NordicTrack Fusion CST Review (2021) | #1 Home Gym Option?

Brian Adams – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)

I was eyeing the NordicTrack Fusion CST the other day. And it got me thinking, is it better than the Bowflex HVT? How does it feel when compared to more professional equipment? 

Naturally, I had to try it out. The NordicTrack Fusion is a high-tech, quiet motion compact home gym reliant on its Silent Magnetic Resistance Technology.

But without the stacking weights, how does it stack up to its competition?

NordicTrack Fusion CST

CST Home Gym

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Dimensions

  • Length – 41.5 inches
  • Width – 59.4 inches
  • Height – 73.7 inches

Machine Weight

  • 378 lbs

Maximum Resistance

  • Comparable to a traditional 200-lb weight stack

Tech Features

  • Free 10-inch NordicTrack Portal 10i tab. 
  • Free iFit Bluetooth Chest Strap
  • iFit Coach Plus access 
  • SMR technology
  • Power-tracking watts meter

Machine Type:

  • Pulley system

Warranty

  • Frame – 10 years
  • Parts – 1 year
  • Service and Labor – 1 year
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Shipping

  • Free on the NordicTrack website

Assembly 

  • Required, comes with an instruction manual for assembling at home
  • White glove service is available for an added fee of around $250

Workout Clearance

  • Six square feet of space around the machine

Number of Exercises

  • Over 100 HIIT workouts and more

Exercise Stations

  • Legs
  • Curls
  • Abs
  • Rows
  • Pulldown

PROS

  • Has a good combination of cardio and strength training exercise options for an effective full-body workout
  • The SMR technology is gentler on your joints compared to weight stacks
  • Its maximum pulley extension is 95 inches
  • iFit sessions allow you to set trainer-controlled resistance
  • Up to 20 digitally-adjustable resistance settings
  • Comes with a NordicTrack tablet for iFit training sessions
  • Comes with an adjustable tablet/phone stand
  • Comes with a Bluetooth chest strap to monitor your heart rate
  • The magnetic resistance technology operates quietly, unlike with weight stack machines
  • It has a compact design and only takes up about 3 ½ by 5 feet of floor space when not in use
  • Heavy-duty frame
  • Comes with 6 handles and 2 ankle straps

CONS

  • You cannot adjust the cable height, so you might have issues with it if you’re taller than 6 feet
  • The parts and labor warranty only covers one year, which is significantly shorter compared the average 2-year warranty offered by its competition
  • The machine weighs over 300 lbs, so it is quite heavy

Summary: The NordicTrack CST is an ideal home gym equipment (best models reviewed here) if you want to focus on low-impact HIIT strength and cardio training. It comes with a one-year iFit subscription as well as a 10-inch NordicTrack tablet that helps you maximize your equipment by bringing you an authentic trainer-led workout experience at your home. Its maximum resistance can be compared to that of 160 to 200-lb standard stacking weights. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, the Bowflex HVT should be something you look into, but you’ll get more value for your money with the CST. However, if you’re used to Olympic weights and lifting heavier loads for your workouts, I recommend looking into the Force USA G3 instead (full review).

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About The NordicTrack / Brand Recognition

NordicTrack is an American-owned company that manufactures gym equipment like treadmills, equipment for strength training, ellipticals, exercise bikes, and other gym accessories. 

The brand is known for its Nordic ski machine, low-impact trainers, ellipticals, and incline equipment.

 

Their popularity grew in the ‘90s when their cross-country ski simulator made its way to hundreds—if not thousands of homes across America.

Since then, the company has dominated the treadmill industry, as well as put their focus on putting out more innovative fitness equipment. Their products can be viewed in multiple Fitness at Home showrooms across the US.

NordicTrack Most Notable Features/Benefits

The NordicTrack CST is a high-tech machine whose workout routines are heavily centered around the iFit programs. The inclusion of said program allows you to fully maximize your machine’s exercise potential. However, that’s not all it offers.

Silent Magnetic Resistance Technology

The SMR technology used on the NordicTrack CST replaces your average 160 to 200-lb weight stacks. Its motions remain quiet no matter how rigorous your training sessions may be. It’s also designed to be more gentle on your joints and muscles compared to weight stacks.

Despite its unconventional look, the SMR technology comes with 20 digitally-adjustable resistance levels with a maximum resistance comparable to that of your standard 160 to 200-lb weight stack equipment.

