By Lisa Elaine Held
No room in your apartment for a bike-treadmill-weight rack set-up?
While the “home gym” used to be a luxury reserved for those with sprawling country homes (or at least a suburban garage), technology is changing that. First, Peloton created the sleek, space-cognizant bike that fits a group spin class into a living room corner. Now, it’s possible to access an entire gym schedule of fitness classes next to your bed—just by hanging up a mirror.
MIRROR is the latest trending piece of at-home workout equipment, and turned off, it looks like a well-designed decorative mirror. Switch it on, though, and the reflective surface becomes a screen, with trainers leading you through workouts like HIIT and yoga, stats on your performance, and social features—while you maintain the ability to easily check your squat form.
I stopped by the company’s New York City headquarters to see MIRROR in action; here’s what you need to know.
Harvard-educated former professional ballerina Brynn Jinnett Putnam is one of NYC’s smartest fitness innovators. Her boutique fitness studio, Refine Method, has obsessively focused on an intelligent approach to intensity (AKA not just throwing your body into insane HIIT sequences that lead to injury) for years, so it’s no surprise she created MIRROR.
The techy tool brings her fitness philosophy to the masses with a subtle message: Yes, you can work out alone without a trainer next to you, but if you’re going to do so, you should pay close attention to your own performance. “It’s fun to be reaching non-New Yorkers,” she says.
MIRROR costs $1495 and $39 per month for the class subscription. Once it’s hanging (or propped against the wall using a sleek wall stand), you download an app that syncs to the device. In terms of space, you’ll basically need a spot big enough to roll out a yoga mat in front of it, although you may want a little extra wiggle room if you’re planning on doing lots of cardio classes. (In other words, you don’t want those speed skaters to break a lamp.)
Speaking of classes, once in the app, you can choose to join a live class—there are about 50 that stream out of the NYC studio each week—access one from the on-demand library anytime. Classes range from boxing and strength-training to barre and yoga.
Once you start a class, the trainer appears in the mirror in front of you and starts leading you through the exercises. You’ll also see other readouts on the screen, like interval clocks, stats that incorporate your heart rate using a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (or your own Apple Watch), and, if you’re in a live class, who else is taking the class with you. In live classes, trainers will know you’re there and can give you encouraging shout-outs, too.
MIRROR also syncs with Spotify, and you can either choose their curated fitness playlists or play your own tried-and-true motivation tracks.
Early next year, the company will launch personal training, too, where a trainer will watch you via a camera embedded at the top of the MIRROR and lead you through a one-on-one session.
The Cool Down
So, at the end of the day (er, sweat session), is MIRROR worth the significant up-front investment?
Getting top-notch boutique fitness-level instruction and class programming without leaving the house or rearranging your entire floor plan is a pretty compelling benefit, especially if you’re someone who has trouble getting to the gym because of a packed schedule.
Of course, you could also stream workout classes via your TV or computer and it wouldn’t be that different, aside from the ability to check yourself out. That aspect, though, could be important over time. Doing lunges properly means you’ll protect your body from injury so you can keep on doing them (great!). And having a designated workout spot at home may inspire you to get sweaty more often.