The starting price of the Tonal home gym is $2,995, which does not include the cost of accessories and the Tonal membership. These will have to be purchased separately, and the accessories will cost $495, while the membership costs $49 per month.
Since the pandemic, home gyms have become extremely popular.
They help you save money and time and are much more convenient than a regular gym. And with this rise in their popularity, more and more brands are offering smart home gyms that can easily be set up. One of the most popular ones among them is Tonal.
And I’ll be doing an in-depth review of the Tonal Smart Home Gym in this comprehensive guide.
Tonal Smart Home Gym – What Is It And How Does It Work?
The Tonal home gym was designed by Aly Orady, a Silicon Valley engineer who was trying to come up with an effective way of losing weight. It is a highly adaptive cable machine that utilizes electromagnets and can easily be attached to a wall.
This machine has been designed to perform the functions of strength training equipment and helps exercise the upper body, core, and lower body. Using the latest technologies, such as AI, the Tonal home gym adjusts according to the training requirements of your body and provides guided workouts.
And there is a wide selection of interactive workouts available to choose from, including HIIT, yoga, dance cardio, and even partner sessions. Tonal also automatically sets the weights and tracks your progress, thus performing the role of a personal trainer as well. But you do not need to unload the plates after completing a workout session, which I found quite useful.
As for how does Tonal work, the home gym has a 24-inch touchscreen monitor in the center, 17 sensors, and two pulleys on both sides. These function using electromagnetic resistance and can provide a maximum of 200 pounds of weighted resistance. This means there are no weights to be stored separately, which adds to the convenience.
Tonal can also be used with smart accessories, like a smart bar and smart handles, which can be connected using a gyroscope motion sensor. The machine uses your previous workouts to determine which muscles need exercising and categorizes muscles as ready, recovering, or fatigued.
For this purpose, it has three color zones. The red zone indicates your muscles need rest, while the yellow zone indicates they are recovering, and the green zone means they are ready. This ensures that you do not need to manually adjust it every time you’re strength training.
How Much Does Tonal Cost?
With its compact design, impressive technology, innovative features, and customizability, Tonal stands out among home gyms. But these factors make it an incredibly pricey option. The price starts at $2,995, and this does not include tax, but it can be split into 24, 36, or 48 monthly payments.
And if you plan to get the smart accessories bundle, it will cost another $495 and includes a workout mat, foam roller, bench, and rope. This is in addition to the smart bar and smart handles. Without this bundle of smart accessories, the home gym just comes with two standard handles.
On top of that, you will need to pay for a Tonal membership, shipping, and installation. This membership allows you to set up as many accounts as required for different family members and provides access to all workouts. The Tonal membership is needed for the first 12 months after purchasing the machine and will cost $49 per month.
Once this period is over, you can continue using Tonal as a standalone machine or renew the membership. That being said, if you choose not to renew the membership, on-demand classes will not be accessible.
The entire delivery and installation process will cost $295 in all states except Alaska and Hawaii.
Aside from the home gym, installation and delivery, you can buy a storage shelf from the Tonal website, which will cost $250 more. This shelf has three hooks for hanging ropes, barbells, and smart handles and can even support a foam roller and yoga mat on top. But the shelf does not offer any space for storing the weight bench, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Space Requirements And Installation
If you’re looking for a compact home gym, Tonal is the first option to consider. Despite serving as a complete workout machine for strength training, it has a sleek design and can easily be mounted on a wall. The machine just requires seven feet by seven feet of floor space and a ceiling height of seven feet ten inches.
It can most easily be installed on a wall made of metal or wood that has a stud width ranging from 16 to 24 inches. But concrete, stucco, or plaster surfaces also work well for the process if their thickness is 1.25 inches or less.
The monitor of the home gym has to be mounted using brackets, using metal or wooden studs. If you’re confused about which studs to use, the company provides an adapter for 17 and 24-inch studs. Additionally, you will require an electrical outlet within six feet of the gym and a reliable Wifi connection.
