Tempo Move Review: A Great Idea with Terrible Connectivity
When I first got one foretaste I was thrilled with Tempo Move last year. Here was a $495 smart gym that not only would fit in my tiny apartment, but wouldn’t look out of place either. It used the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera technology to track your movements, the lessons were great and the design was so clever I was amazed. And if it weren’t for pesky connectivity issues, the Tempo Move might just be my favorite fitness gadget I’ve reviewed over the past year.
When it comes to home gyms, most players in this space struggle with price and size. The most well-known gadgets – like the Peloton Bike Plus or Tonal – will cost you thousands of dollars and They are impossible to dress up in your house. This is not the case with the Tempo Move. It looks like a side table straight out of West Elm or, if you have the black version like I tested, a sleek subwoofer. I usually have to rearrange my furniture in my New York City apartment to accommodate larger gym equipment, but this time I didn’t have to at all. Also, it was several months before my husband realized the Move was even there.
The design is stylish but also incredibly functional. The top lifts off to store the Tempo Move’s smart dumbbells. And while you can place the Core – the part you dock your iPhone to – on top of the Move, it also comes with a puck to cover the hole if you want to place the Core elsewhere (or take it with you on the go) . When you open the front fabric cover, you’ll find a shelf for the various weight plates that come with the Move. The organizational nerd in me loves how easy it is to hide all the accessories. Design-wise, the only “downside” is that my cat mistakes the fabric cover for her personal scratching post.
Tempo’s intelligent adjustable dumbbells are also impressive. The colorful weight plates are cute, well constructed and safe. You get 50-pound weights with the Move, and you can purchase additional plates if needed. The “smart” part of these dumbbells is neat too. They are equipped with a sensor attachment that can tell how much weight you are using based on the color of the plates. This is then sent to the Core so you can see how much you’re lifting on screen as you teach and record it automatically in the app. Tempo provides weight recommendations in its classes and can actually tell when you’ve added or removed weight in real time. Finally, the barbell actually “spins” as you lift, which is said to help reduce torque and wrist stress.
Classes make or break connected fitness platforms. On that front, Tempo’s app makes it easy to search for courses and stay on course. There are over a thousand classes for a variety of activities, such as strength training, boxing, yoga, core, pregnancy training, and yoga. As a runner, I loved that there was a collection of strength training workouts geared towards the sport. There are also options for people who play golf or tennis. Another thing I really appreciated is that you can find classes based on goals like building strength, improving range of motion and mastering the fundamentals. Most fitness apps tend to group classes based on muscle group and time (which Tempo does, too). That’s fine, but this approach can also be limiting for beginners looking to build strength for a specific purpose.
The only potential downside is that the tempo teachers are a lot more factual. Sure, they throw in jokes and motivational cues, but nowhere near the level you get in Peloton. Nor will they give you soft assurances like in Apple’s Fitness Plus. That can be disappointing when you rely on peppy trainers to get you through your workout. For me it didn’t bother me that much and I appreciated the variety.
One thing that sets the Move apart from competitors like the Peloton Guide is the form feedback. It’s not perfect, but the device gives sensible tips based on your movements. For example, when I was leaning too far back while deadlifting, I saw this popup on the screen. If you’re having it too easy, you might also get a tip to gain weight. Considering how important form is to avoiding injury, I wish more strength training systems would do the same.
The Move also automatically counts your reps, but will occasionally drop the ball. This may have been because my training space was a bit cramped and the Move needs about two meters away for best results. Another criticism I had was music. Tempo lets you choose a music station, so the workouts themselves aren’t locked to a specific playlist. It won’t bother everyone, but music is a huge motivator for me. Nothing helps me get through a hard circuit like a well-timed bass drop. If you’re like me, you should consider that – especially with so many other services do Make music a central part of the experience.
Speaking of Gries, the Tempo Move currently only works with the iPhone. You’ll also need a relatively newer iPhone – the XS/XR or later – with at least iOS 14. Android users are out of luck. When I spoke to Tempo CEO and co-founder Moawia Eldeeb at a demo, he noted that part of the reason is that not every Android phone has lidar or camera technology similar to Apple’s TrueDepth technology . Eldeeb didn’t rule out Android support across the board, but there’s no telling if or when that will happen.
These are all little things that I can overlook. My main issues with the Move were that it requires an HDMI port and connectivity. The HDMI port isn’t a big problem if you’re short on devices. However, I live in a tech-maximal house crammed with soundbars, streaming boxes, and multiple gaming consoles. That meant I had to buy an HDMI splitter to be able to use the Move without interfering with my husband’s precious TV setup. (Even then, I had to endure him complaining every time I forgot to switch back to the PS5 after a workout.) You’ve got to be willing to throw yourself into the tangle of cables to make any necessary adjustments.
In terms of connectivity, the Tempo Move was unreliable for me. I assume this may be due to my complicated TV setup or my iPhone. But in my testing, there were multiple times I went to practice and couldn’t get the move to play a class. Or when I got a class to run, it would randomly crash or buffer to the point where I lost momentum. I was also getting error messages that the Core couldn’t connect to the Tempo server.
When I contacted Tempo for troubleshooting I was given a long list of steps, but the only thing that really helped was power cycling. Basically, I had to completely unplug the Core from the TV and power source, wait 30 seconds, and then plug everything back in. (That’s why I have a feeling the whole HDMI splitter situation may have made the problem worse.) This almost always helped, but it’s a pain when you’re trying to cram in a quick workout. It wasn’t a permanent solution either. I had to do it over and over again – sometimes two or three times in the same day. It wasn’t an internet problem either. We have gigabit internet and a beefy, beefy router. Also, I’ve never had this problem with similar devices.
The only other thing I can think of is that my iPhone 12 Pro Max may not be properly connected to the Core. I noticed that if my phone moved slightly, my class would be interrupted. For some reason, my iPhone never seemed particularly secure when plugged in. I tried connecting it both with and without my phone case but it didn’t seem to make any difference.
These connectivity issues didn’t always occur either. In the last few months of testing I’ve had no issues some weeks while other weeks have become a gold mine for troubleshooting. The fear of not being able to predict the course of a training session ultimately led me to prefer other options. I loved the Tempo Move when it worked. I just never knew when it would work.
I can’t tell if this affects everyone who gets a Tempo Move. I have reviewer friends who didn’t have this problem at all. On the other hand, I have seen several users report connectivity expenditure in subreddits. For what it’s worth, Tempo’s support staff have always been responsive to me, and other customers have reported finding reliable solutions. Technically, I’m also in good hands in power cycling. However, if you pay Tempo’s $39 monthly subscription, you should get a gadget that works reliably without all the troubleshooting.
I’m on board with the vast majority of what the Tempo Move offers. If it weren’t for this connection issue, I’d have to search the barrel to find things to complain about. That’s how strong the design, the classes and the overall concept behind the Move are. But this problem exists and I can’t ignore it. I was so keen on loving the move, but until Tempo finds a fix, this is another gadget where the concept ended up being better than the execution.
Photography by Victoria Song / The Veranda