When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.
The Tempo Studio is a comprehensive at-home fitness solution with quality equipment and effective streamable workouts.
It features gym-grade weight plates, a stainless steel barbell and dumbbells, and a 42-inch color touchscreen that streams workouts and corrects your form.
Tempo fulfilled exactly what I miss about my local fitness center and even had me questioning whether I'd ever need to pay for access to a physical gym again.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Calling any at-home workout space a home gym can be misleading. Whereas traditional brick-and-mortar fitness clubs feature equipment like benches, free weights, and barbells, you won't often find those in someone's home. Maybe they have a set of dumbbells or a treadmill, but it's a far cry from walking into Equinox or 24-Hour Fitness.
For years, fitness brands have attempted to emulate the traditional gym experience by designing full-body workout machines meant for your living space. Take Bowflex, for instance, a company that's been in on the concept for more than two decades. You may scoff at its cheesy infomercials, but the brand was one of the first to offer an at-home alternative to a local gym.
Today, the demand for a true home gym capable of being an end-all, be-all fitness solution is at an all-time high. We want the convenience of breaking a sweat at home combined with the workout diversity and results potential offered by a full-on fitness center.
Though the ultimate at-home fitness machine is still a bit of a pipe dream, a San Francisco-based company called Tempo created an at-home workout studio that gets strikingly close to pulling it off. Featuring a selection of weight plates, a set of 7.5-pound dumbbells, a 25-pound barbell, a workout mat, and a foam roller, the Tempo cabinet is one of the most compelling pieces of interactive workout equipment I've tried.
Intrigued by its potential, I asked the company to have a review unit sent to my apartment in Brooklyn, NY. I wanted to see if it delivered on the hype I'd created for it in my head but was also curious as to how it'd function in a small living space. During the two-week loan period, Tempo far exceeded my expectations. I've never been more enamored with a piece of at-home workout equipment as I was with Tempo - and that's not hyperbole.
An emphasis on quality
With each purchase of the $1,995 machine, there's also a $250 white-glove delivery service tacked on during checkout. Though you can opt-out and just have it delivered to your doorstep or apartment hallway, the white-glove setup assures everything works smoothly, all gear is intact, and that it's placed specifically where you want it.
Though I typically enjoy piecing together or building anything I order myself, the Tempo review unit came with white-glove delivery, so I decided to try it out. I'll admit, it was nice having everything set up for me, with each weight plate placed into the cabinet and the dumbbells and barbell attached to the back. Perhaps the best part, however, was that the delivery drivers hauled off the excess packaging for me, which would surely please my super had they known.
Editor's note: Tempo is taking extra precaution in light of the spread of COVID-19 and allows buyers to have it delivered however they're comfortable. White-glove delivery and setup is still available, though delivery drivers wear masks and gloves, and physically distance themselves as best as possible.
After they left, I noticed something almost immediately: The entire unit contains incredibly high-quality equipment. Be it the clean, rubber-coated weight plates, the stainless-steel dumbbells and barbell, or the included weight collars, Tempo features hardware you'd expect to see at a high-end studio. It's all real equipment, and that goes a long way toward capturing that gym-like feel.
A full gym stored in a cabinet
Standing six feet tall and just over two feet wide, the actual studio aspect of Tempo is like a freestanding, A-frame version of Mirror. I liked that the cabinet stands on its own and doesn't require a dedicated, full-time installation to be functional.
With the weights and collars stored inside, and the barbell and dumbbells sitting in hooks on the back, the unit takes up a relatively small amount of space. The gap between the front and rear panel was even large enough to fit the workout mat when rolled up.
But what I took to the most was the cabinet's versatility, especially since my apartment isn't particularly big. Though larger than a studio, there's not much of a surplus of space - except for right by my front door. This meant that the only place to store the Tempo unit was in an empty area just inside my apartment. At first, I thought that'd be a hassle but soon realized it couldn't have worked out better. When I was ready to use it, I'd just slide the Tempo cabinet down my entryway a bit and set up the workout mat in my kitchen to create a free space to work out.
Even the anxiety of sliding the unit back and forth on my apartment's finished hardwood floors went away shortly after I started using it. Though I was initially afraid it'd leave gashes capable of swallowing my security deposit, I was relieved to notice that each leg had a small rubber nub on the bottom. Not only did these nubs help stabilize the unit, but they allowed it to slide smoothly across the floor, leaving the hardwood intact and scratch-free.
The huge touchscreen is the star of the show
The Tempo Studio's build quality and the physical design of the cabinet are noteworthy, but its tech specs and computing power are just as impressive. The unit sports a 42-inch touchscreen that sits above the weight cabinet, 60-watt stereo speakers, up to 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 10th-generation i5 processor and Nvidia graphics card.
