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Dread the gym? This smart mirror delivers your fitness fix at home

Life gets busy. With long days at the office, taking care of a family, making time for friends, and more competing for time on our schedules, it’s tempting to trade in a gym session for some quality time on the couch whenever you get the chance. But with Mirror, the gym is right at home: Part mirror, part LCD screen, it has on-demand workouts built into it.

You’re probably thinking that there’s plenty of at-home fitness equipment on the market, but this one isn’t an eyesore. Unlike a spin bike or treadmill, it also brings you a huge variety of exercises from yoga to barre, and even weight training. But at $1,500, Mirror is an investment you want to be sure about. We visited Mirror’s HQ in NYC to test it out and to see if it’s really worth cancelling that gym membership for.

Looks sleek and high-end

For $1,500, one would hope the product not only works well but looks nice too — especially if it’s hanging in the middle of your home. It does. When we saw the product ahead of its debut in September, we were blown away. At first glance it appears to be a normal mirror with an extremely sleek look framed in dark, carbon steel, but there’s a mineral bronze powder-coated LCD inside.

At the top is a 5-megapixel front-facing camera (which will be used for personal training classes in 2019) that comes with a convenient cover you can slide on and off, for those worried about privacy. It’s a little bulky and distracting, and takes away from the streamlined look of it. The 40-inch display boasts a 1080p resolution, and in our demo, content looked crisp and bright on the screen. To hear your workouts loud and clear, there are also two 10-watt speakers built in.

Mirror’s classes range from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, allowing you to squeeze in quick workouts if you’re really busy.

There’s no touchscreen capability, which might be for the best if you imagine the potential for fingerprints and smudges. With dual-band Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, everything is connected from Mirror’s app on your smartphone. That way, you can also sync a heart-rate monitor or your Apple Watch to see your beats per minute in real time during workouts. Unfortunately, the app is compatible only with iOS devices for now.

You can choose to either mount it on the wall or use the wall stand instead. Mirror offers white-glove delivery service (for an additional $250), meaning someone will come in and install it for you. But for the most part, Mirror seems easy to set up on your own; simply hang it up as you would any other mirror, or lean it against the wall and plug it in.

More smart mirror coverage

Unlike at-home fitness machines, you won’t struggle with incorporating it into your space. When it’s turned off, it’s a standard mirror that you can use on a daily basis. The only thing that might be a little tricky is finding an area that will allow you enough space to work out. But since the workouts are meant to be done alone, you’ll only need to allocate enough space for a yoga mat or a few weights.

Living in a small apartment, we thought the Mirror would be far too big to fit anywhere but it’s actually the solution we didn’t know we needed. There’s no room for us to put any other type of machine, and coming in at 52-inches high and 22-inches wide, the Mirror wouldn’t take up that much space on the wall.

Using the Mirror

We were excited to use Mirror because it meant working out in peace, without being surrounded by people who are probably far more skilled. Having past formal ballet training, we opted for the barre class. After choosing it on the app, along with our level of difficulty, we were greeted by an instructor on the screen. Once the class begins, Mirror’s display gets darker due to the all-black production studio the workouts are shot in, which kept us from staring at ourselves while doing the workout. 

Before each workout, you can check how long it will last and the level it’s at. For the most part, Mirror’s classes range from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, allowing you to squeeze in quick workouts if you’re really busy. With gyms you usually have to commit to 45 minutes or an hour for a workout class.

For someone who does mostly cardio (running on the treadmill or outdoors), Mirror offered access to every type of class imaginable — specifically ones we wouldn’t normally try. Even though we have yet to try it in our actual home, knowing that we’d have access to different types of workouts had us excited. Fitting in a workout class with our schedule is tough, and you have to get to a gym and back, too. Mirror makes it easy: Just come home, change into workout clothes, and press start.

The instructor is extremely clear and concise, making it really easy to follow along, even if you’ve never had experience with that type of class.

On the app, you have access to the schedule of live classes so that you can join one as they begin. You’ll also see when others join on in on the class. But if you don’t have time to hop on for a live class, they are available later as recorded, on-demand sessions. Mirror records all of the workouts at its in-house studio in New York City, so you’ll grow familiar with both the instructors and the style of the classes over time.

You’ll also fill out a quick survey when you download the Mirror app. It’ll ask you about your goals, preferences, skill level, and any limitations you have to take into account during workouts. Mirror will use this information to curate and recommend the best classes for you. Mirror will also provide modification videos for exercises for those with an existing injury — that way, you can still participate in the full workout. These will appear on the bottom of the display during so that you can still easily follow along with the rest of the class.

We definitely felt the burn from the minute it started. The instructor is extremely clear and concise on the movements, making it really easy to follow along, even if you’ve never had experience with that type of class. It also helps that with Spotify integration on the app, you’re in control of the music during the class.

While we didn’t have a heart-rate monitor on during our demo, if you do, you’ll be able to see BPM and calories-burned on the display in real-time. You can either set up your Apple Watch or use the heart-rate sensor that Mirror provides in its free starter pack (which also comes with fitness bands). Throughout the workout, you’ll see your heart-rate fluctuate and a bar that shows whether you’re reaching the target BPM. That way, you’ll know whether or not to push yourself harder.

Even though all that information might seem distracting, it’s information you wouldn’t normally get during a class at the gym (aside from fitness studio Orange Theory). Sure, you can glance at a fitness wearable on your wrist every now and then but Mirror takes the guesswork out of it; all you’re in charge of is breaking a sweat.

 Mirror will soon offer personal training sessions which the company says will range from $40 to $75 per session.

We also enjoyed the personal boosts of encouragement that pop up on the display, telling us to keep going. While it’s something we wouldn’t actually want in a public workout class (who wants that much attention?), it’s a nice touch when it’s just you in the room.

Similar to Facebook Live, you can send reactions throughout the workout, like a smiley face if you’re feeling the workout, or a thumbs down if you’re not. Your reaction will appear next to your name on the screen, for everyone else to see. At the end of the workout, you receive a summary that also syncs to the app for you to reference any time you’d like. It displays a visual graph of your BPM, duration of the workout, calories burned, and your average heart-rate. All the information is also private, so no one else in the class can see the results. You’ll also be prompted to take a selfie, but we prefer to skip that part.

Is it worth the cost?

Mirror will cost you $1,500 up front along with $39 per month for the subscription service. The company also offers financing: about $164 per month for 12 months (with the subscription service included) based on a purchase price of $1,963. We think Mirror is worth the cost, if you’re willing to pay it off for a year and only if you live in a major city where gym membership costs are extremely high. In New York, we’d only be paying a little bit less for a membership in comparison to Mirror’s monthly price.

The cheapest memberships with group fitness classes included:

    Crunch Fitness: $125 per month.
    New York Sports Club: $90 per month (for a one-year commitment).
    Equinox: $240 per month, along with a $500 initiation fee and $240 for December fees.

There’s also the fact that Mirror will soon offer personal training sessions which the company says will range from $40 to $75 per session. Gyms normally remain tight-lipped on what they charge for a personal trainer until you come in and visit their facility, but from our experience, we’ve seen trainers charge hundreds of dollars per session.

While $164 per month for Mirror is pricey, the payments will end after a year, with the exception of $39 per month for Mirror’s services. That will work out cheaper in the long run than having to pay monthly for years for a gym membership. While it means you won’t have access to other machines, you can customize your workouts to include weights if you’d like. Since it’s conveniently placed in your home, you’ll also likely get more use out of it than a gym membership where you have to plan classes around your hectic schedule, even if it’s a quick 15 minute workout.

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