Brinkley claims she’s used Total Gym for two decades to sculpt her legs, stretch, and tone her body. And Brinkley is joined by no other than spokesperson Chuck Norris.
But press aside, the truth is we’ve all come across celebrity fitness claims, and if you’re like me, you might be a tad skeptical about how much gym equipment celebrities use fits into your life.
In this review, I’ll guide you through whether or not a Total Gym alternative makes sense for you, the best Total Gym alternatives on the market, and how to find a great value for incline body fitness machines.
- 1 What is Total Gym?
- 2 Why should I look for alternatives to Total Gym?
- 3 What are the best alternatives to Total Gym?
- 4 Best for High Tech Incline Workouts: Nordic Track
- 5 Best For Stationary Bikes: Echelon
- 6 Best Budget: Gold’s Gym
- 7 Best for Tight Spaces: Tonal
- 8 Best for All Around Equipment: Marcy
- 9 Best for Supportive Community: Peloton
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
- 11 Final Thoughts
What is Total Gym?
Total Gym is one of the most well-known companies in the home gym fitness industry, perhaps in part due to its infomercials and celebrity endorsements. The parent company. Total Gym Global Corporation sells its products through both Total Gym Fitness, LLC, and Total Gym Commercial LLC.
The company started in 1974 and has sold equipment not only to everyday consumers, but also to hospitals, physical therapy locations, and professional athletic teams.
Claiming to be a world leader in inline body training, Total Gym is best known for its all-inclusive incline workout machines for the home, offering popular models like Total Gym GTS; Total Gym FIT; and Total Gym XLS. See how GTS compares to Total Gym Fit here.
Other products include rowing machines, and incline press and pull up systems, in addition to commercial equipment for rehabilitation. One thing I appreciate is that these machines are most widely available, with commercial models sold through retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and sporting goods stores.
Why should I look for alternatives to Total Gym?
While Total Gym claims it’s among the best in the industry, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider alternatives. Here are a few reasons why.
Total Gym may not be the most expensive gym equipment on the market, but I can assure you that it’s also not the most budget-friendly. If you’re like me and always on the lookout for the best value possible, the initial price tag may not be everything, but it still plays a big deciding factor on a purchase.
Perhaps the biggest reason I wouldn’t build a whole home gym around Total Gym is that the equipment they carry is limited. For instance, if you want more cardio-focused options, there are limited selections.
One of my favorite features on gym fitness equipment is the integration of a well-built machine and technology to make workouts more enjoyable. While Total Gym offers some solid equipment for a great workout, where it often falls behind other companies is capabilities like wi-fi, Bluetooth, and app connection.
Total Gym focuses on equipment rather than a sense of community. Other companies, like Peleton, for instance, provide access to fitness coaches, live streaming workouts, and online (and in-person) fitness support to connect with a larger community. That can make a big difference for many.
What are the best alternatives to Total Gym?
My picks for the best alternatives to Total Gym are all fitness equipment companies with a solid reputation, a wide range of gym equipment, and available to purchase. I’ll also tell you what I most recommend for each Total Gym alternative.
Best for High Tech Incline Workouts: Nordic Track
Where Total Gym excels in incline full-body workouts, Nordic Track has an impressive 30-40 percent incline on its machines but also with smart technology that Home Gym often leads behind.
Through IFit programs and apps, you get personal coaching and different workouts, the ability to track workouts, and a more dynamic experience as a whole.
Products/ Gym Equipment
What I love about Nordic Track is not a single piece of equipment, but just how many options there are, from ellipticals to rowing machines, treadmills, rowing machines, and more.
My top pick, though, is The Fusion CST. The Fusion CST is a free-standing home gym that provides a year of i-Fit membership, for high-intensity strength and boot camp training, coupled with an HD touchscreen for interactive workouts.
Best For Stationary Bikes: Echelon
Echelon is perhaps the main direct competitor to Peloton, specializing in specialty stationery bikes coupled with community challenges and live streaming workouts. Technology, and full workouts in your home, apps, and courses for both beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts are all at the heart of the company.
Products/ Gym Equipment
Echelon’s claim to fame is signature bikes, but they’re more affordable than you might think. One of their most budget-friendly bikes, the EX1, retails for under $900 and comes with ergonomic handles, almost three dozen levels of magnetic resistance, and the ability to adjust to your body.
Another notable product is the Smart Rower, with a neat design that allows you to easily store it away for tighter spaces, magnetic resistance, comprehensive controls, and, just like with the EX1, streaming classes for a variety of workouts, all while still staying under that $1,000 price point.
Best Budget: Gold’s Gym
I need to emphasize again that price point is not everything, but if you’re looking for a budget alternative to Total Gym or just starting out, you may want to take a look at Gold’s Gym.
Gold’s Gym offers a small range of home gym and fitness equipment at especially affordable prices–with the bonus of free workouts. While the equipment itself isn’t going to offer the same features of the other companies on this list of best alternatives, it may be a good option for someone just dipping their feet into the home fitness space.
Products/ Gym Equipment
The main gym equipment that Gold’s Gym offers are barbells and Power Systems, which include small pieces of equipment such as resistance bands, ropes, exercise balls, and more.
