It shouldn’t be news to anyone that mental health and physical wellbeing go hand-in-hand. The CDC recently reported that year-over-year, Americans are experiencing elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. Two of the most prevalent mental illnesses, anxiety and depression, are up 3x and 4x respectively.
When lockdowns were in effect, people were desperate for physical fitness, but they literally couldn’t get access to a gym to fulfill their normal gym routine. Many people (including some you know, probably!) turned to smart home gyms (AKA Connected Gym Equipment) to fulfill their need to workout from home. These devices not only allow people to work out from the comfort of their homes, but also connect and train with others around the world, satisfying the social needs that all humans have.
Today, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at one of the leaders in the smart home gym industry: the Tempo Studio. It’s been around a while since its prelaunch earlier in the year but still makes headlines today. Let’s solve the question that a lot of people are asking: does it still stack up?
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What is the Tempo home gym?
Having raised $78.8M to date, Tempo is one of the most hyped, highly rated smart home gyms on the market. Whereas cult favorite Peloton offers its users interactive cycling classes, and Mirror a nice library of bodyweight and yoga classes, the Tempo is built around resistance-based strength training. TechCrunch called it the “Peloton of barbells,” which I think is beautifully accurate.
Armed with a generous set of versatile weights and equipment, you’re able to tune in to hundreds of classes, each built around a different group of body parts. Instructors on the massive 42″ screen lead you through the entire routine, which feels surprisingly immersive. It’ll never be enough to trick you into thinking you’re physically at a gym class, but it’s more than enough to keep you engaged and motivated.
Not only that, but the Tempo also uses some amazing AI that allows instructors to watch participants’ workout form in real-time to mitigate the chance of injury. And because of the way they’ve designed it, they’ll only see you as skeleton-like figures. So I guess hypothetically, you could work out naked without worrying about getting kicked out of the class. But I still wouldn’t recommend that, because… heavy weights.
What's it like using Tempo's smart home gym?
It’s low-key pretty awesome.
Not only does the Tempo come outfitted with an impressive arsenal of equipment, but it’s also designed in a way that caters well to lifters at all levels. Whether you’re a novice who needs your hand held through every exercise (nothing to be embarrassed about, btw!) or a more experienced lifter who’s trained with barbells and dumbbells for years, the Tempo sets you up for success.
Neatly stored in its back compartment, the Tempo comes outfitted with some nice home gym equipment. You’ll get a total 115 lb of weights: adjustable dumbbells, a barbell, plates, weight clips, and a yoga mat. When you’re ready for a workout, it’s easy to lay everything out and get ready for a class. And when you want to revert the room back into a living space, instead of a gym, just pack up and return everything to its compartment. You’ll find the Tempo has a super easy to use, sleek design that really bridges the gap between home and gym.
Getting started, you’ll pick from hundreds of live and on-demand classes that are available to you. Want to hit legs today? No problem. Still sore from last time, and looking for a quick core workout to check it off the list for the day? Go for it.
Your class instructor will guide you through every piece of gym equipment you’ll need, as well as how to hit each movement. For beginners, this is an absolute godsend. The barrier to entry into the world of physical fitness (especially strength training) can feel terrifying for a lot of people out there, but it’s clear that Tempo has put a lot of effort into tackling this head-on. Before you know it, you’ll be teaching other people how to hit the same movements that might have intimidated you on Day One. 🙂
Who is the Tempo Fit a good fit for?
With such a versatile piece of equipment, it’s hard to nail down one target audience who’ll love it. So instead, let me throw out a few factors that could lead someone one direction or the other:
The Tempo is a good fit for people who:
- Would appreciate a bit of hand-holding into the world of fitness, without dealing with face-to-face interactions. They’ll also gain lifelong exercise knowledge that can someday provide enough agency to not need coaching at all.
- Consider themselves brand new, novice, or intermediate at strength training. Not only do the amount and types of weights cater well to these folks, but the huge library of classes and instructor feedback can make all the difference for them.
- Don’t want to (or physically can’t) go to a commercial gym. Maybe they’re self-conscious, tired of being creeped on, sick of paying huge membership fees, or just don’t like them.
- Live in a crowded apartment building, or a small house where there’s just no room for a bunch of gym equipment. Or even if they have plenty of space, Tempo’s also a good fit for people who don’t want to feel as though they’re living in a gym.
- Want to get a spouse, child, or family member into the world of strength training without throwing them head-first into a gym membership or personal training class.
- Love tech and can’t wait to experience the Tempo experience first-hand.
The Tempo is not the best fit for people who:
- Don’t have space for the Tempo in their home, or don’t like the look of it.
- Can’t afford the $3k upfront cost and/or the $39 per month membership. While they do offer the ability to finance your Tempo for around $70 per month, there’s no real way around it if you’re dealing with a super tight budget and can’t find savings elsewhere (like not paying for a gym membership).
What's the deal with Tempo's AI and form checking?
Let me preface by saying I don’t know a ton about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) works, but I have read a couple books about the implications (both good and bad) of what it can bring to the world. Pretty interesting stuff. But anyway, in the case of Tempo, I only see it adding amazing value in the form of smarter exercise.
Rewinding back a little to before Tempo was even born: cofounder Moawia Eldeeb was working on developing a wearable for physical therapy that used 3D sensors to guide robot perception. Over time, this grew into a product called SmartSpot, which was a large screen used in gyms to track users’ exercise form. It would spit out pretty rudimentary data (mostly numbers) that would then be analyzed by human trainers to determine meaningful advice. Thousands of trainers used it because it worked so well. And over time, Eldeeb’s AI got smart enough to evolve into what it is today, inside the Tempo.
