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5 Tonal Features That Help Shed Strength Training Fears

Tonal’s artificial intelligence and adaptive weight gave these members the confidence to stop holding back. 

Strength training can be incredibly empowering. Research suggests that along with helping to improve physical health and fight illness, it can also help decrease anxiety and boost self-esteem. But that doesn’t stop strength training from intimidating folks. One study found that three in five American adults still don’t do any muscle-strengthening exercises, despite knowing the health benefits. 

That’s where a smart trainer like Tonal helps. Members can build physical and mental strength without the typical strength training hurdles: intimidating machines, confusion over what to do, a lack of professional guidance and support, and fear of injury.

Tonal’s artificial intelligence and adaptive digital weight provide several features that can stand in for an IRL personal trainer. Here, five members share how Tonal’s unique features helped them ditch what was holding them back and build more than muscle. 

Form Feedback 

Good form is essential. And while it helps to prevent injury, it can reinforce movement patterns that are transferable, whether you’re picking up heavy shopping bags or refining your deadlifts. When you work out with Tonal, the trainer uses sensor technology to track your pace, range of motion, positioning, and balance to give you real-time cues on your form, just like a personal trainer. Think of it like getting professional guidance in the privacy of your home. It’s an especially encouraging feature for anyone who feels unnerved by strength training and gyms. 

Theresa Geis of Madison, Wisconsin says it’s “like having a coach in the room with me.” Instead of wondering if you’re in the right position, Form Feedback gives members the confidence to perform each lift better by encouraging awareness of proper form. “It makes me more conscious. Did I release the weight too quickly? Did I not extend all the way on my last rep?” And because the feedback is delivered in real-time, you can take action on the very next rep. Geis adds that Form Feedback “makes Tonal feel more personal and helps me make the most of my workouts.” 

Bar Tilt

Member Melina Pontruff flexing in front Tonal to highlight her favorite feature: Bar Tilt

The bench press is fundamental for anyone looking to increase their upper-body strength. Research suggests a regular training routine that includes the bench press is essential for dynamic activities like sports but can also help older adults build strength for daily tasks like carrying a box of groceries, for example. But loading up a barbell to bench press can come with a risk even if someone is there to assist, let alone when working out by yourself. 

Melinda Pontruff of Amarillo, Texas always wanted to bench press but never felt confident about it at the gym. “I was intimidated and didn’t have anyone to spot me,” she says. One of the benefits of training with Tonal is anytime there’s a bar movement in a workout, the trainer automatically goes into Bar Mode, which gives members the ability to turn resistance off just by tilting the bar to one side. Pontruff says Tonal’s Bar Tilt features makes her feel safe. “The first time I hopped on Tonal to bench press, I was able to push myself further. And sure enough, I needed to tilt to bail.” 

Spotter Mode 

When Aaron Marr of Smyrna, Georgia switched from traditional weight to digital weight and began taking advantage of Tonal’s dynamic weight modes, he unlocked a new level of confidence in his strength training journey. Dynamic weight modes are variable resistance training techniques that can help build strength faster by making lifts more challenging while keeping you safe. “The combination of Spotter and Smartflex have me pushing many lifts on Tonal far more than traditional weights. You can [lift] to failure without any worry of injury,” Marr says. 

​​A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that 82 percent of males and 47 percent of youth aged 13 to 24 sustain the most weight training-related injuries. And 90 percent of those injuries happen when lifting free weights, with 65 percent of those mishaps occurring because of dropped weights. 

Tonal eliminates the need to bail or drop heavy free weights and added safety features like Spotter can sense if you’re struggling mid-rep. This feature automatically reduces resistance and increases it again once Spotter detects you can handle it, allowing you to push through those last few reps just like you would with a personal trainer assisting. 

Smart Flex, on the other hand, is a feature that can automatically detect where you are strongest in a lift and add more weight. This dynamic weight mode dials resistance up or down during a movement, adding more weight where you show more strength, resulting in more volume lifted and a more effective rep. 

Resistance On/Off

The beauty behind Smart Handles is you can turn the resistance on and off with the touch of a button. That means members can set up in a safe position before starting a movement without awkward positioning or strain. Simply turn on the weight once you feel ready to lift. 

For Arlene Kraushaar of Healdsburg, California, who had worked out with a trainer for years before getting a Tonal, the resistance button was a game-changer once she had to work out alone during the pandemic. “I was used to having a human on and off resistance system who handed me the barbell once I was in position and then stood by as a spotter. So this was the best [part] of Tonal for me, the Smart Handles and bar weight controller.” 

Coach-led Workouts 

Tonal’s workouts and programs are all led by expert, certified coaches who support, guide, and motivate every step of the way. Kenny Lussier of Chelmsford, Massachusetts says coaching “will always be at the top of my list.” As someone who quit the gym many times because he didn’t know what he was doing, never saw any progress, and only felt sore at the end of the day, having access to professional guidance has made the biggest impact. 

The coach-led programs and the additional education from interacting first-hand with the coaches in the Official Tonal Community helped Lussier work out consistently for more than a year, leading to tangible and measurable progress. “Having experts at my [fingertips] to tell me what to do and how to do it has been indispensable,” Lussier says. “There are other companies out there that have coaching, but you can’t progress like this with bodyweight alone, and I don’t have the room or the money to [keep] a hundred dumbbells or a bunch of equipment.”