Our Speediance Gym Monster review is ready to reveal one lean, mean calorie-crunching machine – just in time for Halloween. If Mike and Sully had only been born a couple decades later, this is the smart gym they’d use for Sully’s morning routine.
Whereas premium competitors like Tempo and OxeFit are relatively bulky affairs, the Speediance Gym Monster could be mistaken for a rogue Tonal that grew legs and jumped off the wall. This familiar-feeling fitness platform houses most of its high-tech hardware – including self-adjusting resistance mechanisms – within the machine itself, resulting in a surprisingly economical aesthetic that’s also a one-stop shop for full-body workouts. Still, unlocking this smart gym’s true potential is ultimately up to you.
Regardless of your budget, there’s never been a better time to consolidate your home gym equipment with a smart gym or all-in-one multi gym, especially since subscription-based companies like Tonal, Fiture, and Peloton have finally started dropping their original prices for the masses.
Is the Speediance Gym Monster one of the best smart gyms to crawl out of the digital ooze? Read our full review to find out.
Editor’s note: I spent several weeks testing-driving the Speediance Gym Monster, and am leveraging my limited impressions against other smart gyms I’ve played with in the past, including the OxeFit XS1, OxeFit XP1, NordicTrack Vault, Tempo Studio, Tempo Move, Tonal, and Kemtai. Click here to learn how we test at T3.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Specs
Live classes: No
Digital form tracking: No
Screen: 21.5-inch touchscreen (1920 x 1080)
Accessories: Weight bench, rowing bench, barbell (large/small), skiing handles, ankle straps, tricep rope, smart handles
Max Tension: 110 pounds (per arm)
Size: 72.8 x 27.9 x 49.2 inches (unfolded), 72.8 x 27.9 x 13.8 inches (folded)
Weight: 187 pounds
Speediance Gym Monster review: Price and availability
As of this writing, the Gym Monster was available for $2,699 on Speediance’s website, which includes the device itself, a weight bench, a barbell, and non-Bluetooth handles; the obligatory accessories package ($400) is an obvious upgrade with additional smart handles, skiing handles, ankle straps, and a tricep rope. You’ll have to pony up another $399 for the rowing bench, $400 for shipping, and $348 for that annual membership, which brings the price up to $4,246. Rawr.
Now that the Gym Monster’s claws are out, let’s consider its closest predators, starting with Tonal. That wall-mounted contraption costs a comparable $3,495 outright, but it’ll be an extra $495 for Tonal’s similarly equipped accessory package, $250 for installation, and $588 for the annual membership, adding up to $4,828.
Is your wallet still hungry? The OxeFit XS1 costs $3,999, which is the highest starting price I’ve seen so far in terms of subscription-based smart gyms, and there are three different accessory bundles to choose from: Flex ($549), Flow ($899), and Peak ($1,249). Each package is paired with a slightly steeper monthly membership, plus another $500 for shipping and installation. One thing’s for sure: smart gyms are a sizable investment no matter how you slice it.
Price points aside, there’s a decent overlap in features and adjustable accessories between the Gym Monster and Tonal, including AI-powered adaptive resistance. Just remember: the wall-mounted Tonal is a permanent (albeit fashionable) fixture, whereas the Gym Monster is clunky-yet-mobile.
Note: even if you let that Speediance membership expire, you can use the Gym Monster in Free Lift mode as a digital cable machine, and thrifty lifters might be able to get along without any extra features upon getting used to the machine.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Setup and installation
Shipping all the way from China to New York City, this mini-monster’s journey was written all over its tattered box, which surely had seen better days by the time it reached my doorstep. (To be fair, the Gym Monster may have tried chewing its way out overseas.) Luckily, the Speediance distribution team did an outstanding job of packing everything inside before sending it out the door; there weren't any broken or damaged parts to be found, which speaks to the machine’s mostly metal construction.
Whereas the 135-pound Tonal and 300-pound OxeFit XS1 both require professional installation, the 187-pound Gym Monster is essentially usable right out-of-the-box, which is a tall order for so much specialized hardware. I just had to peel off the cardboard and inner packaging, stand the Gym Monster upright, unfold the workout platform, assemble the benches, and plug it in. At a casual pace, the whole process took roughly 45 minutes.
The Gym Monster comes with five individual profiles, which is nifty for families and gym buddies who might be splitting that monthly membership. Once I activated my account, it was simply a matter of adjusting my personal stats (gender, age, height, weight); selecting my primary fitness goals; and completing a strength assessment for my chest, shoulders, back, hips, legs, and arms.
Once this assessment is complete, the software’s AI takes over to some degree, automatically adjusting weights in future workouts and keeping track of your progress along the way. In short, the more you use the Gym Monster, the more data it collects – and the stronger you become. This onboarding process is an important part of owning a smart gym; by the time I began my first workout, I was already familiar with the machine itself, along with the bundled accessories. Lifting solo is risky enough without flying blind, and any smart gym is an injury waiting to happen if you misuse the equipment. Safety first, folks.
Tonal and OxeFit have very similar setup processes, each with their own unique flavor. I know the whole rigamarole sounds complex, but it’s more intuitive than you might expect, especially if you already know your way around a cable machine.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Design
Here’s a simple-yet-understated feature unique to Speediance: mobility. There are two tiny wheels built into the base, which allows you to tilt and move the machine at will. If your lifestyle includes limited space, the Gym Monster is adaptable to that lifestyle – at least to some degree.
At 187 pounds and 72.8 x 27.9 x 49.2 inches with the deck unfolded, the Gym Monster looks like the lonely lovechild of Tonal and OxeFit; the whole machine can be folded up and pushed snugly against the wall at a moment’s notice, taking up a modest 3.2 square feet of space when not in use. The boxy 304 stainless steel frame feels fairly basic, yet equally functional as the premium OxeFit XS1, whose stately, streamlined skeleton looks like it was carved from a single slab of silvery steel.
As mentioned above, the Gym Monster comes with a few familiar fitness tools, but if you splurge on those extra accessories – and why wouldn’t you? – this includes a weight bench, rowing bench, a couple of barbells, two Bluetooth-powered smart handles, two skiing handles, two ankle straps, and a tricep rope.
Again, it’s a very similar toolset in comparison to the OxeFit XS1. For example, OxeFit’s top-of-the-line Peak package ($1,399 with $50 monthly membership) includes a multi-function bench, multi-function bar, barbell, hand grips, tricep rope, waist harness, ankles straps, SkiCross handles, swim paddles, and an adjustable paddle to accommodate a variety of cardio-based activities: SkiCross, SurfSwim, rowing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and pilates. Similar deal with Tonal.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Display
I’ve been waiting for someone to implement a tiltable touchscreen into their smart gym, and Speediance finally did: the 21.5-inch (1920 x 1080p) display can be swiveled up and down to match the exercise you see on screen. The end result? I could actually see what the trainer was doing during floor-based exercises and cooldown stretches – without ironically straining my neck in the process. (This is a complaint I’ve had for every other smart gym I’ve ever tested, by the way.) Uniquely, you can even flip the workout screen upside down for any exercises in which you’re lying on your back, making it much easier to follow along with any on-screen instructions.
In my testing, menu navigation was relatively smooth, without any lag or buffering issues to speak of. The home screen is populated by your weekly goals, a variety of rotating workout recommendations, and five primary selections:
Workout – This is where you’ll find a multitude of workouts organized by such categories as Cardio, Activation, Sport-Specific, Shaping and Stretch. As of this writing, there were 100+ different workouts at my fidgety fingertips.
Template – From here, you can create customized weight training routines to your heart’s content, with hundreds of individual exercises, stretches, and compound movements to choose from.
Free Lift – If you enter this mode, you’re on your own – in a good way. Experienced weight lifters will appreciate the ability to jump right into a workout with nothing but the clothes on their back and a skeleton plan in their head. From here, you can choose from four different weight modes (Standard, Chain, Eccentric, Constant), two ACC modes (dumbbell/barbell), and your weight resistance of choice.
Program – If you’d like a bit more direction with your weekly weight-training routine, Speediance offers a variety of multi-week programs to get the blood pumping. (As of this writing, there were 25 total.)
Movement – Looking to zero in on every muscle group, one workout at a time? Try picking a workout based on desired muscle movements instead of desired results.
Most guided workouts involve a warmup or cooldown, and you can follow the trainer’s movements at your own pace to find proper form if you’re unfamiliar with a particular exercise. Once you activate the resistance/load during each set, the Gym Monster keeps track of each rep on screen, along with other contextually useful metrics (ex, workout duration, total volume, training mode, range of motion). If gamifying your weekly workouts has been a longtime fantasy, good news: the Gym Monster will have you ready to jam with the Monstars in no time.
Should you wish your home gym to make a fashion statement, of course, you can’t do much better than Tonal. With that reflective 24-inch touchscreen turned off and arms folded down, it’s easy enough to mistake the whole device for a wall-mounted mirror. The OxeFit XS1 has an even larger 32-inch display, paired with an even more dynamic fitness experience through that pivotal portal.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Inner tech
The Gym Monster is certainly no slouch in terms of inner “oomph” thanks to 110 pounds of weight resistance per arm, which can be manually moved from rack to deck with relative ease. Tonal is slightly less equipped with up to 200 total pounds of dynamic resistance from those swingable arms, while the XS1 takes a slightly different approach, with 140 pounds of max resistance from the rack and 250 pounds of max resistance from the (equally foldable) deck, which houses those additional force plates.
Akin to Tonal and OxeFit, which both rely on hidden mini-mechanisms to make automatic adjustments during each sweat session, the Gym Monster’s dual motors (located inside the base) use electromagnetic force to adjust cable resistance as you progress from one set to the next. Once you unfold the deck, voila! Meet your new digital trainer, complete with a snazzy 21.5-inch touchscreen and 36 x 24-inch workout platform.
