Bowflex is a household name when it comes to exercise equipment, but does the PR1000 deserve the reputation? In this Bowflex PR1000 review, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of the home gym, who it’s right for, and what you may want to consider instead. It’s great for some people, but keep reading to see why it might not be the best choice for you.
- 1 How to Choose a Home Gym – Some Decision-Making Tips
- 2 Key Features of the Bowflex PR1000
- 3 Alternatives We’d Recommend
- 4 Bowflex Blaze
- 5 Bowflex PR3000
- 6 Total Gym XLS
- 7 NordicTrack Fusion CST
- 8 X3 Bar Elite
- 9 Tonal Smart Home Gym
- 10 Additional Suggestions
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions
- 12 Conclusion: Pass on the PR1000
How to Choose a Home Gym – Some Decision-Making Tips
Whether you ultimately decide to go with the Bowflex PR1000 will depend on what you need, your budget, the amount of space you have in your home, and what you expect from exercise equipment like this.
Here are some tips that will help you decide whether the PR1000 is the best choice, or if you may want to keep looking. Keep them in mind as you read over the features, pros, and cons.
Will It Grow with You?
You’re probably buying this because you want to get stronger, right? I recommend looking for a machine that will grow with you as you get stronger.
Some home gyms can be upgraded with additional weight, while others cannot. Even if you’re not springing for the extra weight now, having that option available for later, just in case you need it, isn’t a bad thing.
How Much Room Do You Need?
There are a few things to consider here:
- How much room does the machine itself need (don’t forget to check the height)?
- How much will you need while it’s in use?
- Can all or part of it be folded out of the way? How much does it require when not in use, when stored away?
Can You Really Work Your Whole Body Well?
Are there multiple heights for the cables and pulleys that you’ll be able to choose from? Is there a way to work the backs of your legs (hamstring curls, for example?) or even your quads (leg extension or squat bar)? Will you be able to work your back with rows and pulldowns? Which exercises will require you to stand vs sit (and how much does that matter to you)?
Will the Parts Wear Out Over Time? What Does the Warranty Cover?
Most home gyms like this will have parts that wear out over time. Check into the replacement parts available, how much they cost, and what’s covered under warranty.
Remember that if you replace a rod, for example, on one side, you’ll need to replace it on the other side, as well, to keep the resistance the same. Some parts may even be covered under a lifetime warranty.
However, the power rods on the Bowflex PR1000 are only under warranty for five years, though that’s likely to be for breakage rather than general wear and loss of resistance over time.
Will This Home Gym Help Me Reach My Goals?
Any of them can help you burn calories and gain strength, but what if you’re looking to really build muscle and want a cardio component, too? Will you have to buy additional equipment to reach your goals, or does the home gym you’re considering check all the boxes for you?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s important to get clear on your goals and the types of workouts you want to do (or other equipment you ultimately want to buy) before you take the plunge with a big home gym purchase.
Key Features of the Bowflex PR1000
Here’s what you get with the Bowflex PR1000:
- A good machine on a budget (check around because the prices tend to vary from retailer to retailer)
- 210 pounds of resistance to work with, in the form of power rods
- A folding design that keeps it out of the way when not in use
- A rowing station for cardiovascular fitness and a full-body workout
- 30 strength exercises you can do
- 7 workouts created by trainers
- 2 workouts you can follow along with using the media rack
- A media rack so you stay entertained, motivated, or inspired as you work out, or follow along with your favorite workouts via your device
Though I don’t think this is the best home gym on the market, it does have some pros to consider:
- It’s one of the more affordable options for a home gym, even within the Bowflex line.
- This could be a good option for beginners or people who don’t think they’ll ever max out the 210 pounds of resistance it comes with, even if the rods wear out over time and don’t provide quite as much resistance as they did when they were new.
- Being able to fold it up makes it easier to move out of the way if your fitness goals are put on hold, you have guests, or just want more space for daily living than a full dumbbell rack, power tower, etc., would.
- Using power rods vs dumbbells means you have even resistance all the way through the move.
- As cardio is an important part of a well-rounded fitness plan, this machine checks most boxes without the need for additional equipment. The rowing component may not be everyone’s favorite way to maintain cardiovascular health, but it will definitely get your heart up and it’s perfect for days the weather isn’t nice enough for a run or walk outdoors.
- This machine can still do more than your average set of dumbbells and a bench because it makes back workouts, leg extensions, and leg curls much more doable than other simpler at-home setups might be. (Ever try holding a heavy dumbbell between your feet for leg extensions and curls? Not fun, and even kind of scary at times.)
