From Zero to Gym Bro: Home Fitness Tech

After receiving a pre-diabetes diagnosis at my yearly physical, it was clear I needed to exercise more than just an occasional walk or monthly outdoor activity. I hadn't been to a gym in a very long time and never went with much of a plan, so I had some hurdles to overcome. As a massive techie, I ended up on the track of researching smart gym equipment and decided to go with the Speediance Gym Monster.

What Is It?

A smart gym is typically a compact cable exercise machine with a digital screen or app that lets you choose and track exercises. The Speediance Gym Monster ($3,049) comes with a vertical rack, a big touchscreen, and several adjustable vertical mounting points. The Speediance app (free) is great for scheduling your workouts and reviewing your statistics. Using the Gym Monster is a seamless experience as it mirrors the app, with the addition of the actual workout screens.

The Gym Monster lets you create profiles for anyone who uses it. My household is mixed Android and iPhone, and the app works equally well on both. For more fitness tips, you can also check out our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

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Programs have specific goals such as full-body exercises, beginner, and advanced plans. They contain individual workouts pre-scheduled over several weeks, depending on how long the program is, and your rest days are flexible. My go-to program has been the “For Beginners Series,” which focuses each day on a body part. It lasts for five weeks, five days per week. I've been sticking to this because the exercises feel good, and I can see the results. Consistency is key!

I'm excited about the option to create custom workouts, but the app is missing custom programs. If you have a custom workout, you have to select it manually every day.

There's a free lift mode available that, while barebones, is flexible enough to let you set it up and use however you see fit. Unfortunately, if you have no internet or membership, lift mode is all that is available.

Keep in mind, if you walk away from the device for longer than ten minutes during a workout, it will cancel the workout, something I and a lot of other users haven't been happy about.


Since it's a large device coming from China by freight, I had to wait more than a month to receive it. A week before the machine arrived, I received a call from the freight company to schedule a delivery, which seems to be typical for other customers as well.

Luckily, even though it's a large device, once you get it in your house you can wheel it around! One of the big reasons I picked it was that competitor devices require a permanent location and professional installation. Once wheeled into location, the platform can be lowered and locked.

Each workout guides you with audio instructions and a video of a coach performing the exercise. Data is plentiful, showing muscles targeted during the move, calories burned, and time spent. It's easy to get text instructions on the movement at a press of a button. On every screen, there is a floating settings button that runs double duty as a clock. This gives you quick access to your main settings including Wi-Fi connection, Bluetooth devices, and audio settings.

Speaking of audio settings: the Gym Monster provides a large set of background music you can select or disable. I started out with the music off but now I've been playing it softly in the background enjoying it. One may still get bored hearing the same songs over and over again though.

The Gym Monster in Action

Right before you start a movement, the device will tell you what attachments you will need and how to set them up.

The Gym Monster comes with an array of attachments and accessories depending on the package. Personally I opted for an adjustable bench, as it allows for a lot of incline exercises. The attachments all clip into a swiveling mounting point that you can attach to two points on the platform, or on the two points on the vertical rack, which you can move up or down as desired.

The barbell isn't the best. It's adjustable with two rings that you can move to different holes, but I've had the ring pop out of the hole on one or two occasions and that's the last thing you want. It also comes with a wearable Bluetooth ring that lets you adjust the weight as you go through the movement.

There is also an option to do assessments for different muscle groups. These are relatively short exercises to measure your strength, and once assessed, will let you do the exercises based on your strength instead of default weight settings. Note that during exercises, you do have an option to switch between default and recommended weights. I think the assessments are fun and give you a ballpark idea of where you are, but overall I prefer to go by feeling.

The Community

I found the Facebook group to be very helpful. Fellow users share their issues, solutions, experiences, and tricks, such as getting magnetic hooks to attach to the device instead of buying the Speediance attachment holder accessory. Speediance is very responsive in the group too and occasionally holds fitness challenges. These are very achievable goals such as exercising for 30 minutes for a certain amount of days, then share your achievements online and you get a gift.


  • Large library of workouts and programs, with new workouts added regularly
  • Free lifetime membership, at the time of writing
  • Affordable compared to competitors
  • Helpful Facebook community with active support agents
  • Relatively easy to move and a small footprint
  • Easy-to-use third-party accessories
  • Seamless app experience
  • A weight range from 8 to 220 pounds, excellent for beginner and intermediate lifters


  • You need to be connected to Wi-Fi to use the device
  • For delivery, you may not be kept up to date of shipping until the local freight service is ready to drop off
  • Barbell hooks not included and must be a separate purchase
  • With the 220 pound limit, advanced lifters are left out

The Final Verdict

The Gym Monster lets me roll out of bed in the morning and hop on the machine with the pre-planned exercises ready to go, making it as easy as possible to keep going. I've gone from working out zero days a week to five and I can't stop telling people to work out and become a gym bro like me. It's full of features and a great compromise compared to its alternatives. The user experience has been a bit rocky, but I'm seeing a receptive company that puts in the work to improve their product.

Smart gyms can be pricey, but if it's in your budget, you get a home gym that will guide you as a beginner and provide you with the freedom to grow and do what works best for you.

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Author Details

Ravi Both's picture

Author Details

Ravi Both

Ravi Both is a software engineer and lifelong tech enthusiast. Born in the Netherlands, he now resides in New Hampshire with his family where he enjoys creating and testing out new technology in every form.