Workout Range: 17/20
Shipping & Returns: 20/20
Sorry, but I’m not a home fitness person. I’ve tried, but getting excited about racing across my living room to jump on a stationary bike then spray sweat on my walls while I’m hanging on every word of a videotaped instructor—and having my output measured on a leaderboard for all to see—is not my idea of a good time. Don’t sweat where you sleep, that’s my motto.
However, that has changed since I tried the new Tempo home fitness studio, the new entrant into the luxury home fitness market (competitors are big players like Mirror and Peloton). Tempo has so much going for it, above and beyond its competitors, I’m actually enjoying having it around. (And yes, actually using it.) Here’s why I think it will take a big bite out of the home fitness market which is growing by jumps and lunges (According to the Washington Post, health and fitness equipment revenue more than doubled to $2.3 billion from March to October 2020 alone.)
It looks like a piece of midcentury modern furniture
The first difference I noticed in Tempo is its appearance. Unlike Peloton’s bike—which while streamlined, still looks like a bike incongruously sitting in your domicile instead of a gym where it belongs—the Tempo is a six-foot-tall sleek cabinet with a 36 x 21 inch vertical screen. I have the steel grey version; it looks like a combination of a midcentury modern piece of furniture and some new sort of television. Two cabinet doors on the base open to reveal a collection of multicolored weight circles; dumbbells hang discreetly behind the unit, and there’s an interior compartment where you stash a foam roller and exercise mat.
Its use of weight-bearing exercise is key to a new butt
Looks aside, I am sold on Tempo’s unique exercise philosophy: Weight-bearing exercises are the key to getting the most out of your workouts. Sure, all the major home exercise brands have a range of workouts, but when you think Peloton, you’re envisioning a cardio bike experience, and Mirror evokes a HIIT, yoga or dance class. Tempo, too, has a range of classes, including flexibility and cardio-based ones. But the lion’s share of its workouts employ happy-hued weights in short series of reps that are designed to really sculpt your body as well as build functional fitness. For me, that gives me hope that after following along as instructors coach me through lifting weights for lifts during squats and other moves, I’m not going to throw out my back hauling groceries or develop a rear end ossified into a pancake.
And it makes sure you’re moving the right way
Doing all the moves properly is key to any workout—Tempo solves the problem of how to correct placement with AI. At the start of each workout, a readout directs you to stand centered six feet in front of the machine. Using biometrics, Tempo reads your posture, movement and other elements of each exercise you do, then sends to a note, on-screen in real time, instructing you to take necessary adjustments, like say leaning forward a bit more while lifting your dumbbells in flyes. Even though I pride myself in my squared-off placement, a couple times I found myself correcting myself just as the Tempo was telling me to do the same thing.
The instructors have a good vibe and the classes are timed well
The instructors have a pleasant, middling affect that’s more “glad you showed up, let’s have fun” than the “do your reps faster or I’ll kill your pets” vibe of other teachers on other platforms. I appreciated how, of the hundreds of live and recorded classes, many were around 30 minutes, which helped me fit them into my schedule and, tbh, think how hard can this even be it’s only a half-hour?
The workouts are pretty damn good
These workouts are challenging—even using just the lightest resistance (why can’t I quit you, little red 1.25 weight plates?). Like with the best trainers, I’m sore without being bedridden after a session. I find that rotating through the half hour upper body, lower body and core classes during the week, along with runs through my neighborhood to build endurance, keep my stress level lowered and my pants fitting loosely.
The setup was pretty straightfoward
While there are tiny quibbles—the install team set the unit a bit closer to the wall than was optimal, since I’d kick the wall by accident when I wasn’t careful. And the Velcro-closure heart rate monitor kept slipping down my arm. But these are teensy quibbles when compared with how Tempo got me out of the easy chair and into weight-lifting exercises without having to face a workout studio. (It even got my Zoom-schooled 15-year-old son to break a sweat—Tempo lets multiple family members keep track of their own workout progression).
It’s competitively priced with other premium home equipment, and when you purchase it, you’re committing to a year’s monthly subscription of $65 per month. I use the Tempo Starter ($2,495), which is great for beginners using weights; you can also get more tricked-out packages with extras like a folding workout bench. And with a 30-day trial, if you don’t like the Tempo, you can have it picked up and your money refunded, minus shipping costs. It’s so worth it for challenging, efficient workouts that are just my speed.
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