Compact home gym uses machine learning to help you work out smarter

In an age when fitness apps are a dime a dozen and our smartwatches track our every move, the humble home gym seems to have become a relic of the past. A company called Tonal is looking to change that with a new smart home exercise machine that promises to take our workouts to the next level by using machining learning techniques to help us get stronger and fitter.

At the heart of the Tonal workout system is a wall-mounted exercise machine that looks like it has been designed to blend seamlessly into the environment when not in use. The high-tech device features a 24-inch screen that not only serves as an interface for interacting with the machine, but can also serve up a streaming library of expert-led workouts on demand. Users can select the type of workout they want to do or the muscle group they want to target and the system will provide a video that corresponds to that request. This allows Tonal to play the role of a personal trainer, offering up advice on how to properly approach the fitness routine.

At its core, Tonal is a digital weight machine that has found a way to replace the clunky barbell and metal plates. Instead, the device uses a specially designed electromagnetic engine that can replicate the resistance of weights through the use of a pair of adjustable arms that fold out from the side of the unit. This gives the user the ability to get a whole body workout from a device that is about the size of a flat-panel television, as opposed to having a whole room dedicated to weightlifting equipment.

What really sets Tonal apart from other exercise machines is its ability to monitor a user’s progress and automatically adjust workouts as strength and conditioning improves. The first time someone uses the system, it conducts an assessment of their current fitness level and creates a personal program designed to improve performance. As that person become stronger, the system will  automatically update the intensity of the workout to reflect the changes. In this way, users should continue to see steady gains in their fitness and strength, helping them to avoid hitting plateaus along the way.

As with some of the other smart fitness machines that have hit the market recently – like the Peloton bike and NordicTrack’s RW900 rowing machine –the Tonal system will set you back a few dollars. The system is priced at $2,995, with the option to add $495 in “smart accessories.” That’s a lot of money, but if the device delivers on its promise, it will be like having a whole gym available in your home at any time.

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