Tonal review – Engaging, futuristic and effective home gym equipment

Tonal's all-in-one solution gives you the power to do virtually everything you’d be able to do in a gym

T3 Platinum Award
Tonal review: Pictured here, a fit young woman using Tonal in a living room
(Image credit: Tonal)
T3 Verdict

If you’re looking to recreate the experience of a full gym and a personal trainer in the comfort of your own home, Tonal delivers. With its huge library of live and on-demand classes, engaging trainers and intuitive weight adjustments, Tonal delivers the best at-home workout experience on the market today.

Reasons to buy
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    Allows you to perform virtually every strength move

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    Simple to adjust, customize, and navigate — even for the tech-challenged

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    Great variety of both live and on-demand classes with engaging trainers

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    Weight and workout intensity automatically adjust as you progress

Reasons to avoid
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    One of the more expensive options on the market

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    Can be intimidating at first

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    Requires professional installation by Tonal team

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Tonal launched in 2018, a customizable home gym that replaces all the machines and equipment you’d find at a gym. Tonal is easily adjusted to accommodate virtually every strength move you’d perform at a gym — think bicep curls, squats and bench presses — and uses electromagnetic technology to create electronic resistance, eliminating the need for bulky weights. 

The Tonal digital weight system automatically adjusts based on your ability and strength level, ensuring you progress and get the most effective workouts. Combine that technology with a huge library of live and on-demand classes from their team of highly engaging and knowledgeable trainers, and you get a truly one-of-a-kind workout experience. 

In this review, we’ll go in-depth on why the Tonal is one of the most effective, engaging and high-tech pieces of workout equipment on the market — including everything you need to know about its functionality, features and benefits. It’s hard to deny that Tonal is among the best smart mirrors you can buy.

Tonal review – Price and availability

Currently, the Tonal is available in all 50 states but not outside the US, retailing for $3,495 (approx. £2,980/AU$5,243 ) on the Tonal website (opens in new tab). There are additional costs, such as the smart accessories bundle, which is $495 (approx. £422/AU$742) and includes two smart handles, a smart bar, a workout bench, roller, mat and rope — as well as shipping and installation (price varies by location) and membership to Tonal’s workout platform ($49 per month, with a 12-month minimum commitment required).

The Tonal workout equipment components, including a roller, mat and rope

Some of the Tonal workout equipment accessories, including a roller, mat and rope.

(Image credit: Future)

Tonal review – Setup and design

When I selected my Tonal, the first order of business was filling out the pre-installation survey. Because the Tonal needs to be mounted on the wall and a certain amount of room is required to effectively use the machine — Tonal recommends 7 square feet of unobstructed floor space and a ceiling height of nearly 8 feet — there were a few to-dos to complete before I could schedule delivery. 

This included identifying where in my house the Tonal would live (as well as a backup area in case my first choice didn’t work), measuring the space and the distance between wall studs and sending photos. I also had to answer a few general delivery questions, like what floor I wanted my Tonal installed on and whether the delivery team would have to climb any stairs.

Once my pre-installation survey was completed, I got a link to schedule delivery and installation. Typically, the process takes between 1 and 3 weeks.

For safety reasons, Tonal requires that their smart gym be professionally installed by their team, but from what I observed, the process was pretty straightforward. Once I showed the delivery person where I wanted the Tonal installed, they had the equipment up and running in about 45 minutes.

As mentioned, Tonal recommends having 7 square feet of unobstructed floor space for workouts. However, when the Tonal isn’t actively in use, it’s super slim and compact — 21.5 inches wide, 5.25 inches deep and 50.9 inches tall.

The Tonal digital profile setup page

(Image credit: Future)

I’m not going to lie: when I stepped in front of the Tonal for my first workout, I was intimidated. I don’t have a ton of experience in traditional gyms — and even when I did go to the gym, you’d be more likely to find me doing bodyweight exercises or running on the treadmill than circuiting between different strength machines.

But it turns out, there was no reason to be intimidated. After taking care of the initial start-up logistics (activating my membership, connecting the smart handles, and adding my personal details like weight and fitness goals), I kicked off my Tonal experience with the Intro workout.

For me, the Intro to Tonal workout accomplished multiple instructional goals at once. The trainer walked me through how to navigate the machine, including adjusting the arm height, angle and rotation — which just requires flipping a switch or pushing a button, depending on how you’re trying to adjust the machine; how to install the smart handles, which easily lock into the arms using a “T” shaped mechanism; and how to turn the weight on and off between exercises or when I was finished with a workout (just press the side button on either side handle).

