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Mirror review: Master home workouts with the Mirror

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When I watch workout videos at home, I spend most of my time staring at my TV trying to figure out what the instructor is doing. That absolutely gets the job done -- YouTube has tons of excellent free fitness content that I make regular use of. Yoga with Adriene and Carly Rowena's HIIT workouts are two of my favorites. 

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6.7

Mirror

The Good

Keep an eye on your form while you take part in live and on-demand workout classes. The slim design is a great space saver and a solid alternative to bulkier home fitness equipment.

The Bad

With a $1,495 upfront cost and a $39 monthly fee, Mirror isn't cheap. There's no Android app and it doesn't support any third-party fitness apps or smart home platforms.

The Bottom Line

Mirror's variety of classes, efficient mirror-screen design and simple app make it a suitable, albeit pricey, at-home substitute for the gym.

But startup Mirror would say I'm missing out on something crucial by going that route -- the opportunity to easily check my form during a guided routine, as I would in a typical mirrored gym.

Mirror's $1,495 Mirror is a full-length hybrid device that's part mirror, part LCD screen. It's a self-contained fitness system where you can watch an instructor and yourself at the same time -- on the same piece of hardware. (It's currently only available in the continental US.)

Pay $39 per month for access to a variety of live and on-demand classes. Use the included Bluetooth heart-rate monitor and fitness bands to enhance your sessions; find classes and customize your settings in the Mirror app.

From its straightforward app to its clever dual-purpose design and wide offering of classes, the Mirror is an intriguing concept with legitimate appeal. It makes sense for folks in search of a home workout plan that's more immersive than pulling up YouTube and more versatile than Peloton's largely spin-and-treadmill-specific routines. 

At the same time, the price is pushing $1,500 and that doesn't even include the ongoing monthly service fees. One-on-one personal training sessions are coming, too, for an additional fee. The Mirror only works with iOS devices as of now, and there's no support for fitness apps like Fitbit and MyFitnessPal -- or any smart home voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant

Consider the Mirror if you're sold on home workouts and want that extra boost of motivation from instructors in a minimal, multipurpose device, but I'd personally miss my in-person gym classes too much to switch over to the Mirror completely. 

Let Mirror guide you through your home workouts

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Mirror, mirror on the wall 

At first glance, the Mirror is, well, a mirror -- a full-length mirror you can mount to your wall or set against the wall with the included stand and wall anchors. You can install it yourself or pay an additional $250 to have one of Mirror's "white glove logistics partners" install it for you. I opted for the latter, largely because a 70-pound $1,495 breakable mirror isn't a one-person job in my opinion, although Mirror's FAQ page claims the installation is "a simple process that is similar to a TV installation." 

It took the installer roughly 30 minutes to complete from start to finish and I noticed two main things as he went through the process. 

First, he asked my height beforehand, which determined how high he mounted it to the wall. Given that the installation is customized to one user's height, a single Mirror won't be optimized for multiple participants. For instance, I'm 5 feet, 7 inches tall and my husband is 6 feet, 2 inches tall -- I'm guessing he wouldn't be able to see part of his face while working out with the Mirror I tested, unless he stood farther away or otherwise adjusted his stance. That said, one Mirror account and one $39 monthly payment covers up to five users who can each customize their accounts based on their level of fitness, height, weight and more. (I'll talk more about the app setup later on.)

Second, you need to be near a wall outlet, since this thing needs to plug in and the adapter cord is just 6 feet long. This may be obvious, but the otherwise sleek-looking Mirror looks much less sleek when you go to plug in the power cord and have to stretch it six feet to reach the outlet. The closer to an outlet you can install the Mirror, the less it will look like an electrical appliance and the more it will look like a stylish wall mirror. There's a reason you don't see the power cord in the images of the Mirror on its website

Overall, though, the Mirror looks nice. I specifically went with the wall-mounted installation rather than the stand, but I wouldn't mind either style in my home. 

