How to Pick a Smart Gym?
If you’ve googled anything fitness-related recently, it’s likely you’ve come across an ad for a “smart” connected fitness product. Today, I can’t go on Instagram without being targeted with 20 different smart-dumbell-somethings. During the pandemic, it’s gotten especially aggressive as more people are looking to bring their fitness routines into their homes.
While there are many dupes out there, I’ve found some great products that can help you achieve your fitness goals. You just have to know what to look for. Below are my recommendations for what to consider when purchasing a smart gym, along with a smart gym comparison chart of today's most talked about products.
Solid smart fitness products will offer guidance and information that will improve your workouts. However, performance tracking varies depending on the product you are purchasing. For example, the Tempo Studio tracks your reps, monitors your pace, and offers you feedback on your form. These metrics ensure you’re making the most of every exercise which makes it easier to hit your goals.
In contrast, if you’ve read our review of Mirror you know that their product is just an expensive mobile app. It’s not worth the $1,495 price point when it only offers heart rate tracking and doesn’t offer any metrics that are different from a smartwatch. You might as well download a workout app on your phone and stream it to your TV for a much cheaper price point.
2. Included Equipment.
When you’re paying $1,000 for a fitness product, you’ll want to consider the equipment that comes with it as this also varies per product. Tonal offers digital cables, Tempo comes with free weights, and Mirror just comes with resistance bands.
This should be a determining factor in your decision as equipment can be pretty pricey (and be hard to come by) and can increase your overall cost. If you’re looking to lose weight, tone or gain muscle, you’ll want to make sure your smart gym includes a vast set of weights so that you can have a true strength training experience.
3. Screen Size & Interactivity
Screen-size is important to consider if you are in the market for a smart gym. In my experience, the bigger the screen, the more it feels like I’m working out one-on-one with a real person. Tempo, FormeLife, Echelon and Mirror each have large 40+ inch screens to emulate that working-out-IRL feeling. Plus with as much information about your workout as you want (and need), a bigger screen means better legibility. However, Tonal looks like a small TV as it only offers a 24 inch screen.
I am also partial to touchscreens as it makes it easy to interact with the smart gym. While most products offer this capability, this is an area where Mirror is severely lacking. When I was working out with The Mirror, I found myself tapping the screen to adjust the volume and it became painfully obvious to me that you can’t do that. You need to open your iPhone, wait for FaceID to recognize you, then find the volume controls, then turn it down. That’s not a smooth experience I would expect from a $1495 mirror.
3. Enjoyable workouts
We recommend getting a preview of the classes and the coaches before purchasing your smart gym. Do they offer a variety of classes that will keep you entertained and coming back? Are the coaches relatable and motivating? Are their classes on-demand only or do they offer live classes too?
We recommend selecting a product that has a variety of class content that will keep you interested. Mirror and Tempo offer hundreds of live and on-demand classes while in contrast Tonal is known for repeating content. You’ll participate in a 4-week on-demand program (they don’t have live classes) and take the same class 4x which is redundant and boring. Before the pandemic, I frequented many workout classes like OrangeTheory and think Mirror and Tempo’s live class experience bring the same energy.
4. Pricing & Membership
Most smart gyms will make you purchase memberships apart from the cost of the device. The cost, billing frequency, and the number of accounts of these memberships can create significant price differences in the long term. Depending on your household size, you’ll want to consider the price point and how many accounts it can support. Tempo offers unlimited membership with its $39/month subscription while Mirror’s $40 subscription only supports 6 accounts.
What smart gym are you considering and why?