The path towards better overall fitness often starts with baby steps, a brisk walk here, a jog there, some bodyweight exercises. But for those individuals more accustomed to a highly regimented routine of weightlifting and high-intensity workouts, these basic exercises simply are not enough. Treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals are all great forms of cardio, but these machines are narrowly focused in their targeting of muscle groups. Enter: Smart Home Gym Equipment, which is quickly becoming a mainstay in American households as we attempt to remain socially safe. These exercise options appear to be the wave of the future, as larger gyms and fitness studios struggle to stay afloat.
The Advantages of Modern At-Home Gym Equipment
A home workout provides numerous benefits for the fitness-hungry folks of the world. The question then is, how do they compare to physically going to the gym, going for a run, or attending a class?
Let’s dive in:
- Long-term investment – All of the home gym equipment pieces reviewed below are designed for long-term use. Once you begin to understand their sticker price in that future-oriented way, the larger cost appears less daunting.
- Live and on-demand classes with instructors – For many seeking to improve their physical fitness, the encouragement, and support provided by an instructor give them the extra oomph they need to succeed.
- Convenience – There simply is nothing more convenient than having the ability to workout without leaving your home. This also makes it much harder to flake and not exercise, when you don’t have to drive, park, or wear that perfectly matching outfit you own.
- Flexibility – Are you an early riser? A late-night gym rat? Perhaps you spread out two workouts, sprinkling them around your schedule. The at-home approach allows you to switch up your day with ease.
- Privacy – Anyone that has ever been to a gym (from bodybuilding professionals to fathers trying to get rid of their dadbod) will tell you that one of the worst aspects of a gym is the lack of privacy. Between sets, your fellow gym-goers look around, stare at you, and silently judge as you take another 30-second rest while browsing Insta.
- Performance Tracking – Record your progress to see where you excel and what area(s) need improvement.
- Sleek designs – Gone are the days of an ugly eye-sore in the home, ie. a treadmill that becomes a place for hanging clothes. Each of these pieces of equipment is as sleek as can be.
Whether you are a workout champion or a green novice, figuring out the best home gym for your needs takes some time and consideration. Allow us to break down what they have to offer:
Of the three gyms, the Mirror is both the market leader and the most cardio-based. There are tens of thousands of available classed to select from, including pilates, boxing, yoga, sculpting, stretching, dance, and cardio. Plus, these classes feature some of the country’s top fitness instructors and are made to suit exercisers of all skill levels.
- Expansive collection of on-demand and new live classes, because variety is the spice of life
- The sexy, sleek design of the Mirror is noticeable, and it’s also the most portable option because it stands alone and does not require wall mounting
- Apple Watch syncs with the Mirror (plus other heartrate monitors: Polar, Garmin Heart Rate Monitor chest strap, Peloton, Orange Theory, & Android smartwatches running Wear OS)
- The Mirror has the largest variety of workouts for varying types of equipment – bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, or nothing at all. This way, if you already own gym equipment, you can enjoy plentiful cost savings
- The large screen allows for you to work out with your kids or friends who swing by
- A subscription is required, which means the comparably lower price is offset by a $39 recurring monthly fee
- No physical weights are included, besides resistance bands
- Lack of a touch screen- this is apparently to prevent fingerprint smudges on the mirror
- No AI technology, which translates to no performance tracking
Think of the Mirror as the simplest, most frills-free of the trio. It may not offer much in terms of weights and performance tracking, but it has other unique advantages. The generous variety of workouts, large screen, and ability to sync with heart rate monitors come to mind. Plus, the ability to move it is very advantageous, especially if you choose to move the Mirror to another room in your house or move houses completely!
The included 3D Motion sensors on the Tempo are a huge plus because they allow class instructors to not only critique your form but to do so with your privacy in mind. How? Instructors see participants as skeleton-like figures, which permits them to correct mistakes in real-time without peeking into your living room. Plus, the 42-inch screen is a welcome addition to any living room or bedroom. Additionally, the weight storage system built into the Tempo makes neat storage a breeze. Ultimately, compared to the Mirror, Tempo includes more workout equipment:
- 2 dumbells
- 1 barbell
- Assorted plates
- Heart rate monitor
- Workout mat
- Premium foam roller
- The real-time form adjustments are huge, ensuring you perform each lift with precision and avoid unleashing undue pain on your joints
- Tempo Leaderboards- This is the perfect solution for people hoping to tap into their competitive side and reach new heights physically.
