A new fitness-technology startup wants to stream exercise classes in your living room--no TV screen or equipment required. Here's what you do need: a mirror.

The company, fittingly named Mirror, has developed a responsive device that looks like a full-length mirror and will stream a range of on-demand personalized workouts, including yoga, Pilates, cardio, strength, and boxing. The smart mirror reflects not only your own image but also shows an instructor and other workout fiends (if you're in a group class).

Mirror, which launches publicly Feb. 6 and has raised $13 million in funding, was founded by Brynn Putnam, the creator of NYC-based gym boutique Refine Method.

"To me, working out at home always meant compromising--your workout is going to be less fun and less effective and more frustrating," says Putnam, a former Inc. 30 under 30 honoree. "So for me, enabling people to work out without sacrifice is just really going to change how people live the rest of their lives."

Putnam says the personalized workout will go beyond just choosing different workout modes. Mirror will offer both one-on-one personal training or group class experiences with "real-time personalization" based on user feedback and biometric data. When pressed on the details of how the product works, Putnam declined to explain other than to say the device is a full-length mirror with an LCD display, surround-sound speakers, camera, and a microphone.

Although smart mirrors sound pretty futuristic, the technology can be surprisingly simple. For instance, you can build one at home using a two-way mirror, monitor, and a Raspberry Pi computer to program the software. 

That's exactly how 34-year-old Putnam built her first prototype in her kitchen in 2015. 

The idea for the product came from her background as a New York City Ballet dancer. After retiring her ballet shoes at 26, she started a high-intensity gym company, Refine Method. Refine offers small classes at locations throughout New York City. 

In 2015, she made upgrades to her Refine Method studios, including new classes, high-tech equipment, and plain old Ikea mirrors. When she polled her clients about their favorite part of the upgrade, they said that they loved the mirrors. As a dancer, Putnam says, mirrors can be empowering.

"When you grow up as a dancer, you grow up working out looking at a mirror," she says. "It's sort of the incredible feedback that you get and the simple ability to see yourself and your movement."

So she built a prototype and raised her first seed round in November 2016. The Mirror team is now 15 people. The fitness classes will be filmed in a production studio and the instructors will come from eight other boutique exercise studios around New York City.

Mintel senior health and wellness analyst Marissa Gilbert says that mirrors integrated with technology are becoming more of a reality, though most applications so far are in the household and involve voice activation to, say, announce the news. Smart mirrors also have potential retail applications: recently, Amazon patented "smart mirrors" where you can try on virtual clothes.

Mirror is part of a growing trend of fitness-tech products designed to bring the class experience to the home. Peloton introduced a $4,000 treadmill at this year's CES that streams running and cross-training classes. Flywheel rolled out an at-home bike with streaming content last May. Widerun and Vizoom offer at-home spinning workouts that use virtual reality content. According to Mintel research, 36 percent of adults show interest in streaming free fitness content. With more streaming options available from the comfort of people's living rooms, Mirror is going to have to compete on the quality of its visuals and the content of its workouts.

Putnam says Mirror will be available "sometime this spring," though she declined to provide details on pricing.

Published on: Feb 6, 2018