Unfortunately, because of the way the tech operates, there is no definitive way to calculate exactly how much resistance you’re getting. But if you’re just starting out or are used to training with 200-lb stacks, it will be plenty enough.

NordicTrack Tablet

The complementary 10-inch NordicTrack tablet helps you stick to a workout routine through the free 1-year iFit subscription. There’s also a live on-board Fusion CST class that guides you through getting more familiar with your machine. 

The iFit Coach Plus feature is also accessible through the NordicTrack tab, and it’s ideal if you want to have a more authentic trainer-trainee experience at home.

Multiple Pulley Attachments

The CST comes with eight pulleys. The longest being 95 inches in length. The varying pulleys allow you to perform different low-impact HIIT exercises that range from untraditional to ones you’re used to doing at your gym like squats.

HIIT Training

The NordicTrack machine combines cardio and strength training while minimizing the stress on your joints and the time needed to perform your workouts. The multiple resistance levels combined with the training sessions on the iFit will guide you through building muscle and burning fat in a shorter amount of time than with conventional equipment.

CST

NordicTrack Specifications

Dimensions: 41.5×59.4×73.7 inches

Workout Area: at least six square feet around the machine

Accessories Included: eight pulleys, 10-inch NordicTrack tablet, Bluetooth chest strap

Exercise Stations: legs, abs, curls, pulldown, rows

Machine weight: 378 lbs

Assembly: Required

Shipping: free

White-Glove Service: available for around $250 more

Machine Type: Pulley

Reliability and Warranty

NordicTrack is well-known for its high-tech equipment and quality customer service. Most previous customers agree that the company is easy to reach, eager to please and work hard to guarantee customer satisfaction. 

The NordicTrack unit comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. During which time, you’re able to fully test your unit and decide whether its features are good enough for you. 

The heavy-duty steel frame is also covered by a 10-year warranty, which is plenty. However, you might find that the parts and labor warranty is insignificant, considering it only covers up to one year, whereas other types of equipment within the same price range offer a minimum of two years in warranty.

Shipping & Assembly

The NordicTrack official website offers free shipping for all CST purchases. 

The CST does require assembly. However, it’s important to note that most of the parts come pre-assembled. You’ll only have to attach the arms, legs, and a few other things on the unit. 

Plus, it comes with an instruction manual to guide you through the assembly process, so it’s entirely possible to do it at home. However, the equipment is significantly heavy, weighing in at over 300 lbs. This makes it virtually impossible for you to assemble it on your own so you will need some help.

On the other hand, NordicTrack offers white-glove delivery for under $300. This means NordicTrack professionals will assemble your unit for you.

Fusion CST vs. Bowflex HVT

The Bowflex HVT is arguably the equipment’s biggest competition. The HVT is another compact home gym unit that combines strength and cardio training. It also utilizes standard SMR compared to the home gym’s SMR technology. 

Dimensions

  • Fusion CST: 41.5×59.4×41.5 inches LWH
  • Bowflex HVT: 83x46x65.6 inches LWH

Machine Weight

  • Fusion CST: 378 lbs
  • Bowflex HVT: 182 lbs

Maximum User Weight

  • Fusion CST: N/A
  • Bowflex HVT: 300 lbs

Warranty

  • Fusion CST
    • Frame: 10 years
    • Labor: 1 year
    • Parts: 1 year
  • Bowflex HVT
    • Frame: 2 years
    • Mechanical: 2 years
    • Electrical: 2 years
    • Parts: 2 years
    • Labor: 90 days

Shipping and Assembly

  • Fusion CST
    • Free shipping
    • White-glove delivery available
  • Bowflex HVT
    • Free shipping
    • Requires assembly

Pricing

  • Fusion CST: around $2000
  • Bowflex HVT: nearly $800

Summary: The Bowflex HVT is the CST’s top competitor. However, it can also be considered a less expensive version of the CST. At only around $800, the Bowflex doesn’t come with a workout tab like the NordicTrack. It’s an ideal investment if you’re looking for equipment similar to that of the CST for a lesser price.

Fusion CST vs. Tonal

vs Tonal

The Tonal is another high-tech piece of compact home gym equipment that utilizes magnetic resistance and a magnetic flywheel similar to that of the CST. However, unlike the CST, the Tonal focuses on weight instead of cardio training. 