- Personalized stats – Who doesn’t love tracking their story? Hitting your fitness goals is made all the easier with this feature
- Delivers the most resistance for building muscle – given the option to load your barbell up to 300 pounds, the Tempo is head and shoulders above the competition in this regard.
- Premium equipment – From the stainless steel dumbbells and barbell to the rubber-coated plates — the included equipment is clearly built to last.
- If you need more than the 115 lbs. of weights included, it will cost you extra
- Rep counting is not always accurate (put simply: don’t stray away from the 6’ of clearance required in front of the Tempo)
- Lack of a bench. For many, this won’t be even the slightest problem, especially because this means the Tempo can store away easily
- No customizable music. You’re forced to utilize the various playlists it offers. But, if you use your own headphones for your workout, this is a non-issue.
Beginner-intermediate weight lifters will relish this home gym, which means that more advanced lifters are likely to be disappointed by Tempo. That being said, Tempo provides form checks from respected instructors, a huge interactive screen, and plenty of workout equipment. (Plus, no membership fee!)
You will instantly notice that Tonal brings something different to the table. After installing it on studded walls, you have access to 2 adjustable arms with cable handles, which can be used in 170+ unique ways. Thanks to electromagnetic energy, you have access to 200 pounds of resistance with Tonal (100 lb. on each arm). This next-level home gym performs an initial strength assessment when you first set it up, to discover your individual body and strength levels. Afterward, it recommends the weight you should lift for each exercise and gives adjustments as you go. The digital weight system is very futuristic feeling, offering advanced options such as Spotter Mode and Eccentric movements (changing resistance levels throughout the range of motion for specific exercises).
- “Spotter Mode” is unique to Tonal, adjusting weight resistance in a way that mimics what you’d feel from someone spotting you in person
- “Eccentric training” and “Chain training” emphasize different portions of each lift, supplying you with dynamic resistance throughout the range of motion
- A sleek design helps this gym pack away more discreetly and easily than you’d guess
- Special partner classes let you and a friend take on a class together, alternating sets.
- Virtual group workouts grant you and some friends the chance to work out together on your Tonals, simultaneously.
- The Tonal is still usable without the $49 subscription as a home gym. This allows you to avoid needing physical weights in your house
- Great range of motion on the pulley system, allowing for tall users to workout with ease.
- Solid speaker system with adjustable volume and the ability to change your instructor
- Significantly more expensive than the other two. The starting price is $2,995, but that price doesn’t include the $49/month membership for classes, or the Smart Accessories pack, which includes Smart Handles, a Smart Bar, rope, bench, roller, and workout mat, and costs an additional $495
- The Tonal membership is required for the first 12 months, which means you are forced to cough up the nearly $600 price for year one, whether you love the workouts or not
- The 200 lb. resistance is limiting for advanced lifters, especially considering squats and deadlifts, which work your leg muscles.
- You have to install the Tonal into studded walls, which can be a problem for those living in apartments or condos
Tonal is the complete package, offering yoga, high-intensity cardio, expert guidance and form checking, plus strength training. It’s a classic get-what-you-pay-for scenario because this is the priciest gym by far, but it is marketed as a replacement for going to the gym. If that’s something that appeals to you, Tonal is the equipment for you. The one caveat? (which is true for any home workout equipment) Advanced weightlifters will not be able to attain the levels of resistance they need, the ones they can obtain at a gym.
All of these at-home gyms provide unique advantages and disadvantages. The Mirror is a great way to get a good workout and involve your family, without hassling with equipment or intense strength training. The Tempo is ideal for those that have some familiarity with the gym environment, offering barbells and dumbbells that mimic the traditional gym experience — it’s a happy medium between the other two. Last but not least, the Tonal is the most serious investment of the group, a premium price for a premium product (just as long as you can drill some studs in your wall).