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A $1,500 smart mirror brings live fitness classes to your home

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the swolest of them all?
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Fitness apps aren't anything new, but none of them can really replicate how it is to be in a class, with the instructor encouraging you in real-time or helping you out if you can't quite do those push ups. Mirror, however, aims to do for fitness classes what Peloton did with the cycling class: bring a live instructor into your home. And it does all this with a full-size mirror.

Gallery: Mirror photos | 7 Photos

Of course, Mirror isn't an ordinary mirror. It looks just like one when it's turned off, measuring 22 inches wide, 52 inches high and a little over an inch deep. But embedded inside its large frame is actually a vertical LCD panel and stereo speakers, which come to life when it's switched on. You can then control what's on the Mirror via a companion app.

I took a peek at an early prototype of Mirror with founder and CEO Brynn Putnam, and an assistant outfitted in workout clothes was there to demonstrate it for me. On Mirror's screen was a video of the instructor, streamed live from a studio in New York City. She talked through a variety of different moves, like squats, burpees and lunges, in what was a high-intensity interval training class.

Meet MIRROR from getthemirror on Vimeo.

Because the assistant had a heart rate monitor on, we could see her beats-per-minute on screen, as well as her target heart rate zone. You have the option of pairing your Apple Watch to track your heart rate if you so desire. Also on the display were calories burned, the amount of time left in the workout, and the names of a few people who were taking the class at the same time. During the class, the instructor occasionally offered personal shout-outs or encouragement.

Interestingly, because it's a mirror, you can still see a reflection of yourself while the class is taking place. This is intentional. Putnam, a professional dancer by training, says that it's actually really helpful to see yourself doing the workout while it's happening. "Sometimes you don't know your shoulders are hunched until you actually see it," she said. It also helps for making sure you have the right posture and form.

One of Mirror's features that sets it apart from normal fitness apps is personalization. You can specify in your profile that you have a bad knee, for instance, so instead of doing the jumps on screen, you're offered an alternate workout, such as squats, that appears off to the side.

Once you're in the swing of things, Mirror will recommend other classes to try out depending on your performance. Classes at launch include cardio, strength, yoga, Pilates, barre, boxing and stretch, with about five difficulty levels. So if you frequently hit your target goal, you might be encouraged to try out a more challenging class. Or if you didn't hit your goals at an expert level, it would recommend you try an intermediate or beginner class instead. Beginner classes tend to be slower and more deliberate, said Putnam, while expert classes are more fast-paced.

Though Mirror didn't mention Peloton specifically in its release, the model is similar. One of the reasons Peloton took off is that it brought the cycling class to the home. No longer need you spend hundreds of dollars a month to go for a spin on a studio's schedule; you could now do so in your own living room and on your own time. Yet, not everyone wants a bike -- or even a large treadmill -- taking up space in their abode. Plus, cardio machines effectively offer a limited kind of workout, and you might tire of cycling or running eventually. With Mirror, Putnam said, there's more variety in the kinds of classes you can take.

Another bonus with Mirror is an option for personal training. There're a microphone and camera built-in to the hardware, which allow for one-on-one training sessions with a certified personal trainer, where they can see you and guide you through customized workouts. They cost anywhere from $40 to $75 per session, depending on the expertise level of the trainer.

Yet, there's a cost to all of this. The Mirror hardware is priced at a whopping $1,495 and the subscription cost is $39 a month. I asked Putnam if there were plans to sell an option that didn't require the hardware, but there are none at this time. Which is a shame, because I think Mirror is actually a pretty good idea, and I love that it can personalize workouts for you. But as I mentioned earlier, fitness class apps are a dime a dozen these days. Even Peloton offers optional floor exercise classes like yoga and bootcamp in addition to the cycling. DailyBurn has a similar live streaming workout plan for only $20 a month, no hardware required. Sure, it's not quite as personalized and there's no option for personal training, but not everyone has a spare $1,495 to burn either.

But hey, if you do, then you might want to give Mirror a shot. It's making its public debut today at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco if you want to take a look at it, or you can order it right now from Mirror's website.

In this article: gadgetry, gadgets, gear, home, mirror

Raised in the tropics of Malaysia, Nicole arrived in the United States in search of love, happiness and ubiquitous broadband. That last one is still a dream, but two out of three isn't bad. Her love for words and technology reached a fever pitch in San Francisco, where she learned you could make a living writing about gadgets, video games and the internet. Truly, a dream come true. Other interests include baseball, coffee, cooking and chasing after her precocious little cat.

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