If someone from the past time-traveled to the 21st century, they’d be astounded by many things, including A) that you can get a blood test to determine your life expectancy and B) how crazy high-tech fitness has become. We’ve entered the age where ab exercises are literally at our fingertips, fit tech is a full-blown industry, and even babies are sporting wearables. But the latest innovation that’s changing the way you break a sweat is likely to have even the most internet-savvy millennials starry-eyed with workout wonder.
Meet the interactive gym, Mirror ($1,495, plus a $39 monthly subscription). At first glance, the device looks like a sleek, no frills reflective surface you might hang up to checkout your leggings-sports bra combo before heading off to spin class. Switch the device on however, and you’ll come face-to-face with a trainer who can lead you through a full class of cardio, strength, yoga, Pilates, barre, boxing, and stretch—all of which you can tailor by time and skill-level to your personal fitness goals.
“I was a professional dancer in the New York City Ballet,” says Brynn Putnam, founder and CEO of the startup. “I opened a chain of fitness studios about 8 years ago called Refine [Method], but about two years ago, I just found myself struggling to get to my own gym. I had a child and life got busier. So I started to think about how I could work out at home.” To do so, Putnam went to work designing an app for herself and clients. Around the same time, the dance-lovin’ founder decided to install mirrors at her NYC gym. And from there, the synthesis felt natural: The clients using her app gave her feedback that interacting with the screen was difficult given it’s size, and the clients at the studio let her know that they were totally digging the instant feedback that the mirrors provided. And that was that.
“I just realized that as a dancer, I had kind of taken for granted that I’d always practiced in front of mirrors, and how integral that was to a great experience. So we took the tech we were building for the phone and decided to put that into the mirror.” – Brynn Putnam, founder and CEO of Mirror
“I just realized that as a dancer, I had kind of taken for granted that I’d always practiced in front of mirrors, and how integral that was to a great experience. So we took the tech we were building for the phone and decided to put that into the mirror,” recalls Putnam. Now, visual feedback is at the center of the smart decor’s design. Not only can you see yourself and the trainer as you perform each move in front of the device, but in the live classes, the trainer can see you and offer you feedback, like “Make sure you can see your toes in chair pose!” If you can’t catch one of the 50 or more real-time sweat sessions offered per week, each category of class is also available on-demand for midnight HIIT sessions or spur of the moment afternoon pick-me-ups.
Of course, the cutting edge, metamorphosed version of the app comes with all the digital trappings, like Apple Watch compatibility, bluetooth connection, and the option to queue up one of your own Spotify playlists, or use a pre-created one. Plus, to encourage a community element that would ordinarily be missing from at-home workouts, Mirror also asks users to send emoticons to the other participants as the move sequences persists. At the end, everyone takes a selfie to memorialize their #WOTD before all the images are then organized into a collage that allows every Mirror client to see their virtual sweat neighbors (and so you can send them the *high five* or *bicep* emoji).
Even better? Collaborations are starting to happen with Mirror—including one with Tracy Anderson, the celebrity fitness instructor known for her hardcore dance-slash-strength training workouts, whose workouts are available now on the device. So clearly it’s a hot-ticket item more star trainers will likely start turning to for a wider home audience.
Once your sports tank is drenched and you can feel your heart racing, just hit the power button and the device miraculously camouflages back into a normal mirror (like magic). Meaning: Bye, post-workout shower lines. So long, sweaty clothes stinking up your purse. The future has *officially* arrived.
Originally posted September 6, 2018; updated April 26, 2019.
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