Inspire Fitness BL1 Home Gym
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The Inspire Fitness BL1 home gym offers the same range of exercises as the Marcy MWM-6150 or the Gold’s Gym XR 55. However, it has a totally different construction and weight resistance system. It’s a leverage machine and uses your body weight as the main element of the weight resistance. The “BL” in its name actually stands for “Body Lift”.
The Inspire Fitness BL1 is a fitness machine intended for home use (it comes only with a residential warranty). It was released in 2014, so it has been around for a while. But so far it has received a large number of positive (5-star) reviews from users all over the U.S. It has its pluses and minuses, and in this review, we’ll try to cover them all.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Assembled dimensions: 55L x 43W x 89H inches (140L x 109W x 226H cm)
- Assembled weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
- Weight resistance: Selectorized, 10% – 150% from user’s body weight
- Possible exercises: 30+
- Accessories: Curl bar, lat bar
- Warranty: Lifetime
Frame construction, parts & accessories
This Inspire Fitness home gym is made of heavy-duty, 11-gauge ovalized tubular steel, 2″ x 4″, which pretty much means that it has a very sturdy construction. All the steel parts are coated with a corrosion-resistant powder finish. Its weight capacity isn’t specified in the user’s manual, but several other sources specify a total weight capacity of the machine for 550 lbs (250 kg). Its cables are also rated for 2,000 lbs (907.1 kg) tensile strength. These being said, it can basically support users of a wide variety of bodyweights without any issues.
The machine’s cables are coated with a sheet of polyurethane, providing a smooth gliding over the pulleys. All the pulleys integrate industrial grade, sealed ball bearings for a long lifespan and easy operation. They’re made of fiberglass reinforced nylon, highly resistant to wear and tear, and solid just as the cables.
Compared to other home gyms, the BL1 is not extremely large. It is 55″ (140 cm) long, while its width is 43″ (109 cm), given by the outer points of the press grips. Keep in mind, though, that the lat pulldown bar accessory is 48″ (122 cm). Along with these dimensions, it is recommended to allow at least a few feet of clearance on each side of the machine, to be able to perform all the exercises correctly, safely, and without any restrictions.
When it comes to the machine’s height when not in use it is approx. 81″ (206 cm). However, since the BL1 is a leverage home gym and lifts your body up, its top point will also lift when you workout; its maximum height can reach 89″ (226 cm). Therefore, it’s recommended to place it and use it in a room with a ceiling at least 8′ high.
Since it’s a fitness machine made of steel tubing, it’s not exactly lightweight, despite the fact that it doesn’t integrate a weight stack. When fully assembled, it weighs over 200 lbs; therefore, its stability shouldn’t be an issue. Its base tubes don’t integrate rubberized stabilizers or pads, so it’s recommended to place it on a mat to prevent floor damage.
The Inspire Fitness BL1 is equipped with an adjustable seat and backrest. The seat adjusts vertically, while the backrest adjusts horizontally. Both offer several adjustment positions, in order to accommodate users of all sizes, and facilitate various exercises.
This home gym is also equipped with three pairs of 4″ foam rollers, two sets on the leg developer attachment, and one set under the backrest. The foam rollers under the backrest serve as knee stoppers in case you want to perform lat pulldown exercises on high weight settings.
In terms of accessories, the Inspire Fitness BL1 leverage home gym includes a 48″ standard lat pulldown bar, with curved, rubberized grips, a short revolving curl bar also with rubberized grips, and an extension chain for both these bars. The band grips attached to the press station arms are actually parts of the machine, not accessories so they’re also included. They’re the main elements for the pec fly exercises.
Chest press station – this workout station is given by the main mobile arms of the machine. It has a multi-grip design and multi-functionality. For example, you can hold on to its grips or arms when performing standing leg curls. It’s angle adjustable offering 10 adjustment positions, and along with the classic chest press, it also offers the possibility to perform supported rows, shoulder exercises and several other types of exercises.
Pec fly station – since this isn’t a conventional weight stack machine, the pec fly station is also different. It’s powered by the hand grips with straps attached to the chest press station. They don’t offer the full range of motion of a conventional fly press, but offer more flexibility, so you can actually focus your muscles in different ways by using this workout station.
High-pulley station (lat bar included) – for lat pulldown exercises, and the training of triceps, shoulders and back muscles. The lat bar has a standard, curved design, with foam grips at the ends.
Low-pulley station – This workout station offers the possibility to perform a wide array of exercises, such as stand-up curls, triceps kickbacks and more. But, since its a leverage machine that uses your bodyweight, you will have to stand on the incorporated footplates for exercises such as curls or stand-up rows.
Leg developer – This attachment speaks for itself; connected to the lower pulley system it offers the possibility to perform leg extensions. However, since the machine doesn’t have a long bench only a regular seat, standard (face-down) leg curls cannot be performed on it. You can do stand-up, one-leg curls, though.
Weight Resistance System
Have we mentioned enough that this is a selectorized leverage home gym? This means it doesn’t include a weight stack and the main weight resistance element is your own bodyweight.