If the weights and the hardware are the bread, then the screen (and what it streams) is the butter. With an interface that's easy and intuitive to navigate, Tempo's software takes working out beyond just blasting curls or squats on your own. There are HIIT and Tabata classes, warm-up and cool-down sessions, mobility routines, and even body-part-specific workouts.
Though classes like these are available almost anywhere, the appeal lies in the way Tempo presents and executes its trainer-led courses. Instructors explain each workout and its proper form while also physically doing the entire routine alongside you. For some of the longer, more intense sessions, they're breaking the same sweat and fighting through the tail end of each grueling round just like you are.
Like so many on-demand workout classes, replicating that personal trainer experience is vital to the overall outcome. I frequented a brick and mortar gym on a weekly basis for over 15 years and became entirely comfortable just throwing some headphones on, putting my head down, and working out completely on my own - I'd go so far as to say I preferred doing it only that way.
But from the very first introductory workout session, I was drawn into the way the Tempo trainer led the routine. Although there were workouts I'd done a thousand times before, I was still sharply focused on the trainer, the specific lift we were doing, and the constantly-updated leaderboard. I also liked not having to wait for equipment to open up or stepping around someone texting on their phone to get at the next workout machine.
One. More. Rep.
Perhaps no part of the Tempo experience was quite as motivating as its real-time leaderboard. For each workout, the screen shows a running scoreboard that ranks each person who's ever done the class on both a total rep and total weight basis. As you do a specific routine, like push-ups, weighted lunges, or barbell curls, the machine counts each individual rep and updates the leaderboard throughout the class.
Though the rep counter is important so you're able to hit your goal each round, it's hard not to keep an eye on your class standing. There's a delicate balance between making sure your form and technique are correct and just quickly doing a certain motion to rank on the scoreboard.
In my first couple of classes, I'd find myself unnecessarily rushing through lifts, trying like hell to keep logging reps and competing for the top spot. It forced me to take a step back and realize that it's far more important to tilt that balance toward form and technique than rushing through a routine. Any personal trainer will tell you that if you don't lift correctly, you won't see proper results.
I found that true motivational balance meant perfecting each lift while using the constantly changing standings as fuel to the fire. Properly eking out an extra rep or two on a heavier weight proved to be more beneficial than half-assedly swinging a dumbbell back and forth. Focusing on form made actually coming in on the top spot of a leaderboard that much more rewarding when it happened.
The scoreboard also grades each class participant on the amount of weight they lift. At the conclusion of a class, you're able to see not just the number of reps but also the exact number of pounds lifted. I've never had access to this kind of information while working out, so it's quite an eye-opening experience to see a number like 8,000 pounds scroll across your screen after a 30-minute full-body workout.
Artificial intelligence keeps its eye on you
In addition to the trainer and leaderboard, the screen also shows how much time remains in each round, the current routine, your target reps, and your heart rate (which is pulled from an included heart rate monitor Tempo suggests you wear for each session). You'll get technique feedback to help you achieve proper form as well.
For instance, while I was doing squats, Tempo noticed whenever my knees went past my toes and would alert me each time it happened. On the next rep, it would then tell me if I'd fixed my form or if it needed to be corrected again. Once a class finishes, a class recap shows you each routine that prompted an error message, as well as how many reps you completed and your total range of motion.
This is yet another feature most casual weightlifters don't have access to and something that provides a helpful service to anyone who wants to make sure they're lifting correctly.
The magic is in the built-in Azure Kinect 3D sensor. By making use of artificially intelligent sensors, the Azure Kinect tracks your every move, comparing what it's seeing against how each lift should look. It knows exactly what dumbbell presses look like, the correct form for push-ups, and even how a burpee should be performed. It's like having a digital personal trainer watching your every move and just slightly altering your form as needed.
I made mistakes, often, but being able to correct them little by little went a long way to making sure that by the seventh, eighth, or ninth class I took, my form was more sound. If you do slip up with technique, the machine doesn't dock you points or a rep score. I found that Tempo's positive reinforcement of proper technique kept my motivation high as I worked to continuously get better.
Not the first to do it but arguably the best
Tempo isn't the first to deliver this kind of innovative, real-time feedback. Two very similar fitness brands already offer their own take on the interactive at-home experience and come with near-identical visions of supplying workout feedback and instructor-led sessions.
First, there's Mirror, a $1,500 mirror that projects live and on-demand workout classes. While the mirror acts as the screen for streamed routines, it also helps you to monitor and correct your form. With a diverse library of classes including barre, boxing, meditation, and yoga, it's been a rather intriguing home gym option since its debut.
Then there's Tonal, which is sort of a Bowflex/Mirror mashup. Tonal has its own set of streamable workouts and a large pseudo-reflective screen but it also has two handlebars on either side that dole out measured resistance. Depending on the class, the machine cranks the resistance up or down using electromagnetism to simulate a wide range of workouts, including curls, bench press, shoulder press, and more.
Though Tempo may not have been the first to offer this unique style of home workout, it just might be the most comprehensive. Mirror lacks the physical weights and Tonal doesn't offer near the same level of versatility as the Tempo Studio.
Is it worth it?
As is the case with so many interactive home workout equipment setups, Tempo isn't cheap. With a base price of $1,995 (without the $250 white-glove delivery), there's also a recurring $39 per month membership fee for access to the streaming classes.
Here's how it compares to the membership prices of physical gyms, as well as the equipment cost and recurring monthly charges for a few of the most popular current interactive workout machines:
Monthly memberships - Gyms
Equinox: $185 (Basic), $260 (All-Access), $300 (Destination club), $500 (E-Club)
Blink Fitness: $15 (one club access), $20 (select club access), $25 (all club access)
LA Fitness: $30 to $50 (varies depending on city/state)
Unit cost and monthly memberships - Interactive equipment
Tempo: $1,995, $39 per month
Mirror: $1,495, $39 per month
Peloton: $1,895, $39 per month
NordicTrack S22i (iFit): $1,999, $39 per month
Ergatta: $2,199, $29 per month
Hydrow: $2,200, $38 per month
To Tempo's credit, it's cheaper than something like a Peloton bike, and its membership fees are comparable to other brands like NordicTrack's iFit ($39) or the video game-centric library of the Ergatta rower ($29). This puts it entirely on par with its competitors' interactive workout equipment setups - and Tempo is something I, as a fan of lifting weights, prefer over cardio-focused options like a stationary bike or a treadmill.
The brand also offers interested buyers the opportunity to finance a Tempo unit over 12, 24, or 36 months with varying interest rates (depending on what they qualify for). The site itself advertises the ability to pay as low as $55 per month which, with the $39 fee for the classes, brings the monthly total to $94. Though it's still higher than going to a Blink Fitness, the convenience of not commuting and actually owning the equipment makes it a worthwhile investment.
Drawbacks to consider
The unit's price will alone be the most critical hurdle for anyone thinking of buying one but it's worth considering the Tempo's footprint, too. While the cabinet itself doesn't take up much room, and the weights, barbell, and dumbbells all fit neatly inside of it, it does require six feet of space between the cabinet and where you set up your workout mat.
You'll also want to make sure you have enough room to freely move around and lift a large barbell, stretch out during yoga sessions, and jump up and down while doing burpees.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you're looking for a high-quality, interactive workout solution that offers a library of streamable classes, a motivating ranking system, and a focus on actual weight-training along with fitness routines like HIIT and cardio, then Tempo is for you.
What are your alternatives?
The most similar alternatives are Mirror and Tonal, two fitness brands that offer their own version of interactive workouts focused on proper technique. Mirror is more of a bodyweight-centric machine, allowing you to use its highly-reflective, mirror-like surface to make sure you're doing yoga poses or shadowboxing routines correctly while Tonal offers resistance-based workouts.
The bottom line
I went into my review of Tempo knowing I'd likely enjoy the overall experience but was stunned at just how much it exceeded my expectations. As an avid gym-goer and someone who focuses more on lifting weights to stay fit, it satisfied so much of what I've missed about actual brick-and-mortar fitness studios. Even the instructor-led courses were far more enjoyable than I thought they'd be and I found myself looking forward to learning a new exercise or two from whoever led my next class.
Not enough can be said of Tempo's quality, too. From its rubberized selection of weight plates to its gym-grade stainless steel barbell and dumbbells, everything about its equipment is premium. Its classes don't just focus on strength training, and they provided me with a versatile workout plan that made me enjoy changing up my daily routine. There were weight classes I was familiar with, but I also liked the mobility routines and intense cardio sessions.
If you're in the market for a quality, interactive workout machine, then you can expect to spend close to $2,000 for the gear and also have to pay a monthly fee for the classes. Although Tempo sports a price tag of $1,995, it often felt like I was getting far more out of it - and would continue to do so beyond my two-week loan if I owned it myself.
Pros: Comprised of high-quality components, has a small footprint, engaging and effective streamed classes led by motivating instructors, essentially puts a legitimate gym in your home with weight plates, a barbell, and dumbbells
Cons: It's not cheap and may be hard for anyone living in a smaller apartment to easily use
Read the original article on Insider