Health and Wellness

Is This $1,895 Home Workout Device Worth It? I Tried The Mirror

(Photo: Mirror)

During the various stages of lockdown, home workout machines like the Peloton soared in popularity. But my own fitness routine during this time consisted of going up and down the stairs to replenish my snacks. So when given the opportunity to test out Lululemon’s Mirror—their smart home gym—for a few months, I took it as a sign to get moving again.

With a sleek design and easy-to-navigate interface, the Mirror was originally created in 2018 by former ballet dancer and current Mirror CEO Brynn Putnam. She sold the company to Lululemon in 2021. Since then, many other smart fitness mirrors have popped up. But how does the original fare—and is it worth the $1,895 price tag? Read on for my findings.

What is the Mirror?

The Mirror is exactly that—a 53-by-21-inch mirror. But beyond your reflection, it also serves as an LED screen where you can stream live or on-demand workouts taught by a roster of trained fitness instructors. The accompanying technician can mount it for you, or you can lean it against a wall. The idea is that the Mirror transforms your space—even if you don’t have too much of it—into a workout studio. It feels like having a personal instructor in a group fitness setting, though actual one-on-one personal training is available for an additional purchase of $40 per session. Each Mirror is outfitted with a camera that you can turn on during workouts, allowing instructors (and other participants) to see you.

After I pawed at my Mirror screen like a rookie, the technician informed me navigating the Mirror requires a smartphone as the Mirror itself is not a touchscreen, and their app serves as your remote control. (You can also use a tablet or smart TV.) The class offering is expansive, including cardio, strength, yoga, boxing, stretching, pilates and more—at all expertise levels (from beginner to expert) and durations (from five minutes to an hour). The app tracks your workouts, heart rate (if you connect a fitness watch), estimated calories and various other things in your personal performance dashboard. The algorithm will learn about you as you try more classes, and personalized workouts will pop up as suggestions. For more money, the company also offers Mirror Weights in two styles: dumbbells and ankle weights. These are smart weights, and they provide real-time rep tracking and form correction. I didn’t try them, but the ankle weights are between $100 to $120 and the dumbbells are $65 to $255 depending on weight.

Watch your form, your heart rate, how many calories you’ve burned and more while working out. (Photo: Mirror)

How do you use the Mirror?

Once the Mirror is set up and you’ve created a profile, you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions. Along with weight, height and age, you’ll also be asked about your fitness level, main goals (losing weight, building muscle, etc.) and any limitations. And what’s really neat is depending on what you indicate as a limitation—for instance, if you’re post- or prenatal—the Mirror will offer substitutions in any given session to ensure you have a safe workout. I have weak wrists that make it difficult (and painful) for me to do strength exercises on the floor, so during my classes, if an exercise was shown that required wrist work, another video popped up as a “substitution” that I could do instead. My only qualm with this otherwise awesome feature is that the substitution appears on top of the original workout, so if I wanted to give the original option a try, I couldn’t.

You’ll also be asked to set your frequency, or how many times a week you’d like to work out, along with the preferred duration. It’ll track all this for you so you can see whether you’ve reached your weekly goals.

The Mirror is meant to learn and cater to what you enjoy. It asks what exercises you like, the schedule you want to keep and the equipment you own so that it can suggest videos personalized to your habits and capacity. This intentional design saves time I’d otherwise spend scrolling YouTube for workouts that fit exactly what I’m looking for. (Granted, YouTube is free.)

You can choose individual classes depending on the type of workout you want to do. My mother, who’s in her 70s, benefited greatly from the batch of “Chair” workouts. She selected whether she wanted to do cardio, strength, yoga, or really any other workout, and was given options to do it from a chair. Accessibility-wise, this is a great idea. There are also various “Programs,” which are curated lists of workouts to guide your routine. I tried a four-week Fat Loss Program that had a list of five workouts to do each week. Other programs include monthly challenges, pre/postnatal training for four trimesters and a roundup of weekly popular classes. They also offer “Collections,” or a group of workouts organized by various themes like “5 Minute Sweats” or “The 20 Essential Low Impact Classes.”

