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Style Name: PR3000|Change
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on January 11, 2009
Brief story - months ago, I was in the market for a home gym that uses free weights, but I happened to try out the PR3000 at Sports Authority, and I really liked it. We bought another unit, but it didn't turn out to be exactly what we needed, and eventually I found myself remembering the PR3000 fondly.

When we finally decided to go with a Bowflex for a couple reasons - less weight on our floor and not having to move weights around our apartment. I thought I'd go for one of the long ones that let you do rowing and - I thought - leg curls. But after I tried the units with rowing, I didn't actually care for the slightly loose feeling in the seat when it was locked in place, and I also discovered that some Blowflex don't do leg curls and others have a complicated way of doing them.

So I went back and tried out the PR3000 again - and it was as much fun to use as I remembered it, plus it has a no-cable-changes design that made switching exercises easier. So I tried a workaround someone reviewing a different Bowflex on Amazon recommended for another unit, which was basically do the leg curls while standing and facing the unit. I tried that on the PR3000 at the store and it worked fine for me, so I finally got it and I love using it.

The pluses:

* It doesn't take much floor space
* I don't have to move heavy weights around during my workout
* It's very quiet
* No cable changes keeps workouts moving along
* Motion is smooth (smoother than the Weider Platinum)
* Very good assembly directions
* A lot of things adjust for different sized people
* Top pulleys are on hook-and-eyes so that they swivel
* Can be upgraded to 310 pounds
* Very well-made, more attention to detail than other equipment we've had

The minuses:

* Doesn't come with a lat bar, although you can do pulldowns with the hand grips
* The manual isn't as detailed as other Bowflex units, although still better than most other home gyms.
* Very short warranty on smaller parts. I got an extended warranty.
* Bows resistance isn't the weight specified (I measured and it's lighter) but there was still more than enough resistance to give me a burn. Larger men and very fit people should probably get the 310 lb upgrade pretty quickly.
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on May 7, 2009
Like most people, I had seen the Bowflex commercials on TV and was skeptical of just how such a machine would produce the gods and goddesses shown in the ads. However, the idea of an all-in-one resistance machine was appealing and I often considered buying one. I finally took the plunge after undergoing quadriceps tendon repair surgery. Since my usual exercise was out of the question (running and martial arts) I decided to give the Bowflex a try. After all, I don't want to become psychotic and fat while I'm recovering. :) While I cannot do the leg exercises yet, my experience has been positive.

Pros: On the plus side, the machine provides a wide range of exercises that enable you to work almost all of the muscle groups. It was easy to assemble and comes with fairly clear directions. It also includes a basic workout book, although you will probably want to supplement this with additional information about working out. Properly assembled, the machine seems very solid and as long as you maintain it, it should provide a safe workout.

As you can see from the pictures, it has three sets of handles: one high, one middle and one low. This allows you to get a wide range of workouts and replicate most traditional free weight training moves. It also has the attachment for doing leg lifts. The seat can be easily removed to allow you to safely do standing exercises.

A major plus for this machine is that the power rods connect to all the handles. In other words, you do not need to constantly switch cable connections for your workout. Some lower end models lack this feature, which would be a bit annoying.

Cons: While the machine allows you to do a large range of exercises, it does have clear limits. For example, you can only do leg lifts with the leg exercise attachment (although you can do leg exercises using the handles). Also, it suffers the inherent limitations of a rod based machine relative to free weights. For example, the weight on the resistance rods seem rather optimistic (I suspect the weight is based on the resistance offered at maximum bend). To compare the machine with free weights, I did curls with the 50 pound rod and with a 35 pound free weight. The free weight provided far more resistance (in the form of weight). This is because the weight always weighs 35 pounds and the rod's resistance increases as it is pulled.

You will also want to spring for the 100 pound upgrade-this consists of two 50 rods. I think the rods should have been included, but I suppose that some people would be fine with the stock rods.

I'd suggest getting them when you get the machine, otherwise you'll have to take the "rod box" off the machine so as to put in the rods. Mine didn't come with instructions (just two rods and two screws in a cardboard box), but this is what I did: carefully lean the machine to one side, preferably with someone trustworthy holding it (make sure that they are not the beneficiary of your life insurance). Unscrew the three screws holding the box in place. Remove the box and take out the plugs (two of them, just ahead of the installed 50 rods). Insert the rods and screw the included screws into the rods (at the bottom). Put the rod box back in place and then screw the screws back in. Carefully test the rods to make sure they are secure, and then you are ready to go.
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on May 23, 2009
You always hear how Bowflex machines are overpriced because of all of their expensive marketing. Perhaps, but the added sales volume does offset their fixed engineering costs, and this machine (PR3000) is one very-well engineered machine. It comes in one box, with all the pieces well cushioned in their allocated cubbyholes. 2 of us built it in 3 hours -- again due to good product engineering. The finished product looks like it will last forever; certainly nothing cheap about the structural steel, cables, etc. My end cost (with shipping) was $899; I don't see how Nautilus/Amazon makes money on this.