However, you cannot install the machine by yourself; it will have to be installed by professionals. For this purpose, Tonal has partnered with XPO Logistics, who will also be responsible for delivering it. In case the machine needs to be shifted to a new location, there will be a relocation charge for disassembling and reassembling it.
Once the home gym has been installed, you will need to set it up, which is a simple process. Simply connect the machine to your Wifi, and then just follow the steps that appear on the screen. These steps include creating a Tonal account, entering details like age, height, and weight, setting up personal goals, and selecting the fitness level.
After the setup process is complete, Tonal can recommend workouts based on the details provided. And the strength assessment will help it determine how much weight is ideal for training.
With Tonal, it is possible to perform a wide range of workouts for different fitness goals. These include HIIT, strength training, yoga, dance cardio, pilates, mobility, meditation, and barre. There is a virtual instructor to guide you through each of these exercises, and the classes can be accessed in both on-demand and live formats.
What’s more, you can even set up a custom workout by making adjustments to the settings.
Features Of Tonal Smart Home Gym
Thanks to the 200-pound weighted pulleys, Tonal allows you to perform numerous moves and is ideal for custom workouts. Additionally, there are various modes, like the Eccentric mode, that can be used to increase the difficulty of the workouts. Then there is the strength assessment feature, which helps adapt the exercises as required to help you lose weight.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the features:
1. Interactive Touchscreen
The 24-inch touchscreen of the Tonal smart home gym is a fully interactive monitor that makes it easy to customize your Tonal workouts as required. This screen can be used to interact with the personal trainer, who will provide assistance in setting up the machine, guide you through warm-ups, and even provide some tips.
And it provides valuable feedback as well, which I found to be quite useful.
2. Smart Handles And Pulleys
One of the biggest advantages of Tonal is that there is no need to get individual pieces of fitness equipment, like dumbbells, weight plates, barbells, or other traditional weights. You just need to pull out the two pulleys located on the sides for weight training and slide them back into place when done.
These are highly adjustable as you can move them up and down or make them narrower or wider as required. This allows you to try out a wide variety of strength training workouts using a single machine.
The workout coaches also provide guidance so you can use Tonal’s adjustable arms more easily. And there are indicators that show where the arms have to be and where they are. Similarly, the smart handles on this piece of fitness equipment come with buttons for turning the resistance on or off.
This is a very handy feature since it is not possible for everyone to get into the right position with the resistance on. Then there is the Tonal bar, which comes with a smart clamp that you can activate and deactivate just by attaching it to the machine.
3. Training Modes
For me, the main thing that differentiates Tonal from other smart home gyms is its innovative technology. Thanks to this, the machine can easily adapt to your strength levels without needing to adjust it manually. And the way it does this is through its unique modes, which include:
a) Spotter Mode
This mode has been designed to reduce the load in a gradual manner when it detects that you are having difficulty with a particular workout. In cases where you start experiencing fatigue while doing a set, this mode reduces the difficulty so the last few reps can still be completed.
b) Eccentric Mode/Chains Mode
The Eccentric or Chains mode is among the dynamic weight modes most suitable for serious fitness enthusiasts. It allows for adding extra resistance when you lift weights and lower them in the middle of a Tonal workout. This mode mimics real-life chains used for increasing the difficulty when performing a squat or push-up but can also be used for other workouts.
c) Burnout Mode
Burnout mode is for those who want to reduce the resistance while doing high-rep sets. It allows completing the previous rep successfully without needing to replace different weights between the reps.
d) Smart Flex
The Smart Flex mode allows adding continuous resistance but only at a level where you start struggling. Once it reaches that level, the weight is adjusted to be challenging but still manageable.
4. Strength Assessment
This is one of Tonal’s personalized features that have made it such a popular option. After the professionals install Tonal, the first thing you will need to do is to complete a strength assessment. For this purpose, the machine comes with an exercise protocol that includes various Tonal workouts.
Once these are completed, the machine will automatically adjust the weights, ensuring that they are appropriate for your strength and skill levels. This feature is extremely useful for those just starting their weightlifting journey.
5. Continuous Tracking
If you’re someone like me who loves to track their progress, then the continuous tracking feature can be quite handy. Tonal tracks several variables for each type of workout when you exercise, such as volume, load, reps, sets, and more.
