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A Review - Inspire Fitness M2 Home Gym

Discussion in 'Gym Equipment' started by kenbong, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. kenbong

    kenbong Active Member

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    Hi everyone,
    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 :eat:. 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.:bb:

    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.

    DELIVERY
    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.


    GENERAL INFORMATION

    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.


    EXERCISES
    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:

    Upper body: 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)

    Lower body: seated leg curl, standing hamstring curl, inner/outer thigh and glute kick.

    Functional training: "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.


    CONCLUSIONS:
    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.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Enigma66

    Enigma66 Well-Known Member

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    No offense, but if you've lurked and read through the forum regarding different types of equipment, how did you end up getting that particular unit? I'd never heard of it before, and it seems odd that the company that sells it also advertises garden swings on their site.
     
  3. kenbong

    kenbong Active Member

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    Hi Enigma66,
    I figured people would be skeptical since most people on here seem to prefer free weights vs stack machines. As I mentioned, I would prefer to go the free weight route as well, and I'm in the process of supplementing it with dumbbells and a bench, but as I mentioned, I had two limiting factors:

    1. low basement ceiling height, and

    2. my wife wanted to start working out, and seeing as how I could have multiple cable exercises in a small footprint, no need for a spotter, and a lower intimidation factor, I went with this. I'm not against using machines, and I figure having some freeweights supplemented with the machine makes for the best of both worlds.

    As for it's popularity, I'll admit that it doesn't have much of a reputation. Hopefully that might change (I assure you, I have no association with the company). I was also kind of skeptical since they also make those patio swings, but when I saw it at a few fitness stores here in Toronto, and saw the variety of exercises you can do with this thing, I was sold. As I mentioned, it's pretty similar to the Hoist machines which seem to be more popular.

    Anyways, hope this explains things a bit. This is a pretty cool forum, and I found out about a lot of other equipment here. I was only hoping to give back - even though I knew a small segment of this online community would be interested.
     
  4. Monkey0ne

    Monkey0ne Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations Kenbong!

    Thank you for posting your review. I think reviews like these will help out a lot of people searching for the right equipment to suit their needs.

    I think it's pretty cool of Inspire Fitness to replace your pulley. Speaks well for their customer service.

    I was wondering why you chose the M2 over the M3 or reasons you didn't consider the M3? Also, for that much, did you also consider the Bowflex Revolution? I'm not a Bowflex fan but it does seem to fit what you were looking for.
     
  5. kenbong

    kenbong Active Member

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    Hi Lawrence,
    Thanks for the kind words. The basic difference between the M2 and M3 systems, besides $500 CAD in price, is that the M3 has a 200lb weight stack, a fixed ab unit for doing seated crunches, a seated hamstring (vs standing for the M2), and the lower pulley is off to the side instead of below the leg curl section. The base on the M3 is a little bigger, more of a triangular base at the back. Otherwise, they are identical machines. I tried the ab unit on the M3 and it was a bit strange. However, I did end up buying the optional ab bar which is pretty good.

    The seated hamstring unit was nice, but I wasn't sure it was worth the extra $500. In fact, the sales person at the store said that they prefer the M2 as well.

    As for the Bowflex, it didn't even cross my mind. I've only ever used machines and freeweights at the gym and when I did try a regular Bowflex, I didn't like the progressive (non-linear) resistance. No one in the area carries the Revolution, which from what I read is supposed to be linear, but I figured that good old iron (albeit in a home gym) would be the best bet. Granted, the machine isn't for everyone, and it's near the top end for price point, but so far, I'm happy with it.

    And best of all, my wife is ASKING me to go work out instead of me pushing her.
     
  6. DRB

    DRB Well-Known Member

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    the real ? is: Are they high quailty garden swings?

    DRB
     
  7. Dbass

    Dbass Active Member

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    Actually, I'm in a similar boat as you....ie..wife.
    She won't accept/deal with free weight or leverage free weight (like powertec). It was bowflex or a selectorized gym.

    I ended up with the Bodycraft Xpress Pro. I dunno...it looks similar to yours, has 200 lbs (with 400lbs recabling for bench press), plus 2 adjustable pulleys (one on each side). I paid under 1800 US for it (including tax/shipping) with free mat, cardio package (heart rate monitor, etc..probably BS), and lifetime inhome warranty. While I know that would have bought one HELL of a free weight or rack setup....it seemed like a good deal considering.

    It's coming tommorrow. Got to put it together yet.
    But, I'm glad I bought this vs bowflex. Also, let us know how things go...ie...wife likes it? etc.
     
  8. Bongo

    Bongo Well-Known Member

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    I was recently at Nellie's and saw the Inspire. I thought it was a very nice piece of equipment. The guy there told me the people behind Inspire are the original Pacific Fitness folks. So, it seems the Inspire may be new to the market. I have owned the P/F Premier model for about 16 years and to this day not much comes close in terms of quality, stability, function, and specs. It's built like a tank and the pulleys seem as smooth as day-one. Now, I can't confirm what I was told about the Inspire folks is accurate, but if so you should still be very happy with your purchase 16 years from now!

    As a side note, in 1998 Pacific Fitness was acquired by Precor (division of Amer Sports). I learned this when I finally need to replace a couple of the cables after the the casing finally began to crack -- after about a decade-and-a-half. The unit still worked excellent. I replaced the cables only because I didn't want to take the chance of the bare metal cable damaging the pulleys. I figured for a few bucks I could make new cables vs. spending much much more replacing the pulleys.
     
  9. exsmoker

    exsmoker Active Member

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    The M3 has an adjustable seat back that can be set for incline 1 or 2, flat and shoulders. This also helps with various exercises beyond chest and shoulders. It makes a huge difference and is worth every dollar. Don't get me wrong the M2 is a great machine just I think that one added feature alone is worth any price adjustment. The M2 and M3 are some of the best compact home gyms available just not many people know about them.
     
  10. tsg2513

    tsg2513 Well-Known Member

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    The M3 is one of the best compact home gyms I've ever tried. Pricey yes, but worth it (in my opinion). I purchased the M3 last week after carefully comparing it to the new Batca Fusion, the Revolution, the Tuff Stuff AXT-3, and pretty much all the others in the same price range and let me tell you, there is no comparison. The M3 has by far the smoothest feel and best functionality. I will post some photos after it is set up.
     
  11. exsmoker

    exsmoker Active Member

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    I also did a good deal of comparison shopping and picked the M3. Its been a few months now and couldn't be more pleased.
     
  12. jjq65

    jjq65 Active Member

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    I just ordered the Inspire M3 for some of the same reasons posted above. I have limited workout space and a low ceiling height (6' 11''). The M3 met those requirements and the machine seems to offer a wide variety of exercises. When I tested the machine in the store it seemed well built and easy to operate. I purchased it at Leisure Fittness in Deleware. They had it reduced from $2,995 to $2,199. They easily agreed to a price of $1,999. The price seemed reasonable. I'll post an update once we get started with it.
     
  13. darinbee

    darinbee Active Member

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    I am considering the M2 unit, only because of the price difference. If I can get the same deal you was quoted, I would definitely purchase the M3.

    Did you go to the store or was this an online purchase?

    Darin
     

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