I'm not a gym guy, so can't comment on the effectiveness of this kind of machine for strength training. I am 6'6", and for many exercises I can barely fit the machine and get adequate cable travel. But I do fit, and after a month I am discernibly fitter.

I wouldn't waste money for a mat; my tile floor shows no wear at all (rubber feet keep the metal off the floor) and it is nice to be able to yank the machine around for fine-tuning its placement.

Cons: The manual has many silly mistakes, a very limited pallet of exercises, and is not much help for designing a workout plan. The bows themselves stay somewhat bent after exercises, giving the impression that they will lose their effectiveness or break over time (no doubt that the reason Nautilus gives 7 years on this particular part is to reassure the end user). The resistance number on the bows are not only larger than free-weight equivalents, but not even self-consistent -- each side has a 50 lbs rod that has more resistance than the sum of all the other rods on that side, nominally 55 lbs.

But all of the above quibbles are just that, quibbles. The machine is beautiful, takes little room (but you'll want plenty around it for leg exercises), and has motivated me to exercise regularly. For the price, a real steel.

UPDATE: 3+ years on. Still pleased, and would buy again, but some issues you should be aware of. I've just broken my 2nd #50 power-rod. Customer support has been great; they ship 2 to replace the one so that the pair will be balanced. That's a big plus, but reveals the other flaw in these rods ... over time they do degrade. I also note that resistance depends a LOT on the temperature in the room. It takes up to 50% more resistance rods for a given "weight" in the summer than in the winter. The cold probably makes the rods more brittle, hence my new rod every 2 years or so breakage rate. Doing standing hip extensions, which is (as I do it) a rapid movement, could be a factor as well

Alas, if you read the warranty, their "lifetime" power-rod is finite; I believe for this unit it is 7 years. The idea of a rod breaking is scary, but I've thought through my program and don't believe I'd actually hurt myself, so I continue on. I suspect that if your machine is kept at 68+ degrees, you'll probably be OK.
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on January 25, 2010
After using this Bowflex gym for a few months on a regular basis, the 30 lb rod snapped/shattered. And this was done by a woman who is a senior. I've attempted to have it replaced but with NO luck. I called Bowflex as well as emailed in the receipt twice with a message...all to no avail. The gym is now collecting dust. Based on their inability to back up their guarantee, I don't recommend this gym.
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on April 15, 2009
I have spent a lot of time in many different gyms using various types of equipment in my life (30 years old). Its not always easy to get away from the family (especially young kids) to go and workout 4-5 times a week. So I purchased the PR3000. For the most part this machine does what its supposed to do.....so far. First my disappointments: I expected better. When I assembled the machine (I should add at this point that assembly took about 2 hours)and tried it for the first time, I was surprised that with all of the power rods attached to the pulleys that I was able to do almost any exercise with almost no problem. Now that I've used it for 3 weeks, the exercises have become even easier and I have to do more sets and more reps.

Now, the things I like about this machine: It really is easy to use. The cable changes are quick and easy keeping you going right to the next exercise.

Finally a few things that I have learned from my experience with this machine. If you are thinking of buying a bowflex, keep in my that the machine is a HOME gym. If you expect the same quality as the stuff you use at your regular gym, then you will be disappointed. Also, purchase the 100lb upgrade. I don't know how the resistance of 210lb power rods equates into real weight but I know for a fact that I can't shoulder press 210lbs in the gym! When you assemble your machine, it speeds things up if you have 2 socket sets and an adjustable wrench.

Good luck.
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on October 12, 2009
I don't usually review items I buy but I think the major flaw with the Bowflex line and the PR3000 needs to be stressed for people who don't have a chance to check them out prior to buying one.

I tried one prior to purchase and also read the reviews so I was prepared to add additional rods to my PR3000, which I really like by the way. So for you guys and gals who have been lifting free weights at the gym, here is my try at telling you what you need....

I am 6'3" tall and the machine fits me well. When I go to the gym, my chest workout after warming up is 3 sets of 8-10 reps with 135# (olympic bar with 45# plates on each end). By the end of the 3 sets, I'm flat done. When I got the Bowflex, I used the entire 210#, did 3 sets of 20 and could have done more.

Today, I put on the 310# and the 410# upgrade. With the 410#, I can do 8 reps and I'm done. The 310# weight just about equals the 135# I was using at the gym. I also tried moving the seat forward (4" block behind my back) this made the 210# weight stack better but not good enough, also was bending the rods pretty far.

