rely on for customer service. None of their products are rated for commercial gym use, but they will last a long time in your home under typical conditions. If you do have any issues, Bowflex offers several warranties for the Blaze. You get 5 years on the machine, lifetime replacement on the power rods, and 60 days on parts. You have to register your purchase to get the warranty, so the warranty only applies to the original owner. It covers manufacturing defects or premature failure, not normal wear and tear, or damage from improper use. Always follow instructions when using the Bowflex Blaze, to preserve the warranty and the working life of the unit, but also to prevent personal injury.
Features and Effectiveness
Also, the Bowflex Blaze is most effective when you use it regularly. if you are like us, you have a fitness equipment graveyard, with at least one machine or piece of compact equipment that you almost never use. This is why we encourage you to think about how the Bowflex Blaze will fit into your overall fitness plan and living space when you consider a purchase. If you are not sure you will use it, there is no reason to spend the money. Everyone is different; the important thing is that you take regular exercise. If that means an aerobic step with attached resistance bands, we say go for it. It will take up far less space, cost a fraction of the Bowflex price, and come with you when you travel.
If you do decide a Bowflex is right for you, because of space, convenience, or other factors, you will be able to use it almost every day. That is because of all the different muscle groups it works. You will want to rotate muscle groups and program in rest days, but the Blaze naturally encourages you to work out 5 times a week. It is harder to do that with a weight bench, especially if the bench has no leg attachments. Doing bench presses more than 3 times a week puts you at risk of injury and exhaustion. But with the Bowflex Blaze, you can avoid those problems while saving yourself time and effort.
The Final Word
If you can afford the purchase price and do not need the accuracy or range of motion you can get with free weights, we can recommend the Bowflex Blaze as a safe and effective way to get consistent strength and cardio training without a gym membership. You will be able to use it most days, without repetitive motion or overuse injuries, because the 60+ exercises let you rotate out muscle groups and body areas. You can also use the sliding seat like a rower, to give yourself cardio training. The Blaze can form the center of your home gym, and take the place of a dozen or more other pieces of equipment in a compact and relatively lightweight package.