The Android-based tablet underwent several software updates throughout my testing, which bodes well for the development team behind the machine (not to mention the platform’s overall future-proofiness).
Speediance Gym Monster: Performance
To get an idea of how mean this monster really was, I experimented with a variety of workouts that included bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, shoulder press, woodchoppers, and other core-crushing exercises that got my blood pumping. After a brief introduction to the machine itself, it was time for a proper sweat session.
As I huffed and puffed my way from one workout to the next, I found attaching and detaching each accessory to be just as intuitive as Tonal or OxeFit; the steel mechanisms felt secure whenever they locked into place.
Thanks to a scrolling wave graphic on screen, I instantly knew whenever my body symmetry was out of whack, even if I couldn’t feel it. (There are two distinct lines to represent each side of your body, and if they’re not in sync, neither are your muscles or limbs.)
As of this writing, there were well over 200 exercises available to populate your weekly workout routine of choice, including both strength training and cardio-centric movements, such as skiing and rowing. There are four human models (two men and two women) to illustrate each exercise in real time and keep your form on point, but if you want a more lifelike personal training experience, both Tonal and OxeFit excel at verbalized step-by-step instruction.
While my favorite part about the OxeFit XS1 platform has to do with their cardio content, I felt most at home in the Gym Monster’s Free Lift section, where I could instantly tweak every aspect of every exercise at any second. As I tore through each set, I appreciated how easy it was to monitor myriad metrics on screen, such as my range of motion, calories burned, and total volume lifted. As a longtime lover of logistics, I truly appreciated the wealth of daily data, and the more you know how to interpret this data, the more dynamic your workouts become.
My favorite Free Lift feature: swapping between Standard, Chain, Eccentric, and Constant mode. Speediance’s adaptive weight resistance provides concentric and/or eccentric overload on demand, pushing me to maximum effort during each and every rep. As I pumped through several sets of bicep curls in Chain mode, for example, the resistance got progressively harder as I pulled the barbell up to my chin, and lighter as I lowered the bar down. In Eccentric mode, the resistance stayed static on the upswing, but increased as I lowered the bar back down. If you’ve ever done negative rep bicep curls at the gym before, try to imagine that same burnout effect with an invisible spotter.
Speaking of which. Like any fitness machine worth its salt, the Gym Monster doesn’t skimp on safety features; with spotter mode engaged, the load is automatically negated if it becomes too heavy, allowing you to reset your form – and avoid injury.
Note: Similar to Tonal and OxeFit, if you forget to load your weights before starting a given set, the adaptive weight feature won’t work properly.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Mobile content
Peloton has become downright synonymous with live fitness content, but when it comes to weight training, such motivational content takes a backseat to instruction on proper form, and while the Speediance platform doesn’t offer live classes or fancy leaderboard challenges, the software does a great job of simply illustrating each exercise with on-screen videos and contextual tutorials. Throughout my testing, I never got confused adjusting the machine or completing a given movement.
While I didn’t get the chance to test out the complementary smartphone apps for Tonal and OxeFit, the Speediance app is essentially a miniature version of what you’ll see on the full-size display. Based on my testing, I’d say it’s most useful for browsing through the Gym Monster’s workout library and quickly creating custom programs on the fly.
Whereas both Tonal and OxeFit are backed by professional athletes such as Serena Williams, Mike Tyson, Dak Prescott, and Matt Kemp, Speediance is still finding its footing in terms of athletic sponsorships, but not to worry: such partnerships aren’t necessary for a killer workout.
Speediance Gym Monster review: Verdict
It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in the realm of fitness tech these, but the Speediance Gym Monster is off to a roaring good start thanks to its durable steel frame, capable software, and smarter-than-average weight resistance under the hood. The platform could use a little tweaking in terms of workout content, perhaps, but you stand to get your money’s worth from this machine as is, in my opinion. And since the software is just as upgradeable as similarly equipped competitors, you never know what kind of new workouts might pop up over the next year.
The Gym Monster is markedly less expensive than Tonal and the OxeFit XS1, but both of those premium platforms feel more polished in terms of both hardware design and software implementation. (The celebrity sponsorships don’t hurt, either.) That being said, experienced weight lifters will find a lot to like about this versatile machine, and it devours way less floor space than you might expect.
Speediance Gym Monster review: also consider
The Gym Monster ain’t the only smart gym in town, and as mentioned above, it’s a very similar platform to what you’ll find with Tonal and the OxeFit XS1. If plated workouts and traditional dumbbells hold more of an appeal, check out the NordicTrack Vault or Tempo Studio, which hide everything inside sleek storage towers. (Which also house their respective touchscreens.)
If you’re on a budget, consider more modest competitors like the Tempo Move, Peloton Guide, or Kemtai, which utilize AI tech to facilitate top-tier personal training right from your TV or laptop. Granted, you can spend less than $1K on a good smartwatch and a quality set of adjustable dumbbells to maintain a solid strength-training routine on the cheap. At the end of the day, the hard work is up to you.