All in all, I don't agree with the reviewer who said that the PR3000 is not enough, I downloaded the book for the Bowflex Ultimate II and use a lot of the exercises from that book. But I do agree with everyone that say not to consider 210# to be adequate in most cases. I could not find anything on the Nautilus/Bowflex sites that explains how they determine their weights but believe me when I say, I could not find anyway to justify 210# rating on this equipment.

Also, ebay sells a hook for the rod stacks that makes it a lot easier to hook multiple rods together. Necessary if you go to 410#.
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on February 1, 2009
I bought this item last week from a local store for $847.00. It has been nothing but, wonderful. I will definetly need to upgrade to 310lbs later but, for now it is just great.
PROS- Easy to put together, a perfect machine for me even at 6'3" tall. Felt a little awkward at first doing kickbacks but, got used to it quickly.
CON - It states it has over 50 plus exercises but only lists 27 in the book. I called Bowflex and they told me to go to their site and look up the exercise manual for the Extreme 2. I did and it shows ALOT more exercises because both machines are very similar except for the lat pulldown bar on the Extreme 2.
Everything else is perfect. I will definetly be using this machine for a long time. The fact that the weight is upgradeable to 310lbs and the no pulley change system are huge differences in the workout saving valuable amounts of time to focus on lifting.
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on June 14, 2010
Like any "get in shape" product, you've got to use it regularly to get results. I've used it for an hour and a half every other day for a year and I've definitely seen results (though I don't come close to those well sculptured models they use in their ads.) There are two reasons why I don't give this 5 stars:

1) the "3 times a week for 20 minutes" claim is ridiculous - at least for me
2) the power rods lose their resistance. I bought the two additional 50 pound rods after about 4 months, and there was a huge difference in the resistance compared to the used ones

All in all, I really like this well-constructed machine and am glad I bought it.
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on July 25, 2012
Background- I am a male currently in my mid 30's and used to be very active in basketball, racquetball, mma, and weight lifting until I had my first child a few years back. Having no time to pack up and drive to the gym anymore I was shopping for an at-home total body workout machine and spent a good 3 months online shopping and reading reviews before I rolled the dice on the PR-3000. 5 years ago I was 190 pounds and recently I weighed in at 265, so this was a serious investment for me and I needed the right machine.

Pros- First of all the machine itself is easy to assemble took just over an hour solo. It's very well built and light weight and I have pushed it hard to make sure it can handle a larger person. Being an upright machine is has a ton of different exercises with the 3 grip locations. Right away the low impact workouts with solid resistance gave me more of a circuit training feel rather than a traditional free weight lifting slower pace feel. Having the 3 grip locations I am able to transition quickly from one exercise to another and maintain a decent heart rate. The seat is removable which allows for standing exercises similar to a free motion machine which only adds to what you can do with it. In a given hour using the PR-3000 I can do around 15-17 different exercises doing 3 sets of 12-15 reps per exercise. So far the machine has not tipped over and I have not had any issues with it sliding around from doing standing exercises away from the base platform. The machine itself does not take up a ton of room but you will need about a 5ft x 5ft space. The machine is very quiet for those of us with kids and the workouts I am getting on it are excellent and effective.

Cons- The cons really come down to the extras you need to purchase for the machine. In all I have purchased the tricep rope, 2 t-bars, and 2 bow rejuvenators. The bowflex bow rejuvenator keeps the bows themselves from losing thier strength and also from flying around while your using the machine, very essential. The tricep rope allows additional exercises to be done such as ab crunches from your knees and tricep pull downs to name a few. The t-bar while it also adds to options for exercises also comes with a rope extension that you are supposed to wrap around the bar and hook into the rope connection hooks. I use the extensions mostly for the 3 grip stations in general without the t-bar so that is why I purchased 2, meaning I get an extra 6-8 inches of length from the extensions for exercises such as bicep curls from the bottom grip station which is awesome. Also, the 310 pound upgrade is mandatory for most people that can bench over 150 as the bowflex resistance is not a free weight measure but more of bowflex's own resistance rating in my opinion and the 210 it comes with is not efficient but the 310 upgrade is perfect and I am pretty strong benching 225 currently in free weights.

Overall Opinion- Honestly of all the machines I reviewed on many different websites and in stores I couldn't be happier with the bowflex after purchasing the extras. I have lost 22 pounds now in 7 weeks using the bowflex and my elliptical machine and my joints are very happy for the low impact style the bowflex offers. I would recommend this machine to anyone looking for an at-home workout machine that is quiet and effective. My wife also uses the machine on a limited basis but she has had no issues changing from one exercise to another as the most you need to do is add/remove the seat or add/remove the attachments.
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on June 8, 2011
Needing to get back in shape after a debilitating injury, I decided to give the Bowflex a try after reading the positive reviews. This review will be an 'initial impressions' review, and once I've had a few months on the machine, I plan to update it.

