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Today, working out from home is easier and more effective than ever before. Instead of purchasing all kinds of equipment, you can get everything you need in one piece of innovative equipment.
Not only that, but you’re not ever on your own. Today’s equipment is interactive, allowing for a fully immersive experience that’s just as much about reaching your fitness goals as it is about connecting with others.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one home gym that features resistance training to tone and build your muscles, then you’re going to love the matchup I’m featuring today. Two of the biggest players in the game right now are Tonal Home Gym and NordicTrack Fusion CST: which one is the best option?
I’m going to put these two machines face-to-face and then break each one of them down for you so that you can decide which home gym system is best for your needs and goals.
Why Choose Resistance Training?
There are so many benefits to resistance training! Yes, cardio has its place, but resistance training builds a foundation for health and success across your whole body. Here are some of the top reasons why a resistance-based home gym machine is a great choice:
- Increases muscle strength, endurance, and power
- Increases communication between your brain and body
- Lower abdominal fat
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Controlled blood sugar levels
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Lower injury rates
- Increased flexibility and mobility
- Elevated body image
- Body compositional changes
- A longer lifetime
- And more!
As you can see the benefits of resistance or strength training are immense. One of the most compelling benefits is the fact that it increases your muscle mass, which then increases your metabolic rate aka you can eat more because you’re burning more naturally. A recent study showed that ten weeks of resistance training may increase resting metabolic rate by 7%!
Tonal Vs. NordicTrack Fusion CST: A Head-to-Head Comparison
Both of these machines are interactive personal strength trainers that will help you meet your strength goals, but they are not the same. So I put together this comparison table to help you see both home gym machines side by side for review.
$1899 1-year iFit Family membership is included + $99 delivery
$2745 + tax, delivery, & $49/month membership + optional Smart Accessories package $495
Yes, with iFit subscription
No, only pre-recorded, trainer-led classes
Access to other workouts?
Yes, iFit others a full library of classes to be taken on any cardio machine + the floor
No, classes are designed for the Tonal Machine only
20 resistance settings adjusted digitally
Up to 200 pounds
Yes, during live trainer workouts
Must be affixed to a studded wall
Additional accessories needed?
No, everything is included
Yes, the Smart Accessories package is optional, but required for most workouts
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The Tonal home gym is an incredibly innovative new system that’s changing the way we strength train from home for the better. It’s often compared to the Tempo Home Studio, however, I find that it’s more closely related to the tech and style of the Fusion CST.
Tonal uses a combination of electricity and magnets to digitally control the resistance throughout your workout. It comes equipped with a 24” touchscreen where you can browse workouts and watch your trainer as you perform your exercises. There are adjustable arms on each side of the wall-affixed machine where you’ll connect your smart handles, smart bar, and rope. Each arm offers 100 pounds of resistance, so 200 pounds total.
All together, the system supports over 170 different upper and lower body movements. The technology included in the system is designed to offer you a powerfully personalized workout. It takes all the guesswork out of strength training by giving you a starting point and then helping you to progress by automatically adjusting your resistance as you get stronger, this is all done through AI technology.
The library of available workouts is quite extensive, even though they do not offer live classes at this time. You can choose between all levels of difficulty, from beginner to advanced, and the workouts range from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. You can also choose to free lift and create your own workout, you can even create custom workouts inside the app and sync it to your Tonal.
- Easy to use system
- Automatic weight setting and adjustments
- Basic form feedback
- Spotter mode to ensure proper form
- Partner workout option
- Motivating, professional instructors
- Wide selection of workout to choose from
- Allows for safe, effective progression and strength gains
- Sleek, discreet system that folds up nicely when not in use
- It’s a pricey investment
- There are no live classes at this time
- Some users complain that the bands rub on their skin when performing movements
- The machine sometimes misses reps
NordicTrack Fusion CST Overview
The name Fusion comes from NordicTrack’s desire to create an all-in-one home gym that fuses together strength training with cardio. They accomplish this by offering a huge library of workouts and interactive training sessions inside their iFit app (which is included with purchase for a full year membership). Each class is led by world-class instructors who help you shed fat and build muscle at the same time.
This machine uses magnetic resistance, just like Tonal, and the intention is to reduce the size and bulk of the equipment you would need to create a gym atmosphere inside your own home. This system is designed less for pushing your heaviest weights and more for higher reps at lower weights and using a variety of motions to achieve a complete workout.
The Fusion CST features 20 levels of resistance that can be adjusted manually but will also be calibrated and adjusted to you by the trainer/program based on your unique strength goals and starting point. Similar to the Tonal system, the Fusion takes all the guesswork out of where to begin and helps you to safely and effectively progress.
- Combines cardio and strength for an all over workout that maximizes efficiency
- It’s gentle on your joints thanks to the magnetic strength training resistance
- Your trainer will control the resistance for you during your iFit classes
- 10” NordicTrack removable tablet included
- Bluetooth heart rate chest strap included
- Small, compact design is perfect for homes with limited workout space
- Tons of workouts to choose from, including live classes
- 1 year of iFit is included with purchase
- The screen is small compared with other home gym systems
- You cannot adjust the cable heights
- Might not have enough resistance for advanced lifters
The Final Verdict: Which Home Machine is Best?
I’ll start by prefacing that both of these machines are great in their own way, but you’re likely more suited for one over the other. The most important considerations to keep in mind are:
What’s your budget?
There’s a significant price difference between the Tonal and the Fusion, nearly $1500 when all is said and done. If you’re looking to spend less, the Fusion offers a ton of value at a much lower price point.
Where will you place your machine? Do you have a studded wall available?
If you like the idea of having your home gym attached to your wall and completely out of the way, then the Tonal is going to be very appealing. It’s sleek, beautiful, and something that you’ll be proud to display in your home. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to have a suitable studded wall for installation.
Do you want to take live workout classes?
Live classes create a fun, competitive, and personalized workout experience and so many connected home fitness equipment and apps are featuring this style of workouts. Tonal does not currently offer live classes, however, they may in the future. NordicTrack, on the other hand does, and you get access to their full iFit app which includes classes that can be taken across a variety of machines and on the floor, too.
In conclusion, I urge you to consider these factors and then make the choice that best suits your needs, budget, and goals. Both machines are going to provide you with an amazing resistance-based workout that will provide you with a myriad of benefits!
Budget friendly (and all-in-one) option:
Proven smart home gym (been around for a few years) and you don't mind spending more money option: