Tonal Live Classes Review (What is missing?)

Since September 2021, the Tonal has introduced live classes where you can join a workout together with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of other people. Today I will cover everything there is to know about the Tonal live classes and compare them with other Tonal workouts.

As a whole, Tonal does offer live classes that are single workouts streamed anywhere from 2 to 5 times per day. Each live class is broadcasted once, followed by the encore class on the same day, or the day after. These are not on-the-go classes, which means you need to have access to the Tonal machine to participate.

What Are Tonal Live Classes?

In general, the Tonal live classes are similar to the regular on-demand workouts. Each class is like a one-on-one personal training session because you get to go along with the strength and conditioning coaches, as well as utilize most of the Tonal features like the dynamic modes and form correction.

The idea here is to follow the instruction of the trainers while the Tonal gym is using AI technology to further optimize the workout for you by selecting the weight and adjusting the resistance based on the exercise you do.

(You can, of course, readjust the resistance manually if you want).

Does Tonal offer live on-the-go classes? In general, the Tonal doesn’t offer live or encore on-the-go classes like kickboxing or HIIT. It does add more classes into their library, however, the on-the-go classes aren’t usually streamed “live” first, but rather added straight into the on-demand list.

How Do Tonal Live Classes Work?

The Tonal live classes work in the same way as you would do a regular Tonal program. However, the difference in doing a live workout is that you can interact with other people in the class by cheering them by clicking on their profile avatar on top of the screen.

(Keep reading to see the difference between live and on-demand classes).

The Tonal live classes are usually divided into three sections – warmup, blocks, and cooldown.

  • Warm-up – Each live class starts from a quick 5-minute warm-up, usually with using bodyweight exercises like squats, jumps, lunges, or pushups to make you ready for the main part. Warming up prior to exercise is vital for the attainment of optimum performance.
  • Blocks – Each Tonal live class comes with a number of blocks, which are the sections where you do exercises, back to back. Each block has 2 to 4 exercises. The number of blocks and sets in each block will depend on the class duration.
  • Cooldown – The cooldown on Tonal live classes mainly includes 5 minute stretching routine that helps you reduce tension in the muscle and kick start parasympathetic activity.

Are Tonal Live Classes Effective?

As a whole, the Tonal live classes are effective because each class is part of the long-term program that uses periodization to maximize fitness adaptations while minimizing the risk of overtraining. Plus, each live class is different and focused on one specific task. For example, the full-body burnout live class is all about utilizing the Tonal burnout mode.

The idea here is to do exercises with less resistance but keep the number of reps high to maintain muscle tension for longer. This helps to reach muscle fatigue, stimulate muscle hypertrophy and strength, with minimum resistance.

Not only that.

Studies have shown that “exercise at 30% of the best effort (which is a load that is comparatively light), with a slow lifting movement (6 s up and 6 s down) performed to fatigue produces greater increases in rates of muscle protein synthesis than the same movement performed rapidly (1 s up and 1 s down)” (Burd A et al. 2011).

This means that time under tension can be obtained by either doing more reps or by slowing down at both concentric and eccentric phases of the lift.

Another type of Tonal live class is a 3 times a week “Strength Factory”, which is similar to the popular split training routine, where you divide each workout day into either upper or lower body.

What is a split training routine? In short, the split training routine focuses on exercising only specific muscle groups (e.g. chest, shoulders, or legs). It includes several exercises for each specific muscle group and trains each muscle group once or twice per week.

For example, instead of doing 3 exercises that cover the whole body in one block, the Strength Factory live classes focus on doing all three movements that target either the upper or lower body.

See below.

Tonal Strength FactoryTonal Full Body Workout
Block 1Standing Overhead Press
Abdominal Crunch
Reverse Fly
Step Up
Barbell Bench Press
Butt Kicker
Tonal live classes structure

As you can see, the Tonal split routine allows maintaining a greater training intensity around the same muscle groups, which transfers to improved strength and muscle size.

Please remember that this type of workout is more suitable for trained individuals who have previous experience with doing multiple sets for the same muscle in the same session.

Another thing that makes the Tonal live classes effective is the progressive overload principle used in every program.

What is progressive overload? In short, progressive overload refers to increasing the training volume and/or intensity over time. This can be achieved by using a higher resistance level, doing more repetitions, or sets. Gradually increasing the training volume influence the adaptations of muscle, as well as metabolic and hormonal responses.

In other words, Tonal programs are designed to be more challenging on you week by week, which is the key to getting better results.

See below.

As you can see, each week the intensity and difficulty level goes up, not down.

This means if you follow the Tonal live program for the whole 4 weeks, you will notice that the exercises are either getting more difficult, or the routine remains the same but with heavier weights.

In other words, you can achieve progressive overload on Tonal by slowly increasing the total number of training sets, total work, maximum dynamic strength, volume load, or time under tension.

Tonal Live Classes vs On-demand

The difference between Tonal live classes and on-demand is that in the live class you cannot control the pace of the session. Each live class follows the set routine and the pace is set by the coach.

On the other hand, the on-demand workouts are edited into single movements, which helps the AI algorithms to match the pace with every individual based on their fitness level.

Its kind of like Tonal takes the content, cuts it into pieces, and by using the smart technology it provides you with each piece that you do at your own pace.