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The wall-mounted Mirror saves space and offers a variety of exercise classes.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Getting started

When it's turned off, you can use the Mirror as you would any wall mirror. Turn it on by flipping the toggle switch on the bottom; download the iOS app to get started. You can also leave the Mirror on 24-7 and the screen will go into "sleep" mode so you don't have to toggle it on and off every time you want to start a class. The Mirror doesn't have a touchscreen, voice-assistant capabilities or a web interface for customers to configure their accounts -- every interaction you have with the Mirror starts with the app. 

In the app, you'll be asked to create a username and a password and walk through the steps to connect Mirror to your Wi-Fi network. It also asks for info from you to help customize your workout recommendations and determine things like your max heart rate and estimate how many calories you burn per class: your age, gender, height, weight, fitness level (from beginner to expert); primary fitness goal (such as build muscle, destress or lose weight); what exercises you like (barre, boxing, yoga and more); and whether or not you already own any workout equipment (kettlebells, jump rope and so on).

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Follow the simple steps to configure your Mirror in the iOS app.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Keep in mind that the Mirror only comes with a heart-rate monitor and six fitness bands for stretching. So unless you have additional things at your disposal, all of the classes you do will be exclusively "body weight" exercises -- exercises you can do at home without needing extra equipment or tools. 

Fortunately, the Mirror draws from a lot of different disciplines so you won't get bored. It also wants to know how many times you'd like to exercise with the Mirror each week and the length of each workout so you can personalize your goals. 

It even asks if you have any injuries that might limit your range of motion on certain exercises. A heart-rate monitor comes with the Mirror, too, but you can use any Bluetooth-enabled model you want. The app shows you how to connect it and then you're ready to start a class. 

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Mirror gives you recommendations, but you can also browse through all of the live and on-demand classes.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Using the Mirror

When I open up the Mirror app, it takes me straight to a list of recommended classes. Click on one and the Mirror screen wakes up and displays details about the class. You'll see the instructor demonstrating some of the routine, the name of the class, the instructor's name, the class's difficulty level from 1 to 4, the length of the class and a brief description of it. 

For example, I'm about to try an on-demand Yoga Flow class. Alex is the instructor, it's marked as a Level 2 difficulty, and it's a 30-minute class. The description for it reads: "This athletic yoga flow features a series of flowing poses and sequences. You will feel strong and rejuvenated by the end!" 

I can also see Alex doing a variety of poses on the screen to get a sense of the class before I ultimately select "start workout" in the app. The option to connect the heart-rate monitor is located right below the "start workout" button -- click it to include Mirror's heart-rate monitor (or any other Bluetooth monitor you'd rather use) during your workout. 

The app screen provides the same description that you can see on the Mirror's built-in screen, but it goes a step further by offering an overview of the specific class structure. The Yoga Flow class has a 10-minute warm up, a 10-minute flow section and a 10-minute cool-down. 

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The app provides a lot of details about each class before you even start your workout -- and you can pair your Spotify Premium account to Mirror to listen to your favorite songs and playlists.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Select "start workout" and the screen will transition from the description of the class to the workout itself. From here you can see the instructor clearly on the screen, but you can also see yourself clearly in the Mirror's mirror. As you go through your class, you'll see a real-time estimate of the calories you've burned, your heart rate and how it compares to the target heart rate for that specific class. Below the calorie and heart-rate stats, you can also see a list of other people doing the class at the same time, even when it's an on-demand class. 

When I did the Yoga Flow class, 15 other people were also doing it. You can see their username, location and photo (if they added one to their profile). A timer on the top lets you know how much time is left in that particular section of the workout -- and a smaller timer above that tells you how much total time is left in the workout. A display at the top updates to let you know whether you're in the warm-up, flow or cool-down section of the exercise. 

While the Mirror itself isn't a touchscreen, you can go into the app to pause, rewind or fast-forward your workout any time. You can also adjust the audio settings to make the music or the instructor louder or softer. The sound comes from the Mirror's built-in speakers by default, but you can pair a Bluetooth speaker to it instead if you want to improve the sound quality. 

