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3 smart gyms tested and rated: Peloton, ClassPass and Mirror

We tested out a bunch of exercise equipment to see what works -- and doesn't work -- in today's connected homes.

Smart fitness tech bridges the gap between a personal trainer or instructor-led studio exercise classes and winging it on your own with a workout of dumbbells or cardio. Through apps, built-in touchscreen displays, remote classes, free weights and more, you can stay motivated even when you're working out at home

In my search for the best smart home gym, I specifically tried out ClassPass Live, the Mirror, the Peloton Bike and the Peloton Tread, but you can find others with a variety of workout and fitness levels out there now, and plenty more health and fitness products on the way. 

All four of the fitness kits I reviewed offer something a bit different, so I've put together descriptions of each one below, including where they excel and where they need some work. Let's get started. 

Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page.

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ClassPass Live

Editor's note, May 22, 2019: ClassPass Live is now only available to ClassPass subscribers and is included with the monthly membership fee.

ClassPass Live costs $79 up front and has a $19 monthly subscription service. For your initial $79, you get a Google Chromecast and a Wahoo Tickr heart-rate monitor. ClassPass says you need that specific heart-rate monitor to see your stats on the screen. 

Connect the Chromecast to your TV and stream exercise classes from the ClassPass mobile app. 

The good stuff

  • At $79 with a $19 subscription, ClassPass Live is by far the most affordable thing I tested. 
  • The workout classes are shot from a variety of angles and feature multiple participants (beyond just the instructor). That means you can see the workout routines from different angles and try the exercise modifications other studio participants use if you want to take it a little easier on your blood pressure, such as with a cardio workout. 
  • Not only are the classes shot well, but there are a lot of classes and workout and fitness levels to choose from -- strength training, high intensity interval training, yoga, cardio and more. 

The not-so-good stuff

  • The heart-rate monitor never connected successfully during my testing, even after extensive troubleshooting of the device.
  • While the ClassPass app is full of great classes to help you get fit, it's weirdly designed and somewhat glitchy. 

Read my full review of ClassPass Live.


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Mirror is, well, a mirror, that doubles as a screen and walks you through workout classes.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Mirror

The Mirror is a $1,495 full-length mirror. It's also part LCD screen. Pay $39 per month to access live and on-demand fitness classes that play on the mirror while you also watch yourself. Mirror offers classes in different disciplines, and with different workout lengths and fitness levels. It comes with the mirror, a Bluetooth heart-rate monitor and six fitness bands. Each workout is a "body weight" exercise so you don't need additional equipment like dumbbells. It's only available in the continental US.

The good stuff

  • The heart-rate integration worked seamlessly, from connecting the monitor in the app to viewing my heart rate in real time on the Mirror's screen. 
  • The Mirror's display provided a lot of helpful metrics -- how many segments there were in a workout, how much time was left in each segment (and in the total workout), and more -- without looking clunky or cluttered. 

The not-so-good stuff

  • The Mirror doesn't have an Android app; it currently only works with an iOS device.
  • You can't watch a workout on the app, so forget about your fitness goals when you're travelling -- or otherwise away from the mirror. 
  • The mirror part of the Mirror is supposed to help you check your form while you exercise, but it isn't full-length enough for you to see yourself during floor exercises (rendering it somewhat useless when you aren't standing). 

Read my full review of Mirror.


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Channel your inner cyclist with Peloton's spin bike. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Peloton Bike

Peloton's $2,245 Bike is a spin bike designed to mimic what it's like to ride on the road. It has an adjustable seat and handle bars and features a 21.5-inch touchscreen display. Use the display to participate in live and on-demand classes from home -- this feature costs an additional $39 per month. (It's £1,895, plus £39 per month, in the UK. It's not yet available in Australia.)

The good stuff

  • The Peloton Bike is sturdy and whisper-quiet with room for two water bottles in the front and a hand weight or two in the back.
  • You get access to a ton of cycling and noncycling classes with your $39 monthly subscription and excellent motivational tools like performance rankings so you can compete with other participants in real time. 

The not-so-good stuff

  • It's expensive. $2,245 plus the $39 monthly fee is a definite investment.
  • Look Delta-compatible spin shoes and cleats are a must if you want to clip into the Peloton pedals. They aren't hard to find, but they're less common than the standard SPD shoes and cleats you use in a typical spin class. 
  • The water bottle holders are plasticky and a bit flimsy. 

Read my full review of the Peloton Bike.


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Running is hard, but Peloton's Tread makes it a lot more fun.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Peloton Tread

The $3,995 Peloton Tread is a smart treadmill. Pay $39 per month to access Peloton's live and on-demand Tread classes. Train for a beginner 5K on the track or participate in an advanced high intensity class alongside other seasoned runners. The Tread features a 32-inch touchscreen display, too, so you can easily follow along with whatever guided classes you select, access your profile settings and view your stats, including calories burned, from each workout. (It's not yet available in the UK or Australia.)

The good stuff

  • The Tread is beautifully designed from its slatted belt and zippered storage compartments to its 32-inch touchscreen display and sturdy stand with enough room for two water bottles, your phone and snacks. 
  • Like the Peloton Bike, you get access to a ton of running and nonrunning classes with your $39 monthly subscription and excellent motivational tools like performance rankings so you can compete with other participants in real time. 

The not-so-good stuff

  • At nearly $4,000, the Tread is extremely expensive. Tack on the $39 monthly fee and you better be sure you'll use this treadmill (a lot) before you buy. 

Read my full review of the Peloton Tread.


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Testing smart fitness tech

Mirror, the Peloton Bike and the Peloton Tread were installed for me by professional dealers sourced by Mirror and Peloton. Mirror charges an extra $250 for the delivery and installation; Peloton includes it with your purchase, which is good because the Tread, in particular, weighs over 450 lbs. (over 200 kg). 

After each installation, it was my turn to download the Mirror app or access the Peloton touchscreen display to create my account, sign up for classes and start exercising.

ClassPass Live was the only service out of the four that had a simple do-it-yourself installation process. It involved connecting the Google Chromecast to my TV and making sure the ClassPass app was functioning properly. 

From there, testing was all about trying out a bunch of different classes and seeing how well the app, TV screen or display made it for me to follow along, improve my technique and stay motivated. Value also plays a large part here, since the products I tested ranged from the $79 ClassPass Live service with a $19 monthly fee to the $3,995 Peloton Tread with a $39 monthly fee. 

Here are some questions I routinely asked myself:

  • Would I really use this?
  • Is there enough variety in these classes?
  • Does this cost too much?
  • How does this product/subscription compare to the competition?
  • Does it motivate me as much as being in a studio gym class?
  • How much space would this smart gym equipment take up in my home?

ClassPass Live offers the best overall value and has my favorite classes (both in terms of variety and how they're filmed). Mirror has the best heart-rate monitor integration via its easy-to-read screen. Both Peloton products are well-designed and keep you motivated by displaying real-time competitive rankings every time you take a class.

There's no overall winner here because each product or service offers something different. There are a lot more smart fitness gadgets out there, too -- from electricity-generating treadmills to home boxing systems -- we've just barely scratched the surface. 

Originally posted January 19.