Like many fitness enthusiasts, I love smart home gym equipment.
Today I will compare two of my favorite brands, Tonal and Mirror fitness in terms of results, functionality, and value for money.
The foundation of Tonal gym is created around strength training using the combination of digital cable resistance and AI technology. The mirror fitness is a device mainly focused to stream live and on-demand workouts with minimum equipment.
However, they both have advantages and disadvantages compared to other smart home gym machines, and both are aimed at different audiences.
Tonal Workout vs Mirror
Tonal strength training and mirror fitness offer different types of workouts but are based on the same idea; training at home using the newest technology.
Tonal workout is more like doing weights in the gym together with a personal trainer, whereas Mirror is more like doing a group fitness class.
What’s better tonal or mirror?
As a whole, Tonal is better for people who want to lose weight, build muscle, and replace personal training experience with AI technology.
However, Mirror is a better option for people who get bored at the gym and need more variety of workouts.
What I like about the mirror is they do offer thousands of classes in its on-demand workout library.
They also have a strong live stream presence because you get a new workout every 30 to 60 minutes.
That’s over 30 new workouts each day!
On the other hand, Tonal is more focused on having an access to the whole gym in the comfort of your home. It has over 100 programs that have been designed by professional coaches.
Thanks to AI intelligence it further customizes those programs based on your strength score.
What is the strength score on Tonal?
Overall, the strength score on Tonal is a number based on an algorithm and scoring system that gives you your current strength level.
The total number is the summary of all individual regions of the body and how much weight historically have you lifted.
In other words, the Tonal will detect how strong you’re and it will adjust the resistance, reps, and sets accordingly.
Also, as you progress and get stronger, it will automatically suggest your intensity for your next workout.
I think it’s genius because it saves a lot of headaches for people who just don’t know what to do.
When it comes to building muscle mass, Tonal is a much better option than Mirror because it’s based on strength training using digital resistance with up to 200 lbs.
It also has necessary attachments that can be used for exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and even lateral pulldowns.
Unfortunately, the Mirror only can offer you “strength” classes, where you use a couple of dumbbells and kettlebells.
Of course, those are all legit exercises.
But when it comes to hypertrophy, studies are clear that “doing compound movements with heavyweight is superior for maximizing strength adaptations” (Schoenfeld et al. 2015).
Can Tonal build muscle?
Overall, Tonal can build muscle because it allows using both metabolic stress and mechanical tension to maximize hypertrophy response.
Mechanical tension is created by using a heavy load, whereas metabolic stress is created by isolated exercises.
With Tonal you can do the big compound lifts with significantly more weight that triggers muscle growth.
It also can train the muscle in isolation to increase time under tension.
Normally, isolation exercises could only be done in the gym with a cable machine and other specific equipment.
Tonal allows you to do exercises in all planes of motion and hit the muscle from all angles.
Can Mirror build muscle?
In short, the mirror can build muscle because it includes several strength exercises with dumbbells and kettlebells that can elicit muscle hypertrophy.
However, to maximize the results you need to increase the training volume.
This means you would have to train almost every day on Mirror to get the same results as from Tonal.
In general, Mirror fitness includes many cardio and HIIT classes that help to improve cardiorespiratory fitness.
The tonal gym is mainly focused on resistance training to improve muscular strength.
Studies have shown that strength training increases resting metabolic rate and has a better impact on body composition and fat loss, compared to cardio training (Schroeder et al. 2019).
Of course, cardio and HIIT burn a lot of calories, but please remember that the most important factor in weight loss is calorie deficit.
Negative energy balance from eating less food is what moves the needle, more effectively than burning calories from exercise.
As you can see in the graph above, over 70% of the calories we burn during the day come from resting metabolic rate.
This is mainly the amount of muscle mass you have because more muscle requires a lot of energy.
Tonal helps to build muscle more effectively than a mirror, and simultaneously, it increases the number of calories you burn during the day.
Also, keep in mind that calorie restriction speeds up muscle protein breakdown.
This means without sufficient resistant training your muscle mass goes down and your metabolic rate drops, even after doing cardio.
Which is better Tonal or Mirror for weight loss?
Overall, Tonal is better than the mirror for weight loss because resistance training is more effective in fat loss than cardio training.