This could be the perfect machine for some people, but there are some cons to consider before you dive in and click Buy Now:
- It’s no longer sold on Bowflex.com, so you’ll have to go somewhere else to get it. As of this writing, you can find it at Amazon and Walmart.
- The weight can’t be upgraded, so when you are able to comfortably lift the 210 pounds for your desired number of reps, the only thing left to do is replace the whole machine.
- If the power rods lose some of their resistance over time, you’re not getting stronger. You may not know how much resistance you’re really working with.
- Because you’ll probably be upgrading to a different home gym option eventually (assuming you need more than 210 pounds), it may not be worth the financial investment in the long run. If your budget can handle it, an alternative with the option of adding more weight may be a better choice.
Alternatives We’d Recommend
If the Bowflex PR1000 isn’t right for you, maybe one of these will be the perfect fit instead:
I did a full comparison of the Bowflex PR1000 vs Blaze, but here’s the short version:
- It doesn’t cost that much more
- You can do more exercises with it
- You can still row
- It also folds up
- You can add weight to it so you can lift up to 410 pounds total
- You can do leg presses
- It’s slightly smaller than the PR1000
- It does cost more, so it may not fit every budget
- You’ll still have to pay more when you’re ready to upgrade; it’s not included in the price
- It’s not sold on the Bowflex website, so you’ll have to find it at another retailer
- No holder for a device
The Bowflex PR3000 is another good option.
- You can do more exercises with this one than the PR1000 (50 total)
- The lat tower allows you to work your arms and back in ways other options may not
- No change pulley system so you don’t have to spend time between exercises making changes
- Can upgrade to 310 pounds of resistance (so better than the PR1000 but not as good as the Blaze)
- Squat bar is available (not included)
- You can do leg extensions and curls
- Optional attachments available for preacher curls and ab work
- Vertical bench, while it could be a preference for some, means you won’t be able to get a rowing workout in on this machine
- Costs more
- No media rack
- Doesn’t fold up
- May be hard to find, though the Bowflex website seems to still carry it (at the time of this writing, it is out of stock)
Total Gym XLS
The Total Gym XLS is by another well-known name in home gyms.
- Price isn’t that much more than the Bowflex PR1000 if you can catch it on sale
- You can do plyometric style movements on this machine
- Good for your back and core (strengthening and protecting)
- 80+ exercises (and you can do a lot of them back to back without changing positions much—just your grip)
- You won’t have to put it together when it arrives
- It folds up for easy storage
- Compact even when in use
- You won’t be able to add a lot of extra weight without purchasing an additional weight bar, so most exercises will be done with your body weight (or maybe just a little more)
- No videos to follow along with and sometimes you have to get creative to work certain parts of the body (YouTube can help with this, though)
NordicTrack Fusion CST
This is a different kind of home gym that uses cables and a flywheel system to allow for cardio and strength workouts led by trainers.
It’s worth a look because it will still give you the full body workout you want from a home gym, plus variety in cable positions and attachments (as well as trainers and workout styles).
- Workouts are created for you and you can follow along with the trainers–and there’s a ton of variety
- Built-in screen
- Tablet and smartphone holder
- Cables are in high, mid, and low positions for variety in workouts and you won’t have to pause to reposition handles every time you want to switch exercises
- Strength and cardio in one machine
- You can track your progress and monitor your heart rate for best results
- It’s expensive at around $2000.00
- You’ll need a membership, internet, and WiFi to get the most out of it (you can still use it without these things, though)
- It’s big and heavy, so setting it up could be a challenge
X3 Bar Elite
This is the most compact and portable option, but it’s not as robust in exercise variety as other options.
- Lightweight and portable, so you can work out anywhere
- Comes with a 12-week workout plan
- Can do squats, deadlifts, curls, chest press, and more
- Can get up to 600 pounds of resistance (you’ll have to purchase the Elite Band separately to get that, though)
- Ground plate to protect ankles from injury when you lift heavy
- Claims to put less resistance on joints than free weights do because of variable resistance through the lift
- You’ll only need one set per exercise (recommended rep range is 15-40)
- Not as much variety in exercises
- Seems expensive at $549.00+ for what it is, compared to larger home gyms with accessories and greater variety of exercises
- There’s no full list of exercises you can do with the X3 available on the site, but you can definitely do the basics (which is enough for some people and boils down to preference)
Tonal Smart Home Gym
This option is more similar to the NordicTrack Fusion CST than any of the others, but it’s designed to be attached to the wall and an on-screen trainer walks you through workouts.
