The Bowflex PR1000 is ideal for beginners and casual exercisers who don't mind the Power Rod resistance, which has a bit of a learning curve. It's easy to assemble with a small footprint and the ability to fold when not in use, but these come at the price of limited resistance. The non-upgradeable 210-pound Power Rod resistance is not enough to challenge bodybuilders or dedicated fitness enthusiasts.
Easy, quick assembly. Painless assembly is one of the Bowflex PR1000's biggest perks. Reviewers say the instructions are reasonably clear, and one person can put the PR1000 together in two hours or less. That said, we also found a few stray comments about bolts coming loose quickly with use, so it would be a good idea to occasionally double-check the fasteners.
Storage is also a snap: You can fold the PR1000 when not in use, reducing its footprint even further. But don't expect to wheel it around or stick it in a closet. It's meant to stay put in one place.
Welcome to Power Rods. Users say the Bowflex PR1000's Power Rod resistance, which gets progressively harder as you move through the range of motion, takes some getting used to. It's also worth noting that you must change the cables between exercises, which can be "a bit of a chore," according to Fred Waters, a prolific reviewer of exercise equipment at Fitness-Equipment-Source.com.
Still, most users don't seem to mind this necessity. Neither do they mind -- much -- that you cannot upgrade the PR1000's 210 pounds of resistance, as you can do with most other Bowflex models. Paul Rogers, About.com's guide to weight training, recommends the PR1000 to beginning or casual exercisers, and those who leave feedback are thrilled with its overall value and smooth, quiet resistance.
A win for value. Quite a few reviewers say the Bowflex PR1000 is surprisingly sturdy for a compact home gym.
Bowflex's relatively short guarantee -- one year for the frame, five years for the Power Rods and 60 days for other parts -- is not terribly confidence-inspiring. The scattered complaints about poor Bowflex customer service, usually problems receiving missing parts or warranty-covered repairs, do not help either. Sometimes the quality control seems a little sketchy too. As one man posts to Amazon.com after just one month with his PR1000: "The bow rods do not appear or feel like they provide equal resistance on both sides and some remain more bent than other[s] after repeated use."
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As usual, Amazon.com furnishes a wealth of user feedback: in this case, more than 200 reviews of the Bowflex PR1000 and an overall 4.4-star rating. Also, as usual, when shopping in this price range, users are quick to praise the PR1000's great value.
Review: Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2013
The Bowflex PR1000 is one of the highest-rated home gyms at Walmart.com earning 4.6 stars (out of 5) from 75 reviewers. Several admit the machine doesn't have enough resistance for them, but almost everybody still thinks it's a great value.
Review: Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of August 2013
The Bowflex PR1000 draws a near-perfect rating from nearly 20 Sears.com users. They are realistic about it being a starter gym, but offer near-unanimous praise of how easy it is to use.
Review: Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym, Contributors to Sears.com, As of June 2013
Fred Waters, a former fitness industry executive, says the Bowflex PR1000 is a "decent, affordable fitness machine." He thinks it's a good choice for those on a budget but cautions that users cannot add resistance as you can with some other Bowflex home gyms.
Review: Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym Review & Rating, Fred Waters, Not dated
Paul Rogers, the guide to weight training for About.com, recommends seven home gyms, including the Bowflex PR1000. His comments are brief but still noteworthy thanks to his credentials. He writes the PR1000 is "more suitable for fitness enthusiasts rather than the more serious weight training or bodybuilder."
Review: Top 7 Home Gyms and Multi Gyms, Paul Rogers, April 18, 2011