Tonal vs Peloton: Differences, Pros and Cons

Tonal gym refers to a smart home gym focused on strength training. It tracks your reps and workout time, offers 200 pounds of resistance, includes more than 200 moves, and provides a wide range of full-body exercises. On the other hand, the Peloton, often considered a top-tier exercise bike and awarded Best Cardio Machine by Men’s Health, is a solid piece of equipment that offers magnetic resistance. While it isn’t cheap, it allows users to stack rides for a comprehensive workout experience.

When choosing Peloton or Tonal, it should be understood that the primary difference between Tonal and Peloton is their main type of exercise, not in their experience or weight loss efficacy,  which can vary widely for both. Neither one is inherently sleeker or easier to use, though Peloton is virtually half of the price cheaper, and offers strength, as well as the cycling classes

When deciding between Peloton and Tonal, it’s important to recognize that the primary distinction lies in their type of exercise, rather than in their overall experience or weight loss effectiveness, which can vary greatly for both. Neither one is inherently more streamlined or user-friendly, though Peloton is significantly more cost-effective, and it offers both cycling and strength classes.

According to its definition, the real advantage of Tonal Gym is its resistance cable system, which effectively replaces a full gym’s worth of strength training equipment. It can serve as an incredibly efficient and convenient solution, delivering up to 200 lbs of total electromagnetic resistance using two cables. This fundamental difference and the specific circumstances in which it occurs are the causes of most differences regarding health, fitness, cost, membership, and overall user-friendliness. Choosing between Tonal or Peloton is therefore not as straightforward as one may think.

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differences between peloton and tonal

What is Tonal?

Tonal Gym, the smart gym for your home, revolutionizes fitness and strength training. It provides access to hundreds of trainer-led classes and utilizes advanced technology. Created by Silicon Valley engineer Aly Orady, Tonal is a strength-training smart home gym that allows you to take a variety of classes, including dance cardio, HIIT, pilates, and yoga. Tonal enables you to achieve your strength goals by offering a highly effective fitness program tailored to your needs.

Tonal’s effectiveness in providing strength training is supported by its ability to deliver up to 200 pounds of total electromagnetic resistance, making it a comprehensive home fitness solution. Studies like the one published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2020 by Sharmilee M. Nyenhuis from the University of Illinois at Chicago emphasize the importance of physical activity, and Tonal offers a convenient and safe alternative to traditional gym workouts, especially during periods of social distancing.

The fundamental difference between Tonal and Peloton lies in their features, price, classes, programs, and global availability, not in their ability to help you get in shape or lose weight, which can vary for both. Peloton focuses on cardiovascular workouts on the bike, tread, or rower, and provides additional classes with resistance training in the form of bodyweight exercises, free weights, or resistance bands. On the other hand, Tonal uses magnetic resistance to replicate almost all the movements typically done in the gym, including bench press, barbell deadlift, cable flies, and lateral pull-down.

The main benefit of Tonal Gym is that it enables access to a movement library featuring over 200 different moves. It brings the home gym experience to your living room, eliminating the need to sign up for commercial gyms like Gold’s Gym or Planet Fitness. With AI-driven technology that includes features like Form Feedback, Bar Tilt, Spotter Mode, and Resistance On/Off, you can perform almost all workouts without commuting.

The main disadvantage of Tonal is its price, which is $3,995 plus tax. However, Tonal also offers a payment option of $84 a month for 48 months, or you can opt for financing through Affirm with $0 down, making the membership cost only around $60, and delivery is included in the purchase price.

What is Peloton?

The Peloton Bike is a well-structured indoor bike that offers memberships and uses technology and design to connect people through fitness. It incorporates artificial intelligence to help members improve their fitness levels and provides a premium experience with smooth rides. It offers a premium fitness experience with on-bike workouts that can range from as short as 10 minutes to several hours. For those fully embracing the Peloton lifestyle, the Bike Plus model is a must-have.

In a 2023 study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, habitual exercisers who used the Peloton Bike as their internet-connected home fitness equipment reported cycling frequently (5.9 times per week). This frequent exercise appeared to buffer the impact of stress on their exercise participation, indicating that access to home-based internet-connected exercise equipment like Peloton could contribute to stress resilience and regular physical activity.

