The wave of at-home fitness equipment is here, and here to stay. To be fair, it’s been approaching for a long time…anyone remember Jane Fonda VHS fitness videos?
No? Just me? That’s cool. At least we can all agree that however popular at-home fitness was before 2020, the global pandemic truly catapulted it to the forefront. Sleek home gyms have poured onto the market offering both live and on-demand workouts from the comfort of your home.
New brands like Mirror and Tempo have changed the landscape and become household names because their at-home gyms take things to the next level, offering a level of interaction and personalized feedback that a recorded exercise program lacks.
At-home gyms can monitor your heart rate, calories burned, and in the case of Tempo Studio, even point out when your form isn’t perfect on a specific exercise. Not only that, but your monthly subscription fees come with live workouts in addition to the on-demand workouts so you can follow along in real time and get professional feedback while you work out.
In this article we’ll review 3 of the most popular home gyms on the market — Tempo Studio vs Nordictrack Vault vs Mirror. Existing fitness brands like Nordictrack didn’t sit on the sidelines as the connected gym market boomed, launching the popular Nordictrack Vault, a solid competitor in the space that works with iFit, a fast-growing online workout app. Let’s review their system and see how it stacks up to Tempo and Mirror and well.
Which home fitness system is the smartest of them all?
At the end of the day, there is no BEST home gym, but rather the right home gym solution for each person’s needs. Here’s a chart that shows the key differences between offerings from Tempo, Nordictrack, and Mirror.
|Tempo Studio vs NordicTrack vs Mirror|
|Size / Dimensions||72” x 26” x 16”||72.65” x 24.25” x 14”||52” x 22” x 1.4”|
|Monthly app subscription cost||$39||(Included iFit experience)||$39|
|Price||Starting at $2,495 ($69/month)||$1,999 (no equipment) or $2,999 (with equipment)||$1,495|
Tempo Studio: What makes it unique?
Tempo Studio is shaped like an easel that stands 6 feet high and is two feet wide. Considering how much is packed in that frame, though, it’s quite compact and discreet. It comes in two colors – a light (or white) and dark (a gunmetal grey), and will certainly not be an eyesore in whatever room you choose to place it in.
One of the fantastic things about the Tempo Studio is that it comes with a set of barbells and disk weights so each person can stack as much weight as they need to get the results they want. Tempo comes with monthly subscription access that includes both live and on-demand workouts with professional trainers.
The device is also equipped with a 3D AI sensor that can detect bad form during an exercise and help you correct it. One of Tempo’s best features is its community. Customers can see where they stand on leaderboards and work to improve. In fact, if you are at all competitive, the leaderboards are a great motivator to push yourself! Tempo will also connect via ANT+ to heart rate monitors, but comes with its own heart rate monitor as well.
What Tempo has really tried to do with their Studio is simplify the workout process, and put everything you need into a single package, even including a workout mat and a recovery roller.
Tempo Studio costs more than the Mirror and Nordictrack’s Vault, but considering that it comes with a full weight set in addition to the form-correcting technology, it’s a great option for anyone looking to bulk up at home.
Nordictrack Vault: How does it stack up?
The Vault is actually still in pre-order, so as far as cutting-edge, top-of-the-line equipment goes, you’re likely to get it with Vault. Nordictrack doesn’t have their own software group to make a connected workout app for the Vault. To address this, though, they are powering the Nordictrack Vaults with iFit, and including a 12-month subscription to iFit with the purchase of any Vault.
Nordictrack’s new Vault takes a different route with the equipment. Instead of the easel shape of Tempo Studio, Vault is shaped more like a tall narrow bookshelf, and the mirror and screen slide over to reveal where the equipment is stored. It’s a slick method to hide the dumbbells and other equipment.
Most of the time you’ll want to put Vault up against a wall, but it has a wide base to keep it balanced and in place. You can purchase the Vault with or without equipment, and there’s a significant price difference between the two options, but considering the amount of equipment you get for the higher price, it’s a reasonable deal.
Where Tempo opted for barbells and dumbbells, the Vault only has a set of dumbbells up to 30lbs, 20lb and 30 lb kettlebells, resistance bands, yoga blocks, loop bands, and an exercise mat. You don’t have to have that equipment to use Vault, but the workouts are designed with that set of equipment in mind. The Nordictrack Vault weight set does fall short of the Tempo, in our opinion, as the range of weights is limited vs. the adjustable set you purchase with Tempo.
Vault’s exercise content is powered by iFit, an interactive fitness platform that comes with its own monthly subscription cost. Purchasing Vault will get you a full 12 months of iFit free of charge, with iFit only costing $15/month after that. That’s less than half the monthly subscription cost of Tempo Studio and Mirror.
