TSS 20 | Strength Score Secrets

Taylor Stein: A Data Scientist Discusses Strength Score Secrets

TSS 20 | Strength Score Secrets


The Tonal blog talks about 7 Thoughts During Your First Tonal Workout.

Tonal Talks spotlight International Women’s Day and Michelle Kenyon-Young and Shelby Perkins Triick.

Coach Jackson fields questions on Ask-A-Coach.

Coach Venus Lau is featured in the new Athleta catalog.

Tons of new content including Energetic Warm-Up, Athletic Barre, Knees With Ease, and more!

There are new Tonal Facebook groups to check out: Tonal Dads and Tonal Custom Workouts.

Tonal Book Club features Biohack Your Brain.

All this plus our interview with Taylor Stein!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Taylor Stein: A Data Scientist Discusses Strength Score Secrets

How’s it going?

Good. I feel like we haven’t really talked. We do this sometimes where it’s like our days are so crazy and this is the first time we’re sitting down to talk to each other even though it’s all about Tonal.

Did you do Tonal?

No, I couldn’t.

You’re on cardio only right now.

I’m doing the MetPro thing, which we’ll talk about later. It’s a weight loss program that we’re both doing. Right now, they’re not letting me because I was getting too ripped. People were like, “Lou Ferrigno?”

He jokes but seriously, there’s muscle forming everywhere. Trust me.

They were like cardio only until you get to 200 or below 200. I can only do the little running around stuff on their app for the moment. They are big fans of Tonal over at MetPro just to be clear. They love it. They were just like, “What we got you doing right now, just do the cardio and lay off the strength training. That’s what I was doing.

I’m excited because now that Tonal has classes on the app, we’re going to sneak away for a little rendezvous. I’m glad we have the app because I will be able to do workouts in the room in a very safe way. Tonal workouts in the room. I am very excited about that. Maybe I’ll con you into doing a bootcamp.

I don’t know about all that. Let’s not go crazy. Let’s just slow your roll. This will probably be a good time to ask what you have in store for people.

We have lots of updates, what Tonal is doing for Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. We have lots of stuff about talks that are going on Tonal, what’s going on with all the new programming. There are lots of new programs and workouts to discuss as well. New groups too, I forgot about those.

Before we get to all that shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts. Wherever you get your podcasts, you can find us. While you’re there, be sure to follow us so you never miss an episode. I have to say follow now. I haven’t told you that Apple changed. Now you’re supposed to say follow instead of subscribe. I think it is a code for, “We’re going to start charging people for things. We want the difference between subscribe and follow.” Follow us wherever you get your podcasts so you never miss an episode. While you’re there, if you’d be so kind, maybe you leave us a review so the people that come along after you will know that we are helpful. You can also find us on Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page, join the group. I believe that’s all of it. Let’s dig in. Shall we?

We shall.

Tonal had an interesting post on their blog, 7 Thoughts You Have During Your First Tonal Workout.

Did any of them ring true for you? That first one is mine, “I’m in love.”

That wasn’t me.

You can’t be in love with working out. I get it. I like the, “Did I just travel to the future?” It is freaking amazing.

It’s futuristic. Look at this person with the afterglow.

There are a lot of people who do that now at Tonal. I think it’s great. Those are similar to those lights Sydney has around her room. I should get some for my Tonal.

“Digital weight feels so different.”

They do, 5 pounds on the Tonal is very different from 5 pounds with the free weights.

Number four is, “This is tougher than it looks.”

That’s certainly true.

“My Tonal will probably collect dust.”

I never thought that.

I think that’s something people think before they use it. When you’re using it, you’re like, “This is a solid piece of equipment.” “Tonal coaching feels so real.”

It feels like those coaches are right next to you. They’re giving you that specific direction.

Number seven, “I’m never going back.”

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Amen to that.

I don’t have anywhere to go back to.

That’s why you’re never going back. You’re never going back to not working out. That’s where you’re never going back to.

I can be persuaded to go back to not working out. It was nice. I had a good run, 50 years.

Now it’s over. Welcome to your next 50 years.

International Women’s Day is upon us. I guess it already occurred, but it’s still the whole month.

