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Tempo Studio Review: Smart fitness display packs weights for strength training

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Tempo Studio Review: Smart fitness display packs weights for strength training
“The Tempo Studio fitness display is the smarter, more challenging connected home gym.”
  • Comes with all the accessories you need
  • 3D motion tracking for proper form
  • Sharp-looking touchscreen display
  • Weights hide inside of unit
  • Fewer live classes
  • Doesn't track all exercises

Getting into shape is different for everyone. Some people may simply want to see the number on the scale to drop, while others may opt to build up their stamina or endurance. But no matter the goal, there’s no doubt that smart fitness displays are transforming the way we exercise at home.

While the majority of them tend to focus solely on high-intensity cardio workouts, the Tempo Studio emphasizes strength and muscle building through the use of 3D sensors to monitor proper form. It also features dumbbells and a barbell to use with workouts, live classes that allow you to compete with others, and much more. On the surface, it packs everything you may need in a worthy alternative to going to an actual gym, but how much better is it than competing displays?

A home gym complete with weights

Without question, the biggest differentiator of the Tempo Studio is how it packs all the necessary weights for workouts. Other smart fitness displays, like Mirror or Echelon Reflect, require users to provide their own set of weights. Tempo Studio comes with various weight plates, two dumbbells, a barbell, heart rate monitor, workout mat, and a recovery roller — all included in its $1,995 sticker price. You could easily spend a significant sum buying a set of weights, so knowing that all of that already comes included puts the Tempo Studio ahead of the pack.

Even better is the fact that all of the weights and dumbbells are contained inside of it. Due to this design choice, Tempo Studio is more of a freestanding smart fitness display, rather than being wall-mounted. The end result is a sizable piece of workout equipment that’s 6 feet x 2 feet, 2 inches x 1 foot, 4 inches. In my tiny apartment, it takes up a fair amount of space, but I still appreciate that it stores the weights inside a compartment underneath the display, while the barbell and dumbbells are attached to the back. Managing gym equipment has never been easier.

The largest touchscreen in your home

The imposing stature of the Tempo Studio is mainly due to its ginormous 42-inch display. More surprising was the realization that it’s actually a touchscreen, something I honestly didn’t expect. Not only is it detailed and bright, but it doesn’t suffer from some of the visibility issues caused by glare on some of the other mirror-based smart displays. Everything is perfectly visible even at wider angles, so instructions from the trainers on the screen can be easily followed.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

Speaking of touch, interacting with the display is strange at first, but it’s pretty straightforward and responsive. It does present just a few inconveniences as you’re working out. For one, I wish there were dedicated controls for volume control that are instantly accessible.

Managing gym equipment has never been easier.

Instead, the volume can only be adjusted when you start a workout and press the corresponding icon on the bottom right corner of the interface. There’s also no smartphone integration — so basic functions such as pause/play always require physically touching the display.

Proper form through 3D motion tracking

What sets Tempo Studio apart from the competition is its ability to track proper form for various exercises through the use of a 3D time of flight motion sensor perched beneath the display. It looks like a camera, but in reality, it’s merely there to model your form. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about working out from every personal trainer I know, it’s that proper form goes a long way. And that’s what Tempo Studio achieves by constantly telling me to keep my  knees over toes whenever I’m not achieving that ideal form for squats.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

The Tempo Studio also displays my heart rate level and more stats about my current workout — like how many reps I’ve completed, my pace, and my range of motion. The level of detail obtained through the use of the 3D motion sensor provides valuable data that fitness junkies will appreciate. However, not all exercises are tracked with the 3D motion sensor. In fact, motion tracking seems isolated to exercises that mostly involve weights. Most of the other workouts, like some of the boxing and cardio stuff, don’t get the motion-tracking treatment.

Despite this shortcoming, it appears that the Tempo Studio is continually learning — so perhaps it will eventually be able to track a wider array of workouts. Some stuff is better than nothing at all.

Work up a sweat, needs more variety

If you’ve ever gone through any of the group classes at traditional gyms, then you know what’s in store for you with Tempo Studio’s classes. As mentioned, the emphasis here is on strength training — so expect to do some serious lifting. By combining some cardio exercises with its core strength-training workouts, it had me working up a sweat and hitting a decent heart rate level. I’m used to lifting heavy weights, but not at the rate or intensity that I’m put through here. It’s challenging for sure, so you may want to dial down the weights when you first start, just to get acclimated and find that right tempo.

Workouts are more challenging than just relying on gravity or your body weight, which definitely helps to build muscle. However, the Studio doesn’t have nearly the same diverse set of classes found with Mirror. Likewise, there are fewer live classes to sign up for and try out. Despite this, the on-demand classes provide what you expect — great motivation and direction from Tempo Studio’s instructors. At the end of each class, an overview breaks down the exercise, which helps to track my progress over time.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

While I would love to see more diverse workouts to choose from, I love that it incorporates weights into its workouts. If getting toned and building muscle is on your priority list, Tempo Studio will out you on that path. Just know that it requires a $39 per month subscription.

Our take

Even though it’s not perfect, Tempo Studio has appeal. It’s not crazy expensive, nor is it cheap. With its price tag of $1,995, it’s more than the attractive Mirror by Lululemon ($1,495), but less than the Tonal ($2,995). The latter also focuses on strength training, but achieves it through a patented digital weight system that’s resistance-based.

When you have all the weights and equipment out of the box, combined with real-time coaching from 3D motion sensors, it’s enough to recommend the Tempo Studio as a complete connected home gym you should consider.

How long will it last?

You could treat the Tempo Studio much like an appliance you use at home, seeing that it remains stationary in one place. It’s nice knowing that Tempo Studio comes with a limited warranty that covers the cabinet and weights for three years. The display and heart rate monitor are covered for one year.

Is there a better alternative?

Not everyone focuses on strength training, so if you’re on the lookout for something with a broader range of classes, you’ll want to check out Mirror by Lululemon. It covers workout classes you won’t find with Tempo Studio, such as Pilates, ballet, tai chi, and more. Mirror also offers one-on-one personal training classes where it’s just you and the trainer.

Should you buy it?

You bet. The one-time cost (exluding the subscription) includes everything you need for a challenging workout.

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