Equipped with an interactive touch screen and electromagnetic pulleys, Tonal is a digital workout system that’s designed to provide a full-body workout in one compact device.
The machine provides access to hundreds of trainer-led classes and uses advanced technology to deliver a truly personalized workout experience.
In addition to a variety of strength and cardio classes, Tonal offers several unique features and exercise modes to keep you challenged and moving toward your fitness goals.
However, as it isn’t cheap, you may be wondering whether Tonal is worth the cost.
This article provides a comprehensive, hands-on review of the Tonal home gym to help you decide whether it’s the right fit for your exercise needs.
- slim, compact design
- price includes delivery and professional installation
- provides up to 200 pounds (90.7 kg) of resistance
- features cutting-edge technology that’s user-friendly and intuitive
- over 100 coach-led, personalized workouts
- suits a range of fitness abilities and goals
- allows unlimited accounts for tracking individual progress
- 90-day, risk-free trial
- 3-year limited warranty
- accessories purchased separately
- requires a 12-month Tonal app subscription
- installation requirements are quite specific
- delivery takes several weeks
- 200 lbs. (90.7 kg) of resistance may not be challenging enough for advanced weight lifters
- noise may disturb housemates or neighbors
Tonal is a smart gym that offers challenging workouts in the privacy of your home.
The sleek, compact device attaches to your wall and features an interactive touch screen and 2 adjustable, electromagnetic pulleys, which provide up to 200 lbs. (90.7 kg) of resistance.
You can use the Tonal trainer to enhance athletic performance, build strength, or gain speed.
It’s also useful if you want to lose weight, tone specific areas of your body, or simply maintain your current fitness level.
When you’re ready to work out, simply turn on the device and select from over 170 instructor-led classes.
While you can use your own attachments, Tonal offers a Smart Accessories bundle, which includes the following items:
- Smart Handles
- a Smart Bar
- a tricep rope
- a weight bench
- an exercise mat
- a foam roller
The Smart Handles and Bar are unique in that they allow you to turn on and off the weight with just a press of a button — a feature that’s particularly helpful for getting into and out of positions safely and easily.
The Tonal is a great fit for new or intermediate weight lifters. It also offers floor classes like barre, Pilates, and yoga, so the device isn’t just for weightlifting.
Additionally, it’s a convenient option for anyone who wants a home gym that doesn’t take up tons of space or require lots of equipment.
Matt Scarfo, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer, says it’s also a useful for cross-training. “It allows athletes to do a wide variety of accessory movements that can build overall fitness to support an active lifestyle,” he explains.
Scarfo notes that a Tonal workout closely resembles using a cable machine, which can provide similar results as free weights for beginner and intermediate lifters.
However, because the weight maxes out at 100 lbs. (45.4 kg) per arm, the device wouldn’t be a good fit for advanced weight lifters who may need access to heavier weights.
Tonal also might not be the best option for people who enjoy working out in groups or who prefer to go to a gym.
The Tonal home gym costs $2,995 and includes delivery and professional installation within the continental United States.
There’s an additional fee of $255 for orders shipped to Alaska or Hawaii.
To make the home gym more affordable, Tonal offers a payment plan called Affirm, which allows you to pay off your purchase in monthly installments.
Keep in mind that the Smart Accessories bundle is sold separately and costs an additional $495. However, many users, myself included, strongly feel that the bundle is necessary for the full Tonal experience.
Alternatively, to use your own accessories, you’ll need to purchase a set of T-lock adapters from Tonal and two carabiners.
Upon purchasing the gym, you’re also required to sign up for a 12-month subscription to the Tonal app, which costs $49 per month.
After the first year, you have the option to renew your subscription or cancel at any time. Just note that without the app, you’ll only have access to WiFi updates, safety features, and weight adjustments.
Tonal warranty and return policy
If you’re unhappy with your purchase for any reason, you have 90 days to return the device for a full refund.
The Tonal trainer also comes with the following warranties:
- 3-year parts, excluding accessories
- 1-year labor
- 1-year accessories
Replacement parts are covered for 45 days or the remainder of the original warranty period, whichever is longer.
The Tonal home gym weighs 150 lbs. (68 kg) and measures 21.5 × 50.9 × 5.25 in. (in.) (55 × 129 × 13 cm).
For a safe and secure workout, Tonal recommends the following space and installation requirements:
- a 7 × 7-foot (213.4 × 213.4-cm) area
- a minimum ceiling height of 7 ft. 10 in. (238.8 cm)
- a supportive wall made from drywall, plywood, or exposed wood studs
- 16-in. (40.6-cm) wide wood or metal support studs
- a grounded, 3-prong power outlet
- a strong WiFi connection with a minimum bandwidth of 15 megabits per second (Mbps)
There are some exceptions to these recommendations. For example, if your walls are 1.25 in. (3.2 cm) or less in thickness, you can also attach Tonal to concrete, paneling, pine board, plaster, or stucco.
Additionally, if your home’s support studs are between 16 and 24 in. (40.6–61 cm), you can install the device using wide mount bars.
Worried about installing the machine? No need! Professional installation is included and takes less than 1 hour to complete.
In fact, it only took the installer 30 minutes to install my machine. He even provided me with instructions for setting up my Tonal account.
Here’s the setup in my tiny guest bedroom turned home gym:
I’m standing behind a stationary bike (not pictured) to take the photo, so it’s a bit cramped.
While I have the recommended 7 × 7-ft. (213.4 × 213.4-cm) area of free space around the mirror, I’ve often found myself wishing I had a bit more room to move during certain exercises.
Tonal is equipped with 2 adjustable arms that use electricity and magnets to provide up to 200 lbs. (90.7 kg) of smooth resistance.
The arms can also be used with a variety of accessories, such as Tonal’s Smart Bar and Handles, for performing a variety of full-body exercises.
The arms can be raised and lowered along the length of the machine, angled out away from the machine at various degrees, and angled up and down at various degrees. Paired with the Smart Handles, rope, or Smart Bar, this allows you to perform countless moves.
One of the machine’s most notable features is its 24-in. (61-cm) interactive display, which allows you to stream workouts using the Tonal app.
In addition to the gym itself, Tonal also offers a Smart Accessories bundle.
Designed to provide a complete home gym experience, the bundle includes a weight bench, workout mat, foam roller, tricep rope, Smart Bar, and two Smart Handles.
While you can use your own accessories, the Smart Bar and Handles are unique in that they allow you to turn the resistance on or off with the touch of a button.
In fact, most customers agree that the Smart Bar and Handles are necessary to get the most out of Tonal’s strength workouts.
In my experience, the device is extremely sturdy and seems well-constructed.
Tonal offers a large variety of features and exercise modes, including:
- Bluetooth capabilities. The machine is Bluetooth-enabled for listening to Apple Music, Tonal Radio, or your Tonal coach through your headphones or speakers. It also pairs with smartwatches and Bluetooth heart rate monitors.
- Chains mode. This feature increases resistance as you push or pull through the movement, mimicking the use of metal chains or a resistance band.
- Continual tracking. The Tonal records your reps, sets, weight load, time under tension, and range of motion, making it easy to monitor your progress. It also tracks your personal records and achievements and gives awards based on various workout stats.
- Eccentric mode. This feature adds resistance during the eccentric portion of each movement, allowing you to increase time under tension.
- Form feedback. To ensure that you’re performing moves correctly, Tonal uses data from 17 sensors to provide feedback and guidance on your form and technique. In case you’re facing away from the screen, it dings to let you know that you’re receiving feedback.
- Free Lift mode. If you’re in the mood to perform specific exercises, Free Lift mode allows you to pick and choose individual moves for a customized workout session.
- Golf. Tonal offers a library of strength and mobility workouts specifically designed to address golf performance.
- Programs+. This feature allows you to customize Tonal’s programs to meet your needs. You can enroll in a Programs+ program and then choose the level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) and workout length that would be best for you.
- Smart Flex. Combining Chains and Eccentric Modes, Smart Flex continually adds or subtracts weight as you progress through a single move to make each move as challenging and effective as possible.
- Spotter mode. Acting like a spotter at the gym, the machine will automatically reduce the weight if you’re having a hard time completing a rep. The Bluetooth handles are helpful for this as well, as you can turn the weight off with the touch of a button.