It’s Women’s History Month and within that is International Women’s Day. It’s to celebrate women that come from all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, etc. It feels especially true within my fitness communities, Tonal especially. There are many strong women within Tonal regardless of their background. It’s something special to commit to not only yourself, but to commit to doing something that’s not easy. Lifting weights is not easy. There are many strong women in our community. There are a lot of badass women in the Tonal community that lifted a lot of weights. They are really badass and I am very proud to be among those women. Tonal also had a blog that day to talk about all of the different women they were celebrating within the community and all of our awesome women coaches. They also had a special Tonal Talk that day to talk about all of the behind-the-scenes women at Tonal, specifically in the technology of Tonal. If you have not gotten a chance to watch that, you absolutely need to do that.

There’s a Tonal Talk coming up focusing on strength with two members of the community. By the time this goes live, it will have already occurred.

One of them has been a past guest on the podcast, Michelle Kenyon-Young. The other woman that’s going to be featured is Shelby Perkins Triick. These ladies are going to be on the Tonal Talk.

Should we spill the beans on Tonal Talk?

I don’t know.

I think we can do that. We’re going to be on Tonal Talk.

TSS 20 | Strength Score Secrets


Coming up here soon, watch this space. We will be on a Tonal Talk. If you’ve never checked that one out, what a wonderful opportunity for you.

You should watch all of them though. They are great.

It’s like a soap opera. You won’t be able to follow the plot of ours if you haven’t watched all the previous ones so be sure and check them out.

There is Ask Coach Jackson. This will have occurred. You will have missed your window to ask him a question, but you can go back and listen. There will be all sorts of wonderful questions for Coach Jackson to answer.

I love how often they do these because it’s a good time for you to ask questions about your form, specific exercises that you’re having trouble with. It’s like the other day, you were saying that no matter what you were doing to the machine, it was not responding in a way.

It kept telling me I was doing it wrong.

That would be a great thing to ask like, “I’m experiencing this,” and they can walk you through how to do it right.

I was getting very frustrated. Crystal was like, “Why were you yelling down there?”

I was like, “You’re yelling near the Tonal. Don’t yell at my Tonal.” Coach Jackson will be taking questions. If you haven’t tuned in already, definitely check it out.

I know it’s not exactly news per se, but one of the Tonal coaches was in a magazine.

It’s specifically an Athleta ad. You know how you get catalog. Heather, I can’t remember your last name but you posted this in the official Tonal community. I thought this was cool because it featured Coach Venus as one of the models for Athleta. I thought that was cool. You don’t expect to see that when you’re flipping through like, “I know that person, they’re on my Tonal.”

We’ve talked about this on The Clip Out, our Peloton podcast, about how 3, 4 years ago, when you would see a Peloton instructor pop-up in something, it was like that’s unique, different and how exciting. They’re starting to grow and now, you’re just like, “Of course, I would see Peloton instructors.”

Now, it’s an everyday thing. I love seeing that Tonal is on that same trajectory. It’s so cool watching them grow. Congrats to coach Venus and Tonal.

All sorts of content are coming. It’s like every week, there’s so much more content to discuss.

There was a new workout from Coach Nicolette that dropped in. It’s called the Energetic Warm-up. It’s variations that are offered for beginner, intermediate and advance. Tom, this would be a good one for you. It’s cardio-based warm-up exercises. You’ll get your prep and warm-up for hip mobility, glute leg action, core work, the whole thing. It’s great no matter what kind of workout you’re going to do. There’s a new class from Coach Gabby, Athletic Barre. It’s a twenty-minute barre class focused on strength and cardio. That’s a great way to complement your strength, but you’re also increasing flexibility and bettering your balance. That’s an awesome one. There’s a brand new program with Coach Liz called Knees With Ease. I am very curious about this. Don’t think dirty, Tom. I know you just went there. I know you did.

That’s totally your fault. You can’t blame me for that one.

I’m excited about this because every time I go up the stairs, I hear my knees creak. I don’t hear any other noise on the stairs. It’s not the stairs creaking, it’s my knees. I’m super excited about this. I don’t necessarily have pain but I figure doing a program all about increasing your knee strength can’t be a bad thing. I’m very excited about that. We have a new Pilates class with Coach Francis. There’s a beginner core. There’s also a new beginner bite position. This one goes through different positions for barre classes, Tom. I also want to mention that there’s a new content coming out that is from Coach Paul and it’s for the new live beta classes. Apparently, they’ve been continuing to tweak those live beta classes that they’ve been doing. This one’s called No Days Off. It’s five times, but it’s only one week. You have five workouts but just one week.