- Variety of workouts and trainers that you can follow along with
- Doesn’t take up a lot of space
- Digital weight means there are no cables to fuss with
- Analyzes your form as you work out
- 90-day free trial
- Professional installation
- Tracks your progress
- Very expensive at about $3000.00
- Only a three-year limited warranty
- Only up to 200 pounds of digital weight, low compared to other options
- You’ll need a membership to get the most out of it
How do other home gyms stack up to the Bowflex PR1000? Here are a few others to consider:
- NordicTrack Vault: If it’s weights you really want but you thought power rods were the only way to lift at home with a limited amount of space, you might like the NordicTrack Vault. It’s compact–about the size of a bookcase–and has weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, and more to help you get fit via strength training, yoga, cardio, and more while you follow along with trainers on the built-in 32-inch Smart HD touchscreen (and check your form in the 60-inch mirror on the door). The downside here is the need for an iFit subscription (one year is included with purchase) to get the most out of it. Note, though, that if your goal is to lift heavy, this won’t be your best bet. Dumbbells are up to 30 lbs and resistance bands go up to 50 lbs of resistance.
- Tempo Studio: This one is similar to the Vault and also requires a monthly membership. Instead of dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands, you’ll get plates (for dumbbell handles and a barbell). It, too, is fairly compact and allows you to follow along with a trainer, then tuck all your workout equipment away when you’re done. The Tempo Studio costs more than the PR1000 and with the addition of the membership, it’ll cost significantly more than the Bowflex. This could also be a good option for someone who has extra money in the budget and is concerned with how their home gym looks in their limited space. For example, if your home gym needs to be in the living room, something like this or the Vault will look more polished than the Bowflex machine.
- ICON Fitness Gold’s Gym XRS50: This is a less expensive option than most of the ones on this list (and the Bowflex PR1000). It’s also a more traditional home gym setup than the Vault or Tempo Studio, this time with weight stacks instead of power rods. With this one, though, you’re limited to 112 pounds of vinyl weights (listed as 280 pounds of resistance), so it’s not a better option than the Bowflex PR1000 in that regard. High and low pulleys, plus leg developer, chest press and fly station, and lat bar make this a decent machine to sculpt the whole body on a budget. There is no cardio component like the rower on the PR1000. Looking at reviews, this seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it machine.
- Torque Fitness F9 Foldaway Functional Trainer: If you have the budget (just under $3000.00), this one might make you happier than any of the others because once it’s folded up, it’s behind doors. Plus it has two 150-pound weight stacks, two pulleys that can stop at 17 different points from low to high, optional stowaway bench, and a variety of accessories. It’s a solid home gym option that’ll work your whole body and only needs 3′ x 3′ of space.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we get started, let’s take a look at some of the questions you may have about the Bowflex PR1000:
Answer: Yes and no. For beginners and people who don’t see themselves ever needing more than 210 pounds of resistance, it might be worth it. However, if you ever want to upgrade or you want a wider range of exercises you can do, it’s not the best choice.
Answer: You can do leg extensions, leg curls, rowing, leg presses, lat pulldowns, curls, crossover rear delt rows, seated lat rows, bicep curls, bench presses, shoulder presses, shoulder raises, standing leg kickbacks, trunk rotations, crunches, seated hip abductions/adductions, calf raises, tricep pushdowns, tricep extensions, and more.
Answer: Yes, but make sure you’re fueling your body correctly in order to see the best results.
Answer: It depends on where you are in your fitness journey and what you need. Machines (and even machines in the gym, so I’m not just talking about Bowflex and similar home gyms here) and don’t always recruit as many stabilizing muscles as free weights and they may limit your movement on some exercises. This can be a good thing at first, especially if you’re worried your form will be wrong and you need additional help with stability as you learn how to perform the exercise movements and get stronger.
Free weights will generally work more muscles and give you more freedom in the exercises you can do, but the stability, coordination, balance, form, and rage of motion will be all up to you and your muscles.
Answer: No, unfortunately, you cannot upgrade the Bowflex PR1000. Other Bowflex home gyms do have this capability, however.
Answer: The Bowflex Blaze is pretty good, but it’s another one you won’t find on the Bowflex website. Of the current Bowflex.com offerings, the Bowflex Revolution is the most versatile and has the best warranty. However, it’s much more expensive than any of the other options, at nearly $3000.00 before tax. The Blaze or Xtreme 2 SE home gym are excellent middle ground choices.
Answer: Yes, if you’re consistent with your workouts and eat right for your age, weight, activity levels, and goals, there’s no reason to think the Bowflex home gym wouldn’t work (unless you’re already a serious bodybuilder who needs more resistance).
Conclusion: Pass on the PR1000
There’s a good chance you’ll outgrow the machine if you lift regularly and there are options on the market that will let you add weight. The inability to grow with you (especially since the rods may even lose resistance over time) is my biggest gripe about this piece of exercise equipment.