A budget- and space-friendly home workout

I am a big fan of work smarter, not harder. Unfortunately, learning how to work out smarter is usually really, really hard. That said, when left to my own devices, my solution looks more like sitting on my couch with my Bala Bangles, multitasking with the latest season of Insecure while strengthening–something. (They *do* work, I swear.)

So, when Tempo’s newest product, Tempo Move, came into my life, the struggle for optimization became 2021’s problem. It’s 2022, and I’m happy to say working out smarter feels much easier than I ever imagined.

[Photo: courtesy Tempo]

The new Tempo Move—launched in November following a $220 million fundraiser announced last spring—is a condensed, discreet alternative to Tempo Studio, a 6-foot-tall cabinet and easel mirror, stacked with hand weights and an on-screen workout companion, which rolled out in 2020. Tempo Move‘s smaller footprint takes the form of a wood-top cabinet designed to use your iPhone’s camera to detect form and movement. While the Studio unit uses a built-in 3D motion sensor to monitor your workout and features other bells and whistles, it also rings up starting at $2495, compared to Move’s $495 price tag.

The rubber-coated weights that accompany the Tempo Move are essential to its functioning, with each color corresponding to different workouts and stats. In between workouts, they tuck away into the cabinet, which looks like a small, sleek speaker next to my TV. The wooden docking station, which houses the “Core,” where your iPhone connects with and powers the system, can even be flipped to a flat top to conceal the Lightning plugin for your phone, with no sign of gym equipment in sight. The Core itself—which is about the size of a hockey puck—can also be removed and relocated to a better spot if your workout setup isn’t close to the cabinet.

The interactive element is initialized via app-connected workout classes—a $39/mo subscription can be shared with up to six users—that are hyper-minimal. There are no neon light shows or zen frescoes, which makes sense given its other medium, Tempo Studio. The classes and instructors are effective, customizable, and fun, but appear to be designed to highlight a specific focal point: you.

[Photo: courtesy Tempo]

The Move provides real-time form feedback and progress tracking using your iPhone’s TruthDepth camera technology and the included color-coded weight plates. During workouts, messages pop up on your TV telling you when your pacing or form is off, how to correct, and then letting you know when you’ve done it right. If you’ve ever feared injuring yourself using weights incorrectly, this is a game-changer. While Recommender has been a fan of Lululemon’s Mirror—which feels like the natural competitor, alongside Tonal’s mirrored, resistance-band unit—I admit, seeing my sweaty face and shaky arms for a full class is anxiety-provoking. With Tempo Move, your front-facing camera only occasionally displays on the TV for a few seconds to measure and record your distance and space.

What I don’t like about Tempo Move is relatively trivial. The instructors can be speedy when asking you to swap out weights, which snap on and off a bar, during classes, making for awkward, fumbling transitions that take you out of your flow. Since the audio output comes from your TV, you need a Bluetooth output-enabled unit to use headphones. Also, most important, you need an iPhone XR/XS or newer and an available HDMI port on your TV. The tech trade-off is only effective if you have the equipment already.

All that said, the Tempo Move takes up less than two square feet of my living room, but unpacks to offer the amenities of a home gym plus, the guidance of a personal trainer. Twenty-minute workouts are a whole lot harder, but only because they’re also a whole lot smarter. And for less than half of the price of fellow units on the market, picking a Move feels like the smartest decision of them all.

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