Tonal Home Gym Review: Small Size, Big Rewards


“The pain of paying the high price for the Tonal Smart Weight Trainer is quickly forgotten when you first flex your growing muscles.”

  • Compact size

  • Multi-user support

  • Personalized, effective workouts

  • Detailed instructions from trainers

  • The user interface allows you to move at your own pace

  • Expensive

  • Requires professional installation

  • Limited cardio, pilates, and yoga workouts

When you think of a weight machine, think of a bulky jig with heavy weights, massive arms, and a jumble of pulleys and cables – something like those Bowflex home gyms. Tonal is turning that idea on its head with a wall-mounted prime mover that is the size of an average full-length mirror. Does the Tonal live up to the hype and does it offer physical training? Or does it crash and burn? I tested it at my home gym and let my family go on the machine to find out.

Professional installation is required

The installation is the crux of the matter for the tonal. It is a wall unit and needs to be installed professionally. The company does not support self-installation.

The installation requirements are strict – you need two bolts that are approximately 16 to 24 inches apart and they must be oriented with the 2 inch side facing out. I had it installed in a room that was being renovated by the previous homeowner and was concerned that the studs he was installing were not the standard spacing from one another.

The installation took about 60 to 90 minutes, with the majority of that time spent finding the bolts. The bracket attaches to the wall with eight screws and the Tonal attaches to the bracket. You can remove Tonal from its holder for warranty repairs or replacements. The installation is safe and I don’t feel like the device is going to tear off the wall. If you move to a new location, Tonal will send another team for a fee to install the device in your new location.

The main feature of Tonal is its compact size and slim design. The device has an easy-to-pull cable system and easy-to-replace accessories. The device comes with two smart handles. You can purchase a $ 495 accessory pack that includes a two-handed exercise rope, bench, and bar. These accessories are needed for many exercises, which makes them a must have.

You will need space about seven feet wide, seven feet long, and seven feet high to stretch out your arms and perform the exercises. When you’re done, fold your arms flat and the device only sticks out a few inches. Its compact and modern appearance is eye-catching and fits into any room.

No time wasted adjusting the weights

The Tonal adapts to your training goals and offers you a workout that perfectly suits your strengths and weaknesses. Your first workout is a rating that measures your strength and assigns you a strength rating. Tonal then automatically adjusts the weights of each subsequent exercise based on your score. You can manually change these weights if you want, but I hardly had to adjust them as the machine did a great job of predicting my strength.

This predictive weight not only helps you train at the optimal level, but it’s also incredibly convenient. You don’t have to remember what weight you used for each exercise. You also don’t have to keep track of when you need to increase the weight as Tonal will do it for you, too. I found the training and weight selection focused and effective. I could feel the burning sensation during the exercise and I was usually in pain the next day.

Mostly on-demand workouts

Tonal has a growing library of workouts to choose from. You can choose a multi-day training program that gives you a new workout every day. You can also choose an individual training session if you have created your own training plan. With Tonal you can even choose one exercise at a time, e.g. B. a bicep curl, for those who want a quick, focused workout.

I could feel the burning sensation during the exercise and I was usually in pain the next day.

Almost all workouts are recorded and directed by a single trainer in a small studio gym that has only the tonal and no other distractions. The service offers group lessons that allow you to train with other Tonal owners. There are no live classes like Mirror or Tempo, both of which run multiple live classes per day. Tonal also supports multiple users, offering a personalized experience for each person.

A focus on strength building

Tonal is a strength trainer and focuses on building strength. It includes yoga, pilates, and cardio workouts offered by competitors like Mirror or Tempo, but these exercises are not the focus of attention. Tonal is ideal for upper body training. You can make different versions of each – rows, flies and curls. The lower body workout is also effective, but not as diverse as the upper body and core workouts. Most lower body workouts are squats or lunges, but you can’t attach the cable system to your ankle to do side leg raises or adductor exercises, for example.

I particularly enjoyed the detailed visual instructions from the trainers. You can see how you raise your arms and how the instructor does the exercise before you begin. The camera often showed the movement from different angles so you can figure out exactly how to move. Once you have exercised, you can proceed at your own pace and the trainer will not continue until you signal that you are done. Tonal also has sensors that allow you to sense your shape during an exercise. If you get an exercise wrong, Tonal will tell you what you are doing wrong.

Tonal surprised me at how effective it is in weight training. I didn’t expect the training to be so challenging and comprehensive. After 20 training sessions with the Tonal over a few weeks, I noticed improvements. My body felt tighter and the muscles in my arms and legs were more visible. The progress was more than skin-deep. I found it easier to lift household items.

Our opinion

Most of the people who see the Tonal weight machine on my wall want to give it a try. All of them got away impressed. Despite its small size, the Tonal delivered a muscle-grueling workout for my upper body, core, and legs. The main disadvantage is the price.

Clay isn’t cheap. The trainer costs almost $ 3,000 plus $ 500 for the smart accessories, which include a smart bar, rope, bench, roller, and exercise mat. You’ll also have to pay $ 250 for shipping and professional installation. Finally, there is a monthly membership fee of $ 49 per month with a commitment of at least 12 months. The subscription is not included in the purchase and there is no free trial.

How long it will take?

The Tonal has a solid construction – the device is very securely mounted, the arms are sturdy and all accessories are sturdy. Our only concern is the articulated arms that mix metal and plastic in the hinges. Can you deal with repetitive stress when the weight I’m lifting increases?

I spoke to Tonal and they assured me that there were no problems with the hinges and they gave me a three year warranty if there was any problem. Tonal has a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for one year and parts for three years. The accessories are covered for one year.

Is there a better alternative?

With its relatively compact size and large display, Tonal belongs to a category of its own. The closest competitor is the NordicTrack Fusion CST, which is equipped with a 10-inch display, electromagnetic resistance and interactive iFit training. The machine is cheaper, but significantly larger and heavier than the Tonal. The Bowflex Revolution is a comparatively inexpensive, resistance-based home gym that lacks the virtual training of the Tonal. Another similar affiliated home gym is the Tempo Studio, which uses traditional dumbbells and a barbell for its exercises.

Should you buy it?

Yes, especially if you’re looking for a strength trainer that fits in a small space.

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