When gyms closed down across the country during the pandemic, many people turned to home fitness equipment as the next best thing. Just as classrooms and offices became virtual via video conferencing in 2020, home gyms also took a turn toward the tech-side.
Virtual, interactive home gym equipment is the next best thing to working out at the gym. Or maybe it’s even better, with no crowds, no strangers who leave the equipment sweaty and no masks required.
It would be impossible to mention virtual home gyms without a mention of Peloton. Sales for the spin cycle and treadmill manufacturer soared 172% in September 2020. Because of their flexibility and capabilities, the Peloton machines and accompanying app can qualify as complete home gyms. But other equipment on the market, such as the Mirror and Tonal virtual home gyms, may provide even more capabilities in a smaller space.
When you’re shopping for a virtual home gym, consider the following factors:
- The space you have available
- The type of workouts you’re likely to enjoy
- What virtual gym platform your friends are using (so you can workout during live sessions together and support each other)
- Your budget
- Celebrity trainers and the classes offered through the virtual gym app
With these things in mind, know that the equipment we’ve evaluated on this list are all made with high quality components for reliability. With options from roughly $700 up to $3,000+, if you’re serious about getting in shape and feeling better, you should be able to find a virtual gym on this list that fits your needs and budget.
Each piece of equipment is different in what it can do and the classes offered, but all provide feedback and automatic resistance or speed adjustments, as applicable. They all offer interactivity with community members and trainers when you sign up for their respective apps, which is what many people are seeking from their home virtual gym experience.
Community support often makes the difference in staying with an exercise program or not, so you may want to connect with friends and like-minded individuals through social media and choose your virtual gym based not just on the equipment, but on the people who use it.
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With LeBron James as a celebrity spokesperson, the Tonal home gym has been garnering plenty of attention since its launch in 2018, but really took off amidst the pandemic. Tonal provides a full-body workout in a sleek package that mounts to your wall and adjusts to your moves for a personalized workout. You can purchase additional accessories to modify or expand your workouts.
The resistance bands provide maximum resistance throughout reps, while the artificial intelligence algorithms adjust the weight automatically for you. The machine provides form feedback, but to get the maximum benefit, you may want to tune into a class with a live trainer.
Tonal offers live and on-demand classes ranging from yoga to high-intensity interval training, and connects to Apple Music and Amazon Music so you can enjoy your favorite workout tunes.
Retailing for $2,995, plus $495 for the accessories, Tonal is best if you want a variety of workouts, with an emphasis on strength training, have a big budget, and flexible space. You’ll most likely want to use the weight bench and other accessories, which include a roller, floor mat, smart handles and rope, and a smart bar, to get the most out of your workouts. Of course, these can be tucked away when not in use. You can also use your own accessories, which attach to the machine via T-lock adapters. If you’re not sure if Tonal fits your lifestyle, you can try it free in your home for 90 days. Membership to the Tonal app costs $49/month.
Retailing for more than $1,000 less than Tonal, the Mirror is a streamlined workout machine that calls itself “the nearly invisible home gym.” With no weight bench or accessories to take up space, the Mirror sits unobtrusively on any wall, just like any mirror in your home.
Users can choose from more than 10,000 on-demand classes, available with the $39 monthly subscription, as well as live classes. You can purchase personal training sessions for $40 each session. The Mirror’s smart algorithm curates workout suggestions for you based on workouts you’ve chosen in the past.
While you can choose weight-focused workouts and add your own hand weights, the Mirror is best for those who want cardio workouts and a community environment. You can work out with friends—or a whole new set of friends you met virtually—and connect with them right through the Mirror. You can try Mirror free for 30 days to see if it’s for you.
There are currently four purchase packages offered, starting with the Mirror Basic at $1,495 and up to $2,045 for the Mirror Family, which includes heart rate monitors, weights, straps, yoga blocks and mats.
The iFit app is more than just a single piece of equipment. It is an app that turns your home workout equipment from NordicTrack, Pro-Form, Freemotion, Weider or Matrix into an interactive fitness community. Equipment includes rowing machines, strength training systems, fitness mirrors, cross-trainers and ellipticals, spin cycles and treadmills.
iFit, like Mirror and Tonal, offers live and on-demand classes led by expert celebrity trainers. The Google Maps feature lets you chart your own course as you train on a bike, treadmill or cross-training machine. Explore real-life places or prepare for a race by traversing the actual terrain you’ll experience in real life.
Of course, the iFit app is only as good as the equipment it’s connected to. But one benefit is that you can use a connected fitness machine even without a video screen and access iFit through an Android tablet or iPad.
The iFit is also great if you have multiple pieces of home gym equipment or multiple users in your household. You can get a family plan for up to six people for $39/month, or pay $396 for the year. A one-year individual plan costs $180, which is a value at $15 compared to Tonal, Mirror and others.
Peloton sits at the head of the race as the most recognizable brand name in virtual fitness equipment. The big-ticket Bike and Treadmill garnered a cult-like following during the pandemic, with fitness communities sprouting up across Facebook. The official Peloton Member Page has 459,000 members, while the Official iFit Member Page has just 74,000.
The company’s new Bike+ sports a $2,495 starting price tag but with free installation. The original Bike starts at $1,495, with an additional $250 delivery and set-up fee. The Peloton app membership costs $39/month, putting it right in line with Mirror, less expensive than Tonal but pricier than iFit.
If you love biking or running and want primarily cardio workouts and feel driven by a sense of community, the Peloton could be your best investment. You can add fitness weights to many of the workouts, and the app offers thousands of classes from cycling races to cardio boxing.
You’ll need substantial space for a Peloton in your workout area. The specs say you want 24 inches on all four sides of the bike and a minimum 8-foot ceiling for headroom, so if your home gym is in your basement, you may want to explore other options.
The Bowflex C7 delivers the interactivity of a Peloton Bike at a fraction of the price. Selling for $699 on Amazon, the Bowflex C7 is one of the most affordable on this list of interactive, virtual home fitness equipment. You can use the JRNY app, which goes for just $19.99/month, to connect with other riders. You’ll get the first year free with your purchase of the C7 bike. You can also use other apps, including Peloton, although you might miss out on some of the interactive features that allow you to feel that sense of community you’d get riding a Peloton bike with other Peloton riders.
The C7 delivers more than 50 global routes to explore, and real-time feedback from a virtual coach. Like the other equipment on this list, the C7 and JRNY app combination adapts your workouts as your ability levels change—but for a fraction of the price.
It’s worth noting that the JRNY app is also compatible with other Bowflex fitness equipment, including treadmills and ellipticals.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.
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