Picture this: you roll up early to your favourite HIIT class only to find that the place is packed. You scurry to the back, right in the corner, as it's the only place where you can actually see yourself in the mirror. When the class starts, someone stands right in front of you, ruining your view. You want to go home, but you've already paid the £20, so you grin and bear it for the rest of the hour.
Now imagine that you never had to leave home in the first place, and could take the same class in front of your own personal mirror, away from all human beings. Nice, right? Well, that's just what Mirror, the new interactive home gym, can do — for a cool $1,495 (£1,169), plus $39 (£30) a month for a subscription to the classes.
Mirror sounds like something that Cher Horowitz would dream up if she were around in 2018 and into boutique fitness. The device is all over fitness influencers' Instagram pages, like Hannah Bronfman and Sara and Erin Foster, and is even on some New York City subway ads. To figure out how it works and whether it's worth it, I demoed the Mirror at their headquarters in Manhattan.
The Mirror looks like any nice full-length mirror you'd have at home, but it has a practically invisible built-in screen. When it's turned on, you can still see your reflection, but it feels like the trainer is projected right in front of you. Using the corresponding smartphone app, you can choose from one of the thousand on-demand classes to try, or take one of the 50 weekly classes in real time with other Mirror users. There's a wide array of workouts available, including cardio, strength, boxing, barre, Pilates, yoga, stretch, pre and postnatal, and cardio dance. The classes last between 15 and 60 minutes long, and in 2019 they'll be rolling out one-on-one personal training that utilises a built-in camera at the top of the mirror.
Most of us in society look in the mirror and find things to pick apart. But the goal is, we’ve given you time to look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, because the mirror is a tool for you to be stronger and healthier.
Besides the cool factor of having a high-tech connected mirror in your home, Mirror is meant to be a teaching tool help people learn proper exercise form, says Kailee Combs, VP of fitness at Mirror. Instead of having to look at a smartphone app or your computer screen to check your form, you can just glimpse in the mirror. "Form is a huge thing, and then second is the motivational aspect of it," Combs says. "You look at yourself in the Mirror, see yourself working hard, and it's gonna push you to be that much better, or push that much harder."
Both Combs and the creator of Mirror, Brynn Putnam, were former dancers, so they spent many years standing in front of mirrors, staring at their bodies, trying to achieve perfect technique and lines. Putnam hopes their device can help people can have a healthier relationship to the mirror. "Most of us in society look in the mirror and find things to pick apart," Putnam says. "But the goal is, we’ve given you time to look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, because the mirror is a tool for you to be stronger and healthier."
After demoing a strength workout on the Mirror, I can see the intrigue of having a personal workout mirror. The videos are very clear, and look like a hologram. The trainer (named Katie) was engaging and easy to follow. During each exercise, there's a timer on-screen that tells you how much longer you have for each move. If you have an injury, the Mirror will suggest modifications to try in the bottom corner. The device also comes with a heart rate monitor that connects to the Mirror, so you can see how hard you're working. And you can link your Spotify account up with the app and listen to your own playlists while you work out.
I'm a big fan of workout apps, like the Nike Training Club app, and I can get the appeal of having a workout streamed right in front of your face. But there are other ways you can achieve that without spending a ton of money. For example, lots of fitness streaming services are accessible through smart TVs. Or the Nike Training Club app is now on the Apple Watch, so you can follow along without looking at your phone. If I had the Mirror at home I'd probably never go to workout classes, but then again I'd also be rich.
The Mirror is definitely fancy and interesting, but it seems to be built for a very specific type of person. One who has enough space at home to work out, hates going to the gym and exercising around people, but can afford a £1,200 mirror. As a workout streaming service, Mirror is legit, and offers workouts from top trainers in NYC. But Mirror is missing something that other connected home gym devices like Peloton, Fly Anywhere, or even Bowflex provide — equipment you can actually use.