I love to run outside and have done so almost every day for the past three years. Recently, scheduling conflicts and weather temperatures have made this difficult, meaning I’ve finally had to rely on a treadmill to keep up with my running habit. I turned to the new Bowflex BXT8J treadmill to see if this mid-priced, foldable product was tough enough to meet my needs.
This new treadmill from Bowflex isn’t the company’s top-of-the-line model, and it doesn’t even have a built-in monitor. It’s not a peleton and is decidedly midfield in many ways. However, the reason it’s worth considering is the price, size and build quality.
I was curious if this BXT8J treadmill from parent company Nautilus would have the commercial value it seemed to have while still being tough enough to handle all of my miles. I tested it many steps on runs of different lengths to find out.
- Easy raising and lowering for smaller spaces
- The automatic incline lift is smooth and strong
- No color monitor
- Checks take a little time to figure out
Buy on Amazon.
While the BXT8J treadmill may seem fairly basic due to the lack of a large monitor, it has many intricacies for home performance. Speed can go up to 12 miles per hour, and the device has a motorized incline of 15 percent. A chest heart rate monitor is also included for health monitoring.
There are 26 workout types fully included in the machine that don’t need to be accessed over the internet, although the treadmill can be connected to a phone or tablet via Bluetooth to work with Jrny content. It has a shelf for electronic devices, a USB-A port for charging and a 3.5mm jack for connecting a device to the built-in speakers.
What treadmill size is good?
The Bowflex BXT8J treadmill has a running belt that measures 20 x 60 inches. I’m 5ft 11″ and found this size to be quite large. Neither the length nor the width was an issue that I had to adjust my running style for. I felt it was a very good balance between the space to run and the space it takes up in my garage. Dimensions smaller than this, however, may have been a problem for running.
Do you need a TV built into a treadmill?
It’s easy to assume that Bowflex made this BXT8J treadmill more affordable mainly by not including TV-like displays like those on the nice-looking NorticTracks. Instead of a bright, colorful screen, there’s an LCD display for showing metrics and workout types. It glows blue and is as uninteresting as possible.
I know exercise machines don’t require an integrated screen, but I think most people are drawn to them. Why not gravitate toward an integrated solution for watching shows or trainers—even if you don’t end up using it often for those things?
I’ve used my phone and iPad on the BXT8J’s media shelf and it worked great. It securely held my 11-inch iPad Pro while watching Netflix shows on the tablet. I had access to all the streaming services I needed without having to sign into another device.
If you want to use the Jrny subscription service that Bowflex offers for guided video workouts, you’ll need to bring your own phone or tablet to place on the media shelf while you run. I tried it but it was a more disappointing experience than using it with the Bowflex Max Total 16 which had an integrated monitor.
While I don’t think a built-in TV-like monitor is necessary to stream movies on the fly, having one makes other tasks like accessing a machine’s settings much easier. For example, I accidentally skipped entering the correct date during setup and couldn’t find how to get back to it on the base LCD, even after reading the manual.
The BXT8J has a lot of buttons that I found a bit overwhelming at first. Pressing the start button and then increasing the speed with the up arrows was easy, but figuring out the workout programs was a bit tricky. The good news is that over time the treadmill has become easier to manipulate. After running the first 10 miles I felt perfectly comfortable with how all the controls worked.
While there won’t be a central touchscreen for control, I appreciate that this machine includes physical buttons for speed, incline, and start and stop. They click and are easy to squeeze when your hands are sweaty.
miles and more
Before any other BXT8J offerings, I focused on testing how it would handle someone running on it – its main purpose. I was most concerned about how stable it feels. The last thing I want is to spend hours on a treadmill that shakes, wobbles, or creaks as I try to meet my goals.
I assembled the machine myself in about an hour so I knew how many screws hold it together. It’s not as many as you might think, but even after driving tens of miles I’ve never felt the main console move. The side bracers were comforting when I had to rest a hand on them during a run. Even at high speeds, the only noise I noticed was the normal sound of shoes slapping a rubber belt, just like I’ve experienced on other treadmills.
The slope was smooth enough to be almost invisible. My legs immediately took notice of the steeper tread, but the motor was quiet and lifted my 155-pound weight without missing a beat. I took the incline to a maximum of 15 percent, but only for testing. Getting to this level at a reasonable pace is not for the faint of heart.
Should You Buy the Bowflex BXT8J Treadmill?
When I first got serious about running in 2020, I considered getting a treadmill. At the time I wasn’t quite sure what I needed or how I would use it, so I ultimately decided to wait. I know it can be tempting to look for low-end treadmills that start at around $500. And while these might be fine to start with, if you stick to running regularly, you’ll almost certainly outgrow one of them sooner or later.
Many of the less expensive options don’t have the auto incline, speed capabilities, or overall stability that the BXT8J offers. These features are really the reason I am happy with this machine. It can keep up with my daily run and even mimic the hills I would normally cross outside without ever feeling unsafe. New runners can grow into the full breadth of what the Bowflex BXT8J offers, while experienced runners should never outgrow it.
Buy from Amazon for $1,299.
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