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Cardio Vs. Strength Training With Smart Home Gyms: What’s Better?

The past year has been a busy one for the home gym equipment market. With people unable to go to their usual gym for a regular session there has been a boom in home gyms, and this has coincided with the appearance of some very clever, versatile and innovative smart home gyms. The convenience of having a gym in the home has become apparent to many who would never have considered it before. It’s something that all the household can use, too.

All you need is a space in which to instal your smart home gym – they are surprisingly compact, but you need to have space around it to perform your exercises – and many people are utilising an under-used garage or basement. In the following article we look at what smart home gyms are and compare two of the leading models.

What are Smart Home Gyms?

The digital age has finally caught up with gym equipment and in style, too. Smart home gyms have been a long time coming yet those we have seen so far are impressive indeed. They take the form of a central computer console that includes a screen on which can be played video workouts, live sessions and – as we will explain in more detail – an AI representation of the person using the gym.

Why are they better than traditional gym equipment? They offer a greater range of potential routines and can also act as your own personal trainer and take up less space than a room full of gym equipment. That’s not to say a smart home gym can replicate every item of equipment, but you will find the best examples are very versatile especially when it comes to strength training.

The two leading brands in the smart home gym market have emerged as Tempo and Tonal. Each of these gym systems is advanced, innovative and provides more than adequate opportunity for strength training. There’s an informative Tempo vs. Tonal review you can read for more detailed information, and we are going to talk below about some of the features of each model and see if we can come to a conclusion.

Vietnamese man checking his results in smart watch after training in gym

Tempo vs. Tonal

There are many features on both the Tonal and the Tempo machines that are similar, but each has its own unique features that may make it preferable to the buyer. Let’s start by giving a brief description of the Tempo Home Smart Gym.

About Tempo Smart Gym

Tempo is a nicely designed system that comes in a tall and sleek package with a nice large screen. The importance of this will become apparent as we describe it. Firstly, unlike the competition Tempo is supplied with a good set of weights, and a clever storage system for them. But there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Tempo has a set of digital sensors that monitor your movements. These are 3D sensors and work in real time. Any mistakes you make or weaknesses that the system detects will be logged, and as you can access real life personal trainers, they will work with you to perfect and improve your routine.

But it gets even more clever. As you work out, Tempo – through those 3D sensors – tracks what you are doing and will provide real time instructions as to how you can improve your routine. It uses machine learning technology to learn who you are and how capable you are. It counts reps for you and offers a wide variety of video workouts and more and is suitably compact for use in a spare room.

If there are downsides, they begin with the fact Tempo can only be fully utilised when you take out a subscription ($39 a month but offering a great deal of content and access to workouts and sessions) and there’s also no bench attachment. Furthermore, music is set by the machine – a minor annoyance but one nevertheless – and you can’t workout with a gym buddy on this as you can with others. Tempo retails at $1995, and if you shop around you may find a discount.

About Tonal Smart Gym

Tonal is marketed as a complete home gym system and one that is entirely integrated. It is a sleek design that is compact and neat and stylish, and designed to fit in a smaller space. The Tonal gym differs from the above in that it does not come with weights as such, but with two ‘arms’ that replicate them. They can provide resistance up to great numbers and are surprisingly effective.

Tonal adjusts the resistance intuitively while you are working out, giving you better results and performance, and also replicates live feedback. There is no monthly subscription because there are no live sessions, and that’s where this machine falls down a touch in comparison to the above.

There are classes but they are videos, and we believe the live options offered by Tempo are more useful. However, the sleek design and clever adjustments to workouts may make up for this for many consumers. We doubt, though, that the extra $1000 price of the unit compared to Tempo will go unnoticed.

We’re not saying Tonal is not as good as Tempo – it has some very clever and useful features – but that the price difference is somewhat surprising given the features available. Which is best for you? Let’s see if we can wrap this up.


The effects of strength training on health in general are known to be greatly beneficial, and each of these home smart gyms offers a great way to work out in the home without the need to attend a gym. It is difficult to recommend either the Tonal or Tempo gym over one another as each will appeal to different people. It’s fair to say that the price difference – and the availability of online live classes (despite the requirement for a monthly subscription) will tip the balance in favour of Tempo for many buyers, but we recommend you check them out in more detail before you make a choice.