Do you really need a $5,000 smart weight trainer?

As more people look for at-home fitness solutions while they are sheltering-in-place or physically-distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, another smart mirror, Forme Life, has entered the category. This connected gym features a built-in weight training system, fitness classes, and has a designer look. But all this comes at a price. $5,811 to be exact. This has us wondering, do you really need a $5,000+ Smart Weight Trainer to stay in shape at home?

Do you really need a $5,000 smart weight trainer?
The Tempo Smart Weight Trainer Display

With gyms closed and fitness classes canceled, many exercise enthusiasts are wondering how they’re going to stay in shape while they’re self-quarantining. Others, who may not have been regular gym-goers before, are concerned about their health now that their physical activity is limited to the house. Humans need exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. For this reason, many people are seeking solutions for working out at home. But do you really need a $5,000 Smart Weight Trainer to do that? We’re taking a closer look at Forme Life and other smart fitness machines to see if they’re worth the hype.

Exercising when you’re home-bound is important

Exercise is important. According to the NHS website, regular exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 50% and decrease your risk of death by up to 30%. What’s more, WebMD writes that exercise can even boost your immune system since it improves your overall health. So physical activity is important for us to take part in, now more than ever. Enter Forme Life, a smart mirror with a built-in weight-training system.

Forme Life offers classes, monitoring, and weight training

Like other smart mirrors, Forme Life relies on a resistance system that simulates weights so that you can push, lift, and pull from a variety of angles. It also comes with accessories like a heart rate monitor and ankle straps. When you’re not using it, the arms fold behind the screen. This connected home gym includes fitness classes you can stream, and the machine selects the weights that are most suited for your fitness levels. You can also set goals like whether you’d like to build muscle or get leaner. The classes include cardio, barre, and yoga.

Overall, Forme Life does seem to cover most things most people would want when they are trying to get into shape or maintain their fitness levels from home.

The Forme Life Smart Weight Trainer Design

The Forme Life Smart Weight Trainer Design

Designer Yves Behr told CNN that Forme Life “gives people access to good instruction (and) training in their own home. As we get older, we have less time to go to the gym,” Behar said in a phone interview. “For most people, it is hard to motivate yourself to train at home, and it is hard to feel like you’re doing it right.” Forme Life tries to help motivate people to work out in their homes.

Is Forme Life right for you?

Forme Life sounds like a great at-home exercise option since it includes almost everything you’d get from a gym membership: weights, cardio, and classes. But even though Forme Life’s arms fold behind it, the reflective surface takes up considerable wall real-estate in your house. So if you live in a small apartment or home, you might not want to devote so much space to a piece of equipment that, essentially, is just a TV screen with weights attached.

The Forme Life costs $110/month for 39 months for a total of $4,290. Additionally, its membership program costs another $39/month. During these difficult times, people are more likely to stream fitness classes for free on YouTube or buy an online course at a tiny fraction of the price. They can use their hand weights, resistance bands, and yoga mats to get the same results. Also, as far as the courses go, no mention has been made about whether they will get updates or new editions. So it might be that you’ll spend over $5,000 for classes that quickly get stale.

The Tempo tracks your movements while you train

Another Smart Weight Trainer, the Tempo, is a smart mirror similar to the Forme. It also offers live or on-demand classes but comes with Microsoft’s Azure Kinect built-in to monitor your form while you exercise. The machine is an armoire-shaped 42-inch HD touchscreen display and streams 4K videos ranging from strength training, cardio, yoga, and HIIT. Under the machine are storage racks to hold barbells, weighted plates, and a yoga mat, among other accessories. The Azure Kinect camera watches the user’s form and uses dots to plot muscle movement to ensure that each squat and burpee is done correctly. The Tempo is much cheaper than the Forme, (just $1,995 with a 39/month content subscription fee).

The Tonal offers focus weight training

The Tonal is also a smart weight trainer similar to Forme Life. A wall-mounted weight machine, the Tonal has two adjustable arms that you can move up and down and angle. Also, you can switch the grips for two handles, a bar, or a rope. Some of these handles include a power button that lets you get into position before you start moving the weight. The starter set consists of a bench and a floor mat. The center has a touchscreen that includes a selection of classes that help you gain muscle or just get toned. Also, the Tonal offers some coaches with different personalities. However, most of the classes have the same structure and last between 25 and 45 minutes. The Tonal’s 36-month financing plan, including the content subscription, totals to $5,360 when you’ve finished paying it off.

What’s so great about connected fitness machines?

Connected fitness machines like Forme Life, Tempo, and Tonal offer many benefits. The first is that they allow users to have a full workout in the privacy of their homes. Many users, particularly older ones, get a little self-conscious at the gym, sweating and getting out of breath in front of a room full of people or a live trainer. If they could work out in their living room, however, without judgment (or perceived judgment) from others, they’re more likely to be consistent with their workouts.

Smart fitness machines can track your movement

Additionally, these smart weight trainers can track users’ movements and notify them if they’re doing an exercise incorrectly. This is especially useful for something like the squat, which, if you do incorrectly, you risk hurting yourself and not getting much benefit. Also, rather than continuously completing moves in the wrong way, this feature lets you learn from your mistakes. This is something that, previously, you could only get if you hired a personal trainer. However, unlike a personal trainer, your connected fitness machine is available any time, never gets sick, and won’t push you harder than you want.

Take any class you want

Finally, unlike traditional treadmills or elliptical machines, smart fitness equipment gives you access to interesting classes. So with Forme Life, you won’t have to stare out your window, wondering how much longer you have to be out of breath as you would with your treadmill. No, with these smart trainers, you can take part in a live or on-demand class in an area that interests you. So if you’ve had a stressful day and you want to relax, just turn on a yoga video. Similarly, if you’re motivated to sweat it out, you could switch on the highest level cardio selection.


Why wouldn’t you want to get a smart training machine?

As with everything, there are cons to these machines. First is the space they take up. While most measure no more than your typical treadmill, many (the Forme Life included) require wall space to hang the smart mirror. In many homes, wall space is already at a premium with competition from photos, artwork, and Smart TVs. So, space-wise, these exercise machines are rather inconvenient.

There’s a high price for limited video options

Also, depending on the machine you’ve purchased, your classes might not update frequently or at all. That means you might be stuck with the same videos for years, which can be rather frustrating when YouTube channels upload free ones every day.

The final consideration is the cost. Some of these machines cost upwards of $5,000, which is quite a price to pay for a service that streamlines what YouTube fitness channels offer for free. Furthermore, for many of these smart weight trainers, you can only access classes if you pay a subscription fee. So in addition to a high initial price for the machine, you’ll also need to pay to watch the classes. Overall, it feels like a lot to ask. It’s true that the individual components of the machines feature high-tech materials and that designers created some. However, the service these smart fitness machines provide hardly seems to warrant such an investment. Especially since exercise can be free.

Modern Fitness Equipment

Modern Fitness Equipment

So, do you need a $5,000 connected fitness machine?

Probably not. But of course, it always depends on your perspective and needs. If you cannot leave your home and staying fit is a necessity, a smart weight trainer could be for you. Likewise, if you need personalized instruction (but not too much) and simply hate going to the gym or turning on YouTube, a Forme Life, Tonal, or Tempo could be just what you’re looking for.

Meet Lauren Wadowsky

Lauren has been writing and editing since 2008. She loves working with text and helping writers find their voice. When she's not typing away at her computer, she cooks and travels with her husband and two daughters.
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