Is This Gym Equipment Startup The Future Of Fitness?

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  • Is This Gym Equipment Startup The Future Of Fitness?

Gym equipment is evolving rapidly, and we see some highly innovative designs coming down the line. New machines and systems match physical activity and data science to improve the workout experience.

I think we can expect to see some amazing new gym equipment products emerging in the next few years. The company I’m writing about here, Tonal, might be one of them if it can be successful with its recently launched fitness system.

As Described by This Week In Startups

A recent posting by Jason Calacanis on his podcast, This Week in Startups is an interview with the founder of a gym equipment startup and it’s worth a watch if you have the time.

Calacanis is a notable tech-industry insider. He’s had some celebrated successes as an angel investor. Most notably, he was early to invest in Uber and Tesla.

If you want to get the inside story on Silicon Valley startup investing opportunities, and entrepreneurship generally, then I recommend that you should listen to his podcast.

Magnets in The Gym

Tonal is an exercise system based on magnets. It’s a home-gym system that has a flat screen monitor and strength training attachments. The kicker is that Tonal includes a subscription membership that analyzes all of the user workout data it captures.

The magnetic resistance system is a fascinating innovation. It allows you to control your workout more precisely. It responds to your condition and performance. The founder, who’s an electrical engineer, built it as a reaction to his personal experience and needs.

The unit mounts on your, wall and it’s digitally controlled, adjusting resistance and recording your activity. It alters workout intensity based on feedback about your user performance.

New Machine Turns Big Data Into Muscle

Tonal is possibly the first system to advance beyond Peloton, which I wrote about recently on the Gym Insight Blog. The key is in the way that it uses data over time to help users work out better. As yet, Tonal isn’t promoting the machine for commercial use, but that may change in time.

The fact that there’s a video display built-in opens up the possibilities. It already offers an initial video assessment and guidance on how to do exercises correctly. The ability to measure and record performance is an outstanding feature.

Tonal is also highly flexible and open-ended. Software updates will enable continuous improvements that keep the system getting better as it learns about user habits and preferences.

You can connect other digital systems through app technology such as Apple’s HealthKit that integrates data from connected devices. HealthKit gathers data from iOS apps like heart rate and sleep time, which you can feed into your system as part of your workout parameters. If the company manages the potential well, it should become the team to watch in the gym equipment industry.

Is The Gym Of The Future A Business Model?

Does this mean that home gyms will prevail and fitness clubs are under threat? I really don’t think so. People are going to need fitness clubs and professionals for a long time to come.

What technology like this tends to do is change the mix of tech and human connection. Not everyone can afford a high-end home gym system like this or the services of a top fitness trainer.

Trainers will still have a role amongst the robots and fitness clubs will always be popular workout places where you go for motivation and to connect with others. This kind of technology helps to mitigate the general shortage of fitness trainers, but it doesn’t replace anyone.

Fitness clubs that incorporate automation and Big Data can tailor mixes of coaching and machines to produce the best experiences for club members.

Elements of Professional Fitness Equipment

Tonal combines the engineering expertise and passion of the founder with enough capital to begin a manufacturing business. The design for the resistance mechanism is an awesome innovation.

That doesn’t mean that a smart and insightful fitness trainer has to be an engineer or scientist to make a change in the industry. There are plenty of examples like Greg Glassman of CrossFit or Spartan Race’s Joe De Sena, who had the drive to implement their visions.

If you own a small or larger gym business, you know that starting any business is hard work and no sure thing. However, it’s always worth exploring the possibilities if you think you might be on to a good idea.

Tonal is still a new company with no guarantee of success, but it shows how one person can bring together the elements and turn a good idea into action.


Calacanis, Jason. Introducing Tonal smart home fitness center that measures, monitors, instructs & adapts for a personalized full-body workout. August 17, 2018. (accessed August 24, 2018).

Fagan, Lawrence. Fitness Technology Innovates for 2018 But Grit Still Matters. March 7, 2018. (accessed August 24, 2018).