Over the past few years, the popularity of fancy connected home gyms — like the Mirror and Tonal — has skyrocketed. And while they offer impressive features, let’s be honest: How many of us actually have thousands of dollars in disposable income to spend on a single piece of fitness equipment?
This barrier to access is what inspired the creation of the Tempo Move — the affordable alternative to the Tempo Studio, which carries a $2,500 price tag. The Move, on the other hand, is less than $400.
I was curious what features you lose by choosing a more affordable option and how it would stack up to pricier models so I gave the Tempo Move a try.
How much does the Tempo Move cost?
The system costs $395 and includes the storage cabinet, the core where you plug in your phone, an HDMI cable, two dumbbells, plates (1.25, 2.5 and 5 pounds), and the collars to lock the plates onto the dumbbells.
The Tempo monthly membership costs $39 and allows for up to six accounts. The app has hundreds of workouts, including strength training, HIIT, cardio, boxing, yoga, meditation and mobility. Right now the Tempo Move only offers on-demand classes, but live classes are slated to be released within the next few months.
What makes Tempo Move different than pricier at-home fitness systems is that there is no screen. Instead, you need to provide an iPhone (model XS or newer) and a TV. You will also need a 6x6 space to work out (that is about five feet back from the core).
How does the Tempo Move work?
The hardest part of the setup was finding a room with a TV where I had enough space. Opting for the more affordable Tempo means you lose the screen, so you need a TV to hook up to. My home gym doesn’t have a TV and I couldn’t set it up in my living room because it looks like a Hot Wheels graveyard and my two-year-old would have the weights pulled apart within minutes — so I eventually set the box in my guest room where I could sneak away and have a dedicated space to workout.
The stylish cabinet houses all of the plates, which range from 1.25 pounds to 5 pounds (there are also slots for 10-pound weights that must be purchased separately). You set your iPhone into the dock, called the “core,” and then plug one end of the USB into the core and the other end into the TV. The core also pops out of the cabinet and is portable so you can set it in a different location if you’re unable to find room right in front of a TV to place the cabinet.
The app walks you through the setup, which took less than five minutes. An intro video walks you through all the metrics you see on screen (including pace, range of motion, dumbbell weight, reps and form feedback) and helps you set up the space so that your full body is within the camera range to ensure you get proper form feedback. 3D Tempo Vision uses the camera on your iPhone to track your pace, scan the weights and record how much you’re lifting, and monitor your form and provide real-time feedback.
Once you click into a class, you see a description plus a detailed list of all the exercises you can expect. You also have the ability to bookmark a class or schedule it for later and add it to your calendar (although I couldn’t figure out how to remove classes once I added it). Each day, any scheduled classes appear at the top of your home screen for easy access.
I tried working out with the Tempo Move
After setup was complete, I opened the app and started to browse through the offerings. I clicked into the program tab and saw suggested programs organized into categories, like “gain strength,” “improve definition” and “lose weight.” Some Olympic-inspired programs under the “gain strength” category caught my eye. Feeling inspired by the Olympics, I settled on a six-class program from Lindsey Vonn.
The Lindsey Vonn “Athletic Strength and Power” program on Tempo
Each class in the program was 20 minutes or less. The first class was a 15-minute Full-Body Build that focused on chest, shoulders and legs. I would have liked a longer warmup, but given we only had 15 minutes I get why it was short and got right to the meat of the workout. The class consisted of full-body movements like dumbbell push presses and split squats that not only served as a strength workout, but got my heart rate up, too. It took me a bit to get the weights right: It told me to use 10 pounds so I loaded on two, five-pound plates, but didn’t account for the dumbbell itself, so I was actually working out with 17.5 pounds in each hand. I eventually realized my mistake (and why the exercises felt so challenging) and adjusted the plates.
I liked Vonn’s style; she was very laid back and it felt more like working out with a friend than being coached. It was interesting to hear stories about her workouts and injuries while training for the Olympics while we worked out. It was a really short workout, but I finished dripping sweat. I liked the summary at the end of the workout that shows your rep count and weight for every exercise during the workout so you can see a snapshot of how you performed.
