Can’t go to the gym due to Covid-19 lockdown, cold weather, lack of time, high gym membership cost, performance anxiety when surrounded by experienced gym-goers, or any other reason (or excuse)?
You’re probably familiar with all the buzz around fancy high-tech equipment for home use like Tonal, Peloton, etc. that’s constantly popping up.
Tonal home weight lifting system that provides full-body workouts may save you from losing muscle mass, accumulating fat, and diseases caused by an inactive lifestyle.
But it’s not for everyone.
Upon reading this rational review, you’ll find out whether Tonal could replace the whole gym for you and give you the body you’ve always dreamed of.
What Is Tonal?
Tonal is an innovative machine (like Peloton, Mirror, and similar devices) that can provide personal training in the comfort of your home.
Most other bulky weight lifting and other home workout equipment pieces clutter up your space.
This smart, sleek, space-saving strength training machine looks like a vertical flat-screen TV (with smart handles and arms that can be hidden) when attached to your wall.
It seems like having a virtual personal trainer and a weight room’s worth of equipment in one compact machine that looks great on your bedroom or living room wall.
No more need for free weights like barbells, dumbbells, or racks.
Now you can have personalized high-intensity weight lifting and strength training sessions in the comfort of your home, doing hundreds of exercises to work your entire body.
Here’s what Tonal team members say about it:
“This is the world's most intelligent training system. Our AI can predict what you need, before you need it. It's an entire gym, a scientist, and a personal trainer all in one, keeping track of you. Essentially, we've digitized strength in a wall-mounted, hyper-convenient machine.
All of the weight resistance is being created through our electromagnetics motor that is controlled by software. We can change the weight dynamically, coupling it to the video feed and unlocking all these new experiences.”
- Nate Bosshard, Tonal CMO
The Tonal system is designed by a fitness tech company founded by an experienced engineer Aly Orady and is meant to be used by adults over 18.
- Sleek, compact design
- Offers a wide range of challenging workouts and programs
- Provides basic real-time feedback
- Provides excellent resistance for muscle building
- Automatically sets and adjusts the resistance during your workouts as needed
- Supports multiple users and partner workouts
- The pulley system allows a wide range of motion even for taller users (over 6ft)
- Fun and easy to use
- Motivating and knowledgeable coaches
- Clear, descriptive instructions for teaching users movements
- Has a locking mechanism for power outages
- Allows listening to various music stations
- Quite expensive
- Limiting for advanced lifters
- May miss your reps if you’re not close enough to the sensors
- Coaches can’t monitor and correct your form
- No live classes available
- The cords may rub against your skin
- Currently not available for purchase outside the USA
How Does It Work?
This AI-powered strength training machine uses digital weights and offers up to 200 pounds of magnetic force resistance (100 pounds per arm), which might be limiting for advanced weight lifters but is sufficient for most people.
Unlike traditional weight gravitational force, electromagnetic force resistance Tonal uses is constant and smooth. Plus, it automatically adjusts to your fitness abilities and strength.
That’s why you need to perform a strength assessment before you start training with Tonal.  It includes a deadlift, a shoulder press, a bench press, and a seated lat pulldown.
These parameters help the machine determine your starting strength and provide weight recommendations for each exercise.
You’ll also be asked to choose how often you want to work out, as well as select your goal(s) like: get lean, lose weight, build muscle, boost energy, tone up, maintain fitness, and others.
The trainers give video walk-throughs on setup and exercises, providing all the necessary tips and guiding you through the workouts via the interactive easy-to-navigate touchscreen, which also allows you to customize your workout details.
As the trainers talk you through the exercises, a video shows you how to adjust the machine’s arms to get ready for the next movement.
You can narrow and widen the pulleys to adjust them for various uses and add on the accessories bundle (including Smart Handles, Smart Bar, a rope, roller, bench, and mat).
Plus, you can (de)activate the resistance with a simple click on the buttons on each side of the Smart handles, making it easier to get into the right position and get ready before each rep scheme.
As you push or pull, the machine prepares the weight and counts your reps, beeping at the last three reps to signalize the end. It also lets you pause or skip a section.