There are seven days a week. Technically, there are two days off.

It’s five days in a row. No days off. It hits your major muscle groups but it goes through them multiple times. You alternate between compound and accessory exercises. You’re going to get a good full-body workout that’s comprehensive. More beginner bites for barre. I think that’s all. That’s a lot.

A couple of new groups we want to tell people about.

I always think it’s fun. I love watching the community grow and it starts to evolve over time. One of the new groups is called the Tonal Facebook group for dads. There’s also Tonal Moms. I don’t want to leave them out, but this one’s brand new. Tom, you have been invited. You should probably join. You have a Tonal and you are a dad.

Am I going to answer questions? Should everything be invasive here? “What stage are you at in your Tonal journey?” I don’t know that I’m getting pumped, but we do have a Tonal. “What are you looking to get out of this group?” I don’t know. I feel on the spot now. “Motivation from others, it’s a safe place to share my results and struggles, learn new workout techniques, make friendships, all of the above.” I’m going to go with that one because of course, I’ll struggle. Done, now I’m in.

It’s yet to be approved. It was approved. Now you’re in. They probably have it on auto-approved. That’s funny. I like seeing the community grow. There’s another new group that is specifically made to share Tonal custom workouts. I like seeing the creativity that people come up with. I would never think of this. I would never think I should create a group to share custom workouts, but what a great idea because you can’t share them.

You thought to create a podcast about it but you’re like, “I would never think of it.”

I said I would never think about it in a group setting, but I love that they created this group. It’s called Tonal Custom Workout Share. What I love about it is that people have already created these custom workouts. Instead of you having to go through and think of every different kind of workout you could create on the Tonal, you can go and find out what other people have done and then program it. It’s good for creating ideas.

That will come in handy.

I am hoping that somewhere down the road, Tonal will add it so that you can share your custom workouts. Until we get to that part, I love that there’s this group out there that you can share with.

Although they might not like the idea of people sharing custom workouts. Maybe it’s too much for some people.

Maybe it’s a liability thing. That’s a good question.

If you want to create one, they’ll let you. If you want to be in this group, but if it’s not coming from Tonal, they’re not on the hook for it.

That’s an interesting theory. We’ll have to ask about that. Those are a couple of fun new groups to expand your Tonal horizons on Facebook.

The Tonal Book Cub continues.

It does and the end of the month wrap up about the book happens on March 25th at 7:00 PM Central. For the West Coast, that’s 5:00 PM. You want to check that out if you have been reading along. I’m pretty sure I’ve read that even if you’re not reading along like you haven’t necessarily finished the book, don’t be shy. Come anyway. You can say as much as you want or say as little as you want.

Since this is a non-fiction book, it’s not like they’re going to ruin the ending for you.

You could still learn something from it and have a great conversation.

It’s not like at the end of Biohack Your Brain, your brain takes over and eats you.

Now you have ruined the ending.

Joining us is Data Scientist from Tonal, Taylor Stein. That’s a baller job title. Did you get to pick that? They are a new enough company. Did you get to be like, “I would like to be a data scientist?” Did you get to do that?

I saw it on the job listing. I got to pick it.

I’m trying to figure out, does that help when you’re out trying to pick people up or does it work against you?

He said he’s married.

Do you think it would’ve made a difference or would people be like, “Data scientists, nerd?”

If they’re into nerdy people like me, probably.

Nerds are cool now. You’re probably too young to remember when nerds weren’t cool, but it was a thing. What is a data scientist? What do you do?

A data scientist is an elusive job title because it means many different things. The easiest way to think about it is at least at Tonal, the data science team, we work on all the things behind the scenes that if we’re doing our job well, you don’t even notice that they’re there. Things like suggested weights, how you magically have the weights that are the right weight for you, things like strength score, where you don’t have to think about keeping track of whether you’re getting stronger or not. It’s a form of feedback. All of these things that if we’re doing our job well, you don’t notice. That’s the simplest way to put it.

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Before we got on this interview, I was on the phone with Angelo from MetPro who’s helping us do weight loss stuff. He was like, “How’s your Tonalling going? Are you increasing your weight every time?” I was like, “I have no idea.” The machine does what the machine does and that’s the extent of my interest in it. As long as the machine is functioning, then I will do what it tells me to do. When I’m done doing it, I am done doing it. I don’t think about it again. I’m like, “I’m assuming it is. It still boops at me.”

