The NordicTrack Fusion CST may seem a bit of a confusing machine for those used to traditional gym equipment; the cables look familiar, yet there’s no weight to be seen. Instead, a flywheel similar to what we see on conventional indoor cycles rests in the middle of the rig, using magnetic resistance to control the amount of load on the cables during your workout.
So, what’s the Fusion CST for? It bridges the gap between cardio and strength training. Its unique setup can be used for a host of your usual strength training exercises, from cable flies to lateral raises to bent cable crossovers. One of the machine’s biggest selling points is its iFit capability; it gives you access to a huge variety of intense cross-training workouts (watch a video preview of the training sessions to see the machine in action). Much like what’s available for their treadmills and exercise bikes, trainer-led workouts run you through fast-paced sessions to keep your heart pumping and muscles building in the process.
This all sounds great, but how effective is it really? We’re here to unpack the pros and cons of the Fusion CST so you can decide whether it’s the right machine for you.
|Model||NordicTrack Fusion CST|
|Accessories||10" Tablet Included|
6 Pulley System Included
|Warranty||Frame: 10 years|
Parts & Labor: 1 year
Our Rating: 90/100
Compact, smartly engineered, and capable of bringing studio-level training into your home, the Fusion CST has a fair bit going for it. Outside of the variety of iFit training sessions, one of its most noteworthy elements is the way it can meld cardio and strength training into a single workout. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and other fast-paced workouts are a big part of the equation. It’s also easier on joints than a traditional weight-based home gym on account of how its magnetic resistance system works—a major plus for those who’ve struggled with muscle and joint pain over the years.
While clever in design, and practical for those looking to both lose weight and build a bit of lean muscle, the Fusion CST isn’t a replacement for conventional strength training home gyms. Don’t get me wrong, the programs NordicTrack’s pro trainers have designed for this rig are effective for building lean muscle to a point. However, if increasing muscle mass is your key goal, you would be better off looking at more traditional home gyms or things like the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE. What stood out most at first glance is the lack of adjustability on the cable points, which could be a hindrance with some exercises for those looking to do more conventional strength training workouts.
Pros & Cons
- Combines cardio and strength training for maximum workout efficiency
- Uses magnetic resistance to make strength training relatively gentle on your joints compared to weight stacks
- Has three sets of pulleys and a maximum pulley extension length of 95 inches
- Trainer-controlled resistance during iFit training sessions
- Has a range of 20 resistance settings, adjusted digitally
- Includes a removable 10″ NordicTrack tablet for iFit training
- Comes with an adjustable height tablet/smartphone stand
- Includes a Bluetooth chest strap for wireless heart rate monitoring
- Fusion CST operates more quietly than machines with weight stacks
- Has a space-conscious design for practical use in most homes, taking up just 3½ x 5 feet of floor space
- Its cables are not height adjustable
- Hard to equate resistance levels to conventional weight lifting capability
- The parts and labor warranty is only valid for one year—much shorter than warranties from the competition
The Fusion CST is NordicTrack’s contribution to a new class of home gym. The brand’s intent with the Fusion line is to streamline workouts by “fusing” strength training with a high-intensity cardio routine. This is primarily executed through the vast assortment of interactive training sessions available via the 1-year iFit membership. Professional trainers will guide you through one intense workout after the next, burning fat and building lean muscle in the process.
By opting for a magnetic resistance system, the unit is more compact than its conventional weight stack equivalent, though there is one compromise that comes with this configuration. Unlike a conventional rig, resistance on the cables is not bi-directional, so you only have resistance during the concentric phase of a rep and not on the return (eccentric phase). Similar to a rowing machine though, this one-way resistance is a great setup when cardio-focused pacing is required for a workout, bringing us back to the resounding point about who this machine is targeting.
iFit is central to the Fusion CST; it ships with a one-year subscription, allowing you to add personal training to the equation. NordicTrack includes a proprietary 10″ tablet as part of the deal to follow along with these workouts, as well as a separate tablet stand that allows for easier viewing when the workout requires facing away from the machine.
As an added bonus (and something uncommon in the category), a wireless chest strap heart rate monitor is included with the Fusion CST.
Given its unique design, pro guidance is key as you get started with the Fusion CST. As you saw in the video above, the key with this rig is pacing; you’ll focus less on pushing your absolute heaviest weight, and more on being able to power through all of the different motions at a pace set by your trainer.
Essentially, iFit is an on-demand virtual personal training system. You can schedule reminders to tune in for live daily classes, or choose from a huge archive of sessions that have been recorded previously. It allows you to change up your routine from one day to the next or save a set of favorites to rotate through on a weekly basis.
Besides workout guidance, iFit can help you reach fitness goals with comprehensive health feedback. It can count your daily steps (a wearable device is included), make personalized recommendations about your sleep cycle, provide nutritional guidance, and much more.
A good fit for most homes, the NordicTrack Fusion CST is a mere 41.5″ long, 59.4″ wide and 73.7″ tall, so it won’t burn a ton of space wherever you choose to set up your home gym.
The Fusion has three sets of pulleys with 20 levels of resistance. If you’re setting your own routine, these can be adjusted via buttons on the console, and when you’re following an iFit course, the program/trainer will adjust your resistance up and down from your preset baseline as you work through the training session.
According to NordicTrack, the Fusion CST is also inherently more gentle on muscles and joints due to the smoother delivery of resistance via its magnetic system, making it an appealing option for older fitness enthusiasts, and/or those suffering from chronic joint issues.
Warranty & Guarantee
NordicTrack sells the Fusion CST home gym with a 10-year frame warranty and 1-year parts and labor warranty. Given the complexity of the magnetic system, and the fact that the display/tablet is included, this seems a bit light when compared to other home gyms on the market.
Though it fills a small niche of the fitness category as a whole, the NordicTrack Fusion CST is a unique and appealing option for some, including older fitness enthusiasts and those suffering from chronic joint issues. We focus so much of our efforts on traditional cardio equipment, but at the end of the day there are still plenty of folks out there looking to get fit without having to hop on a treadmill or exercise bike. By striking a balance between lifting and high-intensity cardio, I have no doubt that there’s at least a modest audience for a piece of equipment like this.