I like to think I’m not usually susceptible to the seductive (and borderline invasive) charms of targeted Instagram ads. But sometime last year, I found myself hovering, mid-scroll, above what would become a routine-altering exception. Somewhere between a friend’s OOTD and an astrology meme, there it was: a sleek-looking wall mirror that also seemed to be playing a video of a workout class. The caption told me that this was Mirror—a virtual “home gym” that would change the way I worked out.
I sure hoped so. After starting the summer off strong with regular hikes, long walks around my neighborhood, and the occasional at-home rebounder workout, my fitness regimen was slowly eclipsed by work, travel, and a resulting lack of motivation. Historically, I’ve found that the cure for falling off the workout wagon is a shakeup to my routine; trying something completely different. Perhaps this futuristic device might do the trick?
What Is Mirror?
The immediate Peloton parallels are obvious: Like the wildly popular biking (and treadmill) system, Mirror allows access to trainer-led workouts and a group class feel from the comfort of your own home. But in my months-long experience with Mirror, that’s where the similarities end. For one thing, Mirror (which first launched in 2018) doesn’t limit its user to a bike or treadmill—there’s an entire bank of workout classes ranging from yoga to HIIT, pilates to strength training. And instead of finding the space for a bulky bike in my one-bedroom apartment, it was only a matter of designating a workout-friendly patch of wall space. (The Mirror, it must be said, really does double as a nice piece of decor.)
One of the struggles I’ve had with at-home workouts in the past is that it’s virtually impossible to monitor my own form. But another cool thing about Mirror is that it takes this obstacle out of the equation by allowing you to simultaneously watch the instructor and check out your own reflection. It might seem kind of inconsequential, but I’ve fallen out of enough yoga poses at home to know that this is a total gamechanger.
At $1495 (plus a $39/month subscription to classes), let’s be clear that Mirror is a pretty hefty investment. But one justification might be that when you divide the upfront cost into 12 months, plus the monthly subscription, the expense comes out to roughly $165/month—right on par with the premium gym membership I had been pondering before trying Mirror out. Which begs the question: Does Mirror offer enough to replace a bona fide gym membership?
My first order of business after the Mirror team installed the device on my bedroom wall? That would be logging into the app, which would serve as my hub and remote for all things Mirror. This is where the device’s bank of workouts lives—all handily filtered out by category, level of difficulty, available equipment instructor, and duration.
Once you kick off a class, you can sort of “see” who’s in class with you at any given time—by way of their usernames, icons, and locations all listed at the bottom of the screen. It’s been cool to note a handful of familiar “faces” who clearly share similar workout preferences to me. But where this feature really shines is in Mirror’s daily offering of live classes, where the instructors will call out users by name, offering words of encouragement. Once the live class is over, it’s recorded and added to the Mirror’s workout database. In other words: You never actually have to worry about missing a class.
That’s a really good thing because the instructors are among the best of the best. There’s Alex Silver Fagan, Nike Master Trainer and my favorite yoga instructor on the platform. I’ve logged lots of time with Rachel Nicks Lyons, an actress who also happens to be a kick-ass Pilates instructor. Katie Bergstrom is a former New York City ballet dancer whose calming demeanor is perfect for restorative yoga. That’s not even to mention that Mirror recently teamed up with Tracy Anderson for an exclusive workout series. These are pros that sell out (expensive) classes on the regular, or charge a premium for personal training. On Mirror, they’re available to you 24/7.
And should you crave some 1:1 time, there’s also an option to sign up for personal training sessions, which start at $40 for a half an hour. (The Mirror has a camera, allowing your trainer to direct your form from afar.) One con of note is that when I tried to book a session out of curiosity, it was impossible to find a time that wasn’t at the crack of dawn or in the middle of the workday.
The other features are nice—I like that I link my own Spotify playlist during class, and love that when I sync my Apple Watch, the Mirror tells me in real time whether I’m hitting my target heart rate, and whether to slow down or speed up accordingly. But to me, Mirror’s main selling point is its painstaking attention to detail where convenience is concerned.
A Lazy Gym-Goer's Dream
How have I avoided hitting the gym in the past? Let me count the half-assed justifications. The class I want to take is at an inconvenient time. I’m so exhausted after work, that the prospect of putting on my workout clothes, driving to the gym, and then driving back home again sounds truly hellish. My favorite instructor isn’t teaching that day. I don’t have time for an hour-long class today. I want to sleep for just five more minutes—okay, ten, fifteen, twenty. The pilates class at the time slot I’m available is too easy, or too hard. I’d really love to chase my HIIT workout with a gentle yoga session—but I also don’t want to hang around the gym for two hours. Need I go on?
The fact that I can come home from work, unwind at my convenience, and then ease into 30 minutes of pilates followed by 15 minutes of restorative yoga, all led by the instructors of my choosing, at my preferred workout level? It’s the stuff of futuristic dreams—and the definition of “no excuses.” It’s 2021: Isn’t it about time we worked out on our own terms?