The Mirror has a music database of songs that play during each workout. You can switch among the various types of curated music like "Mirror Pop," "Mirror Yoga" and "Mirror Hip Hop," but folks with Spotify Premium can log in to their Spotify account, too, and play whatever songs or playlists they want while exercising. 

Overall, the Mirror is simple to use, both in the app and on the device itself. Everything is straightforward, while also offering a lot of details about each workout and your options to customize the audio, add in a heart-rate monitor and more. I do wish it worked with voice assistants --  I really wanted to be able to say, "Alexa, start a HIIT workout" and to have my session automatically logged by Fitbit. Alas, the Mirror doesn't work with any third-party smart home or fitness apps.

I also didn't always find it useful as a mirror. It measures 52 inches tall and 22 inches wide with a 1.4-inch depth and while that's technically "full-length," I couldn't see myself when I was doing floor exercises. The Mirror, as it was installed for me (based on my height), hangs about two feet above the ground, making it difficult to see my form while doing floor stretches. It was useful for standing workouts, though.

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The Mirror motivates you along the way to encourage you to keep going.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Other home fitness services

The Mirror isn't the only in-home fitness service around. There's also Peloton, ClassPass, Tonal, FightCamp and Bowflex, among others.

Peloton sells a $2,245 spin bike and a $3,995 treadmill, both of which come with similar $39 monthly fees for access to live and on-demand classes. The main difference between Mirror and Peloton comes down to hardware. Peloton's service includes fitness equipment and classes, whereas the Mirror is a self-contained device that hangs on your wall sans equipment. Peloton's classes are more limited too, since they're mostly geared toward cycling and running.

Peloton has added more "total body" and "floor" classes designed for times when you aren't using the spin bike or the treadmill, but it's still relatively limited. The company also sells a $19.50 monthly subscription for anyone interested in paying for access to Peloton's classes without actually owning a Peloton bike or treadmill.

ClassPass Live is a little different. It offers a selection of live and on-demand classes on your TV via a Google Chromecast video streamer. Pay $79 for the starter pack which includes the Chromecast and a heart-rate monitor. The specific heart-rate monitor ClassPass sends is the one you need to use for these classes. After that, you pay a $19 monthly fee for access to the classes. 

Note: ClassPass also sells a separate service in select cities where you can attend workout classes in select gyms around town without being a member of that gym. That plan costs $35 per month. 

The Tonal looks like the Mirror, but it's a very different device. It's a wall-mounted touchscreen weight machine with guided exercises. It isn't a mirror and it has workout gear actually built into the hardware. It costs $2,995 up front, along with a $49 monthly fee for classes (and there's a minimum one-year commitment from the date of purchase). The Tonal is currently sold in the New York area and in California, but the company plans to deliver to the rest of the country "no later than March 2019."

FightCamp is a home boxing kit I saw at CES 2019. It costs $995 up front and, like the Mirror and Pelotons, has a $39 monthly fee for access to introductory tutorials and guided classes. I also got to try out the Bowflex Max Intelligence platform at CES this year. The platform guides you through workouts on Bowflex's Max Trainer M8 and M6 machines; the service costs $15 per month (or $149 per year). 

Fitness equipment that's clever enough for your smart home

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Final reflections

At $1,495 not including recurring monthly fees, the Mirror is decidedly pricey. It's missing key features like an Android app and partnerships with third-party fitness apps and voice assistants. I also wish the full-length mirror was more... full-length. 

Even so, the Mirror did a solid job of engaging me in whatever workout I was doing. I didn't feel like I was at the gym, but the Mirror doesn't feel like a typical home workout either. I like the level of personalization you get by entering your height and weight and using the included heart-rate monitor. The real time heart-rate and calories burned readings on the screen as you exercise seemed accurate and encouraged me to keep going. 

The option to pair a Spotify Premium account gives the Mirror something extra and upcoming personal training sessions, available for an additional fee, sound promising too.

I'm not ready to give up my studio gym classes, but the Mirror did motivate me to work out harder at home, which is something I struggle with. If you also have a hard time maintaining interest during a home workout, the Mirror might be for you. 

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6.7

Mirror

Score Breakdown

Features 5Usability 8Design 7Performance 7