When I’m in the room, I hear the thing that’s like it went up to the next thing. He doesn’t pay any attention to it, which if he did, then he wouldn’t use it. It’s all good. I pay attention to it though. What are the qualifications to become a data scientist? What’s your background?

I went to school for mechanical engineering. I’ve always been interested in Science and Math. Out of school, I worked a couple of jobs and got more interested in data, writing software, writing Python and writing code mainly to solve fun, interesting and challenging problems. Before Tonal, I worked as a product analyst where it’s a similar role to a data scientist. The main difference is as a product analyst, your customers are internal stakeholders like employees, people you work with. They want to know how many people workout before 6:00 in the morning on Tonal or whatever it is. You’re delivering information to internal stakeholders. Data science at Tonal, the nice part is the work that you do sees the light of day. You’re working on something that’s going to appear on a machine in thousands of people’s homes. That’s the leap there, the distinction between data science and product analytics which I was previously doing.

Do you get super excited when you’re getting ready to roll out a new piece of something you worked on?

I’m super excited and a little bit nervous. For the strength score, we’ve released the new version in November 2020. I joined Tonal back in March of 2020. That was my first project. To give you an idea of the timescale, from March 2020 all the way to November 2020, we were working on it. At some point, you have to take the Band-Aid off and say like, “Here we go. We’re doing it. It’s live. We’re going to see how it goes.” It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting at the same time.

Strength score, what exactly is it?

The way I think about it is it’s our all-in-one way that you can measure your strength and most importantly, track if you’re getting stronger. You can do that to a very granular level. You can see your strength score on an individual muscle basis if that’s what you care, where you’re like, “I want to grow my shoulders. I want to have strong shoulders.” You can do that. If you don’t want to get into the weed, you can look at the overall level. That’s when I know overall my strength score is maybe 500, and I have a goal that I want to get it up to 600. You put your faith in it that it is doing all these calculations and tracking your progress across every single rep that you do to generalize your strength and make it as simple as possible.

TSS 20 | Strength Score Secrets


I started with Tonal in November of ’19. It changed at some point like in March 2020, that’s when it rolled out. What kind of changes were made and can people rely on that strength score? If you were using Tonal prior to that change, can you still rely on everything before that?

Yes. It’s changed a few times. One of the biggest changes in this new version was before, the algorithm only cared what you’ve done in the last six months. If you had a great workout 6 months and 1 day ago, it was like, “I don’t care. We only care about the last six months.” We’d see a lot of people where their score would be hovering at a certain level and then drop down. They’d be like, “What happened? Why did I get 20 points dinged off or 50 points?”

With this new algorithm, we no longer do that. We keep track of your entire history on Tonal. As part of rolling this out, one of the challenges is we have all these members that know their score. They pay close attention to it. We had to recalculate everyone’s score from their first day on Tonal forward and paint their history again. We had to come up with a new algorithm in a way that your score wasn’t drastically different. If you were like, “I know I’m always in the 500 range.” We couldn’t have you walk up to Tonal and now have it say 250 or 750. You’d be like, “Something’s wrong. What’s going on here?”

I bet you do get a lot fewer questions about the 750 than the 250? With 750, somebody would go like, “It’s about time. That data scientist, I like the cut of his gym. He’s got it figured out.”

When it comes to strength score, what are the ways that people can get it? Whenever I work on my strength score, I focus on whatever program I’m in. I’m not looking at it like, “I want to increase my strength score,” because if I stress about that too much, I get a little depressed. It doesn’t go fast enough. What are the things that people should be focused on if their goal is, “I want my strength score to go up?” What should they do?

The most important thing is I would look at it as a tool to measure your strength. I look at it less of a game where I’m like, “How high can I get my high score on this thing?” I know it’s hard for a lot of people. A lot of people are like, “You gave me a number. I want that number to be higher. What can I do to directly make that number higher?” That’s my first thought. The other thought there is that in general, it’s looking at how strong you are. It’s taking all of your workouts. The easiest way to think about it is on one workout, it’s going to find your best set for any one movement.