Regular tonal training with a high protein diet helps to increase basal metabolic rate and improves glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity.
It feels like I don’t have to leave my house and have a personal trainer on standby with lots of options and tricks to make my workouts more effective.
However, keep in mind that mirror fitness has plenty of fun workouts that can be a great option for people who get easily bored with weights and prefer doing something different every day.
I think it’s better to do something you enjoy because you can stay consistent, rather than doing something that’s “better”, but don’t like doing it.
Tonal and Mirror have a very similar selection of on-demand classes.
However, the difference is that Tonal uses them as an addition to their custom strength training program.
On the other hand, classes on Mirror are the core product.
Here is the brief comparison table.
|Tonal Classes||Mirror Classes|
Pre + Postnatal
Arms + Abs
Pre + Postnatal
Cardio + Strength
What I like about Tonal is they put a lot of emphasis on the recovery aspect of their class schedule.
Stretch, recovery, mobility, and Theragun are all about reducing muscle soreness, improving range of motion, and enhancing healing from hard workouts.
What is Theragun?
Overall, the Theragun class on tonal is a mobility class that uses a massage gun for percussion therapy and deep massage.
It also includes a series of breathing and movements to relax the body and kick-start the parasympathetic response.
The parasympathetic response happens when your body is fully relaxed, and your heart rate and your blood pressure drops, which helps in faster recovery.
It has a similar effect you have after a relaxing yoga session or massage.
I also like the Tonal “quick workout” class selection.
They have over 140 quick workouts that last between 4 to 15 minutes.
Each class is designed to do a particular job.
Here are a few examples:
- Wrist Clinic – This is a short 15 minutes class that helps you to improve your wrist mobility.
- Flying Pigeon Pose – This is a short 4 minutes tutorial on how to prepare for the intermediate yoga pose – flying pigeon.
- Moment Of Calm – Another 10-minute fast meditation class to reduce stress after a long day at work.
- Pushup Lab – This is a 15-minute fast wokrout that is focused on building and technique for pushups.
As you can see, instead of doing full-body class, there is a lot of short but specific workouts that target one thing at a time.
This is how Tonal programs work, too (more on that next).
On the other hand, Mirror has a much higher selection of cardio and dance cardio workouts.
This is good for someone who loves to have a large variety of classes and gets bored by doing some type of workout.
They also have very popular boxing and kickboxing, as well as Tai Chi, which is hardly done by any other smart-fitness mirrors.
Tonal has over 100 ready-made programs that last between one to four weeks.
Each program is divided into three categories where you can choose to train three, four, or even five times per week.
Tonal programs are a combination of strength and other classes.
What you will notice is Tonal programs are very specific and target unique objectives.
Here are some of my favorite Tonal programs:
- Perform A Pushup – This is a series of 16 classes spread across 4 weeks that helps you develop strength for your first full pushup.
- Triathlon Endurance – This program takes 4 weeks and it covers all exercises that help to develop strength for long-distance endurance training.
- Super Squats – This programs last for 4 weeks and helps to get stronger with squats.
- Better Posture – Here you will do most of the exercises that help to restore your full range of motion and work on muscles that stabilize your spine.
- Great Glutes – This program is all about developing stronger glutes. Its a combination of bodyweight and resistance exercises.
As you can see, each program has a deeper goal, something beyond burning calories or building muscle.
What programs does the mirror have?
Recently, the mirror has launched 10 fitness programs with a collection of classes that range from 7 to 21 sessions.
Some of those programs include training for a marathon, weight loss for beginners, an introduction to yoga, and more.
Mirror has finally started to include tutorial workouts like yoga and strength training, which is great for people who have never done those classes before.
Yoga is very technical, and without correct instructions, it is easy to make mistakes.
The Mirror Yoga Basics program has 7 lessons on how to perform the most common asanas.
Here is the list of Mirror programs.
Train for A Marathon
Move Through Maternity
Intro to Weight Loss
Abs + Arms
Total Body Bootcamp
Weight Training Program
So, which programs are better mirror or tonal?
As a whole, the tonal programs are better than the mirror because they use mostly resistance training with smart accessories.
Each program has exercises where you can utilize all the AI technology and functions like a spotter, smart flex, and eccentric mode to get better results.
So regardless if you’re using Tonal for your workouts or ready-made programs, all the nice features that come with the Tonal can be applied to all exercises.
Yes, you’re reading it right.
Mirror has an option for a one-on-one personal training session with one of its trainers that you can schedule in advance.
This is a great option for people who are busy but they are looking for a more personal approach and general feedback about their workout plan.
Tonal doesn’t have an option for personal training with a real person where you can schedule a guided workout.
However, the AI technology in Tonal is designed to mimic some of the benefits that you get from hiring a trainer.
Here is a brief list of the features:
- Custom workout plans – Based on your current performance Tonal will suggest the most optimal resistance, reps, and sets.
- Live feedback form – It has built-in cameras and sensors that guide you and let you know about your technique.
- Spotter – It reduces the weight on the last couple of reps so you can finish the set.
- Automatic resistance adjustments – This is a combination of features like eccentric mode, smart flex, and burnout. They help to increase time under tension and maximize your muscle growth (thanks to build in accelerometer sensors)
Of course, having a real person guiding you is a much better experience.
But please remember that those features don’t require any extra cost.
On the other hand, the Mirror charges $40 extra for a 30-minute personal training session.
Price and Membership
Both Tonal and Mirror do require upfront payment to own the equipment, as well as a monthly fee for their subscription.
The subscription gives access to all workouts and programs, and in the case of Tonal, you also use all the fancy features.
One thing I respect about Tonal is you can use it even without the subscription fee.
It has some basic functions but of course, you don’t have access to AI technology and you can’t stream any of the classes.
On the other hand, the Mirror is 100% dependent on its subscription fee.
This means you cannot even login to the main menu and all you have is an expensive mirror.
So keep that in mind.
Here is the full breakdown of the prices and subscription fees.
|Total upfront cost||$4,490||$1,495|
One thing you need to remember is that Tonal also charges you for the first 12 months of membership upfront after you sign up and activate.
So $4,490 price may seem excessive, but keep in mind that this also includes the first 12 months.
You won’t need to pay anything more for the whole year, and your next bill comes at $59.95/month.
With a mirror, you have to pay $39/month from day one, but they don’t charge you for membership upfront.
So, is Tonal worth it?
As a whole, Tonal gym is worth it because it offers digital resistance training with AI technology driven by scientific research.
This enables you to personalize every workout, just like when you hire a personal trainer or a strength and conditioning coach.
Although it is expensive, it’s not overpriced.
It offers value for money and over time, it can save money by completely replacing a personal trainer.
Have a look at the table below.
|First 12 months||24 months||36 months|
The cost of personal training for 36 months with just 1 session per week at $60 comes up to $9,360 in total.
However, if you buy Tonal, not only you can train as much as you want but you also pay half of that price.
Not only that.
If you hire a personal trainer for you and your spouse to train at home for 1 session per week, this will cost you over $15,000 in the next 36 months.
I’ve surveyed over 60 people who use Tonal on regular basis on one of the social media and asked them what the most valuable thing they get from Tonal is.
Here are the results.
- Accountability and convenience – No excuses for not working out because you can do it at home. Also, no more fighting traffic to get to the gym, and no more hassle with scheduling a trainer.
- Digital resistance – It allows setting up the correct position before activating weights, which barbells and dumbbells cannot do.
- Structured programs – You don’t have to know what to do, it knows for you. You don’t have to worry about planning your workouts.
- Saving space – You can train every muscle group in the body with substantial resistance without having to keep loads of equipment in your home.
So, is Mirror worth it?
The mirror is worth it, as long as you plan to use it on the regular basis.
It does have a large variety of strength classes that helps to build muscle mass.
It also has several short cardio and HIIT workouts that can be done even when busy.
In short, Tonal is more expensive than Mirror but I think it’s a good investment.
The bottom line
Overall, you should buy Tonal if your goal is to get stronger, build muscle, and improve your body composition.
However, if you don’t like gym workouts and you prefer working out with your body weight I recommend you should buy a mirror.
What I like about both of the companies is that they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
30 days is enough to try a lot of workouts and decide which one is gonna work for you better.