I have a love-hate relationship with gyms. Ever since I was in college and had access to Boston University's fitness center (shout out FitRec), I've always held a gym membership. Even while living in NYC and working at a health and fitness site during the peak of the studio fitness bubble (that, pandemic aside, has yet to pop), I always maintained my all-access pass to a standard gym — that is, until March 2020 hit and my membership to my local gym was temporarily paused and then, after a few confusing months, permanently suspended.
I did what I could to keep up my fitness regimen: cycling on an at-home fitness bike, testing out different streaming classes, and running and walking outside to get some fresh air, but nothing quite filled the void of my gym membership — that is, until I tried the Tempo Studio. I got the opportunity to test out the at-home Tempo fitness machine and I quite literally might never step foot in a traditional gym again.
(While I did receive the Tempo in exchange for an honest review, all of the following thoughts and opinions expressed below are my own and are not influenced by Tempo, in any way.)
Upon first glance, the Tempo Studio looks similar to a certain buzzy fitness mirror, but there's so much more to it. While the front does feature a 42-inch HD touchscreen fitted onto a sturdy aluminum frame, it also comes with all of the equipment you'd see in the weight section of your gym, including two 7.5-pound dumbbells, four sets of weight plates ranging from 1.25 pounds to 10 pounds, six collars to keep the weight plates in place, one heart rate monitor, and a padded workout mat. And while that sounds like (and is) a ton of equipment, it is all conveniently tucked away on the machine and therefore only takes up about three square feet of space. I have the Tempo Starter unit, which is the lowest priced model, but there are also two more models above: The Tempo Plus and the Tempo Pro. The Plus includes the same add-ons as the Starter, plus a 25-pound barbell, recovery foam roller, folding bench, and additional weights, while the Pro, includes all of the aforementioned equipment, plus even more to complete a full gym experience, including even more weights, a squat rack, and a full kettlebell system. (The Plus and Pro are priced at $3,245 and $3,995, respectively.)
Once the machine is plugged in and on, you'll need to connect it to the internet and set up a membership account — which costs $69 per month on top of the unit fee for the Tempo Studio. From there, you'll unlock hundreds of trainer-led fitness classes that span across all fitness levels, time lengths, and interests (from core training to cooldowns to stretching).
But here's where it gets even cooler: The Tempo comes fitted with a 3D AI sensor located just below the screen that monitors and corrects your form and counts your reps. Tempo will even track your progress and suggest lighter and/or heavier weights when needed. It's truly like having a personal trainer with you during a workout. There's also an app that you can download on your phone so you can easily access the classes you've taken, your progress and performance, and suggestions for classes you'd like based on workout history. You can only access the app as an owner of a Tempo unit, which makes it feel a bit more fun and exclusive than, say, another fitness app out there.
It also comes in light or dark — I have the dark, and it looks gray-blue.
Where do I even begin? This thing is so cool. It's perfect for any fitness level and truly takes the fear and confusion out of weight lifting. If you've ever been intimidated by the weight room at your gym, wish you could get on a lifting regimen, or are a seasoned pro and miss having that outlet, this system is a game changer. I love that there are a variety of class lengths and topics. If I'm feeling unmotivated, a 20-minute core workout is just enough to boost my mood and when I'm ready to sweat, a full 45-minute class transports me to a workout like The Fhitting Room or Barry's Bootcamp — it's a seriously hard workout.
There are also live classes, which was extra motivation for me since I could schedule to attend just like a pre-pandemic workout class. While participating in those live classes, the instructors can see your profile and encourage you by name, which is added motivation if you've ever had trouble following along with an instructor on YouTube.
One of my favorite parts is the AI technology that helps with form and counting reps. If you're anything like me, it's extremely easy to lose count while doing any sort of workout, so this has been a real lifesaver. It's also super helpful to know when I lean too far forward while squatting or put too much pressure on my knee while lunging. It also just uses motion capturing to sense your movements — rather than an actual camera — so those who value privacy need not worry.
Finally, and this may seem simple, but one of my favorite things about the Tempo is that you can not only pick what music you'd like to listen to — from Pop and Today's Hip Hop to curated playlists like Black History Month and Modern Downtempo — but you can adjust the music's volume against the instructor's voice. One of my personal pet peeves when following along to an online workout is that the music, while usually good and set to the beat of the workout, is quiet and muffled compared to the instructor's voice, but just loud enough that it's too hard to play your own music. The Tempo solves that problem entirely. If you're feeling the music of the Tempo you can turn that up a bit, and your instructor's voice down a little, or you can turn the class up all the way and mute the music to play your own instead. That's a small, but incredibly thoughtful spec that Tempo included in its machine.
Of course, nothing is without cons, and the most glaring one in the case of the Tempo is of course the price. The Tempo Studio costs $2,495, plus tax and shipping, and requires additional payment for membership, which is undeniably a splurge but compared to other fitness machines on the market, you're getting a much more comprehensive workout in my opinion, so it's worth the extra dough. Plus, you can finance it for as low as $69 per month with $0 down for 36 months, which is about the same as a gym membership.
It's also pretty heavy and does require a large area to work. Although only three feet of space is required for the actual unit, you need to be at least six feet away from the machine while working out for it to accurately capture your movements, which means you definitely need a good amount of room to actually use it. It also weighs 100 pounds with all accessories removed and 215 pounds with everything intact, so it's not exactly the most agile piece of equipment.
I haven't run into these issues personally yet, but I have noticed some comments and reviews that mention the inability to work out with another person while using this machine, since the technology can only track one. There is the capability to make unlimited profiles within each account, so families and roommates can share the Tempo, but you can't yet work out together. (However, the accessories are available for purchase à la carte, so you could build your own mini system alongside the main one if you really wanted to.) Also, at the time of purchase, there were a few reviews that mentioned that they wish the system came with a bench. Luckily for them, as previously mentioned, Tempo just added two new packages for purchase: The Tempo Plus, which includes additional weights and a bench, and the Tempo Pro, which includes a squat rack, kettlebell, and additional storage.
Finally, the need for a membership. All new owners of the Tempo Studio are required to sign up for at least one year of the monthly membership — but considering the lack of access without it, you pretty much always need to keep the membership. There are a handful of classes preloaded onto the machine that can be accessed even without a membership, but if you're looking for a variety, the membership is definitely the way to go.
All that said, I think if you have the space and budget for the Tempo Studio, it is a no-brainer. It's an incredibly cool and hi-tech home fitness unit that, in my personal opinion, could rid the need for gym memberships altogether. It's easy-to-use, actually looks sleek enough to not ruin your decor, and provides effective and helpful workouts. And, after the year we've had, do we even need to mention that it's much cleaner than your local gym?
Buy it now: The Tempo Studio, from $2,495
Katie is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers shopping trends, deals, and product reviews for Hunker. She's written for PureWow, Food Network, and Well+Good. When not online shopping, you can find her collecting vintage glassware or rewatching Nancy Meyers' movies for design inspo.