YJ Tried It: The Mirror

Technology is changing the way people do yoga, and we’re here for it. Is the virtual class experience provided by Mirror worth the price tag? Find out.
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Model in a seated spinal twist.

Model in a seated spinal twist.

'This is wild' was the only thought running through my mind at the beginning of a Yoga-Strength class on the Mirror. Being instructed to assume Child’s Pose briefly brought my attention back to my mat and reminded me what I’m actually doing: yoga, like, the focus-on-my-breathing-and-flow activity. But, seeing and hearing a yoga instructor layered over my own reflection in a mirror definitely distracted me as I rose up to table top.

What is the Mirror?

Well, it’s a mirror. A high-tech mirror.

The Mirror doubles as a streaming platform and functional device. Measuring in at 52” high, 22” wide, and 1.4” deep, this 70 lb screen offers fitness classes in yoga, barre, kickboxing, Pilates, HIIT, cardio, weight training, and, when turned off, functions as (you guessed it) a rather attractive decorative mirror. The classes are taught by a range of certified and accomplished instructors in real-time, which are then recorded to be streamed at a later date from the course library. With 70+ new live classes happening per week and a library of on-demand workouts that have been growing since the Mirror’s launch in September 2018, you’ll never be out of options.

Part of the Mirror’s appeal is the freedom to participate in group fitness classes from the comfort of your own home. Users see icons at the bottom of the screen throughout the workout, displaying who else is taking the class with you. That communal aspect is reminiscent of Peloton, an at-home stationary bike system that’s a competitor of the Mirror.

See also 3 Ways Orangetheory Fitness Strengthened My Yoga Practice

While taking the Yoga-Strength class, I noticed a slew of other icons on the large LCD screen: a timer that counts down until the workout is complete, song titles in the top right hand corner (music and verbal cues blare through the embedded speakers in the Mirror’s frame), a timeline of the workout, and a calorie counter on the left side of the screen. You can even sync a heart rate monitor up to the Mirror, adding another layer of performance data to analyze.

But how much data is too much data? Admittedly, all of the different icons on the screen felt overwhelming and distracted me from my practice. My drishti would bounce from the “calories burned” tracker to the timer when I was in a difficult pose, and when I had a few breaths to collect myself in downward dog, I’d catch my eyes wandering to the timeline to see what pose is up next. And the user icons at the bottom of the screen to remind me that I’m practicing with others? They completely covered my field of vision when I was doing floor poses. When I was looking up at the screen in Cobra, the angle from my eyes to the screen was directly aligned with the user icons. Unfortunately, the actual benefit of practicing in front of a mirror was negated by all of the fitness tracking icons on the periphery and the video of the instructor in the center of the screen. There was no real way to check my form or alignment.

See also Mirror, Mirror, Why Are You Here?

Accessibility

Of course, having a multi-discipline fitness studio in your living room comes at a cost. But in comparison to the other options out there, it’s actually a reasonable buy. The Mirror itself will run you $1,495, and then it costs an additional $39 per month to use the streaming service. Although that sounds steep at first, many decorative mirrors can easily set you back $500-$1,000 and popular yoga studio chains fall in the $100 per month range as well. With the Mirror, you’re getting a visually stunning piece of furniture that doubles as a home fitness studio.

Peloton is the clear competitor to the Mirror, and its price tag hits $2,245 for the stationary bike and $4,295 for the treadmill, plus the equivalent $39 per month for access to its streaming service. While Peloton is only useful for cycling or running (depending on what piece of equipment you get), the Mirror has over seven different types of fitness regimens.

The opportunity cost of the Mirror is linked with how much you value exercising from home. This device will suit the busybody with a crazy schedule, or someone who enjoys privacy when working out. The aesthetics of the Mirror place it in the decorative furniture category too, making it a great set piece in a modern living room or bedroom.

Technical Difficulties

Alas, any piece of tech will come with its pitfalls. In my experience with the on-demand Yoga-Strength class, the 30-minute video buffered 15 times. This was a major distraction. Further, the music that the instructor paired with the class did not play through the built-in speakers. The instructors’ voice was uninterrupted, but the speakers radiated white noise instead of the songs that appeared on the display.

Also, the Mirror is only compatible with iOS devices. I have an Android, which means I don’t have access to the app that is needed to operate the streaming service. I was only able to test the Mirror because a coworker of mine let me borrow her iPhone. This setback limits the amount of people who can even consider purchasing it.

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The Class

The Yoga-Strength class taught by Alex Silver-Fagan, a Nike Master Trainer, was wonderful. The class had a consistent blend of asanas mixed with kettlebell training, allowing me to work up a sweat and relax in a savasana at its conclusion. The instruction was direct and the poses were suitable for a beginner to intermediate yogi. It was approachable yet challenging, and I left the 30-minute class feeling energized.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I did enjoy my experience with the Mirror. The variety of fitness routines that it offers can keep you from getting bored, and the quality of the classes are just as good as any other in-person class or YouTube video. Its price tag is competitive in the home studio market, making it a reasonable buy if exercising at home is a priority. However, as a tool specifically for yoga, I found all of the icons on the screen to be extremely distracting, making yoga feel more like a workout instead of a grounding, spiritual practice. Ultimately, this product is best for someone constantly on the go or for someone who shies away from large, in-person classes. 

See also Bringing Your Practice Home