I felt like the first workout was very doable and not super challenging, but the next day my glutes, back and shoulders were pretty sore. So clearly I got more of a workout than I thought. The next workout was another full-body focused on pull motions. We transitioned from lower body to upper body and switched up the weight half way through. The workout got my heart rate up and definitely counted as cardio. I had a lot of tech issues during this one. The form feature never clicked on even when I purposely did incorrect form to try and get some feedback — I’m talking leaning my torso all the way forward during a lunge. The weight feature was also glitchy; half way through the lower body workout, it recalculated and said I had 27.5-pound dumbbells in hand when I only had 12.5-pound dumbbells. It also didn’t count reps for one of the exercises.
Next up was a 20-minute HIIT workout that used the heaviest weights yet. It told me to start with 22.5-pound dumbbells and I realized very quickly that it was way too heavy; I felt unsafe performing the moves, so I removed five pounds from each. I felt misguided on weight and form during this workout. I don’t know why the platform told me to jump up so much in weight this workout compared to the others. Some moves like cleans and snatches are a little advanced and you need really good form or you can get injured. Since my form feedback wasn’t working, it made me a bit nervous that it was all on me to watch my own form. And again, it didn’t count any of my reps on screen during class and then had incorrect reps in my class summary at the end. Tech issues aside, it was a good HIIT workout, and I liked the combination of exercises that served as a strength, core and cardio workout.
The next class was a 10-minute core workout; it was really quick, but got a good burn in. We used the weight plates to add resistance to some of the ab movements. This class definitely could serve as a good standalone core workout on days when you only have a few spare minutes to exercise. Since it was so short, I did the next 20-minute lower body workout on the same day.
The last class in the program was focused on upper body. It was a good workout, but it set my weight at 7.5 pounds, which is just the dumbbell with no plates. So I upped it on my own to 12.5 pounds each. The exercises hit every part of the arm — the shoulders, triceps, biceps and back. I didn’t feel like my muscles were fatigued by the end and I wanted to do something more, so I did a boxing workout after this one.
HIIT and boxing classes on Tempo
Boxing and HIIT are staples of my workout routine, so I had to give a few of these cardio classes a try.
On a day when I had more to give after my class with Vonn, I tried a 20-minute HIIT boxing class with no equipment. We did a bunch of punch combos with bodyweight-strength moves. It wasn’t the best boxing class I’ve ever taken, but it was a decent workout.
Another day, I took a banded boxing class, which I enjoyed much more. The workout was five rounds total, two rounds of punch combinations, two rounds of banded lower-body exercises, and we ended with a bonus round that combined the band with boxing footwork. I had never used a resistance band during a boxing workout and I really enjoyed it. It gave an added challenge to standard boxing moves and it was nice to get a glute workout while focusing on upper-body punch combos.
On another day when I felt like I had more to give after my program class I added on a 15-minute full-body HIIT. The workout used light weights and a faster pace to get the heart rate up. It consisted of four circuits, each with one weighted exercise, one bodyweight exercise and two HIIT cardio moves. It was definitely a solid workout that got my heart rate up and I finished sweating. There was still no sign of the form correct feature even though I again purposely used bad form to try and get it to kick in.
Strength classes on the Tempo move
There are no shortage of options when it comes to strength classes. In addition to my program, I tried a few to get a taste of what strength-training classes with the Tempo trainers were like.
I did a five-minute full-body burner that focused on weighted exercises like lunges and thrusters. I was really surprised that it got my heart rate up and started a sweat in literally five minutes. It was a great option on a day when I had almost zero time to work out and it reminded me that I can always find time to do something. I also tried a 15-minute upper-body class that used 10-pound weights and alternated between just three exercises: a shoulder press, a hammer curl and pushups. The goal was to complete as many reps as possible during each set, which was ladder style starting with 15 seconds and working up to 45 seconds before working back down. It was a burner, for sure. I found it really challenging and my arms were noodles by the end. The class was very form focused with lots of instruction from the teacher and I felt like I was working with a personal trainer at the gym.