Tonal continually tracks your workout progress and reps in real time, including the data like sets, reps, volume, load, time under tension, and range of motion.
It ensures your workouts are always challenging enough and helps you understand your fitness abilities and set future goals to find that intrinsic motivation.
Now that you know the basics of how to use Tonal let’s say a bit more about its available workouts.
What Are Tonal Workouts Like?
Tonal offers different exercises for an effective and fun home workout (new being added regularly). These include partner or group sessions, Yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, HIIT, even dancing cardio guided by encouraging expert coaches in dynamic, pre-recorded step-by-step videos.
“Future concepts include live 1:1 training as well as a more social feel, through boot camp-style group workouts. We are constantly generating new content and loading it onto the device.” - Natalie Carey, Tonal Coach
Tonal doesn’t currently offer live classes (unlike popular Peloton, for instance). Still, it offers a wide variety of on-demand workout programs on different fitness levels created by professionals, as well as free lift  and hundreds of movements targeting all body areas.
Using its responsive screen, you can browse and select workouts by category, level, goal, duration, and coach.
Besides joining one of their programs or selecting the workouts from their home screen, you can also build your custom workouts.  Just pick the exercises and assign your own sets, reps, and rest periods. This option is useful for advanced athletes already working with their personal trainers.
Most workouts typically start with a quick warm-up, followed by a few blocks with several exercises in each, and a five-minute cooldown.
You do bodyweight exercises like planks, push-ups, mountain climbers, and active recovery moves like lying hamstring stretch or runners lunge between big lifts.
Advanced enthusiasts may enjoy the additional lifting modes - Chains and Eccentric.
As they provide extra resistance on both the lifting (simulating the effects of lifting with chains) and lowering (eccentric) movements that help you get stronger by increasing your time under tension.
Tonal also features a built-in spotter.
The Spotter Mode intuitively decreases the load on the last few reps when it feels you start slowing down and struggling through a set, enabling you to finish it even fatigued.
The workouts are 10 to 45 minutes long and easy to follow, which makes your home workout routine even more efficient.
It’s challenging to look at the screen from certain angles while doing some exercises, so you may have to adjust the machine between the moves in the middle of your workout, which might be frustrating.
Although Tonal workouts don’t come with music, it allows you to listen to various built-in radio stations, including hard rock, yoga ambient, hip hop, country, techno remix, the ‘80s or early ‘00s pop, etc. or add your own motivating music.
How Is It Installed?
Tonal is installed easily by professional installers in less than an hour.
You pay (more on the pricing details below), and the company sends its trained technicians to install and set up the machine for you.
But, before the delivery, when you confirm your order, you need to fill in and submit a survey to confirm the placement of your machine.
For a smooth Tonal installation experience, BEFORE you purchase this strength training machine, make sure you’ve met all their installation requirements , such as:
- Proper wall surface material and thickness
- Adequate surrounding space(7x7ft), floor and ceiling height (7ft10in)
- Plumbing and electrical location
- WiFi signal strength, etc.
(You can see all the details on the company’s website following the link above or in this Tonal Guide.)
When the professionals install your Tonal, they connect it to your WiFi and set it up to adjust it to your requirements. It’s a straightforward four-step process that includes:
- Sign-up, i.e. creating your Tonal account
- Entering your data - age, height, weight
- Personalizing your fitness goals
- Selecting your current fitness level
Then, the machine can recommend custom workouts based on your specific fitness goals and needs.
How Much Does Tonal Cost and Where Can You Buy It?
Honestly, Tonal is a huge investment because you’re paying for all the elements separately - the device/hardware, smart accessories, monthly subscription, delivery and installation, plus taxes depending on your place of living.
Now, let’s see where you can save a few bucks if possible:
Since you need the Smart accessory package to get the most out of your Tonal workouts, buying and using the machine without them seems pointless.
Also, all of the accessories get connected to the Tonal machine using a special T-lock system.
Luckily, you can buy the T-lock adapters separately if you already have some accessories you want to use with your Tonal.
The monthly membership, which is mandatory for the first year, allows you to set up an unlimited number of user profiles in one household and provides access to the library of on-demand strength training video sessions and “Coach AI” features.
