Is The Mirror Still Worth The Hype? An Investigation

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa

The year was 2018: clips from Beyoncé's historic #Beychella set were making the rounds on YouTube, millions tuned into Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's nuptials at Windsor Castle, and Rihanna staged her first — and now iconic — fashion show for her lingerie label Savage x Fenty. Another major event of the year: Mirror hit the fitness scene, and in doing so, reinvented a then-stale home workout industry. The innovative fitness startup's concept was simple: Get people moving with a high-tech, non-hideous piece of fitness equipment. It looks just like a full-length mirror because, well, it is. But it's also a giant screen that shows you to do everything from heart-thumping cardio to restorative yoga.

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Four years (and a whole pandemic) later, Mirror isn't the only player in the game. But after all this time, how does it stack up against a slew of new competitors vying to deliver a premium fitness experience from the comfort of people's apartments? With that in mind, I set out to test-drive the sleek piece of equipment for myself to see if it's still worth the investment. Ahead, join me as I embark on the Mirror journey.

Mirror Basic, $1,495

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The Installation

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
For the purposes of this review, the Mirror team set me up with a trial membership of Mirror's app (which is where all of the workouts live) and a loaner model to install in my apartment. After processing my order, the team confirmed a delivery window to install my Mirror. Since I'd only seen the Mirror online and on Instagram, I wasn't exactly sure what the installation process entailed. When I tell you that the guys were in and out in ten minutes, I am not exaggerating. They gave me two options for setting up my Mirror: either mounted to the wall or set up on a stand that would allow me to move around the Mirror (or mount it to the wall at a later date) if needed. From there, I plugged it in and followed the onscreen instructions to set it up. I had some minor tech issues with pairing my Mirror to my phone's app, but shoutout to Riley from Mirror's customer service team who got me up and running right away.
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The Experience

From the beginning, Mirror's whole thing is about elevating the home workout experience. The device itself is ultra-sleek and minimal — it's called "the nearly invisible interactive home gym" for a reason. It also takes up a relatively small amount of floor space, making it a great option for apartment life.
Since I used to frequent IRL classes and have only dabbled in video workouts, I was surprised at how realistic the class looked and felt. Instead of appearing like someone was sitting in a black hole while guiding me through plank pose, the Mirror almost made it feel like someone was in front of me. It's all very high-tech! In general, classes were surprisingly intuitive and easy to follow — simply mirror the moves the instructor is showing you on the screen. All classes were available in three levels of difficulty — beginner, intermediate, and advanced — and consisted of a series of moves (like a HIIT class) completed over the duration. There was also a weekly schedule of live classes that you can tune into in real-time on your Mirror, which more closely mimics the experience of a boutique studio.
When browsing through classes, your phone is your remote control. After scrolling through various options, you select the one you want to play and then it casts onto the Mirror. (You can also play Mirror content directly on your phone — which, while not the same as doing the workout in front of the Mirror — is an awesome option if you're traveling and want to keep up with your fitness routine.) Once your video is up and running, the mirror will display a variety of metrics: time remaining (both for your current circuit and the total length of the class), an estimated calorie burn, number of people doing the class, and lastly, a Mirror class score that takes into account heart rate, strength, and recovery. For example, a heart-thumping boot camp class will have a different distribution of class score points compared to a restorative yoga or meditation class. The goal is to create a visualization of a balanced fitness regimen that hits on all three factors.
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Now, if you are not motivated (or triggered) by seeing things like a calorie counter on your screen, Mirror gives you the option to remove these metrics so you can focus purely on movement. As someone who generally strives to live her best life but has had a complicated relationship with food in the past, this was honestly great to see. You can also add any workout limitations to your profile, and Mirror will automatically show you alternate variations to certain moves in workouts that might not work for you. As someone with scoliosis, I found this to be super helpful.
Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
One thing to note is the community element that Mirror has to offer — something that can't be overlooked as the pandemic continues to be a part of our lives. From seeing sweaty-face reaction emojis to instructor shoutouts during class, Mirror's workout experience is as close as I've gotten to setting foot into a studio. And ever since Lululemon acquired the fitness startup in 2020, you can even deck yourself out in Mirror swag — I'm wearing the Lululemon x Mirror Align tank above. You can also add Mirror-owning friends to keep track of their workouts and send messages of encouragement, too.
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The Verdict

When Mirror splashed onto the scene, it did so in a big way. The product was highly covetable and felt like something that had never been done before. Now that there are more competitors in the high-tech home fitness space, it made me wonder if Mirror was still worth the $1,495-and-up price tag. The way I see it, if you (like me) can see Mirror replacing most of your other gym and/or fitness class expenses, then it may easily be worth the cost. Like other premium fitness brands, access to the app's features are available via a monthly subscription – Mirror's is $39 a month for unlimited access to library and live classes, with optional one-on-one trainer sessions available at $40 each and work via the Mirror's built-in camera and microphone. In my months-long experience testing the Mirror, I was surprised at its practicality — in more ways than one. The space-saving element (especially when compared to investing in a bulkier piece of equipment, like a home bike) was not one that I anticipated as being a standout feature. Another element that I weighed heavily in my verdict is the, yes, totally unexpected value factor: Whereas I would pay anywhere from $20-$40 per class at boutique spin and aerial yoga studios in NYC, a flat monthly fee of $40 for unlimited classes is a steal for a quality in-home fitness experience. Obviously, there is a significant upfront investment in the Mirror itself, but even so, it's something I ended up getting a lot of use out of and can therefore justify it if fitness is a big part of your lifestyle.
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As someone who appreciates variety in workouts, class lengths, and instructors, I'd say that is the best thing about the Mirror. You definitely won't get bored easily, and even if you're short on time, I could almost always find a way to squeeze a short workout in. (Another tip: Do two back-to-back 15-min classes to get a full half-hour workout.)
In all honesty, I expected Mirror to feel like an elite club of shredded hotties — it was and it wasn't. The instructors were at the top of their game, but the vibe was very welcoming and personable. While I've just gotten a taste of what it's like to be part of the Mirror crew, I'm impressed — and excited for the future.
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