- Strength assessment. Using the results from this assessment, the machine calculates your optimal weight loads for each exercise. It also calculates a strength score for tracking your gains over time.
Getting started with Tonal
The first time you log into the Tonal app, you’ll select your fitness goal from a choice of either get lean, build muscle, or improve fitness.
Next, you’ll perform a strength assessment to determine your optimal weight load for each exercise included in the Tonal library.
Using this data, Tonal is able to personalize your workout experience by recommending classes based on your current fitness level and goals.
For instance, my strength level was below average, so I started out with a recommended course called New Strength that’s geared toward beginners like myself.
However, once your account is set up, you’re free to browse from over 170 on-demand classes — including warmup and cooldown exercises — or build your own custom routine.
Live and on-demand classes are available on the Tonal app, with new content added weekly.
To select your workout, you can sort by targeted body area, such as arms or abs, or by exercise type, including:
- strength training
- boot camp
- high intensity
- quick fit
- dance cardio
- pre- and postnatal
- family fun
Another unique feature of Tonal is the ability to create a custom workout by inputting specific moves, sets, and reps.
There’s also a Free Lift mode that allows you to select exercises on the spot from Tonal’s library. While you get to choose the moves, Tonal will still recommend weight loads and record your progress.
As maintaining proper form is important for effectiveness and safety, the app also includes video demonstrations of each movement.
In the 6 weeks I’ve had the Tonal, I’ve been able to try numerous strength classes, a live high intensity strength class, a yoga class, and a cardio class.
Overall, I’ve loved lifting weights on the Tonal and have found the on-screen demos along with real-time form feedback to be incredibly helpful.
The live class was also really fun and energetic. I particularly enjoyed how you’re able to cheer on other users, receive cheers, and see when others in the class hit new personal records.
The machine also displays the cumulative amount of weight lifted for the class, which I found to be very motivating.
Finally, Tonal offers “on the go” workouts that allow you to get a workout in when you’re away from home using the Tonal mobile app.
Thanks to this feature, I was able to squeeze in yoga and cardio classes on a recent weekend trip. I also liked how these workouts counted toward my Tonal streak.
As the Tonal is a substantial financial investment, I’m reluctant to say that it’s worth the cost for everyone. However, after trying it for 6 weeks, I definitely see its value.
I’ve always been intimidated by strength training and have felt generally clueless about how to get started. What’s more, even when I tried regimens in the past, my motivation to stick with them quickly fizzled.
However, Tonal makes strength training approachable and fun.
In fact, I find myself looking forward to the workouts and have already noticed major gains in my strength and improved definition, especially in my shoulders.
Between the tangible results I’ve experienced and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve been able to stick with a weight training regimen for more than a week, I personally find Tonal to be well worth the investment.
In addition to being a great fit for beginners like myself, Tonal offers new and exciting challenges for more experienced weight lifters.
For example, many users find that the digital weight feels heavier than physical weights because it requires you to maintain a constant level of exertion, as you don’t have the assistance of gravity on the way down.
While it costs extra, I strongly recommend purchasing the Smart Accessories bundle, as it allows you to take full advantage of all that the Tonal has to offer.
Many customers report feeling satisfied with their purchase, thanks to the convenience and class variety that Tonal offers.
Several reviewers also credit the device’s state-of-the-art technology with enhancing their workouts and improving their fitness level.
However, not all the reviews are positive.
Some customers complain that the machine is louder than expected, which may not be ideal if you have roommates or share a wall with your neighbors.
Personally, while I did find the noise to be noticeable if you’re in the next room, my kids haven’t been disturbed by my early morning workouts.
People have also raised privacy concerns related to Tonal’s collection of personal information.
If you have any questions about the privacy of your data, it’s best to reach out to the company directly.
If you have the budget, Tonal offers a convenient and compact way to exercise at home. However, it’s far from being the only workout mirror on the market.
For example, the Echelon Reflect 40″ is one of the most affordable options, costing less than $1,000 when on sale.
Using the Echelon United app, the mirror provides access to live, on-demand, and scenic workout classes.
