The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is the most affordable option in the Max Trainer line. It doesn’t have all the features and programs of the M5, M7, or M8, but it still offers zero joint impact and burns a lot of calories in a short workout.
The M3 is a superior alternative to an elliptical, and in many respects, it achieves that goal. An independent study found that people working out at the same intensity for the same amount of time burned 2.5x the calories on the Max Trainer than on the elliptical.
The Bowflex M3 comes with two workout programs, Manual and Max Interval (for automatic interval training). The machine also allows you to choose from 8 resistance levels to adjust the difficulty of the workout. As you build up your stamina and get in better shape over time, you can gradually crank up the resistance to keep reaching higher levels.
The display is well-designed and includes easy to read indicators for calories burned and your burn rate (a good measure for intensity). You can monitor your heart rate with the included chest strap. This is less convenient than having the machine automatically measuring it for you through the contact grips, but chest straps are also more accurate.