It may not be the most stylish machine, but the Bowflex BXT8Ji is a versatile treadmill with a solid design and features and a surprisingly affordable price tag.

If you’re lucky enough to have a home gym, or at least the space for large fitness equipment where you live, then you might have considered buying one of the best treadmills. This – usually quite sizeable – exercise machine is a staple for most gyms since it can help improve cardiovascular health, burn calories or act as a warm-up tool for weight training.

However, a common concern for shoppers is that most home treadmills don’t come close to the quality you’d find in your local gym. It usually comes down to striking a balance between quality, price and finding a machine that doesn’t take up the same space as a small car.

Men’s Fitness verdict

The Bowflex BXT8Ji is great value and does the important stuff really well, with the option to use your own screen and the optional JRNY app for a more engaging experience.
  • Good value at £1,500 with 2-month JRNY membership
  • Solid performance and useful 15% incline
  • User-friendly with 26 workout programs
  • Display is fairly basic
  • Noise levels might limit use in shared spaces
The Bowflex is one of the more robust home treadmills we’ve tested

That’s exactly what Bowflex had in mind when it designed its BXT8Ji Treadmill. Stripped back to the essentials, this model focuses on core functions to help you enjoy the benefits of treadmill running without inflating the price with superfluous tech. And priced at just under £1,500, it appeals to both beginners and seasoned users looking for straightforward workout options without the complexity of advanced digital interfaces. What’s more, it boasts a nifty fold-up design.

But just how well does it stand up to a pounding? And is it engaging enough to have you coming back for more? I tested the Bowflex BXT8Ji for more than a month to find out.

Delivery and set-up

Before you even think about buying a treadmill, you’ll need to figure our not only if you have enough space but if you’ll even be able to get it there. If you live in a high-rise flat, for instance, I’d do some serious research before hitting that checkout button. I doubt it would fit in your standard-sized elevator. Getting through the door of my semi-detached house was tricky enough.

While it arrives securely packaged with clear instructions for set-up, the BXT8Ji’s box is not only huge, it’s tremendously heavy (at almost 120kg). It took two of us to move it from the drive through my front door. What’s more, it arrives on a pretty lengthy palette that you’ll need to dispose of yourself.

As for assembly, it took me about an hour and a half and was pretty straight-forward. It essentially arrives in three parts: the (very hefty) belt, the dashboard and the arms that hold it in place. Those who might find the set-up challenging or don’t have the time, you can always opt for professional installation, which costs around £100 extra.

The Bowflex BXT8Ji’s interface is decidedly old-school

Bowflex BXT8Ji design

Let’s be honest. Unboxing the Bowflex BXT8Ji Treadmill probably won’t impress those accustomed to sleek, high-tech fitness gear found in swanky, high-end gyms. If that’s what you’re anticipating, you might need to adjust your expectations. This machine is very much aimed at consumer use.

Still, it’s not low quality by any means. It feels robust in most parts. Its solid-feeling frame can support up to 136kg. While its utilitarian design is straight-forward, prioritizing function over aesthetics, it’ll still look the part in any home gym. The treadmill’s lack of a flashy interface may put off tech enthusiasts, but it stands as a testament to its core purpose: solid, dependable performance for everyday use.

One of the BXT8Ji Treadmill’s USPs is its folding mechanism, which got my attention as I have limited space. Incorporating the firm’s SoftDrop hydraulic system, the treadmill can be easily lifted and folded. It’s a feature that not only saves space but also makes it easier to move around the home via its transport wheels. It’s worth noting that even fully ‘folded’ this treadmill still takes up quite a bit of space. While the width stays the same, the length is reduced from 198cm / 78in to 139.4cm / 54.9in.

Bowflex BXT8Ji display

Those in the market for a treadmill with a super high-quality HD display to gawp at while running – a la Technogym – should probably swerve the BXT8Ji. The dashboard on this machine forsakes an interactive built-in display for a functional media shelf that will comfortably hold tablets or smartphones. This is the compromise Bowflex had to make to ensure this heavy-duty treadmill costs you less than £2,000.

You might have to bring your own digital devices to enjoy content while working out, but the basics you’d expect from a treadmill are still all there, including a 7-inch backlit dual LCD giving you standard workout information at a glance. There are also physical buttons for increasing and decreasing the speed and incline and an emergency stop button. There are a few surprisingly high-end elements here, too, such as a fan that blows cool air at you while you run and a heart-rate monitor built into the handle bars.

The Bowflex BXT8Ji folds away, but not completely

Bowflex BXT8Ji performance and features

The Bowflex BXT8Ji delivers pretty solid performance all-round as long as you know how to use a treadmill effectively. During testing, it definitely exceeded my expectations – especially at this price. I wasn’t expecting much after clocking the lacklustre dashboard and display, but that all changed after stepping on it for the first time.

Powered by a 2.5 CHP motor, this treadmill offers everything from casual walking to intense running sessions. It proved extremely stable – even at its top speeds of 12mph / 20kmph. The same can be said for its maximum incline adjustment of 15%. It feels strong, sturdy and able to withstand all you can throw it at, no matter what setting you have it at.

One of the treadmill’s standout features is the range of workout options on offer. With 26 built-in programs, it will cater to your fitness preferences without the need for additional subscriptions or apps. However, those who prefer a tech-driven approach, the treadmill is compatible with Bowflex’s JRNY app (two months free subscription included). That serves up customised workouts, guided classes and virtual coaching for added motivation. You’ll need to pay £13.49 per month thereafter, and you’ll need to hook up your phone or tablet to the treadmill to take advantage of it, but it’s a nice feature to have.

The user interface is simple but intuitive, and the old-school dashboard with LCD displays makes it easy to monitor all your essential metrics such as speed, time, distance and heart rate. Heart-rate monitoring is available through both contact grips or via a 5kHz chest strap, which offers more accurate fitness tracking.

What could be better

The main downside of the BXT8Ji is its somewhat garish design and lack of an HD screen. That might be a turn-off for those who prefer a more immersive workout experience. The basic LCD certainly gives off an old school vibe. As such it doesn’t quite live up to the streamlined elegance of rivals such as Peloton. On the other hand, the Peloton Tread is more than double the price of Bowflex’s offering, so maybe that’s an unfair comparison.

The treadmill is also fairly noisy. If you’re planning to place it in a shared living space, your fitness routine could quickly become a nuisance to anyone else you live with (or near).

Should you buy the Bowflex BXT8Ji?

When it comes to performance, the Bowflex BXT8Ji is versatile yet reliable, making it a good choice for home fitness enthusiasts looking for a treadmill that delivers the support their fitness regime need without breaking the bank.

If you don’t want to deviate too far from the £1,000 mark and build and performance mean more to you than a slick interface with all the mod cons, then it’s worth considering.

Sure, the Bowflex BXT8Ji touts a more traditional design, but it’s a solid and well-performing machine that’s almost professional grade in its robustness. If that’s what you want from your treadmill workout, then look no further. If you’d prefer a more stylish treadmill with the bells, whistles and HD touchscreens that’ll make you the envy of all your mates, you might want to look elsewhere.