The author performing a Lat Pull Down exercise with the Tonal

Seated Lat Pull Down is one of the four moves performed as part of the Tonal strength assessment.

(Image credit: Future)

Tonal review – Programs and workout experience  

Next, it was time to do my initial strength assessment, which is also part of the Intro to Tonal workout.

The strength assessment included four moves to gauge my current strength levels: a Seated Lat Pull Down, Seated Overhead Press, Bench Press, and Neutral Grip Deadlift. Based on my efforts, Tonal assigned me a Strength Score, which ranges from 0 to 1000. My initial strength score came in at 243 — which I was pretty darn proud of, particularly when I found out the average Strength Score for all women was between 150 and 275. (Apparently, I’m stronger than I give myself credit for!)

Tonal uses the Strength Score to set your starting weight for more than 100 different moves — and also helps you track your progress and strength gains as you move through your workouts.

Once my initial strength assessment was done, I was able to start exploring Tonal’s workouts — and to say I was impressed would be a serious understatement. Tonal has thousands of live and on-demand classes, including strength, HIIT, cardio and yoga offerings. 

No matter how long I had to work out, whether that was 15 minutes or 45 minutes, or what I was looking to do — like focus on my upper body strength or get a more comprehensive full-body workout — there was a seemingly endless array of options. I feel like I could work out for a year and not even scratch the surface of the classes Tonal has to offer, which, if you tend to get bored with workouts as I do, is a serious plus.

You can also choose from a huge library of workout programs, most of which last a few weeks, to help you hit your fitness goals — whether you’re looking to get lean, build strength or improve your overall fitness.

The author performing an exercise with the Tonal in her home

(Image credit: Future)

One super interesting and helpful feature Tonal offers is Form Feedback. Form Feedback uses sensors to track your movements and deliver real-time guidance on how to correct your mechanics. This is especially helpful if you’re like me and don’t have a ton of experience with weight machines. Instead of spending a ton of time doing the moves wrong — and potentially injuring myself — I was able to identify and correct form issues immediately, which led to safer, more effective workouts.

While the classes are awesome on their own, the trainers really take things to the next level. All the trainers I worked out with on Tonal were motivating, and knowledgeable and kept me engaged. I was also excited to see some familiar faces — including Tony Horton of P90X fame and Brendon Ayanbadejo, a former NFL player and fitness trainer that I had the pleasure (and pain!) of working out with back when I lived in Los Angeles in the mid-2010s.

One thing I really appreciated about the on-demand classes was the way each exercise set was structured. To start, the trainer demonstrates how to correctly perform the move; then, they invite you to complete your rep set. But what I liked is that there’s no time pressure. While the video will continue to display the coach performing reps at their pace, you can take as long as you need to complete the set. 

Tonal will track your reps, and once you’re done, you just tap the button on your smart handle or smart bar, and you can move on to the next exercise. (When you’re using the rope attachment, you adjust your weight manually on the screen, which is also super simple.)

The author using the Tonal workout equipment at her home

Tonal users can watch and improve their technique using the Form Feedback feature. 

(Image credit: Future)

Tonal review – Verdict

The Tonal is hands down the best piece of fitness equipment I’ve ever used. And as someone who doesn’t have a ton of experience with gym equipment, the way Tonal trainers walk you through how to use the machine and how to effectively perform each move was hugely valuable.

With just a few adjustments, Tonal allows you to perform virtually every strength move — mimicking a full gym in your home. It’s simple to adjust, customize and navigate, even for the tech-challenged and has a huge variety of both live and on-demand classes, including strength, HIIT, yoga, mobility and cardio. Weight and workout intensity automatically adjust as you progress and get stronger, and engaging trainers make you feel like you’re working out with your own personal coach.

Tonal is definitely among the pricier options on the market, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly piece of workout equipment, this one probably isn’t for you. But Tonal is a must-try for anyone wanting to recreate the experience of working out in a high-end gym and working out with a high-end personal trainer. And, if you can afford it, the benefits justify the high price tag.

Tonal review – Also consider

If the Tonal price tag is giving you a serious case of sticker shock, you might consider a slightly more affordable smart gym option, such as the Tempo Studio, which retails for $2,495. Or, check out some of the best smart mirrors available right now.

Deanna deBara is a freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest. A fitness enthusiast, she's been writing on all things health, wellness, and fitness since 2016. When she's not busy writing, you can find her hiking the PNW with her husband and two rescue dogs, snowboarding, or trying out a new baking recipe in the kitchen.