In-home gyms are having a moment right now. Having a safe, convenient space for fitness is a game changer. And for entrepreneurs who work 24/7, the flexibility to work out on your own time is invaluable.
Piggybacking off the home fitness trend is Tonal, which is a tech-enabled solution for strength training. It has the same sex appeal as Peloton, but for lifting.
“We’re really trying to give people the comfort, confidence and strength to train in the privacy of their home,” says Tonal’s CEO, Aly Orady.
Tonal just raised $45 million, which brings the company’s total capital raised to $90 million. This round will help fuel the company’s growth after its recent expansion of delivery to all 48 contiguous states.
With its promise of on-demand personalized strength training, Tonal is disrupting the connected-fitness category — definitely a company to have on your radar. Here are some highlights from my conversation with Aly.
Based on a true story
Tonal is basically the intersection of two of Aly’s personal focuses: tech and health.
“My background is actually in technology,” says Aly, who worked in supercomputing to build computer chips. He also worked for a bunch of startups before eventually launching and selling his own business.
“From a technology and career perspective, I was having a blast,” says Aly. “But my health was in complete disarray.”
By his mid-thirties, Aly was struggling with type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and his weight. He decided that he “needed to do something pretty drastic,” so he quit his day job and spent the next nine months losing 70 pounds.
“That journey of weight loss ultimately led to Tonal.”
Solving the ‘intimidating weight room’ problem
Tonal “takes the personal training experience and creates the in-home version of it.” That’s because Aly knows firsthand how intimidating the weight room can be.
“It’s full of big heavy equipment, a lot of really big guys, and you’re not sure what to do,” he says. “You’re not sure what exercises to do, how much weight you should be lifting, whether your form is correct.”
Tonal addresses all those concerns through a space-efficient solution to weight training — without taking up the whole garage. The system as a whole is about the size of a TV mounted to the wall, with built-in personal training.
It also eliminates the time it takes to research what to do once you get yourself to the gym in the first place, since “being brave enough to walk in there and start is also a big intimidation factor for folks,” says Aly.
Adapting as you grow
From the moment you create your Tonal account, the system is designed to adapt to your needs. Based on metrics like age, height, weight, and an initial strength test, Tonal uses “AI to infer recommended weights for every movement in our system.”
Tonal does that through step-by-step “activity videos that guide people through their workout,” essentially teaching people how to do the exercises using tech. He says that the system optimizes as the user completes 30-45 minutes workouts throughout multi-week programs.
“From that point forward, anytime you do any exercise, we can recommend how much weight you should do.”
He explains that the weights are then adjusted depending on your progress. “And so it actually gets smarter and adapts to you over time. As you get stronger, the weights go up with you.”
‘Put me in, coach’
Best of all, the Tonal is still ultimately driven by people
“Our coaches are people who are trained to have four year degrees,” Aly says. “One of our coaches even has a PhD.” They’ve used science to design Tonal’s fitness programs around building muscle, increasing heart rate with high intensity intervals, and improving flexibility and mobility.
“If you go to the gym and do random things, you’ll get random results,” Aly says. “But if you have a coach, an expert, who knows what they’re doing, who’s created a crafted program to help you achieve a specific goal, then you’ll see results a lot quicker.”
A pillar of the ‘fitness journey’
“We really look at the total machine as being comprehensive,” says Aly, who wants Tonal to expand into different fitness formats in the future.
His goal is for Tonal to be a critical piece of a person’s lifetime fitness regime.
“We really want to take a position in people’s lives where we’re guiding them down their fitness journey, not just helping them do one thing.”