The main benefits of Peloton include toning your muscles, allowing members to compare their form to the instructor’s in real-time, and granting access to a wide range of classes such as strength, cardio, Pilates, yoga, outdoor walking and running, and stretching through the App One Membership. Additionally, it enables you to keep pace with Peloton instructors by tracking your movements.

The main disadvantages of Peloton include the fact that Peloton’s revamped fitness app restricts most equipment workouts to a new, more expensive tier, limits unauthorized users’ access, and experiences issues such as the Peloton screen not turning on and the Peloton app not rotating for some workouts. Additionally, Peloton lacks accountability, and some users may struggle with clipping in.

What Are The Differences Between Tonal And Peloton?

The key differences between Tonal and Peloton lie in their approach to building muscle, weight loss, and cardio workouts. Tonal emphasizes strength training with its cable-based system, making it ideal for muscle building, while Peloton focuses more on cardio exercises. Additionally, Peloton offers a wider range of classes and has a larger community, but Tonal provides a more personalized strength training experience. Prices and membership options vary between the two, and Tonal is more limited in global access compared to Peloton.

1. Differences in Building Muscle Between Peloton vs Tonal

Tonal stands out in muscle-building due to its AI technology, which personalizes your training based on data collected during each workout. It acts like a virtual personal trainer, suggesting appropriate weights, correcting form, and even providing assistance during challenging reps through its unique ‘spotter’ feature. This feature, enhanced by accelerometers in the handles, adjusts resistance if you struggle to complete a bench press, for instance.

Tonal is particularly effective for muscle gain, focusing primarily on strength training. It supports a variety of compound movements like deadlifts, bench presses, and lateral pulldowns, and offers innovative features like the eccentric mode. This mode allows for setting different resistances during the eccentric phase of a lift, enhancing muscle gain compared to traditional lifting. A 2017 study by Brad J Schoenfeld indicates that eccentric training has a more significant hypertrophic effect.

Tonal’s extensive exercise library, with over 50 upper-body and 30 lower-body exercises, allows users to mimic both compound and isolated exercises typically performed with heavy barbells and cable machines in a gym. Studies support that heavy, multi-joint movements are more effective for muscle strength and hypertrophy.

On the other hand, Peloton focuses more on bringing the group fitness class experience into the home. It offers hundreds of strength classes using weights or bodyweight but lacks Tonal’s AI technology and personalized workout adjustments. Peloton classes are standardized, though effective for strength building and muscle development, they may require higher volume and more time compared to Tonal.

Peloton’s recent addition, the Peloton Guide, is designed for strength training. It counts reps, assists in correcting technique, and works on targeted muscles. Its standout feature is voice commands, allowing users to control classes hands-free, similar to using Siri or Alexa, offering a convenient and interactive way to train. While Peloton allows for significant strength and muscle development, Tonal’s advanced features facilitate a more intensified and personalized muscle-building experience.

2. Differences in Weight Loss Between Peloton vs Tonal

For weight loss, Tonal might be the more effective choice in the long run, primarily due to its focus on resistance training that builds lean muscle mass. Building muscle is crucial for weight loss because it raises the lean body weight, thereby increasing the metabolic rate and calorie expenditure. For instance, a person with a higher lean body mass can have a basal metabolic rate (BMR) significantly higher than someone with less muscle mass, even if they weigh the same.

However, in the short term, studies like Ho et al. (2012) indicate that aerobic training, like the workouts offered by Peloton, can be more effective for immediate calorie burn. Peloton classes, for example, can burn a substantial number of calories per session. But, this approach has its limitations. Blomain et al. (2013) found that about 50% of individuals who lose weight regain it within 2 to 5 years, partly due to metabolic adaptations like muscle protein breakdown, which occur during prolonged calorie deficits. This leads to a decreased metabolic rate, potentially by 15-40% below baseline, as noted by Pasiakos (2013).

Tonal’s resistance training is advantageous in this regard. It helps maintain or even increase muscle protein synthesis, thereby preventing significant drops in metabolic rate and weight rebound. While Peloton offers strength training, Tonal allows for more resistance and heavier weight lifting, leading to better muscle protein synthesis, higher metabolic rate, and sustained weight loss. However, Tonal requires familiarity with gym or cable machine use, whereas Peloton is more user-friendly for beginners, with straightforward exercises and no extra guidance needed beyond the app.

