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I replaced my gym workouts with a fitness mirror. Here's what happened

Review: The Fiture Mini exercise mirror brings virtual workout classes and real-time feedback to your living room. But is it enough to replace in-studio exercises?
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor on
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Fiture Mini

8 / 10
Excellent

pros and cons

Pros
  • Sleek and burdenless design
  • Motion Engine technology is accurate and helpful for form correction and rep count
  • Suite of versatile classes for any time of the day
  • Can clearly see and hear the instructor
Cons
  • Monthly membership fee on top of the already expensive mirror
  • Most intermediate and advanced classes require additional equipment
  • Not a complete substitute for in-studio classes

As an ex-dancer, I prefer group-based workout classes. There's just something uplifting about being surrounded by others who share a common goal. It also helps when an instructor directs the class, pushes me, and is around to correct my form if needed. And lastly, a little variation with my exercise works best; HIIT classes one day, pilates another, and maybe some yoga in between. 

The Fiture Mini fitness mirror scratches most of my itches, promising a library of classes on demand, Motion Engine technology to provide immediate feedback, and a rather stylish design for home decor. By projecting the instructor of the class onto the mirror, users can watch both the exercises and themselves during workouts. 

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You may be thinking, "This sounds familiar. Isn't a fitness mirror already a thing?" Absolutely. Lululemon's Mirror is easily the most popular of them all. What makes the Fiture Mini different is its ability to provide uninterrupted yet immediate form feedback while counting your reps. But is the experience of using a fitness mirror a valid substitute for in-person classes? Read on for my verdict after using the Fiture Mini as my only workout tool for the past month. 

Specifications

Dimensions 

63 inches x 20 inches; 1.6 inches deep

Screen size 

32 inches

Weight 

40 pounds

Support type 

Silver-finish legs 

Connectivity 

Bluetooth and WiFi

Membership fee

$25 per month with up to 7 profiles 

Price 

$750 


Designed for working out in style

When I first told my roommates I was getting a workout mirror to review, I could see them visualizing in fear of what more space had to be sacrificed in our modest New York City apartment. The looks on their faces did a complete 180 when the mirror showed up in a compact box, fit perfectly against the wall opposite our couch, and, in an unexpecting way, completed the aesthetic of our space. The 63-inch-high mirror has modern, glossy finishes that made for an elegant addition to the living room, rather than an embarrassing conversation piece.

Fiture's original interactive mirror, the Fiture Core, is taller and wider than the Mini and weighs 20 more pounds, too. While I've only tried the smaller model, I found the screen is sufficient enough to get a good visual and workout experience. And my boyfriend, who is six feet tall, could still see his full reflection during a workout.  

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The mirror stands on two silver legs compared to the connective stand that the larger Core model relies on. This gave the Mini a more luxurious look while still providing a sturdy foundation.  

Even as I hopped around in my modest living area space, the mirror was stable and didn't obstruct my movement. 

Christina Darby/ZDNET

The basics of the interactive mirror

When the mirror is turned off, it's perfect for looking at your reflection or taking a quick mirror selfie. That's an obvious perk. When powered on, an instructor is projected onto the middle of the screen, accompanied by trendy (usually pop) workout music that comes from the mirror's speakers. The projection is not completely translucent, so some of your own reflection is slightly obstructed, but you can still see your overall movement clearly since the instructor's projection is only concentrated at the center of the mirror. If your selected workout counts your reps, those will be displayed at the very top of the screen above the instructor.

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To power on the mirror, you'll plug in the two-foot-long cord to the nearest outlet and either press the round silver button on the mirror's right side or start the whole system by opening a class in the mobile app. 

Motion Engine is the real deal

What really sets this home gym device apart from similar products is the motion sensor technology. Using a small camera in the middle of the screen, the Fiture Mini can sense your proximity from the device, how many reps you've done, and if you're doing the exercises accurately. If you have a heart rate monitoring device -- I used my Apple Watch -- the top right corner of the screen will display your real-time stats, which is a neat cross-platform feature. 

I'll admit that I was first apprehensive about the Motion Engine tech, but my skepticism vanished once I got into the groove of the mirror's workouts. From my very first HIIT exercise to my floor-based pilates workouts, the Fiture counted every burpee and sit-up, told me when I needed to reposition for a more accurate reading. It also had no qualms calling out my not-so-great squat form. 

Using Motion Engine tech, the Fiture Mini counts my reps and isn't afraid to correct my form.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

The good thing is that instead of pausing your workout after a bad push-up or squat, the mirror simply doesn't count the rep. As someone who often rushes through harder moves to "get them over with," I found that not counting my crappy form motivated me to actually correct it, naturally decreasing my chances of injury. 

Plus, every time you hit another rep, the Fiture plays a rewarding chime sound, sending a straight shot of serotonin to your brain. A similar effect happens at the end of every workout when the instructor gives you a virtual high five and the mirror detects your hand waving in response. 

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One thing to note is that while the Motion Engine never missed a rep, it can sometimes overcount if I'm doing a complex movement like plank rotations. It didn't prevent me from getting a good workout in, though. 

For those who aren't so hip on the whole hidden camera aspect, the Fiture Mini comes with a small magnetic camera sensor that snaps onto the mirror without impacting your view of the instructor. Obviously, this privacy comes at the cost of the motion-sensing benefits.

The Fiture comes with a camera sensor cover that magnetically clips over the camera. 

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Software experience 

When it comes to actually selecting classes, your smartphone is the main remote for the mirror. Before starting a workout, the app prompted me with a few questions about my preferences, major fitness goals, and how many times a week I planned to use the Fiture Mini. Shortly after, the app designed a personalized program to help me achieve those goals.

FITURE mini app library

The Fiture app has a library of workouts to choose from, with 9 major categories.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

For those wanting the accountability that comes from booking an actual fitness class, you can allow the app to ping you on your specified workout days from your phone and the mirror. 

Even if you decide not to follow Fiture's tailor-made program, you can choose from nine different class types that vary from 10-60 minutes at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The app makes it easy to explore different challenges and search by what kind of workout you're in the mood for. 

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What I enjoyed the most about the Fiture Mini was the flexibility of being able to quickly do a 10-minute pilates workout during my WFH breaks. Similarly, it was much more convenient for me to do an intense 60-minute exercise at night instead of commuting to my local gym in the cold. It also helped that the mirror let me connect its audio to Bluetooth headphones, so I was able to work out without disturbing my roommates. 

Quality of classes

Like with any in-person fitness studio, there are instructors you prefer more than others on the Fiture app. Most of the instructors that I had were positive, direct, balanced motivation with demonstration, and sounded clear through the Fiture's built-in speakers.

I also tried at least one of each class category and found the HIIT, pilates, and strength classes to be the most comparable to the in-studio version. However, I will say that most of the intermediate and advanced classes do require extra equipment, so ideally you'll have some dumbbells and/or resistance bands lying around. 

Heart rate stats on the Fiture mirror.

If you pair your Apple Watch or Bluetooth heart rate monitor, you can see your heart rate and estimated calories displayed on the screen. 

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Does the Mini fit the bill?

Be warned, access to classes comes with an added cost. Aside from the $750 price tag for the exercise mirror itself, you need to pay a monthly fee of $25 to access Fiture's scope of virtual classes.

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Sure, compared to individual classes from Barry's BootCamp and Soul Cycle can cost more than $25 each, the monthly membership fee of the Fiture is easier to swallow. However, when you're paying $750 for the home gym hardware already, sparing anything extra is annoying. It doesn't help that if you don't opt for the membership, you basically have a $750 mirror. To be fair, the $25 fee does allow for up to seven profiles, so even if your family members don't have the mirror, they can benefit from the same classes from their mobile devices.

Bottom Line

Despite its many perks, the Fiture Mini cannot fully replace in-studio classes for me. While the device fosters motivation and accountability in different ways, it's missing what usually pushes me the most when exercising: workout peers. 

I will give Fiture major props for trying to create a competitive workout environment -- even if virtual -- by rewarding each class participant points based on their rep counts and heart rate (if measurable). At the end of the classes, I was able to see where I ranked among the participants, which always made for an exciting way to close things out. Still, I missed the feeling of unity with workout mates sweating it out after pushing through an intense exercise. 

The Fiture Mini is an enticing at-home option if you'd rather stay in for workouts, with Motion Engine technology to bring your virtual classes to the next level. The extensive library of exercises is great, and the quality of instructors is even better. However, with most upper-level classes requiring extra equipment and the lack of peer motivation, I'm not entirely sold that the overall experience completely mirrors that of an in-studio class. 

Alternatives to consider

Besides the Fiture Mini, here are the best alternatives you should consider:

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