Having first introduced the innovative 2000X strength trainer in 1986, Bowflex is still a big name in the fitness industry three decades on. However, these days the brand can boast a huge catalog of fitness gear including treadmills, ellipticals, dumbbells and multi gyms.
Their newly-designed PR1000 slots into the latter category and proves to be one of the most unique and popular home gyms you can buy for under $500.
It boasts ‘endless’ strength movements, as well as a surprising aerobic option for the full home gym experience. At such an affordable price, can they deliver on these promises? This one is worth a closer look…
If you are familiar with the original Bowflex unit from the mid ’80s, then the PR1000 won’t be too alien to you. If you’ve never seen a Bowflex product before, then prepare for some innovation.
Instead of a weight stack, as you’d find on the majority of multi gyms in this price range, this unit features a range of ‘Power Rods’ that – when in use – fan out from the rear of the machine, kind of like a peacock’s feathers. More on these in the next section.
Aside from this, the PR1000 takes the form of a relatively standard multi gym. However, looking closer, you’ll find the bench is a lot more positionable than others, leading to great versatility – especially considering the sub-$500 price tag.
For example, it can be positioned as a standard seat, allowing you to rest your back on it as you would an incline bench in the gym. You can also lower the bench flat so you can comfortably sit facing the resistance (for rowing movements, and so on).
Interestingly, the bench also features a rail system, meaning it can move on a fixed track and cater for different dynamic exercises, such as the leg press or aerobic rowing.
The PR1000 is not a tiny multi gym, with the manufacturer recommending a workout area of at least 127” x 82”. However, this is largely due to the movement of the rods, so the overall footprint is slightly less than this.
The bonus is that the lower portion of the PR1000 – comprising the rail and bench – folds vertically and locks away. Sure, it’s not able to be stored in a closet or under your bed, but the ability to fold this area gives you back considerable floorspace after a workout.
Finally, you will be landing yourself a good-looking piece of equipment. Of course, functionality is the only thing that really matters, but the PR1000 looks pretty neat in its black, red and steel color scheme, and would slot into a home gym setup very nicely indeed.
As we’ve mentioned, there is no sign of any traditional weight stack, nor is this a bodyweight resistance machine. Instead, the PR1000 makes use of Bowflex’s Power Rods – composite poles that bend as you pull to create resistance.
You can select individual rods or combine up to 105lbs worth of resistance on each side, for a total of 210lbs. The resistance on offer is labelled on each rod, near the top hook loop.
On that note, this multi gym uses a traditional cable and pulley system, with pulleys at the top and bottom of the unit.
The PR1000 follows the majority of other multi gyms in the attachments and movements it offers. It comes with two handles, which will be used for the majority of movements, as well as a strap for attaching around your lower back for some leg-focused exercises.
This system doesn’t offer the dedicated chest press arms and pulldown bars you find on many others, although the bonus is that the unit feels less cumbersome and allows for a greater range of movement when performing exercises.
On this newly-designed version, the central support pole is fitted with a media shelf. The design allows you to securely fit any device, whether it’s a tablet or a smartphone.
This feature is targeted more for workout assistance as opposed to general entertainment (unless you really have to watch the latest episode of Stranger Things while you row). The PR1000 comes with two videos to follow along with, as well as seven workouts designed by trainers specifically for this multi gym.
There’s a reason the PR1000 is one of our top picks for the multi gym midrange market and that’s because it actually delivers a great full-body workout with minimal fuss.
Bowflex claims this multi gym offers ‘endless’ movements, although in reality this equates to around 25 exercises – which is still pretty impressive. Both upper and lower body are catered for, as well as your core.
For your chest, you can adjust the bench to be flat or on an incline to perform a chest press. You can perform lat rows and straight arm pulldowns to build your back. The PR1000 also gives you options for an overhead press and rear delt rows to target your shoulders.
As for your arms, this is pretty limited to bicep curls and triceps pushdown, so supplementing this unit with some dumbbells would be a great decision. Meanwhile, weighted crunches and abdominal rotations take care of your core.
Unlike some of the lower-priced multi gyms, the PR1000 also allows you to perform several leg movements, which rely on the included strap that sits around your lower back.
Leg movements include the leg press and calf raises, as well as more traditional leg extensions using the padded roller attachment on the front of the machine.
The rolling seat is another area where this multi gym sets itself apart from its competition. By utilizing the same position as you would a leg press, you can actually perform a full aerobic rowing workout.
It’s not quite on par with a dedicated rowing machine, but this feature is much more than a gimmick and works very well to deliver a little cardio action in an otherwise resistance-based workout.
Coming from a name like Bowflex, you’d expect this home gym to be sturdy, reliable and durable. It doesn’t disappoint.
You will find the Power Rods lose a bit of their resistance over time as the material stretches. It won’t be a huge deal to many – and there are several ways to prolong the lifespan – but it’s an issue worth being aware of.
These rods also don’t feel like their free weight equivalents. For example, chest pressing all 200lbs may be quite tough, although not as tough when compared to pressing 200lbs on a barbell. It may not be noticed by the majority of users, but this won’t be suitable for some.