Let’s say you have five sets of bench press or it’s Go Big or Go Home. By the end of your workout, my legs are on fire. I have to lower the weight. I can’t complete the weight that I was originally doing. All that matters is your strongest set in each workout. If you knocked it out of the park in your first set and you’re still strong on your 2nd or 3rd, we care about your best one. I know some people are afraid that, “I don’t want to do Go Big or Go Home because my strength score is going to go down because I’m going to fatigue.” We know that people fatigue and strength score is supposed to measure how strong you are at your strongest. If you showed us earlier in the workout that you had a certain level of strength, we have to give you credit for it. Follow the programming that interests you the most, work with the coaches that you like to work with and let your strength score go where it may. That is what I would suggest.

I never understood the fixation on it because you can either lift the stuff or you can’t lift the stuff. At the end of the day, they’ve assigned a number to that.

Did you not understand the part where he said, “We give you a number and you want it to go up because that’s what we’re all fixing?”

I can either lift what they put in front of me or I can’t lift what they put in front of me. If I can lift it, then they assign a number to it. That’s the end of it.

If that number is not going up as fast as you think it should, that’s where people get fixated.

If someone wants to see their number go up a little more quickly, the question is if they were to PayPal you some money, can you get in there like Matthew Broderick in WarGames? Can you jostle with that thing?

The technical answer is yes, but the right answer is no. Unfortunately, it won’t happen.

If I understand you correctly, you could technically go through every move in the library. Let’s say somebody wanted to make a game out of it. They could go through and every day do their best set on one move, then that would improve your strength score in theory.

If you gave a max effort on every move, which my background is also in personal training for a little bit, I would say don’t. Some movements that we are trying to go off the wall is probably not the best. In theory, if you saved up your strength every day for one movement, you could. We also have some guardrails in place in the algorithm to keep it from doing wonky things. For example, we care about the movements that you’ve done many times. If you’ve done bench press 100 times, as a data scientist, we have a lot of samples to look at and be like, “We have 100 samples of your bench press. We know generally how strong you are to an accurate degree.”

Don’t have a friend come over that’s strong and knock one out because you are hip to that game.

We’re on to it. The move you’ve only done once or twice, we don’t necessarily know if we got the best reading of your strength. If you do two sets of an obscure move, like an X pull down with tricep extension, you’ve only done it a couple of times, we don’t have a ton of confidence that we’ve gathered your true strength on that movement. We may not care about that movement as much as something where you’ve given us a lot of examples of, “Here’s how strong I am.” We have some weighting behind the scenes for how we balance all your activity and all the movements.

Do you know how in programming, you might do five reps one time and another time you do fifteen? The weights are going to be different. Does it take that into consideration too?

Yes. There’s the concept of 1 rep max or 1 rep equivalent. No matter how many reps or what weight you use, at the end of the day, we convert all of that to a one rep equivalent. If you do 50 pounds for 10 reps, that’s probably a 1 rep equivalent of like 65 pounds. You can plug in any number of reps and get a certain weight. It doesn’t matter if you’re working at the higher rep range or the lower rep range. It’s the same logic that the weight suggestions is using to determine the weight for you. Let’s say you normally bicep curl 20 pounds 10 times and you are programmed 16 reps. It’s going to lower the weight accordingly to try to keep things consistent.

If people are using this as a guideline, that makes sense. What should they not use it for?

I wouldn’t use it as a barometer to evaluate how good your last workout was. A lot of people finish a workout and are like, “I’m exhausted. I’m super sweaty. I busted my ass. My score went down one point.” I wouldn’t use that as a way to measure that one workout. I would use your strengths work to date as a measurement of all of your workouts up until that point. If the strengths go down a little bit, it could be that the algorithm was overvaluing your strength a little bit earlier and now it’s calibrating. I like to think of it as it’s always getting more accurate over time. If it goes down, it doesn’t necessarily think that the workout you did was like, “They’re weak. We should lower things.” I wouldn’t use it as a tool for measuring how good each workout is or necessarily how hard the workout is. It’s just measuring strength at the end of the day.

Sometimes I see people post things that say, “My strength score went down. It dropped a bunch.” Should we assume that it’s a glitch, you guys made some changes, or they had a bad day?

There are a couple of things there. We don’t make any changes to the algorithm that would drastically change your strength score. All the changes we make, we do announce. If you read the blog, we’ll announce a major change to the algorithm. I haven’t seen anything yet where it was a genuine bug where it was like, “That’s broken. We need to fix that.” We aren’t behind the scenes like moving the knobs around on people and seeing what happens. It’s a pretty realistic measurement of your strength. If it does go up or down, there are reasons. It can move faster or slower at certain times. It’s responding to what you showed in your workouts during your time on Tonal.