PACKAGING: ****

The PR3000 arrived in a single large box of considerable weight. The freight delivery service consisted of one guy, who was reluctant to take this to the 2nd floor of my house. I needed it up there, so I offered to lift one and and carry it up the stairs. Trust me, you WILL want this box to be delivered to the room where you will use the machine. It took almost probably 45 minutes just to unpack the box - every part was wrapped in large quantities of bubble wrap and duct tape. Also, many of the components were zip-tied together with heavy-duty ties (your typical scissors might not be up to the task). I used wire cutters.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS: ***

I've seen much better assembly instructions. The system contains 20 pulleys, almost all of which were numbered with a stick-on number. Nowhere in the assembly document were any of these numbers referenced! Threading the cables through the pulley system had to be done by CAREFULLY inspecting the drawings. Also, the leg assembly has three different positions for the ankle pads, but there is no advice for determining which position you should use. Similarly, the seatback has holes for permanently attaching it at one of 3 positions, but again there is no advice for where to properly position the seat-back. Finally, if you do order the extra 50lb rods (which I did), there is no mention of how/when to install them. I can tell you that you will have to tilt the Bowflex on its side to add them after the fact, because there are bottom-mounted screws.

EASE OF ASSEMBLY: ****

As long as you are very good at following instructions and are detail-oriented and mechanically inclined, assembly is fairly straight-forward. None of the attachment hardware is labelled, so some intelligent deduction is required.

QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION: ****

There are many powder-coated steel parts in this unit - everything fit together well, with no hole alignment issues. I am subtracting one star for the quality of the seat and seat-back. It is obvious that they tried to save some money there, with a vinyl-covered padded seat (covering plywood, I think). The seat is somewhat slippery, and the vinyl is attached with not-too-many staples. I don't expect the seat to hold up. I used to own a Soloflex back in the 90s, and it had a molded rubber bench attached to a metal plate. I would have MUCH preferred a seat like that, and would have no concerns about its longevity.

EXERCISE FLEXIBILITY: *****

This unit provides enough flexibility to work all of the same muscle groups I used to work at the gym. For the most part, moving from one exercise to the next is pretty simple. Bowflex advertises a cable change-free system, which is not entirely accurate. In order to go from an exercise like the bench press (which uses the lower set of handgrips) to any standing leg exercise, you will need to: 1) Disconnect each of the lower cables from the leg attachment; 2) Remove the leg attachment; 3) Remove one set of handgrips from the middle or upper pulleys; and 4) Attach the handgrips to the lower pulleys. This is an annoyance to be sure, and you will want to structure your exercise routine so as to minimize any changes other than changing weight. They should have included an extra set of handgrips to allow you to keep the other ones in place at all times. At least they can be ordered as an accessory.

NOISE: *****

The system has the potential of being very quiet, although I am getting some grating sounds when the pulleys shift on the metal loops that attach them to the supports. I think a little strategically placed lithium grease will take care of it.

RESISTANCE FEEL: ****

The change in resistance feels pretty good to me. It is much better than the resistance band-based Soloflex was, with the changes being more gradual as you reach the end of travel for a rep. One note for taller people - there is very little, if no resistance at the beginning of a lat pulldown. There simply isn't enough distance between the seat and the handgrips if you have a long torso and chimp arms like me. My arms are not even fully extended when the seat is at its lowest position. If you're used to a pulldown machine at a gym, you'll be a bit disappointed. More vertically challenged people will not find this objectionable.

VALUE: ***

For the number and type of exercises you can do with one machine, it's a decent value. I purchased it at a "Lightning Deal" price, but wouldn't have paid Amazon's regular price for it. The warranty is stated as:

Machine: 1 year
Parts: 60 days
Power Rods: 7 years

They don't explain what they consider to be 'Machine' and what they consider to be 'Parts'. After 3 hours of assembly time, I consider it all to be parts. I wouldn't expect anything on this system to fail in less than a year.

OVERALL RATING: ****

I think I will be able to accomplish my objectives using this machine (namely a full-body workout with minimal down time between exercises). It is fairly compact in size, although to perform all of the exercises listed in the manual, you will need a free space of almost 8 feet in width and 9 feet in depth (for the standing leg kickbacks). If you don't have that much depth available, you can still do a lot of exercises with about a 7 foot depth.

That's all for now... will be back in a few months with an update.
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