With the launch of the Fusion CST, NordicTrack is targeting a unique niche that bridges the gap between cardio and strength training. It’s 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. This setup can be used for a host of your usual strength training exercises—cable flies, lateral raises, bent cable crossovers, etc.—but NordicTrack’s big selling feature here are the intense cross-training workouts that are served to you via iFit (see a video preview of the training sessions here). 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 build muscle in the process. Conceptually this sounds great, but how effective is it really? That’s precisely why we’re here.
|Model||NordicTrack Fusion CST|
|Accessories||10" Tablet Included
8 Pulley System Included
Parts & Labor: 1-Year
Compact, smartly engineered, and capable of bringing studio-level training into your home, the Fusion LT has a fair bit going for it. The most noteworthy element that NordicTrack likes to hang their hat (outside of the variety of iFit training sessions) is the way this unit 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 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 LT 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 will will be effective for building lean muscle to a point, however if your goal is specifically increasing muscle mass, you’ll 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 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 membership to iFit Coach Plus. 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). Similarly 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 Coach Plus is central to the Fusion CST and it ships with a one-year subscription. This high-end personal training technology is even more motivating than traditional iFit. Older iFit technology can be pretty riveting when you integrate Google Maps with real scenery, but iFit Coach Plus is a step above, as it adds a real personal trainer to the equation, who you can watch to ensure that you are following correct form. 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 really key as you get started with thew Fusion CST. As you saw in the video we linked to above, the key with this rig is pacing—as 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 Coach Plus is an on-demand virtual personal training system. You can schedule reminders to tune in for daily livecast classes, or choose from a huge archive of sessions that have been recorded previously. From one day to the next you can keep changing up our routine, or save a set of favorites to rotate through on a weekly basis.
Besides workout guidance, iFit Coach Plus 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 video recipe instructions, and much more.
A good fit for most homes, the NordicTrack Fusion CST is a mere 42″ wide and 73.5″ 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, however when following along with iFit courses the program/trainer will adjust your resistance up and down from your pre-set 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 lifetime frame warranty and one-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. 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 who view hopping on a treadmill or exercise bike as pure torture. 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.