The machine is equipped with a lever arm at the bottom featuring 15 adjustment positions. Each adjustment position corresponds to a percentage of your body weight from 10% to 150%. For example, if you select the No. 1 setting on the lever, the machine will offer 10% of your bodyweight. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, that will be 20 lbs of weight resistance. If you select the No. 8 setting, you will get a weight resistance of 80% of your bodyweight (for a 200 lbs user, that will be 160 lbs of weight resistance). The highest weight resistance setting allows you to lift 150% lbs of your bodyweight. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, that would be 300 lbs of weight resistance.
The adjustment lever is conveniently placed within reach under the seat, so you can quickly adjust the resistance without getting up all the time. The adjustment is easy to do; you simply pull up the selector element, drag it onto the desired position and lock it back into place.
Another advantage of the lack of a weight stack is that the operation of the machine is very quiet. In case of a weight stack, the weight plates will continuously slap onto each other as you exercise, which is not the case for this machine. Also, as the weight plates glide on their beams, there’s a slight dragging feeling during pulls in case of a weight stack home gym, another aspect inexistent for the Inspire Fitness BL1.
There are two main downsides, though. First of all, the weight increments depend on your bodyweight, so you won’t be able to adjust the resistance in strict increments of 10 lbs or 5 lbs. And second of all, for certain exercises such as seated cable rows or outer leg raises, you will need to improvise by adding some weight on the seat, as you can’t perform them while on the machine’s seat or while standing on the integrated footplates.
- Ab Crunch
- Bicep Curl
- Calf Raise
- Chest Fly (via straps)
- Chest Press
- Parallel Grip Chest Press
- Chest Press (via straps)
- Deltoid Extension
- Horizontal Lat Pull (or Supported Row)
- Inner Leg Raise
- Outer Leg Raise
- Lat Pulldown
- Leg Curl
- Leg Extension
- Preacher Curl
- Shoulder Press
- Parallel Grip Shoulder Press
- Shoulder Press (via straps)
- Side Bend
- High Pulley Torso Twist
- Parallel Grip Shoulder Press
- Tricep Extension
- Tricep Pushdown
- Upright Row
- … and more.
Certain exercises on this list require extra accessories. For example, kickbacks or outer leg raises will require an ankle cuff which is not included.
Also, certain exercises may require some improvisation. For example, the machine doesn’t come with a preacher pad, so for preacher curls, you will have to use the rollers of the leg developer as supports for your elbows.
You can also perform weighted squats while standing onto the integrated footplates and using the low pulley with a custom grip accessory, but this exercise is not recommended as you can easily lose balance.
Assembly and Maintenance
The Inspire Fitness BL1 doesn’t come assembled, and its assembly will take at least a few hours. The included manual offers pretty concise and comprehensive assembly instructions, so the whole process shouldn’t be too difficult. Tools required for the assembly are not included, though, so you will need a set of wrenches or two adjustable wrenches and a rubber mallet.
Once it is assembled, this home gym doesn’t require much maintenance. All you will have to do for this matter is periodically look for loose bolts or damage/worn off parts, in order to eliminate any related problem that may occur. Also, if the joints or pulleys begin to squeak, lubrication may be required.
- Sturdy construction – can support users of all sizes;
- Thick and durable vinyl upholstery, with consistent padding for maximum comfort;
- Adjustable seat and backrest;
- Durable, sweatproof upholstery on the seat and backrest;
- Consistent foam padding on the chest bars and leg workout station;
- Relatively small footprint for a home gym system;
- Includes 5 workout stations – pec fly, chest press, low pulley, high pulley, and leg developer;
- 10 adjustment positions for the chest press;
- Selectorized weight resistance system, with a weight range between 10% and 150% of the user’s total weight;
- The lack of a weight stack eliminates the noise generated by the contact of weight plates during exercises, so the operation of the machine is very quiet;
- Weight resistance lever is conveniently placed under the seat so you can easily adjust the resistance without having to get up all the time;
- Lat bar included;
- Revolving short bar included;
- Poster with all the possible exercises that can be performed on this machine is also included;
- Over 30 exercises available;
- Little maintenance required;
- Fairly easy to assemble;
- Lifetime warranty.
- Ankle cuff not included;
- Ab harness not included;
- Since the resistance depends on your bodyweight, you can’t adjust it in strict increments of 5 lbs or 10 lbs;
- You cannot perform seated cable rows.
The Inspire Fitness BL1 is a leverage home gym which offers a weight resistance between 10% and 150% of your bodyweight. It has 5 main workout stations, features a very sturdy construction, and can support users of all sizes. Its chest press has 10 adjustment positions, while the seat and backrest are also adjustable. It’s a fitness machine that doesn’t take too much usage space and its operation is extremely quiet. It offers the possibility to perform more than 30 exercises. And finally, it’s a bit more expensive than similar home gyms with a weight stack, but it’s a quality fitness machine and comes with a lifetime warranty.