For beginners, this feature allows a better understanding of their skill level, while advanced users can utilize it to determine their goals for the future.
6. Bluetooth Connectivity
Tonal can be connected to a fitness tracker, smartphone, or heart rate monitor easily using Bluetooth connectivity. Your barbells or handles can also be connected using Bluetooth through a simple process. Just pull down from the top of the touchscreen to access the Bluetooth button.
The home gym comes preloaded with music that can be streamed while working out. What’s more, it is even possible to connect your Spotify or Apple Music subscription to play your favorite songs.
To do so, just download the application and connect your smartphone to Tonal. Once your music app is connected, it will upload the entire song library to the machine.
8. Electromagnetic Resistance
Tonal uses electromagnetic force instead of the gravitational force offered by traditional weights to provide resistance to users while training. This ensures that the resistance is smooth and constant during various movements. Additionally, the home gym can increase the resistance over time to ensure that the right muscle group is being exercised.
The machine provides a maximum resistance of 200 pounds, which is adequate for most people but may not be enough for powerlifters and other serious athletes. Also, it is possible to max out the resistance offered by performing compound movements. To avoid such problems, I recommend using the Eccentric or Chains modes.
9. Motion Sensing Technology
One of the key aspects of Tonal that help it stand out from other home gyms is its set of sensors. These work in real-time to ensure you perform the correct motions at the right pace and have the proper form. You will also get suggestions on the monitor for this purpose.
This feature can be very useful while working out using the machine, but there is one limitation to keep in mind. It will require you to turn to look at the screen when performing an exercise where the machine is at your back.
Tonal classes do not have a daily leaderboard, unlike some other home gyms. Instead, they have a leaderboard for a period of 30 days, and your rank depends on the number of workouts completed and the time spent completing them. This is most suitable for people who have a competitive nature and want to monitor their progress.
How Does It Feel To Use Tonal
When it comes to using smart home gyms, it is always better to go with options that make the experience simple and enjoyable. So, evaluating the user experience offered by Tonal was one of the most important aspects when I was testing the machine.
For that purpose, the touchscreen had to be evaluated first. The reason is that it is where all your settings and controls rest and from where you can set goals, make adjustments, or access Tonal classes.
It has an easy-to-navigate homepage, and even beginners will find it very intuitive. To make it simple to access the workouts you need, different exercises are labeled by goals and body parts. Navigating through these options is easy, as is selecting the ones that suit your current goals.
There are also one-off workouts that can be adjusted as required. This means you do not have to select random workouts and can follow a readymade program if required. For enthusiasts, this makes it easy to track their progress.
A personal trainer can help you customize and adjust the settings as needed for different programs. However, when it comes to using accessories and attachments, the experience is a bit different. This is because you need to use the special T-lock system and control clips which need to be clipped and unclipped on every use. It can get tedious after some time.
Tonal also comes with a companion app for tracking workouts and has a section that allows you to train even when away from the machine. I discovered that the app also creates benchmarks and provides descriptions of the exercises but does not allow streaming classes.
Advantages Of The Tonal Home Gym
There are many things that I like about Tonal, such as:
1. Space Saving Design
Unlike most home gyms that occupy a large portion of your room, Tonal has a sleek and attractive design that is great for saving space. It only requires a floor space of seven feet by seven feet, with a ceiling height of seven feet ten inches, making it well-suited for people who have limited space. The design allows you to simply pull out the arms when exercising and slide them back when done.
2. Quiet Operation
Being a fitness enthusiast, I’ve tried out many home gyms, but they all tend to make some noise. In contrast, Tonal operates completely noiselessly, which makes it ideal for those living in an apartment building and who want to avoid disturbing the neighbors.
3. Easy To Use
For beginners just starting on their physical fitness journey, Tonal may be a much better option than other home gyms. This is due to its initial strength assessment, which allows the machine to adjust the weight depending on the user’s skill level. And it keeps adjusting the weights as you progress in your strength training to target different muscle groups.
