NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio review [video]

In this NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio review, we will cover everything you should know about this automatically adjusting cable strength and cardio mirror. There is a lot to love with this upgraded version of the popular Fusion CST. There is also a lot that could still use some improvement. Read (or watch) below to get the full scoop.

Fusion CST Studio video review

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A quick overview of the Fusion CST Studio

The Fusion CST Studio is a connected fitness cable pulley strength and cardio machine that pairs with and adjusts resistance automatically to iFIT classes. These classes require an iFIT membership and can be taken with the included 10″ tablet.

The primary difference between the Fusion CST Studio and the original Fusion CST is that this version features a full length 70” x 15” mirror on the front. This allows you to keep an eye on your form while you workout.

What’s included with the Fusion CST Studio?

In addition to the Fusion CST Studio itself, it includes:

  • 10” HD Tablet
  • Adjustable Independent Tablet/Smartphone Stand
  • Magnetic Tablet/Smartphone Stand (can be placed anywhere on the mirror)
  • Two Ankle Strap Accessories
  • 30-Day iFIT Family Membership

Fusion CST Studio specs

Weight378lbs
Dimensions73.5″ H x 60.5″ W x 41.5″ D
Mirror Dimensions70″ H x 15″ W
Resistance TypeSilent Magnetic Resistance
Automatic Resistance ControlYes
Resistance Range10lbs-100lbs
Cable Pulley Travel Length95″
Warranty10-Year Frame Warranty
1-Year Parts & Labor Warranty
1-Year Tablet warranty
Included tablet10” Portable HD Tablet
iFIT membership requiredNo
A magnetic stand can be used anywhere on the mirror to hold the tablet

Using the Fusion CST Studio

Similar to most cable strength equipment, the Fusion CST Studio holds six cable pulleys allowing for a wide assortment of movements. The lower cables can be adjusted forward and back with an additional ‘Squat Pulley.’ These lower cables can also be used with included ankle straps for various glute and core exercises which I found to be very useful.

What is unique here is that, similar to how resistance is created higher quality indoor bikes, the cable’s resistance comes from a magnetically adjusted flywheel.

The Fusion CST Studio uses a flywheel in the back to provide silent magnetic resistance

This magnetic resistance can be adjusted fairly quickly with controls on the side of the studio, or on the included tablet while taking a class. The levels range from 1-20, which NordicTrack says represent a scale of 10-100lbs of resistance. I am curious to know how these resistance numbers were calculated, as it feels like a lot less.

In fact, the max resistance for the Fusion CST Studio feels much closer to 50 or 60lbs than it does to 100lbs. Depending on the person, this is still a decent amount of resistance for single arm and single leg exercises, but it will likely not be enough for others.

Resistance level can be adjusted from 1 to 20

Another thing that needs to be discussed is that there is very little resistance provided on the eccentric portion of movements (the lowering portion). So, during a squat for example, you will only feel the resistance on the way up. This means two things:

  1. You will not be nearly as sore after using the Fusion CST Studio.
  2. You will likely not get as much benefit from each lift.

This resistance type may work, and even be preferred, by those who want to build a bit of strength without feeling beat up. But it is definitely not going to be for everyone. Myself included.

The workouts

Unlike other iFIT-enabled devices, the Fusion CST Studio classes are on their own separate app that you can set up on the included 10″ tablet. This tablet can be conveniently placed pretty much wherever you would like with both a magnetic stand for the mirror and a separate adjustable stand.

The included tablet comes with a separate adjustable stand.

There are about a dozen or so Fusion CST programs on the app. Most of these programs are three to six weeks in length, and they range from more strength based to more cardio based focuses. When starting each workout, you can select how difficult you would like the weights to be, and they are automatically adjusted for each movement.

This auto adjust system takes a lot of guesswork out of your workouts and creates a smooth flow for each session. If at any time the workout is too easy or too difficult, you also easily adjust the weight via controls directly on the studio or app.

The workouts are well coached, programs progress from week to week, and there is definitely a lot here to enjoy and get results from.

CST Studio iFIT App

The only problem I have with the app is that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of new content. Most programs here are several years old, and from what I can tell, the addition of new classes or programs is very infrequent. While the NordicTrack page mentions live classes for the device, there are currently no live class options available for the Fusion CST.

This is a shame, since the family plan for iFIT is $39 per month. You can always have that adjusted to an individual plan which costs just $15/month. While you do also get access to iFIT’s main app, it feels like an unnecessary price when content for the Fusion CST receives so few updates.

Fusion CST Studio vs The Vault

NordicTrack also offers a strength and conditioning mirror called the Vault, which focuses on dumbbell and kettlebell workouts. The complete Vault is similar in price ($2,695 vs $2,495) and includes a complete set of dumbbells, kettlebells, and bands stored within it.

The NordicTrack Vault

Whether you’d prefer the Fusion CST Studio or the Vault will depend on if you prefer lifting with cables or free weights. Cables are a little more beginner friendly with less stability requirements. Dumbbells and Kettlebells provide a wider variety of movement options.

While the Vault too is not updated as much as I would like, it still is receives more regular updates compared to the Fusion CST. I personally enjoy the workouts on the Vault a bit more, but with a preference towards free weights, I am aware that I’m not the target audience for the Fusion CST Studio.

Final thoughts

Overall, I think the Fusion CST Studio is a nice upgrade from the original, with a mirror that both looks great and helps provide movement feedback. The resistance provided is quiet, smooth, and automatically adjusts your weights during workouts. However, since the resistance is a bit limited, and eccentric loading minimal, this may not be the best option for those who are more intermediate-to-advanced.

While the workouts provided by iFIT are good, they are limited to around a dozen programs. With new content rarely added, it seems excessive to force a monthly membership charge here. Hopefully this changes soon (and I will update this review if and when it does).

If you enjoy iFIT as well as the stability and ease of using cable weights, you will likely enjoy this. Most, however, would be better off looking at the similarly-priced NordicTrack Vault instead.

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