When the pandemic took hold, we eagerly traded in our gym memberships for expensive, hulking pieces of home fitness gear to try to stay fit during lockdowns. Sales of Peloton’s smart spin bikes and treadmills went through the roof. Ditto for Tonal and its pricey “digital weight” training machines.

But now that some of us have cautiously started returning to gyms, some of the biggest names in fitness tech are trying to find new ways to keep you working out at home. Their answer: relying on cameras, classes and some clever software to help you with your strength training.

Incorporating weights into your workouts has some distinct benefits, from helping you burn fat to reducing your risk of heart conditions down the road. If you’ve never tried, though, take it from us: Getting started can feel a bit more than a little daunting. That’s where Peloton and fitness start-up Tempo think they can help with their new strength training tech, but can working out in front of cameras really replace your gym membership?

Well, consider us skeptical, but here’s what you should know.

Peloton Guide

Price: $495

When’s it coming? Early 2022

The Guide is perhaps the most un-Peloton thing the company has ever made. It’s not a bike or a treadmill or some other huge hunk of workout equipment — it’s a tiny camera that plugs into your television.

Once everything is set up, you’ll be able fire up the camera and jump into one of Peloton’s many strength classes. As you work out, the company claims the Guide camera can, among other things, put its view of you on-screen next to the instructor to help you make sure your form is correct.

The Guide, the company claims, will also keep track of which muscles you’ve been working on lately, and suggests classes and routines that focus on other parts of your body. If you’re been working your core all week, for example, the Guide might recommend you spend a session working on your legs.

Beyond the camera itself, the Guide bundle also includes a wearable heart rate monitor and a remote, though the camera’s built-in microphone means you can tell it to play, pause or rewind your current class without skipping a beat (or a rep).

If you’re new to Peloton, you’ll have to pay $12.99 per month to access the classes that make the Guide worth it; that’s less than half the price of a Peloton membership for the company’s bike and treadmill owners. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Guide is a good deal. You’ll still have to supply your own free weights or resistance bands, and for now, there’s no word on whether Peloton will offer live classes led by trainers in addition to prerecorded workouts.

Maybe, just maybe, the company’s motion tracking will be so good it justifies the Guide’s nearly $500 price tag. For now, though, it’s very hard to say whether Peloton’s first camera can replace your trainer at the gym — there’s just too much the company isn’t talking about yet.

Tempo Move

Price: $395 (or $495 after the initial sale)

When’s it coming? December 2021

Tempo is best known for its Tempo Studio, a $2,495 machine that squeezed a motion-tracking camera, a 42-inch touch screen, a set of speakers and some weights into a 6-foot-tall easel you had to find room for in your home. For the new $395 Tempo Move, though, the company crammed all of the most important bits into a short, squat, vaguely Ikea-looking bit of home decor.

Like Peloton, the Tempo Move uses your TV as its main display and is all about movement tracking, though there a few key distinctions. For one, you have to provide your own camera, in the form of a compatible iPhone — Tempo CEO Moawia Eldeeb says the iPhone XS and newer models have the kind of depth-sensing cameras needed to help analyze the way you move. While you’re working out, Eldeeb says you can also expect the Move to offer pointers about your workout pace, as well as suggestions for improving your form.

The other big difference? The Tempo Move actually comes with a basic set of weights, complete with bits of reflective material that help the iPhone watching figure out how much weight you’re working with.

The fact that Tempo gives you a set of weights to work with makes it a more appealing option for people who are just starting their home fitness odysseys, but there’s a more practical benefit, too. Because the Move can tell how much weight you’re lifting, it can factor that information into your stats, like your number of calories burned during each strength class.

But, as always, there’s a catch — or in this case, a few. Tempo’s monthly subscription fee is $39, three times what Peloton plans to charge its Guide users. And while it is nice to get a set of weights in the box, the fact that the Tempo Move is iPhone-only for now means it’s simply not an option for many people. (For what it’s worth, Eldeeb says the company is working on identifying Android phones that could work with the Move, starting with Samsung devices.)

The DIY route

For some people, the Guide or the Tempo might be the right way to go — both offer easy ways to get started with weight training for a price. But remember: You don’t need to shell out a few hundred dollars for camera-based exercise systems if all you want to do is work your muscles away from grunting, gasping strangers.

If you already have a set of free weights at home — or you’re considering buying some now that they’re easier to find — apps like Starting Strength and Fitbod for iOS and Android can walk you through the basics of building a routine. (The former is mostly focused on barbell exercises, but I’ve found it pretty easy to use dumbbells in their place.)

The Apple Watch owners among you might also want to consider Apple Fitness+ ($9.99/month) since it offers a slew of strength classes in addition to more conventional cardio workouts. And if all else fails or you want to avoid signing up for yet another subscription, there’s no shortage of trainers on YouTube who might be able to get you comfortable during the earliest stages of your strength training.