Dimensions

  • Fusion CST: 41.5×59.4×41.5 inches LWH
  • Tonal: 5.25×21.5×50.9 inches LWH

Machine Weight

  • Fusion CST: 378 lbs
  • Tonal: N/A

Maximum User Weight

  • Fusion CST: N/A
  • Bowflex HVT: N/A

Warranty

  • Fusion CST
    • Frame: 10 years
    • Labor: 1 year
    • Parts: 1 year
  • Tonal: Three Year Limited Warranty

Shipping and Assembly

  • Fusion CST
    • Free shipping
    • White-glove delivery available
  • Tonal
    • Shipping varies
    • White-glove delivery available

Pricing

  • Fusion CST: around $2000
  • Tonal: from under $3000

Summary: The Tonal is another piece of high-tech equipment that boasts usr connectivity workouts through a system similar to the iFit. However, it doesn’t come with a free subscription unlike NordicTrack that comes with a free one-year subscription. It’s also designed for trainer-led resistance training and is ideal for you if you’re looking for something similar to the CST but focuses on weight training instead of cardio.

Is Bowflex HVT Worth It?

If you want professional quality, high-end home gym with no cords, a good deal, and don’t want to pay for shipping, we have the perfect deal for you. The BowflexHVT is on sale for $200 off at Amazon. This high-end gym system comes with everything you need to get started including a bench, five-rebound cable bar, dual-platform trap bar, dumbbells, and other attachments. If you don’t want to buy everything separately it comes with a kit with everything you need. If you don’t need a few weights and want a single-system option, you can also pick up the Bowflex SelectTech 552 for $60 off. This is a good choice if you already have some of the essentials. While that is not a great price, and it is made clear to customers that this is not a production line product, it’s still cheaper than many other similar-sized, full-length, full-bore home gyms available. The Bowflex HVT can get the job done on its own with the individual attachments but it’s pretty amazing with the full kit. The high-end design offers incredible comfort and all the attachments work with all weights. You won’t regret spending the extra money on this package. HVT can be set up in as little as three minutes. Its alleged design complexity is said to be derived from its dual-axis swivel handle. That’s a great idea, but it does come at a cost. It also, as shown in the feature below, comes with a swing-arm bar, making the setup more difficult.

Fusion CST vs. PRO

CST Pro

The CST PRO is a commercial-grade version of the Fusion CST. It comes with an integrated pull-up bar and an additional exercise station that doesn’t come with the CST: a rack

Dimensions

  • Fusion CST: 41.5×59.4×41.5 inches LWH
  • PRO: 60.5×41.5×73.5 inches LWH

Machine Weight

  • Fusion CST: 378 lbs
  • PRO: over 300 lbs

Maximum User Weight

  • Fusion CST: N/A
  • PRO: N/A

Warranty

  • Fusion CST
    • Frame: 10 years
    • Labor: 1 year
    • Parts: 1 year
  • PRO
    • Frame: 10 years
    • Labor: 1 year
    • Parts: 1 year

Shipping and Assembly

  • Fusion CST
    • Free shipping
    • White-glove delivery available
  • PRO
    • Free shipping
    • White-glove delivery available

Pricing

  • Fusion CST: around $2000
  • PRO: under $3300

Summary: The NordicTrack PRO boasts all the features that come with the CST plus a sturdier, commercial-grade metal frame and an added rack and pull-up bar for upper body exercises. It’s ideal if you enjoy the Fusion CST’s features, but want to be able to do more than just cable exercises.

Final Thoughts

The NordicTrack Fusion CST makes HIIT workouts easy and enjoyable at home. It’s ideal if you want to build muscle and lose fat while maintaining motivation through a series of trainer-led workouts without having to head to the gym.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the Bowflex HVT offers nearly similar features like the magnetic resistance and at-home workout program similar to the iFit. 

However, if you’re looking for overall value, the Fusion CST still remains to be a better option since its trainer-led programs are optimized for quick and efficient workouts. In contrast, whereas the HVT doesn’t come with a tab that helps you keep up with your workouts more easily.

While the Fusion CST may be able to offer resistance similar to that of 160 to 200-lb stacking weights, it may not be ideal for professional trainers who are used to more intense resistance levels. Instead, Force USA offers more authentic gym-like equipment that can lift up to 2,000 lbs worth of weights like the G3.

NordickTrack Fusion CST

CST Home Gym

It’s ideal if you want to build muscle and lose fat

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Force USA G3 (#1 Alternative)

I recommend the G3 to powerlifters and intermediate users who want to maintain an optimal gym experience within the comfort of your own home.

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