Tonal vs. Mirror: Smart Home Gym Review – SI Showcase

Lena Weib

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Two of the best smart gym options for elevating your home fitness setup are Tonal and Mirror. Both are high-tech wall-mounted options, designed to provide a full-body workout with minimal space required. However, they both focus on different training goals.

Which one should you choose? Ahead we’ll break down the details of Tonal and Mirror, so you can choose the best smart gym for your home.

Tonal ($2,995, Tonal.com)
Mirror ($,1695, Mirror.co)

What Are Tonal and Mirror?

The Tonal and Mirror are compact, wall-mounted smart gyms that don’t take up much space. They’re not much bigger than a TV—at about 22 x 51 inches and 22x 56 inches respectively — traditional home gyms, exercise bikes and ellipticals take up more room.

Both allow you to join a wide variety of live, instructor-led virtual studio classes, track your training sessions and progress over time, and choose from thousands of pre-recorded classes.

However, that’s where the similarities end.

Tonal is designed to give you a complete strength workout, and includes two built-in resistance arms. These can be adjusted to complete over 200 exercises, and can provide resistance up to 200 pounds. For versatility, ease of use, and those who enjoy weight lifting, Tonal is an excellent choice.

Mirror does not have built-in resistance arms, though you can purchase smart weights that integrate with the machine. Instead, Mirror focuses mostly on cardiovascular fitness, and it can sync with any Bluetooth wearable heart rate monitor. You can work with a virtual trainer through Mirror and enjoy a workout from the comfort of your home, a feature not yet available from Tonal.

Tonal ($2,995, Tonal.com)
Mirror ($,1695, Mirror.co)

How Tonal Works

Tonal uses adjustable arms with attached cables to provide a full-body workout. Much like a cable machine in a gym, Tonal’s arms move up and down which allows you to use the machine in a variety of configurations. Whether you need the handles low to perform a squat, or you want the handles high for a pulldown, you can adjust the arms to nearly any angle. The unit uses electromagnetic resistance to increase the weight of the cables — no heavy metal plates required.

Its 24” touchscreen display allows you to easily browse its library of workouts and monitor your workout in real time. You can choose from classes like strength, cardio, sports performance, yoga and pilates among others. Tonal has live workouts every day, and if you miss the class, each workout is added to the library.

Each arm provides up to 100 pounds of resistance. If you want to use the arms together, you can also attach each handle to the end of a barbell, allowing you to perform barbell exercises with up to 200 pounds of resistance. You can also use your own fitness equipment, or purchase Tonal’s smart accessories, which include built-in buttons that allow to toggle the resistance on or off.

You’ll follow instructor-led workouts and it can automatically check your form using up to 17 built-in sensors, ensuring you’re performing the movements correctly. The brand claims that the system has a database of 111 exercises, with nearly a billion movement reps, which provides a ton of information about correct movement patterns. As you work out more with the machine, it’s able to learn how you move to offer feedback that takes into account your strength, flexibility, imbalances, and more. The system then offers immediate feedback on how you can improve. It may not be quite the same as working with a trainer in-person, but it’s very close.

Tonal will automatically track your progress over time, by recording the weight you’re using and the number of reps you complete. Furthermore, it will suggest the appropriate resistance to use in your next workout, ensuring you’re always challenged during your workout. If resistance training isn’t your thing, you can also take yoga, mobility and cardio classes. And with these workouts, you just need to follow along with the on-screen instructions.

Tonal also has a substantial library of bodyweight workouts, so you can take them with just the Tonal mobile app, even if you’re away from your Tonal.

Tonal costs $2,995 for the machine; delivery and installation are $295 and the optional smart accessories cost $495. The $49/month subscription begins at installation and is mandatory for the first 12 months that you own the machine. After that, you can pause or cancel your subscription, and Tonal will function in “Basic Free Lift” mode, where you guide your own workouts. You can’t access your data analytics, workout content, or dynamic weight modes that provide personal training features.

Tonal ($2,995, Tonal.com)

Features:

  • Personalized programs and automatic weight suggestions for thousands of live and recorded workouts.
  • Track your reps, sets, range of motion, time under tension, power and volume to see progress over time.
  • Smart accessories that connect to the machine and offer a greater range of workouts.
  • The $49/month subscription allows you to save unlimited user profiles, so multiple household members can save their own preferences and stats.

How Mirror Works

While Tonal emphasizes strength, Mirror (which is owned by Lululemon) emphasizes mobility, cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Your membership provides a variety of high intensity classes like kickboxing, pilates, ballet, yoga, meditation, HIIT, barre and bodyweight exercises.

This is a lighter piece of equipment at 56 inches in length and 70 pounds, and it doesn’t include weights, though you can purchase compatible smart dumbbells. These dumbbells will range from 1-35lbs, and pair with ankle weights available that come in 1-2 pounds. These smart weights track your movement with their built-in sensors, though with a max weight of 35 pounds per arm, you’re getting significantly less resistance than Tonal provides.

By training in front of the Mirror, you can check your form to make sure it matches your instructors, and if you pay an additional fee to hire a trainer, Mirror’s built-in camera allows your coach to see you and provide real-time feedback and coaching. For $40/session, you can hire a trainer to virtually coach you for 30 minutes, providing real-time feedback using Mirror’s two-way camera. (For privacy, the camera can only be turned on when you’re in a class and will turn off automatically when a class is done. It also ships with a lens cap, should you want to physically cover the camera when not in use.) But beyond those in the smart dumbbells, the unit doesn’t have any sensors that will automatically check your form.

At the time of writing, Mirror already has over 10,000 classes in its massive library, and adds new live classes every single day, so you’ll never run out of options.

Mirror ($,1695, Mirror.co)

Features:

  • Lightweight, minimalist design.
  • Over 10,000 on-demand classes avilable with new classes added daily.
  • Virtual trainers available, so you can be paired with a real person to coach you.
  • Up to six user profiles per Mirror.

Equipment and Smart Accessories

Tonal comes with a set of basic handles, but offers an upgrade to its smart cable handles and barbell, which include built-in buttons, allowing you to change your resistance with one touch. The smart accessories package also includes a bench, foam roller, exercise mat and rope attachment (which does not feature the button control).

While some reviewers use Tonal without these accessories, they’re strongly recommended to get the most out of the machine. You can also purchase your own cable handles and barbell from Amazon (or other fitness retailers), but you won’t enjoy the smart integration that allows you to adjust the weight with the built-in buttons.

Tonal also has an app for your Apple watch, which allows you to control your workout and adjust your weights with a tap of the wrist.

Because Mirror focuses mainly on cardiovascular exercise, its smart dumbbells are nice to have, rather than necessary. Many users don’t purchase Mirror for pure strength goals, so you’ll still get a lot of benefit even without the accessories.

Tonal ($2,995, Tonal.com)
Mirror ($,1695, Mirror.co)

Classes and Personal Training

Both machines offer an incredibly diverse selection of workout classes to choose from. You’ll follow a workout led by an expert trainer, and can choose from live classes or pre-recorded ones.

Tonal will check your form automatically, but you won’t receive any individual instruction or coaching. With Mirror, you have the option to pay for a personal trainer, which is a nice touch for those who want some one-on-one guidance during their workout.

Size and Installation

Mirror only weighs 70 pounds, and doesn’t take up much room, with dimensions of 56.0″ H, 22.4″ W, 1.4″ D. Because it doesn’t use any built-in resistance, it doesn’t even need to be wall-mounted, you can simply prop it up against any wall you’d like to use. (It’s best to angle it a bit, so it doesn’t fall forward and injure anyone or crack.)

Tonal on the other hand is wall-mounted, and because it weighs nearly 150 pounds, you’ll need to make sure the area you’re choosing meets some specific requirements. Tonal recommends at least 7’ x 7’ floor space, 7’ unobstructed wall space, and a ceiling height of at least 7’10”, with studs available for mounting.

Your machine will be professionally installed for a $250 fee, but if you ever move, you’ll need to pay an extra fee to have the team move it for you. With Mirror, you can simply pick it up and move it anytime, anywhere.

Subscriptions and Pricing

Both machines are an investment, and both require an ongoing monthly membership to get the most from them. After all, the guided workouts are the main feature of each.

Tonal costs $2,995, but the strongly recommended accessories are an extra $495. The ongoing membership is $49/month, with an unlimited number of users.

Mirror starts at $1,495 for the base package, with a variety of different accessory packages that range up to $2,045. Your membership will then cost $39/month, and allow up to 6 users to save their profiles.

Tonal ($2,995, Tonal.com)
Mirror ($,1695, Mirror.co)

The Takeaway

Tonal and Mirror are two of the better smart gym options on the market, and they both shine in their own way, providing a variety of workouts.

Those who want to focus on strength, power and muscle will love Tonal’s built-in resistance arms and emphasis on strength training. For those who prefer to focus on mobility and endurance, Mirror is the better fit. 

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.

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