best smart home gym setups for 2021

The Best Smart Home Gym Setups of 2021 (Peloton vs. Mirror vs. Tonal vs. Hydrow)

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Smart home gym workouts are a great solution for anyone who is looking for a full-body workout right from the comfort of their own home. If you have a long commute to work or work from home, can’t go to the gym due to the pandemic, or simply have not found the right gym, then we highly recommend you look into a smart home gym setup.  The typical smart home gym users are people who live in the suburbs and have room to dedicate a room to working out. These people might have young children or demanding jobs that make time a premium.

The Top 3 programs that we recommend are Peloton, Tonal, and Hydrow. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but all will help get you in shape from your own home gym.

Peloton

Tonal

Hydrow

Product Title
Product Title
Peloton
Tonal
Hydrow
Starting Price
Starting Price
$1,495
$2,995
$2,145

Subscription
Subscription
$39/Month
$49/Month
$456/Year

Primary Workout
Primary Workout
Cycling/ Running
Full Body
Rowing

Home Gym Setup: Peloton

peloton best home gym setup for 2021

What will be the Cost?

Initial Equipment: Starting at $1,495
Monthly Subscription: All Access Pass for $39/month

The basic bike comes in at $1,495, but after accessories such as bike shoes, lightweight dumbbells, and headphones you can expect to pay a couple hundred dollars extra. There is also the option to upgrade to the Bike + which has all the latest bells and whistles including a slightly larger LCD screen, the ability to swivel the screen for adding strength training to your workout regimen, and a higher resolution video camera if you like riding with friends. The monthly subscription allows for 3 users and has a full range of workouts beyond cycling.

If you like the concept of the Peloton community and the curriculum if offers, but find the initial cost of the bike unnerving, then a secondary option is to buy a Schwinn IC3 indoor cycling bike on Amazon for $599 and then participate in Peloton lessons through the app on a mounted Apple iPad. You still have to pay for a reduced monthly subscription of $19, but do save at least a thousand dollars up front.

Is Peloton Right for You?

If you are someone who loves spin class and wants to add high-quality training program to their home gym setup, and has the budget for a peloton bike, Peloton is here for you. The most popular exercises like running, walking, and cycling, but it has many more to choose from.

What Do You Get?

The Peloton exercise bike is equipped with all the features you would expect from a high-quality exercise bike and can be adjusted to almost any height, just like a regular exercise bike. It has a quiet belt drive, which ensures a very quiet ride.

The newest version of the exercise bike (Bike+) has a screen that can be rotated to enable you to do cycling rides on one end and other fitness programs from the other.

Peloton Digital allows you to participate in more than 20 live biking workouts per day. Here is a mostly comprehensive list of the current exercise offerings:

  • Strength
  • Yoga, Stretching, & Pilates (new!)
  • Cardio
  • Meditation
  • Running & Walking (Treadmill & Outdoor audio)
  • Cycling
  • Bootcamps (for both Treadmill and Bike)

What are the Workouts Like?

Spinning workouts, which gained initial popularity in the 1990s, have been revived in the last few years. Innovation in bike design combined with general technological advances resulted in the Peloton exercise bike system, the first full-fledged bike training system in the world. Many people looking for a robust workout program at home have found a new way to exercise with this popular system.

Peloton was one of the first home exercise programs to master gamification of virtual workouts. The die-hard Peloton community promotes working out and competing together. The leaderboard on the LCD display gives you a real-time view of your performance relative to everyone else (including members who have taken the class in the past) and relative to your personal record (PR) for that specific workout activity. Check out the Peloton Bike for $1,495

Home Gym Setup: Mirror

best home gym workout mirror

What will be the Cost?

Initial Equipment: Starting at $1,495
Monthly Subscription: All Access Pass for $39/month

The monthly price comes right in line with Peloton, but the upfront cost is typically lower. Also, the subscription comes with 5 users so it makes it a bit more realistic for a family working out at home. For those looking to optimize space for their home workout area, this will blend right into a multi-use room such as finished basement or studio apartment.

Is Mirror Right for You?

Interactive fitness company Mirror makes a reflective LCD display for workouts at home. The company describes it as an interactive home studio. An obvious differentiator of Mirror is that you can see your reflection to help monitor and improve your form throughout your workout.

One of its cool features is that it will offer changes to video exercises for those with existing injuries. The advanced camera and optimization technology delivers in-workout adaptations based on your goals, preferences, and personal profile.

What Do You Get?

To get started you set it up to look like a normal full-length mirror and stand far enough away from it to leave space for free movement. When you are ready to begin, a hologram projection of your trainer appears on the mirror. If you prefer to exercise at home, the best thing about the mirror is that you can see what your form should look like and then try your best to replicate it. This means that as you mirror the instructor (pun intended), you get a sense for the micro adjustments you may need to make to improve your form.

This mountable mirror allows you to scroll through a variety of workouts, choose the one you want to do, and then follow along with the trainer while you watch your reflection. It includes access to over 50 live workouts a week with various types of fitness workout plans.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of the types of workouts included in the program:

  • Cardio
  • Kettlebell and Resistance Band Training
  • Yoga & Stretching
  • Boxing
  • Pilates
  • Meditation
  • Bootcamp

What are the Workouts Like?

From the outside, the machine looks like a normal full-length mirror, but when you turn it on, it changes to a screen where your personal trainer shows you how to do the selected workout from your personal home gym setup.

Mirror also offers live personal training with a camera on your home fitness system. If you train with Mirror, you also have the opportunity to train with your friends online in Mirror’s community.

The competitive aspect of the Mirror community is based on gaining points for hitting certain heart rate zones throughout your workout. Check out the Mirror for $1,495

Home Gym Setup: Tonal

best tonal home gym setup for 2021

What will be the Cost?

Initial Equipment: Starting at $2,995
Monthly Subscription: All Access Pass for $49/month

Is Tonal Right for You?

This machine is best suited for those who like weightlifting and want more of a full-fledged gym experience. The seemingly simple Tonal mirror, which turns automated feedback in real time into live feedback about your fitness performance, has given a new generation of fitness connoisseurs an effective way to exercise on their own.

You can also create individual workouts by selecting exercises and assigning your own repetitions, sets, and rest periods. This is a great smart home workout setup if you want to learn more about lifting techniques or cross training and are someone who doesn’t want to leave the house to do sports.

What sets Tonal apart from other training equipment is its ability to monitor the user’s progress and automatically adjust training as strength and conditioning improve. You can show your progress, adjust weights when you get stronger, and adjust them when you need a lower weight to finish your set.

What Do You Get?

Typically, home fitness equipment consists of a set of weights for lifting, a treadmill for cardio, and a large stand for holding other fitness equipment. This home gym is extremely compact for the amount of training you get.

What sets Tonal apart from other training equipment is its ability to monitor the user’s progress and automatically adjust training as strength and conditioning improve. Provided you lift weights without dumbbells distributed around the house, you can show your progress, adjust weights when you get stronger, and lighten them with a press of a button if you are having trouble finishing your last rep. It is kind of like having someone spotting you in the gym!

Here is a non-comprehensive list of the types of workouts included in the program:

  • Strength Training
  • Boxing
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Stretching & Mobility
  • Meditation
  • Pre & Post Natal
  • Triathlon & Cardio
  • Theragun

What are the Workouts Like?

The Tonal home gym focuses on two aspects of fitness: a weight training machine in the convenience of your own home and a personal trainer who guides you through a refined arrangement of workouts. The personal trainers call up repetitions on a screen and are actually able to count every single one that the user does.

To ensure a highly efficient and effective workout and to enable the correct number of repetitions, Tonal has been designed to take all the “guesswork” out of strength training. During your workout, it recognizes which weights are best for each exercise using its artificial intelligence (AI) model and automatically adjusts the weights in real time as you go through the workout. Check out the Tonal for $2,995

Home Gym Setup: Hydrow Rowing Machine

hydrow machine for smart home gym

What will be the Cost? 

  • Initial Equipment: Starting at $2,145 
  • Annual Membership: $456 

Is Hydrow Right for You? 

This machine is best suited for those who want to get a full-body workout through rowing.  If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, it is actually one of the most comprehensive ways to work out your body… a nice medley combining resistance and cardio training. 

In a lot of ways, this is essentially a Peloton experience for rowers.  The machine includes a large 22” touchscreen that displays what your view would be if you were actually rowing on water.  It is quite the immersive experience! 

For a total body workout at home in one device, there are few substitutes.  The only problem is you have to go through the motions of learning proper form, but your yearly subscription will easily transform you into a rowing machine! 

What Do You Get? 

Here is a non-comprehensive list of the types of workouts included in the program: 

  • On the Rower: HIIT, Cardio, Resistance Straining 
  • On the Mat: Yoga, Pilates, Strength Training 

What are the Workouts Like? 

The Hydrow system comes with a really helpful Live Outdoor Reality system where professional instruction is provided.  This is an amazing feature that should be standard for any smart home gym experience. 

Workouts are available both Live (synced with athletes on the water) and On-Demand.   

Resistance on the machine is adjusted digitally and controlled electromagnetically, making for a very quiet machine by indoor erg standards.   

Check out the Hydrow for $2,145

Bottom Line Recommendation

Each of these smart home gym setup programs will work well in at home workouts, but the best one for you depends on your proclivity towards cardio versus strength training versus budget.

best home workout items for 2021

Best for Cardio – Peloton

The exercise bike and digital app can be used individually or together, and the Peloton bike has a large screen on the handlebars so users can follow live bike courses or choose from thousands of other available workouts in the archives.

Best Price – Mirror

The price slightly less than Peloton’s smart bike system, which offers a similar home training experience and is a great alternative for those of us who really like the idea of home training. The added benefit is the form feedback the mirror provides and the ability to make your workout space dual-purpose.

Best for Resistance Training – Tonal

If you are looking for a combination of strength training and cardio, Tonal Tempo is a great option, as it contains all the equipment you need for resistance and strength training. Making strength training accessible and fun, Tonal is as close as possible to a full-fledged home gym.

Best Overall – Peloton

If you love spin classes and are motivated to do sports at home, then a Peloton system is the right choice for you. Peloton’s leaderboard has a “streak” feature, which tells you how many days in a row you’ve worked out… gamification at its best! We recommend starting with the Pelton bike, using the Peloton “outdoor” app for running, and then a medium set of dumbbells to use in the strength training program.

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