Most smart home gym equipment these days comes with two costs: the price of the machine itself, and then a monthly or annual membership fee in order to get access to the workouts.
As someone on a budget, I can sometimes get together the funds to purchase a premium piece of exercise equipment that I will actually use, but I can’t always guarantee that I’ll have the funds to shell out an additional $30 or more per month for as long as I want to use that machine.
So when I learned that the new Speediance home gym, an all-in-one system for strength training and some cardio (it can also be used as a rowing machine), comes with a lifetime subscription for the app and workouts, I was intrigued. Unlike most smart home gyms, there are never any ongoing subscription or membership fees.
Honestly, in my opinion, this is a game changer. But of course, it only changes the game if the equipment you’re working out on is truly worth it. So I got a unit to test out at home and see what it’s actually like to use.
What is Speediance?
Speediance is an all-in-one, compact smart home gym that can be used for strength training as well as some cardio, plyometrics, and stretching/yoga. It’s a freestanding unit with a large touchscreen display where you can stream workouts, control the resistance, and monitor your workout stats.
It comes with multiple accessories, including a weight bench, barbell attachment, a yoga mat, and more. The barbell and handle attachments are Bluetooth-enabled so that they will count the number of reps you perform to help you keep track of your total workout volume.
You can choose from hundreds of available guided workouts, or do a “free lift” workout for a self-led session. The unit captures all of your workout metrics and provides video guidance showing what you should be doing for each exercise (when you're following a guided workout).
Originally $2699, on sale for $2549
The Speediance “Family” package also includes the rowing machine, and is currently on sale for $2849 (normally $2999). “The Works” package also includes an adjustable bench, bluetooth ring, adjustable barbell, handles, tricep rope, and ankle straps for $2849 (it does not include the rower). All packages come with a lifetime membership to the app.
- Compact and easy to move around, with no need for wall mounting (and folds up when not in use)
- Comes essentially assembled right out of the box
- Free lifetime subscription
- Guided workout videos and audio voice-overs
- Cable pulleys are easy to operate and super smooth
- Bluetooth-enabled accessories track your reps
- Gorgeous 21.5-inch high-definition touchscreen display
- Expensive upfront cost
- Requires Wi-Fi and must be plugged in
- There are no 3D motion sensors to check your form
- The rowing doesn’t really feel like “true rowing” compared to a real rowing machine
The unboxing experience
The Speediance comes nearly fully assembled in the box. All I had to do was add batteries to the handles and barbell (because they are smart accessories that track your reps), and screw the legs into the weight bench. As someone who has struggled to put together countless pieces of exercise equipment on my own, this was a welcomed perk.
I also love that it’s a freestanding home gym. I live in an old home with odd spacing for studs, so I wouldn’t be able to use a system that requires wall mounting.
The platform is on wheels and it can fold up when you’re not using it, making it extremely compact and fairly portable. I am quite petite and even I can fold up and move the unit around on my own.
What the workouts are like
In the weeks I’ve been testing it out, I’ve been primarily using the Speediance for strength training workouts. When you select a workout, you can filter the library of workout videos by the body parts that you want to train and how long you have to work out. Before you begin, the display will show you all of the accessories that you’ll need.
Even though there isn’t a two-way mirror or a 3-D sensor like some of the home gym competitors, the smart accessories do track your range of motion to help you visualize whether you are performing the exercise properly.
Plus, if you are using the barbell attachment or each handle separately but at the same time, the range of motion graph will compare your movement pattern on the right and left side of your body. This can be super informative for helping you identify muscle imbalances or technique errors in your lifts. Even though I’ve been a personal trainer for over 13 years and have a lot of familiarity with most of the exercises I have done with the Speediance, I found plenty of areas in which I thought that my form was flawless but actually there were deviations—I think this ingenious feature will help me improve my movement mechanics.
Speediance feel and performance
The Speediance cable pulleys function just like a cable machine or a functional trainer at your gym. They are smooth and you can raise and lower the pulleys with just one hand. In general, I’ve found that using the handles individually for exercises like biceps curls, chest fly, and triceps push-downs are a little more smooth and natural than when I’ve used the barbell attachment for squats and bench press.
The challenge is trying to lift evenly from both sides of your body at a smooth and steady rate and titrating your force output from your right and left sides to keep the barbell balanced. While this feels a bit awkward, I know that it will actually make me stronger and more efficient at lifting weights. Rather than allowing my dominant side to take the brunt of the workload, I have to really focus on pressing, pushing, or lifting evenly between both sides of my body.
Speediance rowing machine
After using the Speediance for several weeks, I decided to upgrade with the rowing machine attachment. It requires a bit more assembly than the Speediance home gym base unit, but it honestly only took me 10 minutes. You basically have to attach the sliding seat and the foot along with a couple of pieces for the rail.
I have to say, I was really skeptical about this because I've become somewhat of an avid recreational rower in the past couple of years, and own the premium Hydrow rowing machine. I imagined that the Speediance rower would be akin to the tiny screwdriver or bottle opener on a Swiss Army knife—functional, but rudimentary.
Although the Speediance rower is not up to par in terms of performance specs or “real feel” rowing on water, I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth the rowing stroke felt despite the compact design. And I enjoyed the rowing workouts that come free in the workout library.
I would say that if getting the best at-home rowing machine is your goal, you should consider purchasing a standalone rowing machine. But the Speediance is a good value, and it certainly has a smaller footprint than a full-sized rowing machine.
The resistance is impressive
For such a compact smart home gym, the performance of Speediance is impressive. You can use the touchscreen to digitally adjust the electromagnetic resistance up to 220 pounds, which is more than enough for me, and should be plenty for most recreational athletes and home gym users.
Each individual cable pulley provides 110 pounds of resistance with a 1:1 pulley ratio. This means that if you dial in 20 pounds on the touchscreen, you will actually be lifting 20 pounds. (Some budget home gyms have a 2:1 pulley ratio, so you have to crank up the resistance to 40 pounds to effectively lift 20 pounds.)
Is the Speediance worth it?
Overall, I highly recommend the unit to anyone who wants a compact, user-friendly smart home gym. Although the unit cost of Speediance is similar to some of the other best home gyms, after just a couple of months, you’re saving money because of the free lifetime membership.
Even if you are a beginner, the guided workouts and clear video demonstrations will give you the direction you need to perform exercises properly. Plus, you can keep track of your progress over time to watch your improvements add up to better strength and fitness—a confidence boost that can keep you coming back to work out again and again.
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