Connected fitness isn’t just for exercise bikes like Peloton anymore – now, those of us who want the best home gym have a new “smart” category to choose from connected smart home gyms like Tonal, Mirror and Tempo. But can you really get a good workout with a TV screen thingy hanging on your wall? And how do the workouts compare between Tonal, Mirror and Tempo? Which one is the best value for the price?
And is a smart mirror / home gym even the right call for your workout styles and fitness goals? We’ll review the different types of connected home fitness devices to help you figure out which category is going to help you the most.
A quick note: we finally tried out the new Tempo Move, which is the lower cost, brand-new offer from Tempo. Tempo was kind enough to ship us one for free, which we greatly appreciate. You can read our comparison of the Tempo Move vs the Tempo Studio here.
Smart Home Gyms – Which one is right for your personal fitness goals?
Everybody knows about the smart home exercise bike thanks to Peloton, a fitness industry pioneer. But beyond bikes – and mirrors – what else is there and who are they right for? Here are the current categories of smart home gym equipment, the types of workouts you can do with them, and rough price ranges.
|Type||Companies||Workout Types||Equipment Price||Monthly Subscription Price|
|Riding – Cardio||$999 – $2,250||$13 – $40|
|Yoga – Stretching|
Bootcamp – Cardio/ Strength
Pilates – Core
|$999 – $3,000||$20 – $49|
|Rowing – Cardio||$1,000 – $2,200||$38 – $40|
|Running – Cardio|
|$1,300 – $3,000||$39 – $40|
|Smart Strength Trainers||NordicTrack|
|Weight Lifting – Strength||$2,250 – $3,400||$39 – $49|
If you’re looking for pure cardio, the bikes, rowers and treadmills are probably the best bet. And if strength is what you are after, the smart mirrors may do the trick – especially the Tempo Studio, since you can purchase weights and other resistance equipment for an extra $495, or Tonal, which comes with a lot of resistance equipment baked-in. And, of course, NordicTrack has some killer smart strength trainers, but they aren’t cheap! But if you want to lift weights in your house with a trainer or with a recorded program, that’s a great option.
Where do home gyms like Tonal, Mirror and Tempo shine? Workout variety.
We like the variety of workout programs options available with the smart mirrors like Tonal, Mirror, and Tempo. Strength, cardio, pilates, yoga – some even have family workout programs – you aren’t going to get that with a Peloton (unless I guess you buy one for every family member, lol). And we wouldn’t be surprised if more of them start to come out with connected weight lifting equipment like what Tempo and Tonal have. It’s a natural product extension – who wouldn’t want to see you kettlebells, right???
Price Comparison: Tonal vs Mirror vs Tempo
Now that we’ve spent the time discussing the various types of smart home gym equipment on the market, let’s dive in to compare Tonal, Mirror and Tempo’s features and pricing.
|Smart Home Gym Price Comparison|
|Equipment Cost||$2,995 – base model|
+$495 for accessories
|$999 – 40′|
$1,640 – 50′
Abs + Arms
|Strength Equipment||Built-in electro-magnetic arms||Training bands (elastics)||Barbell, dumbbells and plates||None|
|Live Classes||No||Yes||Yes||Extra Charge|
|Speakers||15w stereo speakers||10w stereo speakers||60w stereo speakers||8w speakers – 50 inch|
|Monthly Subscription (Excluding Device)||$49 per month||$39 per month||$39 per month||$19.99 per month or|
$39.99 per month
We can’t forget to mention the differences in live vs “recorded” classes. Some of these providers offer live classes, where you’ll watch an instructor run you through the workout – just like you’d have at a class at your local gym. Others only have recorded classes. Maybe not a problem, but just something to be aware of. Tonal only has recorded fitness classes at the time of this review being written, so you are going to have to like their on demand options – there are a lot, and they seem pretty great. Mirror and Tempo include on demand and live in their monthly plans. And the Reflect, which is the dark horse, has a low-priced, $19.99 per month plan that only has the recorded classes OR a more expensive $39.99 subscription (similar to the others we are reviewing in pricing) that includes live instruction.
