For many of us, home treadmills and stationary bikes too often become nothing more than hefty eye sores shoved to the corner of the den, or left gathering dust in the basement. After all, there are few things more nauseatingly rote than running or pedaling in place.
The desire to mix up our routines is one of the reasons many fitness buffs are always on the lookout for the latest workout routines and challenging instructors.
A startup called Mirror attempts to reclaim your living spaces and bring those sought-after boutique classes, from yoga to strength training and Pilates, to your home all via–you guessed it–a single full-length mirror hung on your wall.
The responsive connected device has an LCD panel, stereo speakers, camera, and mic and offers a range of fitness classes and one-on-one training. And when you’re done, it returns to a simple mirror. The entire system is controlled by a companion app, keeping the mirror fingerprint-free.
“It was born out of a personal need,” founder and CEO Brynn Putnam tells Fast Company. “The idea of working out in home always meant sacrificing quality for convenience.”
But Putnam, the woman behind Refine Method, a chain of high-intensity workout studios in New York, wanted something invisible, sleek, and with as small a footprint as possible, so a treadmill was out of the question.
The former New York City Ballet dancer noted that in her training, mirrors were ever present, offering visual feedback that helped improve her performance.
“There’s something about seeing yourself that inspires you to work harder,” she says.
So, she thought, why not make the mirror the equipment? It would serve as a new platform, as well as a functional piece of furniture.
“You can put it in any room–all you need is the space for a yoga mat and you can have a great workout. Then your home can become your home again,” says Putnam. “It’s really about you and your environment, not about a piece of equipment.”
Just like class?
Mirror launches today with more than 50 new streaming workouts each week, produced in part with instructors across categories. This includes cardio, yoga, strength training, barre, boxing, Pilates, and stretching classes, with levels ranging from beginner to expert. Live classes are available every hour, and members are free to access the digital archives.
Of course, such luxury doesn’t come cheap. The Mirror equipment costs $1,495, while the monthly content subscription is $39.
Like Peloton or other connected fitness equipment models hitting the market, Mirror gives clients a customized exercise experience. Each program can be personalized depending on fitness stamina, weight loss goals, and personal metrics. The equipment monitors heart rate by syncing a user’s Bluetooth heart rate monitor or Apple Watch.
If you “attend” a competitive class and your heart rate starts to drop, a subtle verbal and visual notification reminds you to work a little bit harder to get back on track. Users can also select music to play during each class (or just go with Mirror’s curated playlists).
In the live environment, instructors are able to see your movements, monitor your progress, and even offer real-time instruction. A dashboard provides them with all your info, should you want a more personalized touch.
Mirror even takes injuries into account. If, for example, a user suffered a knee injury, they’ll be excused from performing a jumping squat. Instead, a substitution video will guide them through a safer stationary squat.
“Basically, what we’re trying to create is the personalization, immersion, and interaction that you get in a live studio class, but in your home,” says Putnam.
A mirror in every home
The startup already has significant funding. Mirror recently secured $25 million from Spark Capital, bringing the total raised to $38 million.
Putnam envisions Mirror appealing to millennials who spent the last decade frequenting boutique studios but are now finding it challenging due to time constraints. Perhaps they started families, took on a more senior role at work, or moved to the suburbs. Working out at home, for them, is far more convenient–and perhaps even more affordable. (A SoulCycle class costs about $34 these days.)
Then there are the baby boomers who perhaps never felt at ease in the traditional studio environment. They often want a bit more privacy and fewer athleisure-clad millennials in their space.
Putnam imagines Mirror will serve as a replacement for certain clientele’s gym membership or in-person yoga classes, but for others, it could simply be a supplement to their current regimen.
The entrepreneur ultimately has far bigger plans beyond fitness instruction.
When asked if Mirror plans further programming expansion, Putnam put her startup’s goals into greater focus: The home fitness equipment market is worth $14 billion, but the smartphone market is more than $400 billion. So why limit potential to fitness?
“We’re not trying to become the next treadmill in your home,” says Putnam, stressing, “we’re looking to be the next screen in your life.”
Mirror intends to reimagine all interactive, immersive experiences. It might start with cardio classes, but down the road, Putnam wants all sorts of experiential entertainment that would benefit from high interaction.
The company could branch into family games, sporting events, medical attention, fashion styling, and a host of other activities. And it won’t interfere with your interior decor.
“We’re excited to see what that means in terms of content, be it things like beauty or physical therapy or fashion,” says Putnam. “We’re viewing fitness as the first of our personalized experiences.”