Mirror Home Studio Review
As the name suggests, it is a mirror-like smart home fitness system that streams hundreds of live and on-demand exercise classes. You can see yourself as you're working out, alongside the instructor who is guiding you through your class. Select Lululemon stores are now offering free trial runs so I spent an afternoon testing it out.
A nearly invisible design
I had a hard time identifying where the Mirror was when I walked into the store. That's because when it's not in use, The Mirror looks exactly like a regular mirror. It can easily blend into your home as long as you have a place to store your equipment (but note that Mirror only comes with resistance bands).
Once I found The Mirror, I was shocked to learn that you can only control it by using your phone. This unlike the majority of smart gyms in the market as most offer a touchscreen experience. That was the first big con as I personally enjoyed swiping through Forme Life's and Tempo's massive screens. But ok, this year is all about compromise so we push on.
You control everything from your phone from the volume, to what music you want to play in their system or through your own Spotify premium account, and then most importantly what workouts you want to try. If you’re used to doing workouts on your phone or computer and AirPlay-ing or Chromecast-ing to a big screen tv, the process is very similar. Which makes you wonder: why am I spending $1,500 on something I can already do for free with the devices I already have? This question kept repeating in my mind as I continued through my workout.
Entertaining class experience
I fired up a total body strength workout with Coach Gerren on my iPhone and was presented with the following information before I joined: I needed heavy dumbbells, offered insight into Gerren's background, and shared the 61 exercises that I would follow. This is one of the real perks of smart gyms. Sure, I know 61 strength exercises exist but I have no idea what to put together and how to make it flow. The Mirror presented my workout and I just had to follow along. However, I was left on my own to understand what "heavy dumbbells" meant. Other smart gyms like Tempo will offer you specific weight recommendations based on your performance but Mirror lacks this capability.
Gerren pushed me through all 61 exercises while the Mirror Throwback playlist was playing in the background and honestly the time felt like it flew by. Though the screen view of the actual workout was the smallest out of all the smart mirrors I tried, the video was very clear because they filmed the instructors on a black background.
Nice community features but lacks real technology
Mirror tracks your heart rate and calories burned and that's about it. Compared to gyms like Tempo and Tonal, Mirror has no artificial intelligence and offers the same experience as a much cheaper Apple Watch ($300) or FitBit ($100). That same creeping question still echoes in my mind: how is this better than just streaming from my laptop or device to a big screen? I mean it’s a little better but not by much.
As you progress through the workout a stream of bubble heads that show all the people taking the class at the same time as you. You can send a reaction during the class but honestly you won’t have the energy if you’re trying to keep up with the class. Lululemon announced that soon they’ll have Face Off challenges which will allow both viewer’s cameras to turn on and you can compete with others to reach your goals. However, it’s one thing to see a leaderboard with our competing stats versus staring at your competitor’s sweaty face but I’m curious how it will play out once they finally release it.
No equipment offered
Most smart gyms come with equipment like Tempo or Tonal which helps justify the price. While Mirror might be the most affordable option on the market ($1,495), you'll need to consider additional equipment costs. A quick browse on Amazon will show you that dumbbell sets can cost between $200 - $500 depending on weight and quality which tacks on to the price. It's also worth noting that these days, equipment can be hard to find. If you want to do a strength exercise and Mirror says get weights, you need to have purchased those on your own or you gotta pick up two wine bottles for those overhead squats.
So how is this different from streaming classes on YouTube?
The phone app is great but not worth $1,495. The phone just acts as a projector of the workout to your Mirror, and you can get a very similar experience mirroring an app to a smart TV. During the workout I found myself tapping the mirror trying to adjust the volume and it became painfully obvious to me that nope you can’t do that. You gotta open your iPhone, wait for FaceID to recognize you, then find the volume controls, then turn it down. That’s not a smooth experience I would expect from a $1495 mirror.
There is some information about yourself projected on the Mirror if you hook up Mirror’s Bluetooth heart-rate monitor or sync it with your own fitness tracking device. Your heart rate and calories burned show up on the screen which honestly is a great inspiring force to keep your heart rate high so you can hit your goals. It’s nice to see the data on the Mirror but it’s already on my smart watch which is already very accessible during a workout.
The closest smart mirror in price to the Mirror is Tempo’s smart mirror and for $500 more you get everything that Mirror offers you and more. Tempo gives you a barbell, dumbbells, and a colorful selection of weights. It also offers performance tracking that you can't get on your phone making its price point more understandable.
So, is it worth it? No. Save yourself the money and stream a workout from your phone. If you're going to pay the money, you might as well find a smart gym that comes with equipment and has better performance tracking.