Tonal doesn’t let you install the device yourself but requires a trained technician to install it professionally for you, so you can’t avoid those costs.
Even though the company offers 12 to 36-month financing plans, the price is still up there, very close to some fancy gym memberships.
Overall, the price is quite tough to swallow (especially when you know you can get a full home gym for under $1,000).
Tonal also offers a three-year warranty if you buy the machine from an authorized US retailer. And if you’re not happy with the purchase, you may return your device within 30 days.
Still, I dare say the price is far from affordable, and you can’t save much on all those extras.
But, if the price is not a dealbreaker for you, you can buy your Tonal device directly from the company’s website.
Although the company’s official website boasts hundreds of 5-star ratings, we always take those raving user reviews with a pinch of salt and tend to delve deeper elsewhere, too.
That’s how we’ve found many genuine Tonal reviews Reddit members have shared and found out there’s also a Facebook group where Tonal users share their experiences, tips, progress, and more.
Many people have compared it with Peloton fitness equipment and mostly complained about the machine:
- High price
- Specific installation requirements and limitations
- The lack of live classes
- Multi-week classes becoming repetitive over time
- Mandatory one-year paid membership (if discontinued, you lose the machine essential AI functions, spotter mode, eccentric mode, adaptive digital weights, etc.)
- The disturbing noise it makes (users said it sounds more like a chainsaw than a dishwasher)
Also, some former Peloton users are happy that they’re finally able to do real strength training at home on their own schedule and have seen the results after four weeks of regular Tonal use.
They say it’s a great hardware combined with excellent content and are looking forward to the Tonal content library expanding.
They’re satisfied with the machine, its convenience and compact design, the fitness programs offered, reasonable resistance, help with weight selection and progression, and many other features.
Does Tonal Have a Monthly Fee?
Yes, Tonal does have a monthly membership fee. It provides access to expert coaching and all its innovative features such as personalized weight suggestions, unlimited household accounts, on-demand workouts, progress tracking and logging, heart rate monitoring, music stations, and more.
Can I Install Tonal Myself?
No, you can’t install Tonal yourself because proper Tonal installation includes more than just mounting the machine onto the wall.
The DIY approach isn’t recommended because professionals need to connect your Tonal to WiFi, pair your Bluetooth Smart accessories, and set up your Tonal account so that you can make full use of the machine.
Can Tonal Be Installed in a Garage?
No, Tonal cannot be installed in a garage or basement.
I mean, it can theoretically, but it’s meant for a safer environment inside your home.
Unlike other bulky home gym equipment, this sleek, compact workout machine looks beautiful in your living room or elsewhere inside your home.
Where Can I Try Tonal?
You can try Tonal in retail showrooms throughout the USA (follow this link to see the locations and book a personalized demo to experience the machine).
Another option is to book a live video demo with a Tonal expert, who will provide a one-on-one virtual tour to teach you the basics and answer your questions about the machine.
Does Tonal Have a Camera?
Yes, tonal does have a built-in camera. The manufacturer claims it won’t jeopardize your privacy as it’s turned off by default and will only be switched on for personal live training sessions.
Does Tonal Have Yoga?
Yes, Tonal does have Yoga workouts (but not for complete beginners) designed to help you advance other Tonal programs, build strength, increase flexibility, and enhance muscle recovery.
How Loud Is Tonal?
Tonal is as loud as a dishwasher (as the manufacturer says).
How Much Weight Does Tonal Go Up To?
Tonal goes up to 200 pounds of digital weight that uses a magnetic force.
Is Tonal Worth the Money?
Yes, Tonal may be worth the money. If you’re an intermediate athlete with a restricted home gym space who wants to build muscle and doesn’t mind the hefty price tag, it may offer decent guided home workouts to help you build strength, get lean, and fit.
The Tonal machine won’t fit everyone’s wallet, wall, fitness level, and goals.
If you need a full portable home gym versatile enough to replace any weight room equipment but can’t afford the huge Tonal investment, I would wholeheartedly suggest another solution - BodyBoss 2.0.
It simulates $1,000s-worth gym equipment, allowing you to maintain fitness at home and on the go for 10+ times lower price and without disturbing your neighbors.
Let us know how you liked it.