I've been a lurker on this board for a few weeks now, read my brains out, learned lots, and thought it was about time to give something back. Sorry about the length of this. I thought I'd be comprehensive instead of a short 2 line review.
With the New Year looming large, I started thinking about working out again. I had been away from the gym ever since the late spring/early summer with a foot fracture and was starting to get a bit too Pillsbury doughboy-ish
. In addition, my wife, who's never set foot in a gym in her life, decided that middle age was catching up with her and wanted to do something about it.
I looked at various options - the Powertec WB-LS, a Powercage, Smith machine, I even considered the Titan at one point, and basically, while I would have loved to have all of that, I was limited by two things - ceiling height in my basement (82" finished height), and the "WAF" or Wife Acceptance Factor. We went to a few fitness stores and my wife just didn't feel comfortable hoisting plates off and on so that basically wiped out all the above. Also, with the exception of the Powertec, everything else was just too high to fit.
Thus, I started looking at the higher end home gyms - Hoist Fitness V5 and Inspire Fitness M2 were basically the two that I was looking at. We went to try out both, and while quite similar, the Hoist V5 was 82" and thus, was eliminated. I ended up buying the Inspire Fitness (www.inspirefitness.net
) M2 machine and couldn't be happier. As a bonus, for all you people with low ceiling heights in the basement, the Inspire machines are 78" tall at it's peak.
There are 2 main boxes for the fixed arm & the frame and 3 (150 lbs) or 4 (200lbs) boxes of plates depending on which model you buy. The M2 has a 150lb stack (upgradable to 200lbs). You'll probably need another person or a dolly to move this into the house. The box with the frame is pretty heavy.
ASSEMBLY & SETUP
I spent about 3-4 hours setting it up. If you've ever put together Ikea furniture, then you shouldn't have a problem with this. The instructions are really clear, and the line drawings are pretty good. Just take your time to sort all the hardware. Your assembly will go much smoother. The only complaint that I have about the setup instructions are that the labels on the packages of washers were all in METRIC while the instructions were in IMPERIAL. Just
For reference, these are the equivalents:
1/4" washer = DIA 16 x DIA 6.5 X 1.0t
3/8" washer = DIA 25 x DIA 10 x 2.0t
3/8" washer, small OD = DIA 20 x DIA 10.5 x 1.0t
1/2" washer = DIA 26 x DIA 13 x 2.0t
Tools that you'll need are a 9/16" and 1/2" socket (and wrenches) and an adjustable wrench. They include 5 & 6 mm allen keys for you. Also, you'll need a helper at various points in the assembly. Make sure you read the instructions and only tighten down the bolts when it says to.
With this machine, you can get a pretty solid full body workout. It has upper, mid and low pulleys as well as a fixed arm with attached straps. In addition, it comes with the following:
- aluminum lat pull down bar
- short, EZ curl type aluminum bar / chain
- two "D" type handles
- ankle strap
- laminated poster of exercises
- a mesh shroud to cover the weight stack
The bars are some of the nicest I've ever seen. Really nice knurl on them, extremely light and they both rotate smoothly.
If you're looking at the asthetics of a machine, the Inspire wins hands down. You can choose from one of 4 colours for the shroud and the pads. You can even mix/match if you need it to "match" a room. They put a lot of thought into making this thing look "pretty".
The footprint of the assembled unit only takes up a 4ftx6ft area. It fit perfectly on the rubber equipment mat that I bought to protect the floor.
I ended up paying $2200 (Canadian, including taxes) for this machine. I picked it up and assembled it myself. Granted, it's not cheap, but if you're looking for a well designed, all-in-one type machine with low height, this is it.
Once the cables are all seated, and the guide rods lubricated, the machine was silky smooth. Besides the Hoist machine, I haven't felt a home gym this smooth in my life. With all of these pulleys and attachments, you can do the following exercises:
seated bench press (with fixed arm or straps), shoulder press (with fixed arm or straps), lat pull downs, seated tricep extensions, seated lat rows (fixed arm or low pulley), bicep curls (two arm, one arm, or preacher), chest flys (straps), preacher curls (low pulley), lateral deltoids (low pulley, D-handle or short bar for one or two arm)
seated leg curl, standing hamstring curl, inner/outer thigh and glute kick.
"woodchop" or golf swing type motion (top pulley) or a baseball/boxing type motion with the mid pulley.
Also, I ended up buying a metal "D" handle and a tricep rope to give a bit more variety. The included "D" type handles are made up of a strap type material with a plastic handle. I just like the feel of the metal one better for doing lateral deltoids or one arm bicep curls.
Inspire also makes an optional leg press which attaches to either side of the unit. I tried it out and it's not bad, but I just couldn't justify the extra cost (approx $700 extra!). They also make an ab bar ($100 extra) which is pretty good. It attaches to the mid pulley and you can do seated crunches for upper and obliques. I'm still waiting for the new shipment to arrive at the store - it's a pretty popular accessory.
I did have a few complaints that I've emailed to the sales manager at Inspire. The mid pulley on my unit floated a bit too much to one side and as a result, was rubbing on the cutout. I just ended up filing the opening a bit with a metal file to allow for some more clearance. Hopefully this was just a one off. Secondly, when I was doing a "woodchop" type exercise with the top pulley and a tricep rope, I ended up smashing the weight stack into the upper pully, cracking a portion of it off. This was solely due to my own stupidity, but I suggested to them that a rubber stopper or bumper between the weight stack and pulley might be a good idea.
Other than those two issues, The unit is everything that I wanted it to be and more. I'm going to be adding a stationary bike for some cardio and probably will get a bench and the Ironmaster Quick-Locks to round out the home gym.
One last thing to note is that their customer service seems to be pretty good. I had emailed the sales manager about the issues and he replied back within a few hours. He also will be sending me a replacement pulley, no questions asked.