3. Differences in Cardio Between Peloton vs Tonal

For training in endurance sports like triathlons, or preparing for events such as 5Ks or marathons, Peloton is the superior choice. Its focus on aerobic training is evident in its extensive offering of nearly 10,000 cycling classes, complemented by HIIT and cardio workouts off the bike. According to a study by Tryntsje Fokkema at Erasmus MC University Medical Center in 2020, the most effective way to enhance endurance in sports is by increasing training volume, emphasizing long-distance cardio.

However, the appropriateness of adding more cardio depends on your overall energy expenditure and daily non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), as highlighted by James A. Levine from the Mayo Clinic. NEAT, which can account for up to 15% of total daily energy expenditure, involves everyday low-intensity activities like walking with grocery bags or gardening.

For individuals in physically demanding occupations, such as construction workers or nurses, adding more cardio might not be optimal. In these cases, resistance training, like that offered by Tonal, would be more beneficial. Resistance training provides significant cardiovascular benefits, especially when performed regularly at an intensity greater than 60% of your one-repetition maximum, as found by Nihal Gelecek et al., from Dokuz Eylül University, in their 2012 study.

Conversely, for those with sedentary lifestyles, like taxi drivers or office workers, incorporating more cardio is advisable. The World Health Organization recommends at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity weekly. Peloton is ideal for such lifestyles, with 30-60 minute rides, five days a week, satisfying these guidelines. Adding strength and conditioning later can further enhance fitness.

4. Differences in Classes Between Peloton vs Tonal

The recent expansion of Tonal’s class library has significantly enhanced the variety of workouts it offers, helping to keep exercise routines fresh and engaging. However, when comparing the classes offered by Peloton and Tonal, Peloton stands out due to its broader range of niche workouts that cater to specific fitness needs and goals.

Peloton offers a diverse array of classes including Strength, Cardio, Meditation, Cycling, Outdoor activities, Walking, Running, Stretching, Yoga, Bike Bootcamp, Tread Bootcamp, and Boxing. These classes are designed not only to provide a comprehensive fitness routine but also to address specific objectives. For instance, Peloton’s ‘Strength for Runners’ is tailored to enhance running economy, while its ‘Walk + Run’ class focuses on building running endurance. The platform even includes unique options like yoga sessions that can be done during a commute.

On the other hand, Tonal’s class offerings include Strength Training, High Intensity, Dance Cardio, Yoga, Mobility, Pilates, Barre, Meditation, Kickboxing, Pre + Postnatal, Triathlon, Family Fun, Recovery, Quick-Fit, Bootcamp, and TheraGun classes. While Tonal’s classes cover a wide range of fitness areas, they may not delve as deeply into the niche aspects of fitness as Peloton does.

Here is the full list of the Peloton classes and Tonal classes.

Peloton classesTonal classes
Bike Bootcamp
Tread Bootcamp
Strength Training
High Intensity
Dance Cardio
Pre + Postnatal
Family fun
Peloton classes vs Tonal

5. Differences in Apps Between Peloton vs Tonal

Both Peloton and Tonal offer mobile apps featuring live and on-demand classes, allowing users to stay active on the go, review metrics, and track progress. The Peloton app, however, stands out as the better option, primarily because it offers access to over 24,000 on-demand classes at a third of the price of the Tonal app.

Peloton’s app provides three subscription options: Peloton App One, App+, and All Access Membership. The flexibility of the Peloton app option, priced at $12.99 per month, is particularly appealing as it allows users to try out the service with other spin bikes before committing long-term. This accessibility and affordability make the Peloton app more versatile and user-friendly for a broader audience.

In contrast, the Tonal app is exclusively available to Tonal members, with a requirement to pay for a 12-month membership upfront to access both the Tonal hardware and the mobile app. This prerequisite presents a higher initial investment and commitment level compared to Peloton’s offerings.

6. Differences in Prices and Membership Options Between Peloton vs Tonal

The price comparison between Peloton and Tonal reveals distinct differences in their pricing structures, including the cost of basic equipment and additional accessories.

Peloton Bike Pricing:

  • Basic Price: $1,495
  • Price with Basics Package: $1,645 (includes shoes)
  • Price with Essentials Package: $1,745 (includes shoes, weights (1-3 lbs), headphones)
  • Price with Works Package: $1,945 (includes shoes, weights, headphones, heart rate monitor, bike mat)
  • Price with Family Package: $1,945 (includes all the Works package items, plus additional shoes (2 pairs), additional headphones (2 pairs), and water bottles (2))

Peloton Bike+ Pricing:

  • Basic Price: $2,495
  • Price with Basics Package: $2,695 (includes shoes, weights (1-3 lbs), workout mat)
  • Price with Essentials Package: $2,795 (includes all Basics items, plus bike mat, resistance bands)
  • Price with Works Package: $2,945 (includes all Essentials items, plus yoga blocks, yoga straps, water bottles (2))

Tonal Pricing:

  • Basic Price: $3,995
  • Price with Basics Package: $4,490 (includes smart accessories like handles, rope, barbell, bench, roller, workout mat)

Membership Comparison:

Peloton offers four subscription options:

  • Peloton App Free:
    • Price: $0
    • Features: Limited access to content, no credit card required for usage.
  • Peloton App One:
    • Price: $12.99 per month or $129 per year (saving $26 annually)
    • Features: Full access to on-demand classes.
  • Peloton App+:
    • Price: $24 per month or $240 per year (saving $48 annually)
    • Features: Additional perks and features beyond the standard app offering.

Tonal, on the other hand, has a single membership option:

  • Tonal App: $59.95/month (includes access to on-demand classes)

While Peloton offers a range of pricing options for their bikes and accessories, with a more affordable subscription model, Tonal presents a higher upfront cost for the equipment and a pricier monthly membership. However, the choice between Peloton and Tonal ultimately depends on individual preferences for the type of workout, features, and budget considerations. Both Peloton All-Access and Tonal memberships offer realistic options depending on the users’ fitness goals and preferred training styles.

Below you can see how peloton and tonal prices compare to other popular gyms and fitness services per month and per session based on 5 workouts per week.

Fitness product/servicePrice per monthPrice per workout
Peloton all-access$44 $2.45
Tonal membership$59.95$2.90
Personal Training$1,200 $60
OrangeTheory$159 (unlimited)$7.95
F45$200 $10
SoulCycle$600 $30
CrossFit Gym$186 (on average)$9.30
Yoga Studio$400$20
Yoga Private$1,400$70
Private Pilates$2,000$100
Bootcamp Class$400$20
Fitness Class on Cruise Ship$400$20

As you can see, depending on how often you plan to train, the price per session is relatively low, compa

7. Differences in Community and Global Access Between Peloton vs Tonal

In terms of community engagement and global accessibility, Peloton outshines Tonal. Peloton’s platform is uniquely designed to enhance social interaction and community support among its users. This is evident in its live classes, which feature a leaderboard displaying all participants, allowing users to connect through virtual high-fives and fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Moreover, Peloton ships its bikes to several major markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and many areas of Canada. This wide distribution network makes Peloton more accessible to a global audience, allowing more people to join its community and participate in its classes.

In contrast, Tonal focuses more on individualized training experiences with its AI system, which may not offer the same level of personal connection and community interaction as Peloton. While Tonal provides effective workouts and personalized training, it lacks the communal and interactive elements that Peloton has successfully integrated into its platform.

8. Differences in Setup and Between Peloton vs Tonal

When it comes to setting up either a Peloton or a Tonal machine, both are delivered directly to your location, but there are key differences in their installation and flexibility.

The Peloton bike offers greater adjustability and mobility. It’s designed to be moved around easily within your home, allowing for flexibility in where you choose to exercise. This movable aspect of the Peloton bike means it doesn’t need to be permanently fixed in one spot, offering convenience for those who might want to rearrange their workout space or move the equipment for any reason.

In contrast, Tonal provides a white-glove service for its setup. This service includes not just delivery but also professional installation, where experts mount the machine on your wall. The major downside here is the permanence of the installation. Once Tonal is mounted, it’s meant to stay in that fixed location. While it’s technically possible to detach and move the Tonal machine, this task can be challenging due to the machine’s heavy hardware and the complexity of safely removing it from the wall.

Peloton vs Tonal: Which one is better?

Given the diverse considerations, Peloton emerges as a highly recommended choice for those seeking a fitness platform with a strong community aspect, global accessibility, and a variety of specialized classes. Its user-friendly setup, which allows for flexibility in placement and usage within the home, adds to its appeal for those who value convenience and adaptability.

Peloton is particularly suited for individuals looking for an engaging, socially interactive, and comprehensive fitness experience, with a wide array of classes catering to various fitness goals and preferences.

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.

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