Comparing Home Gym Features: Tonal vs Tempo vs Mirror vs Echelon Reflect
Beyond the workouts and workout classes, it’s important to understand what other features these machines will give you. We breakdown the features and cost difference between Tonal vs Mirror vs Tempo below:
|Form Factor||Wall mount with resistance arms||Wall mount||Freestanding device||Wall mount|
|Screen Size||24″||40″||42″||39″ or “32”|
|Resistance Equipment||Built in resistance arms||Elastic Training Bands||Barbell, dumbbells, plates and more||None|
Tonal and Tempo are the clear leaders if you are looking for resistance/strength training. But that strength training is clearly coming at a cost – an extra $1,000+ over the cost of Mirror.
We also added in an additional competitor – Echelon Reflect. This is a lower priced option with two hardware points, $999 for their 40’ and $1,640 for their 50’. Both are essentially Mirror clones, although it’s arguably the best option if you’re price-sensitive and okay with a smaller screen.
Our Take after Using Them
After using these devices, we’ve got some strong opinions on which is right for whom. The Tonal is really the top of the line piece of equipment. The adjustable cables are technologically amazing. However, it’s very large and requires a ton of space in your house – and it really has to get attached to your wall. So it’s not for people who don’t have a huge amount of room to dedicate. Tempo is great for people who want resistance training, and it’s somewhat moveable, so you don’t need as much room as the Tonal. And Mirror (until the Tempo Move came along), take the least amount of space and costs the least.
We’ve had our Tonal for a little over a week, and love it so far. But, making sure you have enough room in your house for it is a bit of a pain, which we’ll address in a moment. One of the major advantages over Mirror, Tonal’s home gym has built-in resistance equipment. Basically, on either side of the Tonal smart mirror there are arms that can swing out, up, down, and that give you the ability to add handles, pulleys and other equipment that provides resistance and strength training. So you’ll obviously want to step up to the extra $495 price for the resistance equipment – making this option quite a bit more expensive than Mirror.
Tonal needs a LOT of space – it is installed into your wall with a series of bolts. Don’t worry, when you purchase the device it includes installation, so a team of two guys actually did the work for mine. However, you need a wall with studs not more than 18 inches apart (pretty standard in the US), about 6 feet of space on either side to allow you to jump, move, squat, and a power outlet.
What does Tonal cost?
The cost of Tonal’s home gym hardware is $2,995 for the base model. But if you want the extra strength/resistance equipment so you can add strength training to your workouts, you’ll pay an extra $495. You can also finance the whole thing starting at $149 per month, depending on how long you want to finance the hardware purchase and your credit score. Monthly subscriptions are $49 per month, but they make you buy them in 12 month increments, so that’s $588.
Is Tonal worth it?
At $2,995 plus $495 for the optional resistance equipment, Tonal is not cheap. Plus, you’ll pay $588 for a year of connected fitness classes ($49 per month). But you get cardio, yoga, strength and more from the classes and equipment. This is clearly the home gym for people who want it all – and who can afford to pay for it! If you are on a budget, you should consider the Mirror or Echelon Reflect, which start around $1,000 and a lower-priced monthly class subscription starting at $19.99 per month. But if you want the best, most intense and varied home gym experience, Tonal has it all.
Mirror is one of the better known smart mirrors / home gyms. A big advantage of Mirror is the depth of live and recorded classes – covering everything from barre classes to ab burners to pilates to yoga to boxing. And at the price is more reasonable vs. Tempo and Tonal.
What does Mirror cost?
The cost of Mirror’s home gym hardware is $1,495, coming in toward the lower end of the connected mirrors. Monthly classes cost only $39 per month, so in the middle of the pack. Plus, you get both live and recorded workout sessions for the subscription cost. The downside is that the Mirror doesn’t come with resistance equipment.
Is Mirror worth it?
At $1,495 and less than $500 for a year’s subscription, Mirror’s cost is pretty reasonable vs Tempo and Tonal. Plus, with such a large number of classes to choose from, you’ll stay busy. If you are on a budget, take a look at the Echelon Reflect to save some money, both in terms of the subscriptions price (starting at $19.99 vs $39.99 per month) and on the equipment cost ($999 for the Reflect’s entry-level compared to $1,495 for Mirror and $2,995 for Tonal.
Review of Tempo Studio
Tempo comes with a ton of extra equipment – from resistance equipment to heart rate monitors, it’s the most fully rounded home gym on the list. Plus, the design is radically different than Mirror or Tonal. Instead of a simple screen that you mount on the wall, Tempo is more like a TV cabinet that has storage for all of the equipment that it comes with. And live classes are included with the Tempo monthly subscription.
What does Tempo cost?
The cost of Tempo’s home gym hardware is $2,495. Monthly classes cost only $39 per month, so in the middle of the pack. Live classes are included with the price of the subscription. But the major advantage of Tempo is the inclusion of the resistance equipment and other workout gear like weights and workout mats and more.
Is Tempo worth it?
$2,495 $2,395 (with code FITNESSMASTERLY100 at checkout for $100 off) and less than $500 for a year’s subscription, Tempo’s cost is actually pretty reasonable. Especially when you consider all the weights and equipment that come with — two 7.5 pound dumbbells, one 25 pound barbell, 6 weight collars, many different size plates, a heart rate monitor, a mat and a roller. Pretty great! If that feels out of reach – and especially if you already have a mat and adjustable barbells, consider the Mirror or Echelon Reflect, which are $1,495 and $999 respectively.
Tempo vs Mirror – Which is Better?
Tempo and Mirror are typically considered the best known smart home gyms. We love their big screens (42″ and 40″, respectively) and their comparably priced monthly subscriptions ($39 each / mo). The biggest difference, beyond the equipment price is the approach to weight and resistance training.
If you really want to move around real weights, then Tempo is the right option for you. It comes with a barbell, and dumbbells, so you can get real strength training in. Mirror comes with exercise bands – so you CAN get resistance, but it’s not the same. So if you want real weight training and you are trying to decide between the Tempo or Mirror, go with Tempo. And if free weights don’t matter to you, Mirror will save you some money, so go that direction.
Smart Home Gyms: A Buyer's Guide
With so many options out there, it can be hard to find the right smart home gym for you. Like all types of gyms (and exercises) there is no one size fits all answer. Your decision will be incredibly personal.
For that reason, we have put together this buyers’ guide to help you make that choice. We have stuffed it full of questions that will help you to narrow down your choices. These are the questions that we asked ourselves when picking out Tempo as our top choice in this article.
This buyers’ guide is focused on Smart Mirror home gyms.
The first question you need to ask yourself is what type of exercise do you want your smart gym to provide.
If your answer is any of the following then you will want to invest in a smart mirror home gym:
- Free weights
- HIIT (high intensity interval training)
- Dance workouts
- Bodyweight strength programs
When you’re choosing between which type of Smart Mirror you would like to purchase, take some time to research what programs are offered.
Some of the smart gym subscription programs offer a wide range of exercise programs. While others are very specialist. You will know best what interests you and this will help you to narrow down your options*.
*If you are unsure about what types of exercises interest you most, you have two options. (1) pick a subscription that offers as wide a choice as possible. (2) Do some research and discover your favorites before you commit to a smart mirror.
Freestanding or Wall Mounted?
The next question you will need to ask yourself is do you want a freestanding home gym? Or do you want a wall mounted gym?
Wall mounted gyms appear to have more benefits overall. They take up less space. And you can’t knock them over mid-workout. That being said, they don’t offer any space to store any extra equipment that comes with them.
Freestanding smart home gyms, on the other hand, often come with storage space. Not only does this give you an easy space to store your workout equipment (and even your workout clothes if you’re tight for space elsewhere), but they also add to the stability of the smart gym.
However, we would still be worried about knocking a freestanding gym over in a downward dog related incident.
The next question you need to ask yourself is what equipment do you want to be using while you work out?
What kind of equipment you will need to work out will entirely depend on your personal style. But remember that home gyms are not designed to provide the same amount of equipment as a traditional gym.
If you are looking for a system that will provide you with a lot of equipment (especially heavy weights) then an at home smart gym might not be the right choice for you.
Here are the 4 main types of equipment that smart mirror gyms supply:
Some of the best smart mirror home gyms come with resistance cables. Anyone who has tried TRX workouts will understand how much you can do with a set of resistance bands/cables.
Another benefit of the resistance bands is that they can be hooked behind the smart mirror and therefore take up little to no space in your home.
Some smart gyms will supply you with a small number of free weights. These can be useful for adding difficulty to work out routines and to stop your fitness plateauing.
Most of the smart gyms that come with free weights are freestanding and have a small cupboard to store the weights in.
Provide your own equipment
Some subscription services may expect you to provide your own equipment for their workouts.
This is a great opportunity for you to save some money. Companies will often do this so that you are tempted to buy their own (marked up) fitness equipment because you have paid less for the smart gym equipment.
The good news for you is that you will easily be able to find other brands that offer the same equipment at a much lower price.
Some subscription programs rely on entirely bodyweight exercise programs. This can be great if you are looking for exercises to help you recover from injury. Or if you are not interested in building vast amounts of muscles.
You will also find that many Pilates and Yoga based subscriptions do not provide or require equipment.
Finally, you should ask yourself what price are you prepared to pay for smart home gym equipment?
One of the benefits of traditional gyms is that you only have to pay a subscription fee to use the gym. You do not have to buy the equipment upfront.
However, smart home gyms require you to do both. Add to this the fact that smart gym equipment can be very expensive – you need to be aware going into it how much you will have to spend.
To use the four smart mirrors we reviewed today as an example. Upfront costs can range from $990 to well over $3000.
That is a lot of money upfront. However, smart home gyms do come with a tremendous amount of benefits. And most people will find that these benefits outweigh the upfront costs.
When you buy a smart mirror, you are tied to the subscription provided by the company that made the mirror. It is not possible to chop and change between providers. So you will have to spend some time researching the subscription before buying the equipment.
Again, if we use the four smart mirrors we reviewed today as examples. Subscriptions costs can range from $20 to $50 a month.
When you add this to the upfront costs things start to add up pretty quickly. However, when you compare this to booking fitness classes outside your home, you’ll find you’ll soon be saving money.
Home Gym FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Can you build muscle with Tonal?
Tonal is an excellent choice if you’re looking to improve your overall health and build muscle while you do it. At the beginning of your journey with Tonal, you’ll be asked to select one of three main goals: getting leaner, improving fitness, or yes, you guessed it, building muscle.
There are programs that range in their intensity in order to be suitable for both beginners and those who are more advanced in their exercise so that Tonal can help you build muscle.
By incorporating various exercises that aim to strengthen, tone, and define your body, including compound lifts, power-based exercises, and dynamic weight training, Tonal will help you grow muscle each time you intensify these exercises as you become stronger.
The best thing about Tonal is that you’re able to work building muscle from the comfort of your own home, meaning no more expensive gym memberships that you don’t end up using.
Is Tonal good for seniors?
Tonal is great for seniors because it’s a coach-led program that guides people through each exercise session, making it feel like there’s someone in the room with you to help you along.
Tonal actually encourages older people to start incorporating strength training and light exercise activities into their life as they begin to age, as it can help keep them stay in shape.
Losing muscle mass is a natural part of aging, but exercise programs, like Tonal, can be tailored specifically to suit your level of fitness and your preferred exercises. This can help to slow down the process which allows seniors and older people to remain active for longer.
The digital weight resistance Tonal creates is also ideal for seniors as it takes the worry out of choosing the right weight for your fitness level, thanks to the automatic 1 pound increments that increase as you develop your strength.
Alternatively, you can easily turn this off by pressing a button, removing the inconvenience of any awkwardly placed, heavy handles.
And if there’s anything that you can’t or don’t enjoy doing as a more senior active person, you can use the replacements feature to sway out exercises for a more effective alternative.
Can the instructor see you in the Mirror?
One of the main advantages of purchasing a more advanced piece of smart exercise equipment for your home, such as a Mirror home gym, is the fact that they come with the help of professional fitness experts and instructors who can help you work on your form.
The instructor can see you in the mirror screen thanks to a 5-megapixel camera as well as a built-in microphone, although the company states that these are both only activated when you are having a one-to-one personal training session with your instructor.
It also comes with a privacy cover for the camera for your own peace of mind.
The interactive fitness company, Mirror, is actually one of the first brands to utilize the built-in cameras that come with these pieces of exercise equipment, formerly used for post-workout selfies as their main function.
While there’s no substitute for in-person fitness training, by allowing your instructor to see you and help you improve your form in real-time during your workout, companies like Mirror are providing the next best thing, allowing you to continue working up a sweat at home.
