We’re big fans of Peloton’s service, which allows any owner of their exercise bikes (or treadmills) to join a spin class from the comfort of their homes. It’s a great solution for people who find it motivating to do their workouts in class settings, without the inconvenience of a crowded gym. Tonal is looking to do the same for strength training.
No, you don’t join a group class for presses, deadlifts, and squats with this thing. Instead, it’s meant to simulate the experience of lifting weights with a personal trainer guiding you throughout. And yes, it’s very similar to the Peloton experience, as you get to follow video workouts, receive personalized advice, and hear constant feedback, so you know exactly where you stand every step of the way.
Tonal is built around a dual cable crossover machine, allowing you to perform hundreds of exercises using nothing but a single equipment. On each side of the machine sits an arm that holds the cable, whose position you can adjust anywhere along the equipment’s height, all while being able to move and lock anywhere at a 180-degree angle. Suffice to say, you can have the resistance coming from any angle of your choosing, which enables it to support a whole load of exercises for different body parts.
Unlike traditional dual cable crossover machines, this one is very compact. In fact, it’s so compact, it’s designed to mount on a wall using just 16 studs. And, yes, it’s professionally-installed, so you won’t have to pick up a power drill if that’s not your thing. It’s able to achieve the slim size by eliminating the use of weights, relying on what the outfit describes as “digital weights” instead. In this case, the machine’s resistance is provided by an electromagnetic engine that can simulate the resistance created by any weight up to 200 pounds. You can set the resistance right on the machine itself, so there’s no need to have your phone nearby and launch another app.
Like Peloton, Tonal includes a subscription component that gives you access to a library of videos and personalized training, all of which you can get right on the machine via a large portrait display on the front panel. It’s smart, too, so it won’t just leave you to your own devices during workouts. Instead, it can assess your current strength, recommend weights for different exercises, and monitor every rep you make using six-axis gyro sensors integrated into the machine. When it recognizes a weight is too light for you, it can automatically add resistance, as well as tone it down a bit when it notices you struggling, so it’s like having a spotter constantly on the lookout.
Every rep of every exercise for every workout you do is recorded by the system, which it can use to create an assessment of your progress. From there, it can recommend workout programs, based on whether you’re looking to pack on the muscle, lose some fat, or build explosive power.