Today, the Tempo’s 3D sensors track users’ physical movements, analyzes it with AI, and communicates usable information back to instructors in the form of these awesome, skeleton figures. Rather than just flipping on a webcam, the Tempo only shares information that needs to be shared to minimize injury and ensure you’re working out with the best form possible. So unless your cat is doing squats alongside you, they can’t see her. And if your cat is somehow doing squats, you should probably film that and upload it to the internet. The rest of us would love to see that.
How much does the Tempo cost?
The Tempo Fit itself comes in at $2,495.
Compared to other devices on the market, like the $2,995 Tonal and the $2,045 Peloton Essential, this is priced at a point that likely makes sense for a majority of folks looking at a smart home gym equipment. Of course your specific fitness goals and specifications will come into play when deciding which device is right for you, but for an all-in-one device that focuses on strength training, this is priced really well.
As with all connected devices on the market, you’ll also pay an additional membership subscription to get the most out of your device. (And no, it’s not just a scam to sell their product as a SaaS and milk extra money out of you). A subscription to Tempo is what pays for their ability to continuously add new classes, instructors, and updates to the device (among many other things).
For the Tempo, this membership comes out to $39 per month (again, on par with all other smart gyms I’ve researched). To some, this may sound scary. But coming from someone who up until recently paid $120 per month for a fancy gym, it’s not the worst. Not to mention the fact that gyms in California are all closed down for the foreseeable future…
The following charts breaks down some of the boring, but important, specs. The first, I built. The second is from their website, which highlights the key differences between their Starter, Plus, and Pro packages.
Tempo Reviews: How do others like their Tempo Studio?
I searched around the internet for other people’s Tempo reviews. Overall, people love it. Among Trustpilot, Reddit, Google Reviews, and Tempo’s own site, I found an average score of 4.1 stars (out of 35 ratings). Not too shabby, especially considering the convenient 30 day warranty they offer. I would’ve loved to see more reviews here, but with a product as new as Tempo that’s not sold on a review-heavy site like Amazon, this is par for the course.
One quick aside on the topic of convenience: ordering and getting my Tempo was incredibly easy. I got email and phone confirmation from a local furniture delivery company who somehow got a hold of my brand new baby, asked me which day was most convenient for me, then showed up and helped set everything up in my spare bedroom. A+ experience, given how many porch pirates are stealing packages nowadays.
People often cite the personalized workout tracking and fun, interactive classes… some even go as far as to say they don’t expect to step foot into a traditional gym or studio anytime soon.
Is the Tempo worth it?
Advantages of the Tempo
- AI-based form checks. Any time you’re engaging in strength training (ESPECIALLY when you’re a beginner or intermediate lifter), using proper form is extremely important. It’s one big reason why so many gym noobies are encouraged to sign up for at least a few personal training sessions. If you get injured, you have to stop working out and you risk doing long-term harm to your body. But Tempo’s real-time form checks ensure that experienced instructors are able to see what you’re doing and make sure you’re doing things properly, physiologically.
- Form checks don’t come at the expense of your privacy. Since instructors see their class participants as skeleton-like figures, they won’t actually see any distinguishing features about you or your living space. Nothing to be embarrassed about with Tempo.
- Attractive, practical design. The Tempo is available in either black or white, which means it’ll look slick in practically any living space out there. And the convenience of neatly storing weights and equipment in the back compartment makes it a pretty awesome talking point when you have company over (after COVID settles down, that is).
- The weights and equipment that the Tempo comes with are super premium. Rubber-coated plates and stainless steel metals mean you won’t be using rusty equipment in your house. And if you’re super jacked like me, you can buy extra weights straight from Tempo. The barbell holds up to 315 lbs.
- While it might not directly affect your experience, Tempo’s ~$80M in funding says a lot about investor confidence in the company’s long-term health and vision. Their device really is state-of-the-art, and they’re not selling some marked-up Chinese product.
Disadvantages of the Tempo
- While the Tempo’s AI vision and form-checking truly is next-level, it can sometimes miss a rep or two when it’s tracking your workouts.
The Tempo doesn’t come with a bench, out of the box.Update: as of April 2021, Tempo now offers adjustable benches and squat racks with their Pro and Plus plans! For more advanced lifters, you might consider consider these. Oh and be careful buying from Amazon – a lot of the ones I saw listed there are cheap and have ridiculous weight limits.
Final thoughts: Is the Tempo legit?
With several prominent smart home gyms in today’s Connected Gym Equipment market, it can be a little daunting trying to find the right one and avoid regrets down the road. But considering how versatile, affordable, and genuinely valuable the Tempo is, the decision becomes a bit easier. Compared to others, like the Peloton, there’s just so much more you can do with the Tempo. Not to mention it’s extremely easy to set up and make progress on your journey to better health.
The Tempo’s 42″ screen also really does go a long way in making you feel like you’re a part of the class. Because you ARE. With Tempo’s AI form check capabilities, you feel less like you’re working out home alone, and more like your instructor really is there coaching you.
And with such a huge library of workouts, ranging in emphasis from strength training, to cardio, to yoga and mobility, there are bound to be classes for everyone in the family. If you’re someone who’s in this for the long haul, workout tracking is going to be a key factor in bringing an analytical factor to your gym regime. Gone are the days of struggling to even get to the gym, only to “go through the motions” or walk around aimlessly for a half hour before you dip out. The convenience really is next-level.
Classes are always being updated, btw, so that library is only getting bigger. And since the Tempo is full of such crazy tech that’s being designed by teams of engineers and software developers, it’s not as if it’ll become obsolete any time soon. Worst case, you give the Tempo a fair shot and you don’t love it. Well within 30 days, no problem. They’ll handle a return, no questions asked.
Despite being on the market for a good chunk of 2020, the Tempo has proven its dominance among competitors and we don’t expect to stop hearing about it anytime soon. I know I can’t shut up about mine…