For people who are brand new to Tonal, when you first start off, you put a lot of stock into your strength score. Everybody else has these amazingly high strength scores. What advice would you give to people who are brand new and they’re getting their strength score. How should they absorb that information?

Do the calibration workout, your first Tonal workout, where it gets your starting weights. I don’t know why some people decide, “I’m going to go rogue and try not to do this.” I would say do that because it’s going to set all your weights and establish your strength score. From there, as much as possible, I’d focus on finding the programming that you like and finding the coach that you like. You can keep an eye on your strength score, but it may be a little bit more volatile at the beginning when you’re on workout number 1, workout number 2.

We’re learning a whole lot more about you every single workout. Keep in mind that you want to look at this from the 30,000-foot view of, “I want to keep an eye on this over months rather than days.” There are other things like people that are tracking their weight. You don’t step on the scale every single day if it goes down 1 pound or it goes up 1 pound. You have to zoom out and be like, “Overall, how is this strength thing?” It’s a similar analogy for strength score.

You come from a background of personal training and you have this amazing title of a data scientist. Do you workout on the Tonal?

Yes. I was going to do this in the room where we have the Tonal. My wife painted this beautiful mural on the wall that has the Tonal. The Wi-Fi has been spotty so I have to move to a different room for this, but I have a Tonal here and I love it. It is game-changing.

With your background in personal training, and then you end up at Tonal, is that a happy accident or were you always going to try to use your data scientist skills in the fitness realm?

I was a personal trainer many years ago. My dad is in sports medicine so I’ve always been interested in fitness and everything related to it. In college, I had this idea of like, “I should be a personal trainer,” even though I’m studying mechanical engineering. I studied that and got certified as a NASM personal trainer, and then I worked for two years while I was at school. I worked at rec center on campus and back at a private gym back home. I wrote it off as like, “That was fun. I’m never going to touch that ever again once I graduated and started working.”

As I was looking for new job opportunities with a background in mechanical engineering, I’m always interested in hardware and physical things, plus data science, and then I saw an opportunity at Tonal. I was like, “That whole personal training thing that I wrote off years ago, that was a weird little tangent. This could be a perfect fit where I have some domain knowledge that I could use and be helpful at my job as a data scientist.” It was like the stars are aligned and the perfect opportunity opened itself up.

When you were saying about your background in mechanical engineering, it didn’t occur to me to ask this question. How much do you need to know about the physical how Tonal works versus the internal how Tonal works? How much do you use the knowledge of each?

In my role specifically, mechanical engineering is more of a nice to have. My projects are purely on the software side of things. As a mechanical nerd, I love looking at the machine, figuring out all the different mechanics that go into it, making the arms move around and how we control the weight and everything like that. In my day to day, I do focus on the software side of things.

Knowing all those things about the Tonal, about how it functions and whatnot, do you find that it makes you use the machine any differently?

It has some a-ha moments where if you have the weight way too low and you can feel like a little bit of slack for a split second like, “I get what’s going on under the hood.” At the end of the day, not too much. When I workout on Tonal, I try to put myself in the shoes of a member, and I’m turning into a customer at that point. I try to put on the horse blinders and forget everything that I know about strength score and everything about the product. I try to pretend as much as possible that I am just the customer who bought a Tonal, not someone that works there too.

Are you going to tell us your strength score?

Just because it’s a beginner program doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a walk in the park. Share on X

The funny thing is as someone who works on strength scores, I genuinely do not know what my strength score is. I’m pointing the example there as far as not obsessing over the number. I’m at 689.

It’s a lot higher than mine.

I know roughly where it is and roughly as in the 100-point scale, but I don’t focus on it any closer than that. I do focus on looking at it and see how my different body regions have changed over the last six months that I’ve had it now and what my individual muscle scores are. I nerd out on those details where I want to know, “How do the muscles in my upper body stack up? Where are my weaker points? Where are my stronger points?” I pay more attention to those finer details than I do necessarily on my overall strength score. That’s my personal preference and that’s what I like about the way we designed it. It can be used in different ways.

What is your favorite thing about Tonal?