4. Wide Range Of Workouts
Tonal comes with a huge selection of workouts for different levels, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced programs. These include on-demand and live classes and custom workouts that can be adjusted as needed. And all these workouts can be accessed without needing to pay any fee to a personal trainer or gym instructor.
5. Knowledgeable Instructors
As I mentioned before, Tonal offers classes to help you achieve various fitness goals. The on-demand and live classes have knowledgeable instructors that help guide you, ensuring the correct form and movements. And each Tonal trainer provides valuable feedback that can make the workouts more effective and rewarding.
6. Good Selection Of Music Stations
Tonal has a huge selection of music stations allowing you to select your favorite music easily. This includes hip-hop music, rock, pop, etc., which are easily accessible while working out. In addition, it is very easy to connect to Apple Music or Spotify, which makes the experience even better.
7. Suitable For Partner Workouts
This smart home gym is a good choice if you like working with a partner. Several types of exercises, such as the full body workout and aerobic exercise, can be performed with a partner by making adjustments to the arms of the machine.
Disadvantages Of Tonal
1. Needs The Right Type Of Walls
To install Tonal, you will need to have the right type of walls. If the walls are too thick, they won’t be able to detect the studs used for installation. An alternative option would be to go with a stud build-out, but this will require a lot of time and money and will require the services of a professional contractor.
2. Very Expensive
Even without adding the cost of professional installation and accessories, Tonal is an extremely pricey option when it comes to home gyms. Even if you want to use your own accessories, it will require purchasing the special Tonal attachment.
Alternatively, you can purchase several types of workout equipment, not just strength training equipment, for the same price.
3. Not The Best For Competitive Sports Training
The maximum resistance that Tonal offers is 200 pounds, which can be a bit limiting for competitive athletes. In such sports, you are likely used to pushing more weight, so this machine may not provide a good workout.
4. Some Exercises Can Take Some Time Getting Used To
You may take some time to get used to performing certain workouts, like benching and squatting using pulleys. And even then, those workouts may not be as enjoyable as traditional ones.
5. Not A Very Reflective Screen
Compared to many other home gyms, Tonal has a less reflective screen that can make it a bit harder to watch yourself while exercising. For beginners who want to watch their form and ensure they exercise correctly, it can be more of a hassle than for advanced fitness enthusiasts. While this is not a major factor that can affect your experience, it is something to keep in mind.
Tonal Vs The Mirror
Many smart home gyms offer various classes and strength training, but Tonal and the Mirror are the most popular ones. Both offer similar features, but the Mirror does not offer a digital weight which helps Tonal stand out.
Tonal is the most expensive home gym you can purchase right now, while the Mirror is the most affordable, costing about $1000 less than Tonal. That said, Tonal offers many features you won’t find in any competing option.
One such feature is its automatic adjustments depending on your strength and skill levels which also change with time. Then, there is the fact that Tonal can detect the state of your muscles and know whether they are tired or ready for workouts.
That said, there are a few things that the Mirror does better. It might be a better option if you like to watch your form and the instructor while exercising. Similarly, some people, like me, do not like mounting their home gym to the wall, in which case Tonal might not be the best choice.
For the same reason, Tonal is not ideal for people who live in rented accommodations or offer such accommodations. Another key difference between Tonal and the Mirror is that the latter puts a greater focus on body weight training and cardio. While it does not offer digital weights, you will need to buy standard free weights separately.
How Much Does Tonal Cost Conclusion
Tonal is one of the various home gym machines that are becoming very popular in recent times. It is easy to use and can offer customized workouts depending on your strength levels, making it a good choice for beginners.
While it offers a lot more features than most competing options, this is also why it is much more expensive.
Despite that, it can be a bit restrictive for advanced athletes since it only offers a maximum of 200 pounds of resistance. Also, while being ideal for small rooms, Tonal has to be installed on a wall, which can make it unsuitable for some people.
Ultimately, if you are willing to spend a considerable amount of money, have free wall space, and do not want to get a gym membership, Tonal is a good option. But alternatives like the Mirror might be better for those who do not want to break the bank but want the benefits of a smart home gym.