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Review: Tonal Fitness System Brings High Tech Exercise Home

High-tech smart workout systems were always going to become “the next big thing” in fitness. The coronavirus pandemic merely brought these smart gym systems to the fore of popular culture sooner than expected. While there are smart gym machines focused on cardio and aerobic exercises like the Peloton and Mirror fitness system, the Tonal Home Gym is focused on strength training. Tonal was designed to combine online resources with the convenience of working out at home, and the timing couldn’t be better.

The Tonal Home Gym is essentially a large, high-definition, vertical screen placed on the wall. However, unlike some similar systems, the Tonal includes two weighted arms that use electromagnetic force to create resistance up to 200 pounds. You can choose between fitness routines for general fitness or target muscle groups for strength training. The Tonal’s onboard, downloadable programming serves up more than 200 individual exercises, an impressive number for a single piece of machinery.

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On top of thatt, Tonal customers get direct, one-on-one coaching via a menu of trainer videos that offer guidance through both the fitness routines and muscle group sessions. An online connection updates the Tonal’s operating system and fitness session collection, too. You can self-install or bring in professional installators.


What We Liked About the Tonal Home Gym

One of the drawbacks of a home gym is the amount of floor space it requires. Considering urban users might have a tough time squeezing fitness equipment into a cramped apartment space, the Tonal designers created a wall-mounted system with a conveniently compact spatial signature. If you can fit the extended weightlifting arms of the device and its bench accessory into the room, you’re good to go.

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It’s a truly impressive design, and we’ve never seen anything like it in the home fitness space before.


Best Feature: Partner Mode

The one thing that’s missing from this home gym? The kinds of social connections you can find at the gym or with a personal trainer. While it’s true the on-screen system allows you to exercise with guidance from a human professional, that’s a recording coming from a screen, and it’s not quite the same. To counter the potential isolation of using a Tonal in-home gym, its designers built-in multiuser options and Partner Mode, allowing you to workout in turns with a fellow user.

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What We Didn’t Like About the Tonal Home Gym

The price of $3,000 doesn’t seem totally outrageous considering the amount of equipment the Tonal Home Gym brings into your domicile. Unfortunately, that price tag doesn’t get you a fully functional fitness setup. There’s another $500 if you want the accessories, including the various handle and bar grip connections for the weight arms. Then, there’s the installation cost of getting this beefy electronics collection onto your wall. Finally, membership to video training sessions are another $49 per month, with a 12-month commitment. All totaled, you’re not switching on a Tonal for more than $4,000.

So while this smart gym might save you money on a gym membership, you will likely still spend more money in the long run.


The Verdict: It’s up to your personality (and bank account).

When evaluating the Tonal, you’ll have to ask the same questions posed by other expensive fitness equipment like rowing machines and indoor fitness bikes. Are you the type of fitness hunter who thrives on regular home workouts? Conversely, does the energy and atmosphere of a gym or the class environment of make exercising more fun and motivating?

While it might not always feel that way, the Covid-19 era is temporary. The lockdowns and the social distancing will fade into the past as the virus is knocked down by vaccines. Gyms will reopen. Workout aficionados will have the opportunity to venture out again for training sessions and fitness classes. If that world doesn’t interest you and you prefer the comparative peace and convenience of a home-based workout, Tonal provides an elite, high-tech way to strength train via modern technology.

Of course, just to face this decision, you need to be able to absorb the $3,000+ price of a Tonal. For now, the Tonal remains a luxury product, but one that justifies its price tag for those who can afford it.

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