If I had to sum it up, it’s the convenience. The weight suggestions are fantastic, but as far as the experience of working out on Tonal, the biggest game-changer for me was not having to think about picking the right weight physically, racking it, re-racking it and fighting over the weight for someone. I remember my first experience on Tonal where it clicked for me. It was some workout where it was like a barbell bent-over row and a barbell bicep curl back-to-back. I did my set of barbell bent-over rows at some weight. I finished the set and then I saw the weight magically changed my bicep curl. I could go ahead and get started. If I was in a traditional gym, I probably would have had a hard time finding a barbell to use for the bent-over row. When I was done, I would have to go re-rack it and look through the different barbells that increment at 10 pounds, which is pretty big jumps in trying to find something that fit what I wanted in. All I had to do here at Tonal was press a button and all of a sudden, magically, I had the weight that I should have. That was when it clicked for me.

If you’re in the gym, do people toggle back and forth the same weight?

Yes. There are different ways to workout. You could do two exercises back-to-back like that if you were doing a whole circuit. There are also times that you might do the same exercise. You don’t do that three sets of that too, but then you have to rest in between.

I was thinking to go between different movements would be like that. I’d never thought about it because why would I? It seemed like it would be a giant pain in the butt. Thirty minutes on a Tonal might be 45 or 50 minutes at a gym doing it in an old-fashioned way.

That is one thing I noticed too. In a perfect situation, you could do that in the gym where you could bounce back between exercises. If it’s crowded, you’re going after work. It’s not so easy to say like, “I’m going to bounce between these three very different exercises and not make anyone upset in the gym that I’m holding all these weights to myself.” It gives you the flexibility. I noticed too that my workouts were a lot shorter and effective, where I would go to the traditional gym. I’d be there. I’d always set aside an hour for working out. Now I spend probably between 25 to 45 minutes on the workouts that I do on Tonal. I feel as taxed and fatigued. I feel like I’m getting as good of a workout and it’s all compressed down. You’re not re-racking the weights. You’re not looking around for stuff. You’re not walking back and forth in the gym because one machine is over there, and one machine is upstairs on the other side of the things. It’s efficient.

Data scientists love efficiency. Do you have any advice for people who are getting a Tonal?

TSS 20 | Strength Score Secrets


Have fun with it. There’s something for everyone. Some people are passionate about, “This is the best program. You have to do this program.” While they are amazing programs, there’s something for everyone whether it’s even sneaking in meditation workouts on Tonal or doing yoga or anything like that. Try to find the programming and the coach that you like and stick with it. That helps build a habit. I also wouldn’t write off some of these beginner programs. I see people are like, “I’m advanced and I can’t be bothered to do a beginner program.” A beginner program can be hard. Trust me. The weights are always going to be challenging. Just because it’s a beginner program doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a walk in the park. Take your time and try out all the things that we have to offer and find what you like. There is a whole lot of variety.

I don’t consider myself a tough guy at all, but when I see beginner’s stuff, I do the same thing. I’m like, “Is that going to be worth my time?”

What they change is more the complexity of the moves. That’s what determines the beginning versus intermediate versus advanced.

It’s some of those like, “How challenging is the move?” You may have a bodyweight squat in a beginner program, but you may have a front squat in advance. It’s more of like your proprioception and how well and coordinated are you. If you are a beginner, the beginner programs are great for that. It doesn’t mean that if you’re intermediate or advanced, that you’re going to be wasting your time doing beginner workouts. It’s the complexity of the moves.

I should be doing beginner stuff. Anything where I have to balance.

You need to work on your balance.

Thank you so much for talking with us. Before we go, where can people find you? If you would like to be found, where would that be?

As far as social media goes, I’m always open to talking to people on Twitter. It’s probably the best place to reach me. My handle there is @Taylor_Stein. If you have any questions about Tonal or strength score, you want to chat, or you want to vent about your score going up or down a point, feel free to reach out.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your day to join us. This was fun.

Thanks for having me.

I guess that brings this episode to a close, what pray tell do you have in store for people next time?

Next time we’re going to talk to community member Michelle Tee about the versatility of Tonal and how you can use it in multiple different ways. Very awesome conversation.

Until next time, where can people find you?

People can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/CrystalDOKeefe. They can find me on Instagram and Twitter @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or on Facebook at Facebook.com/TomOKeefe. Find the show online, Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page, join the group. Wherever you’re getting your podcast from, be sure to follow us so you never miss an episode. If you’d be so kind, maybe leave us a review so people know how to check us out. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep lifting.

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