Another difference between Tonal live and on-demand classes is that live workouts are usually part of the multiple-week program (e.g. Strength Factory) where each week you either increase the resistance or number of reps, based on your level.

The idea here is to look at the workout as a month-long challenge, not as a one-time event. This helps not only achieve better results but also develops the habit of exercise.

The last difference between live and on-demand Tonal workouts is that in the live class the coach is doing the class with you while talking to you. In the on-demand classes, you typically have two coaches, one is talking and the second one is doing the work.

Are Tonal Live Classes Recorded?

As a whole, the Tonal live workouts are recorded after each live stream. Every workout in the Tonal library has an embedded time and date sign on the bottom that indicates when was done and who was the instructor.

This means that every live and encore class will eventually appear in the on-demand section. I like this feature because I don’t have time to be present in every live class. So if I manage to join a class that is part of the whole 4-week program, I can still find it in the Tonal program’s library.

(Unfortunately, I find that the Tonal live class schedule is slightly inconsistent, and most importantly, inconvenient for me).

What is the difference between Tonal encore and live class? The difference between the Tonal encore and live class is that the encore class is a class that’s been already streamed live on the same day or the day before and re-streamed again in the live schedule. The live class is the actual live session that hasn’t been recorded.

Why are some Tonal classes not available on demand? Overall, some of the classes are not available on demand because it takes around 24 hours before it appears in the Tonal library.

What Live Classes Are On Tonal?

Overall, the live classes available on Tonal mainly include the strength and conditioning workouts where you use cable resistance training and selected bodyweight exercises, depending on the class type.

Here you can see the list of live classes that’s been on Tonal so far.

Tonal Live ClassesDescription
Balance and BuildA 2-week program to help you enhance movement, mobility, and core strength using compound and unilateral exercises.
Lower Body Level UpThe 2-week program focus on building muscle in the glutes, hamstrings, and quads using Tonal dynamic modes.
Power HourFull body workout that utilizes burnout mode.
Four-Week Fast TrackA 4-week program that works on full body and focuses on strength and muscle size.
StrengthA 2-week intermediate program that challenges the full body for maximum strength gains.
Strength FactoryA 2-week split body parts workout that helps to push the limits and reach better results (intermediate).
Intro to StrengthStrength training program for beginners to learn correct form, technique and slowly progress with more advanced movements.
Strength for RunnersStrength training for runners covers the whole body, including the core, and helps you get ready for the endurance run.
Foundations of HIITA mix of unilateral and high-intensity exercises to help challenge cardiorespiratory fitness.
Full Body BurnoutFull-body conditioning puts emphasis on the burnout mode.
HIITA 2-week program that doesn’t require changing Tonal accessories. All exercises are done with just smart handles.
Tonal live classes description

Does Tonal have live yoga classes? In short, the Tonal does have yoga classes, but they are not part of the live program. Yoga workouts on Tonal are part of the on-the-go classes, which are only available in the on-demand class library.

You can learn more about “tonal yoga” in my article here.

How many live classes does Tonal have? In total, there are around 30 live and encore classes each week that can be divided into 6 different programs. Every couple of weeks a new program starts that includes 3-4 workout days for the next 2 to 4 weeks.

I like this structure because it allows to reduces the workout “confusion” and provides clear directions of what to do next, especially for beginners. A lot of people who do live classes use them like a single workout (e.g. spin class), not like a part of the long-term fitness program.

What I also like is that Tonal includes live classes for all levels, regardless of whether you’re an advanced athlete or just getting started.

What Can I Expect From a Live Tonal Class?

You can expect that each Tonal live class with be completely different from another. Every class starts from the introduction of the coach where they usually describe the purpose of the workout.

During the class, I recommend wearing a heart rate monitor to help to track additional metrics like heart rate, training zones, or calories burned.

Also, the Tonal gym will calculate your strength score and time under tension, which are both clear indicators of progression.

One thing that I don’t like about the Tonal is you cannot choose a specific live class to work in the desired training zone (e.g. heart rate zone 2). Of course, you can choose a cardio class, but even if you monitor your heart rate, you cannot control the intensity of the workout to stay in the same heart rate zone.

How To Find Tonal Live Classes?

Here is the video with step-by-step instructions on how to find the Tonal live classes.

  1. Turn on your Tonal gym and log in to main menu.
  2. Select “live schedule” tab on the top of your screen.
  3. If you want to sign up in advance, you can scroll across the next 14 days. If you want to join today, you will see a list of all classes available by their time.
  4. You can further change a class category to see the full list of the live sessions for each seperate classes.

Are Tonal live classes included in the membership? As a whole, the Tonal live classes are included in Tonal membership and you cannot get access to them once you cancel the subscription.


As you can see, the Tonal gives you a decent option to join the live classes and work on building up your strength and muscle. However, when it comes to cardio, I find that Tonal does not provide enough live class options (compared to other brands like Peloton).

One thing I like about the Tonal live program is once the class is placed into the on-demand category, the AI algorithms “chop” the moves so you can pause and pace your workouts based on your fitness level and energy for the day.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is a personal trainer and writer at Millennial Hawk. He holds a MSc in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is an exercise physiologist who enjoys learning about the latest trends in exercise and sports nutrition. Besides his passion for health and fitness, he loves cycling, exploring new hiking trails, and coaching youth soccer teams on weekends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts