Introducing Tonal—The Latest In High Tech Home Gym Equipment
Technology continues to impact the fitness space, now more than ever, and Tonal is the latest in a small grouping of tech-focused fitness equipment that’s delivering a new spin on strength training. If their product design, website layout, and other details are any indicator, we suspect its parent company is the same people that were behind Mirror, but rather than being a fitness tracking and interactive workout delivery mechanism, Tonal adds actual strength training to the mix. It’s a clever and space-saving piece of equipment, and though it’s not suited for everyone, it’s at the very least worth a second glance. What’s more, the Tonal is a cut above Mirror for the simple fact that it’s a touchscreen rather than forcing you to rely on an iOS device.
First things first, interactivity and personalized training is the big advantage available with Tonal. Once purchased, a monthly membership fee of $49/month gives users access to a host of training options geared towards a variety of goals and skill levels. As you get started, you can choose individual workouts to get yourself familiar with the configuring and pacing of the available routines. From there, you can select from a variety of programs that pair you with a specific trainer for workouts several times a week over a four week period.
The types of available workouts and programs include:
- Build Muscle — Workouts targeted at building specific muscle groups
- Tone Up — A more full-body focused workout that balances resistance and interval training
- Get Started — An entry-level kickstart to fitness that teaches you the basics and helps you figure out what direction to take your training in
- Athletic Performance — Intense workouts geared towards building strength, power, speed, and endurance
- Cardio Booster — Cardio routines, high intensity interval training, aerobics to maximize calorie burn
- Stretch & Recover — Self explanatory, a mix of yoga and other stretching exercises with mobility and joint health in mind
Each week new workouts and programs are added frequently to ensure that you’ll never tire of your routine. Tonal has also mentioned their intent to add classes to their arsenal as well. While not entirely clear on what that entails, the idea of more training options being available is definitely a good thing.
What’s especially interesting about the Tonal rig is the machine’s ability to dynamically alter resistance in order to help you reach your goals. The machine uses a magnetic flywheel for resistance in a similar fashion as the NordicTrack Fusion CST, and because this resistance is controlled digitally the machine uses data from sensors within the machine to set and adjust resistance accordingly. Unlike weigh stacks, you can’t get away with adding extra swing or leverage to your reps, and with your coach on the screen you can get a better look at correct form to make sure you’re doing things right.
One of my favorite built-in features, and something that those looking to push their limits will love, is the integrated Tonal Spotter (a function you can turn on or off as you see fit). This function acts like having a friend spotting you in the gym, slightly reducing weight at the tail end of the set if the machine senses you struggling with your reps.
Beyond that, Tonal will set resistance levels for you—that’s how smart it is. Rather than the guesswork of “how much should I lift” or “I’m gonna go light today”, Tonal gauges your strength and resistance to ensure that you’re pushing hard enough through your workouts. In addition buttons on the Tonal’s grips are used to engage and disengage the weight on the bar on command—again, genius. You can draw the bar/grip/etc into position, and basically just hit go.
At the end of the day, the Tonal effectively picks up where Peloton left off in the space of getting a virtual personal trainer into your home at a fraction of the cost of hiring a real human on-demand. That said, it’s also a very pricey piece of kit when compared to more conventional home gyms out there. For those who really need the added motivation/push of a trainer might be better off spending their money with Tonal, however if you know your way around a workout already and/or are comfortable pulling workout routines from the web or other resources, you can easily save some coin by going for things like the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE, or the aforementioned NordicTrack Fusion CST.
- Access to wide range of fitness activity on demand
- Space saving wall mounted design, thanks to digitally controlled magnetic resistance system
- Premium touchscreen HD display
- Capable of up to 200lbs of resistance without a traditional weight stack.
- Consistent resistance delivery on both positive and negative phase of exercises
- 50+ new workouts added weekly
- Built in “spotter” function will assist users in completing last reps
- On/Off resistance loading buttons on grips
- Ability to adapt your own grips if you prefer
- Reasonable warranty period
- Entry price + carrying costs
- Bar, rope, bench, and other accessories @ additional cost ($495)
- New company—long term viability questionable
This is another category where Tonal is crushing Mirror. Where Mirror offers a 1-year warranty, Tonal offers 3. Said warranty covers the entire unit, including its touchscreen. For the first year both parts and labor are covered, and in the following two, only parts are covered. As a new brand in the marketplace, this is much more confidence inspiring than a single-year warranty.
At the end of the day, this is a VERY niche workout rig, and one that comes with a steep sticker price, but depending on your needs and budget, it could be perfect for you. The brand has packed a ton of clever functionality into this machine, so if you love all things high tech, and want a personal trainer experience without leaving your home, I’d happily recommend this. My only gripe? The bench and additional bar/rope/etc should be included in the package. Obviously.