Smart Fitness Tech Brings The Boutique In-Studio Class Experience Home





No matter how consumers decide to get their fitness fixes, boutique fitness studios that focus on a specific workout are booming. These studios, which average from only 1,000 or 2,000 square feet, are becoming a top pick for fitness consumers hungry for an immersive and fun experience.

“But this experience hasn’t translated into homes as of yet,” Brynn Putnam, founder and CEO of MIRROR, told PYMNTS in an interview.

After all, home workouts can be, well, boring. Those who are stuck working out in front of the television at home miss out on the interaction of a fitness studio that makes classes so enjoyable.

So, to help bring the studio experience home, Putnam developed MIRROR, a connected fitness system that combines a mirror with fitness content. Through MIRROR, users can access live and on-demand classes across a variety of genres from cardio to strength training and yoga — the choice is up to the consumer.

“To me, content variety is really essential to the boutique consumer,” Putnam said. “Even if they love spinning, they also want to be able to enjoy yoga and boxing [for example].”


Mirror, Mirror

When MIRROR is turned off, it looks like a regular everyday mirror. But a companion smartphone app makes it come to life — and allows users to see their reflection and other class participants while working out.

While MIRROR seeks to be less metrics-oriented than, say, traditional spin classes, the device does offer consumers feedback on form and data such as heart rate. In addition, MIRROR can connect users with personal, one-on-one training for an additional fee too.

When MIRROR becomes available to the general public with a targeted launch date in the spring, consumers will be able access workouts that don’t require large cardio equipment. Essentially, “any type of fitness content that can be done with small equipment or your own body weight,” Putnam said.

As of now, the company is not disclosing pricing for the MIRROR device, the monthly subscription for the content or the extra fee for personal training. But, in the future, the company plans to accept payments through Stripe.

Already, the company has raised $13 million in Series A funding from Spark Capital in February, according to Crunchbase. The company plans to use the funds in areas such as product development, content development and marketing.


Fitness as a Service

The news comes about a year after Peloton Interactive, the stationary bike startup that connects consumers with virtual spin classes, was reportedly looking to raise $120 million at a valuation of $1.2 billion, people familiar with the company told Bloomberg.

The New York–based company sells exercise bikes equipped with tablets that enable cyclists to subscribe to spin classes, enabling them to enjoy the workout class atmosphere from the comfort of their own home. In just five years, the Peloton brand has developed a cult following for its products and services.

Though it’s possible that in an economic downturn people may look to cheaper exercise options, Paul Swinand, an analyst at Four Hills Advisors, told Bloomberg that during the recession in 2008, many people actually exercised more because they had more time on their hands to do so.

This could point to the chance that, if needed, they would let go of an expensive gym membership versus a Peloton subscription. But for those seeking an in-studio experience, ClassPass is booming.

Having launched in 2013, ClassPass is an app that connects the fitness-minded with classes and studios in their area. A monthly subscription fee (which ranges from $79 to $125) gets users access to an unlimited number of classes a month with up to four classes at a single studio a month.

Since its initial launch, ClassPass has also expanded its product offering to include a line of athleisure wear in partnership with Outdoor Voices and has even started a program to help more fitness studio businesses get off the ground.


The Road Ahead

Going forward, MIRROR views itself more as a platform and less of an equipment company. In the end, Putnam wants to eliminate the “can’ts” for people who don’t think they have the time or energy for a workout.

That human connection drives accountability: It’s harder to say “no” to a workout when someone else knows you skipped a class. And feeling like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself — and that people care — can give a consumer an extra nudge to work out after all.

For the next five years, MIRROR plans to grow and age with the consumer and expand into rehabilitation, physical therapy and, eventually, elder care. And it seeks to be the third screen in the home for personalized content.

“You have your phone and you have your TV and you have your MIRROR,” Putnam said.