However, the Reflect doesn’t include a pulley system or weights, so you’ll need to provide your own equipment for strength training workouts.
Another popular option is the Mirror.
The Mirror features a thin, sleek design that’s well suited for small spaces. It’s also less expensive than Tonal.
While it doesn’t include strength training accessories such as free weights or resistance bands, the company offers one-on-one personal training for $40 per session.
The Mirror’s monthly membership costs $39, which allows up to 6 people to have unlimited access to thousands of live and on-demand classes, including cardio, tai chi, weight training, and boxing.
Finally, the Tempo Studio is an armoire-shaped fitness mirror that offers a 300-lb. (136.1-kg) barbell capacity, making it ideal for serious weight lifters.
It also features 3D sensors to provide form feedback and personalized training programs.
There are three Tempo models available, each of which includes a variety of exercise equipment, such as dumbbells, weight plates, a barbell, and a weight bench.
While the basic model is around the same price as the Tonal home gym, the Tempo Plus and Pro are more expensive.
Here’s a quick look at how these workout mirrors compare:
|Tonal||Echelon Reflect 40″||Mirror||Tempo Studio|
|Price (MSRP)||$2,995 plus $495 Smart Accessories bundle||$1,199.99||$1,495||$2,495|
|Dimensions||51 × 22 in. (129.5 × 55.9 cm) (base only)||40 × 20 in. (101.6 × 50.8 cm)||56 × 22 in. (142.2 × 55.9 cm)||72 × 26 × 16 in. (182.9 × 66 × 40.6 cm) (freestanding base only)|
|Screen size||24 in. (61 cm)||32 in. (81.3 cm)||43 in. (109.2 cm)||42 in. (106.7 cm)|
|Accessories||• Smart Handles|
• a Smart Bar
• a rope
• a bench
• a foam roller
• a mat
|none||none||• a mat|
• 4 collars
• 2 dumbbells
• 75 lbs. (34 kg) of weight plates
|Key features||• adjustable arms with up to 100 lbs. (45.4 kg) of resistance each|
• live form feedback
• weight modes designed to maximize effectiveness
• live and on-demand classes
|• Bluetooth audio|
• live and on-demand classes
• doubles as a mirror when not in use
|• camera and microphone|
• Bluetooth compatibility
• live and on-demand classes
• personal training available
|• live form feedback|
• compatible with other Tempo
• Bluetooth compatibility
Can you build muscle with Tonal?
“You can absolutely build muscle using Tonal, but it won’t do the work for you,” says NASM certified personal trainer Rob Wagener.
He explains that the Tonal is a tool that can help you build muscle, but so can resistance training without the Tonal. “With any sort of training, increased resistance that stresses the muscles, combined with high effort, leads to muscle growth,” he says.
Paired with good nutrition habits and consistent workouts, using Tonal can help you put on muscle mass and get stronger over time.
Is Tonal good for older adults?
Yes, Tonal can be a good fit for older adults. “Whether it’s tech like the Tonal or a traditional machine,” explains Wagener, “balance, stability, and body strength play an important part in safely using any machine.”
You should be able to easily adjust the arms, switch out the handles, and potentially perform moves on the floor or on your knees — although Tonal does allow you to swap out moves in workouts and programs that may not be a good fit for your body.
Plus, Tonal’s features like smooth magnetic resistance, form feedback, and spotter mode can help you make sure you’re using proper form on each exercise.
How does Tonal adjust weight?
It’s easy to adjust the weight by using the touch screen display. The device itself uses electricity and magnets to create different levels of electromagnetic resistance. Scarfo explains that this “provides smooth resistance through the entire lift.”
If you’re looking for a full-body workout without having to purchase a bunch of exercise equipment, the Tonal home gym is worth considering.
In addition to being compact, the device delivers a personalized and challenging workout experience to help you achieve your fitness goals.
However, the machine is not cheap, especially once you factor in the additional costs of the Smart Accessories Bundle and Tonal app membership.
Despite its high price tag, I’ve found Tonal to be a game-changer for me as far as strength training is concerned. For the first time, I’ve found myself looking forward to working out and have noticed improvements in strength after just 6 weeks.
If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend the Tonal, as it may just be the motivation you’re looking for to stay active.