It’s important to note, though, that access to iFit does not give you access to all the programs on the platform, many of which require you to pay an additional fee. Think of a cable subscription with premium channels. iFit has workout programs for all types of devices, and there is the potential to get a lot of mileage out of your iFit account if you also have a compatible elliptical, treadmill, or other exercise machine.
Mirror: How is it different?
Mirror was the first real name in this space, and is still the go-to brand of its elegant design and ubiquitous marketing. Mirror is smaller and more discreet than the other two options, and is small and light enough that it could even hang on a wall, though it doesn’t have to.
Aesthetically, Mirror has the most premium feel of these three at-home gyms, despite also being the most affordable. Simply put, the design is sleek.
That said, Mirror does not come with any equipment for your workouts. This is a place where the device falls short of the competition. If you are looking for resistance training, then they suggest elastic bands – which can provide good resistance, but don’t have the same versatility as a weight set, so you’ll need to purchase those things separately based on your own workout plans.
In addition to a wide breadth and variety of workout programs (including classes that don’t require any equipment at all), Mirror also has an incredibly strong community of engaged fitness fans. You can connect with friends and even workout together using Mirror. You also get a personal performance dashboard that shows you all statistics from your workouts. And you can compete with others by earning points upon reaching the right heart-rate zones.
Mirror has advanced technology that will adjust the workout even while in progress based on your goals, performance, and profile. A little thing that most people don’t think about is music while exercising, and Mirror allows you to listen to your own music while also listening to your trainer. One shortcoming, however, is form correction technology; unfortunately Mirror does not have a built-in camera and thus does not offer any real-time form correction like some other home gyms can.
Reviews: What are customers saying about Tempo Studio vs Nordictrack Vault vs Mirror?
Good reviews are critical; a company can say anything on their own website, but it’s the user experience that really matters. This is an area that can take a bit of research, because consumer reviews that don’t come from the manufacturers’ websites are hard to find.
Tempo Studio Reviews – 4.9/5
The only place to find Tempo reviews by consumers is on the Tempo website, but they have over 100 reviews and they are almost universally positive.
Nordictrack Vault Reviews: Not Yet Available
The Nordictrack Vault is currently only available for pre-order, and as such does not have any aggregated reviews. Reviews of Nordictrack are generally good and it’s a well-respected name in the industry, but we won’t be able to see reviews for the Vault specifically until after it has been released.
iFit, the workout platform that Vault uses, has been around long enough to garner some reviews, however. The 1-year membership on Amazon has 2.6 out of 5 stars, with most of the negative reviews focusing on the unclear renewal policies and being charged when they weren’t supposed to.
Reviews that discuss the quality of the service are generally 4 and 5 star reviews like this one:
Mirror Reviews – 3.8/5
Reviews for Mirror are generally great. The bad things that reviewers point out are how expensive the Mirror is and the cost of the monthly subscription. Considering that the Mirror is more affordable than either option in this comparison, for the most part this criticism is a non-issue.
From Tom’s Guide:
The Verdict: What’s the best home gym for you — Tempo Studio, Nordictrack Vault, or Mirror?
At the end of the day, all three home gym options discussed here are fantastic. If you need a solution immediately, then you’ll want to look either at the Mirror or Tempo Studio. If you like to use free weights (not just resistance workouts), you’ll want to look at either Tempo Studio or Vault. If the size and quality of the workout library is what’s most important to ya, take a closer look at Mirror.
It’s worth noting that while pricing range, all three options offer financing. All three also have sufficient variety of heart-pumping workout programs with qualified trainers. No matter which one you buy, you’ll of course need to be disciplined and intentional with your dieting in order to see the results from your hard work.
Tempo Studio, Nordictrack Vault, and Mirror are all sleek, high-tech devices that will connect directly to your wifi, bluetooth devices, and other compatible electronics. Truthfully, these modern gym systems are more alike than they are different, but that doesn’t mean that the nuances aren’t important.
For space-conscious shoppers on a budget: The Mirror taking up less space mounted on your wall could be the deciding factor if you live in a small apartment, and its cheaper price could make all the difference if money is tight. At the same time, the resistance bands that come with Nordictrack’s Vault could be the most important thing. Little distinctions can make all the difference given, and that’s important to keep in mind when choosing an at-home gym.
The differences between the software and online workout program could be a big deal for you as well; iFit is much more affordable than the other two, but more users also report issues with it. Mirror has had the most time and user feedback to hone and polish their workout programs and build their library, but Tempo Studio’s workout programs are very well-reviewed and engaging.
The real key is finding a sustainable way to reach your fitness goals. In the end, your goal is to become healthier, stronger, and more fit, and a home gym could have all the features in the world except the one that will make the difference for you, and it won’t be a good fit. It’s important to take the time and ask yourself what is going to get you exercising more consistently and with higher intensity.