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. And don’t be scared by Peloton’s fall in share price recently, because smart gyms are here to stay.
Today, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at one of the leaders in the smart home gym industry: Tempo. It’s been around a while since its pre-sale earlier in the year but still makes headlines today. Let’s solve the question that a lot of people are asking: is the Tempo worth it?
Table of Contents
In This Post
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 Tempo Studio’s massive 42″ screen or your TV with the Tempo Move, 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.
Alright so for starters, let’s take a look at which boxes the Tempo checks off, when it comes to smart home gyms. Later on in the article, we’ll also break down the different packages that Tempo offers (their base monthly membership plan, and the Starter, Plus, and Pro packages).
Oh and if you’re new to the smart home gym space, don’t forget to check out our in-depth comparison: Tonal vs Tempo vs Mirror: Which is the best smart home gym equipment?
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 either the provided storage cabinet or the back compartment, Tempo offers access to some nice home gym equipment. The new monthly membership plan includes a storage cabinet, a Tempo Core that is used as a docking station for your phone to stream to your tv, four weight collars, and two dumbbells that are adjustable to either 25 or 42.5 lbs each. 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. Tempo’s one-on-one coaching means that you’ll be able to receive a workout plan that is specific to you and your fitness goals. You’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..
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?
You can rent the Tempo Move with the base ‘essentials’ membership that starts at $59 a month and can increase to $69 a month if you opt for the heavier dumbells. The new membership plan means that you’re renting your equipment from Tempo each month, but with a deposit of only $100 for the equipment, there’s way less sticker shock than buying the equipment outright.
Compared to other devices on the market, like the $2,995 Tonal and the $2,045 Peloton Essential, Tempo 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.
If you don’t want to rent the Move, or have more lofty fitness goals, you’re still able to purchase all of the Tempo Studio gear. This will require you to pay for the equipment as well as the original membership fee of $39 a month for access to the classes and personal training.
The following table breaks down some of the boring (but important) specs. Give it a glance and then we’ll move onto another table that compares their three packages.
Everything is pretty straightforward there, right? Now, if you think that you may want to purchase one of the three levels of Tempo’s Studio gear, I’ve tried to really break things down and make it perfectly clear what you’re getting with each package. I also added my personal thoughts on who each package is best for, since they’re all pretty unique. And lastly, I dug around to see if how Tempo values their accessories (in $) is on par with the rest of the gym equipment market.
Which Tempo Studio should I get?
|Starter Package||Plus Package||Pro Package|
|Coupon code||$500 off with code SAVEBIG (best we've seen to date)||$500 off with code SAVEBIG (best we've seen to date)||$500 off with code SAVEBIG (best we've seen to date)|
|What's included?||2x adjustable dumbbells, |
75lbs of weights (up to 37.5lbs for each dumbbell)
4x collars, workout mat
| Everything from Starter, PLUS: |
1x 25lb barbell (pretty necessary, unless you have one)
Folding bench (also pretty great)
2x 25lb plates
Heart rate monitor
Foam roller, extra collars
| Everything from Plus, PLUS: |
Folding squat rack (combines with folding bench)
2x 45lb competition plates
Weight plate storage
|Cost of going with the next upgrade (what are you paying?)||N/A||$750||$750|
|Value of additional accessories (what are you getting?)||N/A||$869||$805|
|Ideal for:||HIIT and other workout programs that don't require a lot of weight.||The addition of a benchpress and 2x 25lb plates unlocks a lot of great workouts (even beyond chest exercises!). But not ideal for people who either already have these in their garage, or who want a regulation 45lb barbell (Tempo's barbell is 25lb).||Folks who want the premier, at-home workout experience, and are willing to pay more for building their equipment setup. You'll have everything you need to crush it, no matter what workout is in store.|
First thing’s first: let’s talk about how Tempo values their accessories, like barbells and weights. Because honestly it’s incredibly important, and any smart shopper doing their due diligence on a purchase like this cares about it. This is especially the case when you’re looking at a smart home gym like the Tempo, where a bulk of the cost is for the actual weights themselves. Because weights are NOT cheap.
Tempo charges $250 for their 25lb barbell. It’s a premium, steel barbell with a super nice finish. There’s nothing really proprietary about it (not that I’d expect there to be). But based on how sturdy and premium it is, the closest comparable one I could find online sells for $200, (though it doesn’t look quite as nice). Due to the nature of the purchase of a barbell, at this price point, I personally would rather go with Tempo’s barbell over a less expensive competitor.
So IMO, Tempo passes the barbell pricing (and quality) test.
Moving on. Tempo charges $145 for a set of 4 10lb competition plates. Rogue Fitness (a bonafide leader in the gym equipment space) charges $190 for a practically identical set of rubberized change plates.
Oh, and you know the 75lbs Essential Plate bundle that Tempo sells? (The one that comes included with the Tempo Starter package). Well you can always go on their website and order it a-la-carte for $370. Rogue Fitness actually sells pretty much the same thing, but as 2 orders of their “37.5lb change plate bundle”. The difference is, Rogue Fitness charges for it, at $410.
So in a surprising turn of events, Tempo has actually beat Rogue Fitness in the competition plates area, from a pricing perspective. Mind = blown.
Why did I go down this rabbit hole? I don’t know, but since I’m cheap, I thought it was important.
And what did we learn here? Well, three main things, IMO:
- We’ve actually found that Tempo is pricing their products fairly, if not even better than their competitors. And anyone who’s used their plates before can attest to just how premium they are. To me, this is a testament to how quality Tempo is, as a company.
- It costs $750 to upgrade from one package to the next ($2.5k -> $3.25k -> $4k). But with each upgrade, you’re getting $8-850 in value from the included accessories. (And based on our above research, that’s true value, no BS).
- BUT if you’re really on the edge about not wanting to spend a ton of money up front, this also means that you shouldn’t feel bad about just giving the Starter or Plus package a shot. Because if down the line, you decide that you do want to pick up their squat rack and more weights, you can still pick them up for only around $50-100 more than what you would’ve paid up front (plus shipping). 🙂
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.
With their new pivot to a monthly membership, Tempo has a serious edge on the competition when it comes to affordability. The Tempo Move provides you with all the basics that you’ll need if you’re looking to get into working out from home. And its minimalist style and compact design are great for whatever size space you have.
The Tempo Studio’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…