Is the Mirror accurate?
Like most home gym exercise equipment, the Mirror comes with a heart rate monitor feature with an adjustable strap included that features a branded heart rate sensor in the center.
It isn’t essential that you wear the heart rate monitor while you’re working out, but doing so will provide you with up-to-date information about your heart rate to help you get the most out of your workout.
The fact that your instructors will be able to keep an eye on how many times your heart beats per minute means they will know exactly when to give you an extra push with some encouragement, to help you reach your goals and to improve your fitness levels.
It is also able to provide you with target heart rate zones to show you what level you should be working at during different sections of your exercise program.
However, as with all technology, the calorie and heart rate tracking software isn’t always one hundred percent reliable, and some users have noticed an inflated calorie burn total compared to the results of other exercise tracking devices.
When you’re not wearing your heart rate monitor during a workout, the Mirror will not be able to pick up any readings and therefore relies on an algorithm that uses personal stats like your weight, height, age, maximum heart rate, and the intensity of your workout to calculate your estimated calorie burn for the session.
What weight does Tempo come with?
The Tempo at-home workout station comes with a selection of weight plates, a set of dumbbells weighing 7.5 lbs, a 25-lb barbell, a workout mat, and a foam roller, which can all be neatly and conveniently stored in the cabinet to save taking up space in your home.
Adding weight training into your exercise routine is a great way to build muscle and improve your fitness levels.
Among all the home exercise equipment stations, Tempo is undoubtedly one of the best choices for those looking to lift some serious weights. Whilst Mirror does also provide exercise bands for resistance training sessions, this won’t add the same level of intensity to your workout.
This is great if you don’t already have a collection of home workout gear and different weights, as they can be expensive to buy individually.
With that said, if you already have a number of different weights, dumbbells, barbells, and the lot, you’ll be paying more for Tempo when you don’t actually need the additional equipment it comes with anyway.
How much space do you need for Tempo?
Tempo comes with a large 42” screen for you to see live workout sessions and follow along at home, yet it has a comparatively small footprint that requires just 3 sq ft. of your home.
It has a high tensile aluminum frame which measures 6” height x 2’2” width x 1’4” depth, and it has a weight of 100 lbs so you should be able to move it around without too much difficulty.
The company recommends that you leave yourself at least a 6 ft distance between you and your Tempo for you to work out in, so you will also need to factor this into your decision when you’re trying to choose where to place it within your home.
In terms of how much space you need for storing the equipment, the great thing about Tempo is that it comes with in-built storage space provided which is where you can keep your weight plates, barbells, and dumbbells when they’re not in use.
This is ideal for anyone with more limited space, and it can be positioned up against one of the walls in the room so that it doesn’t look too obtrusive, but blends in with the decor.
So what’s the best connected home gym: Mirror, Tonal or Tempo?
So what’s our verdict, should you pick Mirror, Tonal or Tempo for your smart home fitness system?
Like everything when it comes to working out, it depends. Specifically, consider the types of workouts you want to do and the amount that you want to spend.
If money is no object, you want strength training but don’t yet have any weights or other resistance equipment, then seriously consider Tonal and Tempo. They are both much more expensive than Mirror, but with Tempo you get a great set of adjustable weights and other equipment. And with Tonal’s built-in resistance “arms” you can run through a huge variety of resistance training in addition to high intensity cardio. But you’ll pay for for either of these options (check out the costs up in the chart above.) Remember: you can get $100 off a Tempo by entering the code FITNESSMASTERLY100 at checkout.
That said, if you have resistance training gear at home already, or don’t really need that type of a workout, we recommend Mirror. It’s a lot less expensive, and has a huge variety of cardio, stretching and meditation type fitness classes — enough variety so you won’t get bored.
But if money is tight and cost is really the most important factor, we also suggest a different contender, the Reflect by Echelon. There are two sizes, a 40 inch size that comes in at only $999 and a bigger version that is 50 inches for ~$1,600. With a lower priced subscription option of only $19.99 per month (and a higher priced version at $39.99 per month) it’s a lot less to spend. It’s also got bootcamp, toning, Zumba – great cardio options for classes. Check out Echelon on Amazon today!