The most notable product is Gold’s Gym XRS 50 Home Gym with High and Low Pulley System, for strength training that can support up to 280 pounds and includes a chest press; fly station; pulldown bar; roll leg developer and an exercise chart, for well under $500.
Best for Tight Spaces: Tonal
One thing I struggle with when searching for home gym equipment is dealing with limited space, and while Total Gym does offer a few compact designs, I especially like Tonal as a minimalist alternative.
Tonal is unique in its modern approach to full body workouts, and a far step away from cumbersome or bulky gym equipment. And in a single product, you can get in about any workout you can imagine, from strength to cardio to yoga.
Products/ Gym Equipment
For better or worse, Tonal has one main piece of equipment, which is the Home Gym System, with intuitive AI meant to adjust to your current fitness levels, couples with electromagnetic technology, and an interface for live-streaming classes, for around $3,000.
Where to Buy: Shop Here.
Best for All Around Equipment: Marcy
Marcy may not seem like the biggest name in fitness and home gym equipment, but the company is actually quite established, having sold products for 75 years. I like this as an alternative to Home Gym for that reason, and for anyone looking for a company that offers a wide range of machines to build a full gym at home.
More so than the other alternatives, Marcy offers equipment for just about anything, and at competitive prices. I also love that products are easily available, even through retailers like Amazon, and overall feel approachable to those newer to the home gym/ fitness scene.
Products/ Gym Equipment
Marcy sells stationary bikes; ellipticals; rowers; trampolines; treadmills; home gym systems; utility and weight benches; free weights, and accessories.
A notable piece of equipment from Marcy is the Marcy Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike, which comes in at under $300 but has mostly positive reviews and may be a great option as both budget and space friendly. It features steel construction, up to 8 levels of magnetic resistance, ergonomic handles, an adjustable seat and an LCD monitor to track metrics.
Best for Supportive Community: Peloton
Total Gym may have great machines, but Peloton shines for its supportive community and robust range of workouts and challenges to keep you motivated. Peloton, also known for its signature bikes and live streaming and app capabilities, is a great option if you’re looking to upgrade your fitness and challenge yourself in new ways.
Workouts are more intense and give you a full range of walking, cardio, cycling, running, and also strength training, with professional fitness instructors to guide you through.
Products/ Gym Equipment
Peloton, of course, is not Peloton without its signature Original Bike, which costs around $2,000 and can also be financed. Magnetic resistance, an ergonomic seat, and adjustable levels make for a smooth and comfortable ride. I also like the multiple USB ports for the microphone and headphones.
Another notable product is the Peloton Tread, but, at $2,500 for a base model, there certainly are cheaper options. The treadmill has access to all the same courses, coupled with an HD touchscreen and other must-haves, like incline adjustment and shock absorption.
Best If You Don’t Want to Stick to One Brand
Finally, if you’re just shopping for home gym equipment and looking for an alternative to sticking to one brand, like Total Gym, consider the many ways you can compare different pieces of equipment and shop.
Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sears, and even Sharper Image are good places to start. The plus side to this is that you’ll be able to see a full range of options. The downside is that you may become overwhelmed. If you do purchase multiple pieces of gym equipment from different companies, just keep in mind that that quality and experience may be uneven.
Frequently Asked Questions
Total Gym is overall a decent value for a mid-range line of gym equipment. While Total Gym may not have advanced technology, it is relatively solid construction and offers full-body workouts through its machines. Well praised by most customers, Total Gym is a good in-between option.
Total Gym home gym machines are designed to provide full-body workouts, with strength, resistance, and some cardio. Used correctly and with a consistent exercise regime, Total Gym can help you build and tone upper and lower body strength and muscles.
Total Gym’s home gym system is meant for a full-body workout, with strength and conditioning. While an all-around workout program includes these facets, it doesn’t mean you should use it every day. For one, it risks overtraining syndrome and injuries, especially if you’re new. Even established bodybuilders can benefit from rest days to repair and restore and come back stronger. Finally, even if this is your main focus, it’s best to cross-train and mix up your workouts.
The best home gym features quality construction, a competitive price point, multiple levels of resistance, and perks like ergonomic seats, handles, and even access to workouts you can stream. Bowflex, Total Gym, and Tonal are among the most sought after home gym sets.
If you’re wanting to build a full home gym with multiple pieces of equipment, there are several key pieces you’ll want to purchase to provide a full range of strength, resistance, and cardio workouts. At minimum, you’ll want freestanding pieces like resistance bands, dumbbells, and a jump rope. More upscale options include some cardio machines, such as indoor rowers, a treadmill or elliptical; and a strength training or full body set.
Whether you not you decide to workout at home is up to you–of course, right now many gyms are restricted use, closed, or require certain precautions during a pandemic. But pandemic aside, there are other reasons to consider purchasing a treadmill. You’re more likely to stick to exercise that is readily available. And, unlike in the past, now working at home doesn’t have to feel solitary, with some equipment sold with access to live streaming classes, or stand-alone workout programs like Beach Body.
While Total Gym is a reputable leader in home and fitness gym equipment, there are plenty of excellent alternatives. When shopping for gym equipment, always make sure you go in with not just price in mind, but your own level of fitness and fitness needs, as well as overall value.
If you are still trying to decide between Total Gym and its best alternatives, check out the main differences between Total Gym and Bowflex, one of its main competitors.