The training style of the Tempo instructors is different from a lot of other on-demand classes I’ve tried — there aren’t any fancy studios or super-high energy trainers shouting encouragement. It is much more controlled and calm, like you’re working out with a personal trainer versus an instructor at a trendy gym. Whether that is a positive or negative depends on your workout style and what resonates with you. I did appreciate that the trainers provided so much form guidance verbally, especially since the form feedback tool did not work for me.
Yoga classes on Tempo
There is a large offering of yoga classes on the app and I used them both as cool downs to my program workouts and as recovery workouts on rest days.
One day I did an Undo the Desk Yoga session that got really deep into the wrists and loosened all the areas that are tight from sitting all day. Some of the other targeted recovery yoga routines include stress-busting, low-back relief and happy hamstrings. I did a 30-minute full body restorative yoga class with poses like supported bridge with a block that felt amazing. We held poses for a long time, sometimes two or three minutes. This was really mentally challenging for me to be still, but I felt such a tension release in my muscles after each pose. The class finished with an energetic series that really left me feeling awake and energized and much looser.
What I liked about Tempo Move
In terms of the equipment itself, the storage cabinet is really aesthetically pleasing and blends right into the décor of a room. This is great for those who don’t have a dedicated workout space and need their equipment to tuck away neatly in a main room in the house when they aren’t exercising. It totally blends in as an end table. I also found the dumbbells to be very user friendly and it was super easy to click on and off different weight plates. It was also nice to have so many weight options contained so nicely in a small space — versus needing to have a dozen different dumbbells.
There are a handful of guest trainers on the app that are professional athletes. It was really fun to work out with Lindsey Vonn and also see programs from professional mountain bikers, NBA players and other Olympic athletes.
There was a nice range of classes, from five minutes to an hour. For me, 20-25 minutes is my sweet spot to feel like I get a solid workout in, but can still easily squeeze it into my schedule, so I liked that they had lots of options in that time frame.
If your goal is to start strength training and make it a regular part of your routine, then the Tempo Move is for you. They do offer other workout modalities like boxing and HIIT, but most of the classes do have a weighted component so it’s very strength focused.
Fumbling with technology during a workout is a pet peeve of mine, so I liked how easy it was to navigate the app and get the workout from the phone to the TV. I appreciated that every exercise is outlined in the workout description so that you know exactly what to expect before pressing play. I also liked the smart features that worked for me (most of the time) like rep counting and pace. No, you don’t get all of the bells and whistles of more expensive products, but you get a taste of that and for the price, you really can't complain.
Finally, compared to the Tempo Studio, Tonal or Mirror, you don’t need a subscription to continue to use the equipment. If you decide you’re done taking classes on the app, it won’t leave the hardware collecting dust: you are still left with high-quality weights, an attractive storage cabinet and a stand to hold your phone and hook it up to the TV.
What I didn’t like about Tempo Move
I didn't love being tethered to a TV. It was a bit of a struggle for me to find a room with a TV where I had enough space in front of the core to be able to exercise and have my whole body on screen. This might not be an issue for everyone, and obviously something you would consider before purchasing, knowing that you’re going to need to hook the core up to a TV.
The tech glitches are what really hurt my experience with Tempo Move. It often took up to a minute for classes to load once I pressed play and the videos would freeze every now and then during a class. During a few classes, the rep count didn’t work properly, sometimes not recognizing any of the reps during an exercise, others counting some, but not all. The form feature not working really caused Tempo to lose points in my book; had that feature worked, it really would have elevated the product and made it an amazing value for the price.
Something I loved about Tonal and the Mirror was that they take the mental load out of exercise. Because some features were so unreliable, I wouldn’t trust the Tempo Move to set my weight or correct form. I still very much felt like I needed to watch my own form closely and feel out what weight was right for my body, sometimes even having to pause a workout to make adjustments. Because of this, it felt more like a nice weight rack and a workout app, versus an entire connected fitness system. If these glitches can be fixed with software updates it won't require any additional purchase or equipment upgrade from the user.
I would recommend this workout to:
- Anyone who wants to make strength training a consistent part of their routine.
- Those looking for smart, connected fitness features at an affordable price tag.
People without a lot of space who want a piece of compact gym equipment that isn't an eye sore.