Once you eventually pick a workout and begin, the instructor will appear on your screen against a black backdrop like a virtual coach. The Mirror streams 100+ live classes a week, so you can always hop into one of those and work out in real-time with the instructor and other participants. If you’re choosing from the regular library, it’ll be pre-recorded, but you’ll still be able to see other people who are also doing that workout at the same time. My camera has admittedly remained off, so all you’ll see is a floating icon of my profile picture and my location. You can choose whether you want background music, how loud you want it to be, along with the volume of the instructor. If you have Apple Music, you can swap that in and sweat to your personal playlist. Connecting your fitness watch allows the Mirror to read your heartbeat, which will show up on-screen along with your “Health Score,” which is the Mirror’s way of calculating your heart rate, strength and recovery. The more workouts you do, the higher your score will be. After you’re done, the Mirror will save those stats, and you can even share it with others.

Once done your session, a slide will pop up with your workout stats that you can share on socials or with friends.

Can I really get an effective workout with the Mirror?

Absolutely. Each workout will tell you the estimated amount of calories you burned and your heart rate, but how you feel is the real proof. Most workouts are done in a confined space, so you’re not actually moving through great distances, but you can work up a sweat and get your heart pumping. Mine is propped up against the wall in our upstairs hallway—not very much space at all. Unlike group workouts in real life where perhaps standing too close to your instructor is frowned upon, with the Mirror you can see your form and try to align exactly with how your coach is doing it on-screen.

How much does the Mirror cost?

The Mirror itself costs $1,895. For access to the app and workout library, it’ll be an additional $49 a month for up to six profiles (you can use the library when you’re away from your Mirror and stream on Apple TV or right from your phone). There is a one-year minimum commitment, and if you choose to not renew your app membership, you’ll just have a nice (albeit pricey) decor piece.

Packages increase in price if you want your Mirror to come bundled with things like Mirror Weights, Lululemon yoga mats, and various other accessories.

Is the Mirror worth it?

As with any tech, there have been a few bugs. Sometimes the Mirror forgets my account, or doesn’t connect to my phone, and I’ll have to spend a while reconnecting. Other times, I’ll forget to accept one of their many updates, which creates glitches in my livestream. Despite these minor annoyances, I can honestly say the Mirror provided great relief to me when it arrived, as I was still hesitant about returning to the gym. Plus, with zero commuting time, I was able to squeeze in a workout during short periods of free time. It was especially helpful for my parents, who weren’t exercising regularly before the Mirror, and it got them moving again with the Chair workouts. The roster of instructors makes it easy to find someone you mesh with, and they genuinely have so many workouts that you’ll never run out of options to try. My favourites were kickboxing (usually with Armond), strength (shoutouts to Chris) and cardio. Having this at home is also nice because you’re not worried about vanity issues (ironic, as you work out in front of a mirror). You can go at your own pace and focus on getting the most of your session.

Admittedly, after a few months, my use of the Mirror has dwindled. It’s been a couple of years now of mostly virtual life, and I find myself not wanting to stay home and use the Mirror as much. Getting ready and leaving the house to go to the gym is part of the experience for me, and I’m more motivated to work out if I’m physically in a different space.

My cop-out answer is that it all depends on your lifestyle—if you lead a particularly busy life or, for whatever reason, aren’t able to make it out to a gym much, this seems like a solid option. The monthly cost is comparable to many gym fees—especially as friends and families can make their own profiles—and the hope is that you can continue using this device for many years to come. If you’re not terribly self-motivated (I mean, same) then the lustre of an at-home workout might wear off. But if the business and uncertainty of day-to-day life is keeping you from clocking in those crucial minutes of physical activity, this is a worthy option.

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