Fitness mirrors are available a relatively new entrant to the world of home gyms. When turned off, these devices look like any decorative mirror, the type of which you hang near the door or lean against the wall next to the closet for your bedroom. However, when you turn on the fitness mirror comes to life and functions as an interactive digital display. It’s like a smart TV, only with a reflective surface that plays only training workout videos. You are probably familiar with the most popular names in this category, such as Tonal, Mirror and Vault NordicTrack. At best, these Wi-Fi mirrors serve as sleek, unobtrusive fitness centers, guiding you through a variety of workouts that will get you in shape while you’re in the comfort of your own home.
Another one of these mirrors is Reflect from Echelon Fitness. While its main competitors sell their equipment in only one size, Echelon offers you two sizes of Reflect mirrors: a 50-inch model with a touch screen for $ 1,500 and a 40-inch model without a touch screen for $ 1,000. In addition to the physical mirror, users pay a monthly membership fee of $ 40 to receive Echelon streaming content for playback on Reflect. It’s expensive, of course. But the overall cash costs are at the bottom for connected home fitness systems, especially compared to the offerings of other popular brands. Such a competitive price is typical of Echelon Fitness, which also makes budget stationary bikes, rowing machines and treadmills.
The Mirror can broadcast a dizzying number of live classes and on-demand workouts, including meditation, boxing, cardio, strength, barre and zumba classes. There are also programs and tasks for multiple workouts, a beginner section and even classes in German and French in addition to English. I thought a few German classes could serve as a fitness version of Duolingo, but for now I still don’t speak German. The one-on-one training option allows the personal trainer to see you (through a camera built into Reflect), and guides you through the individual workouts. There is also a Celebrity section, which consists of classes that lead, as you guessed, celebrities. Mario Lopez is the only celebrity Echelon has scored so far, but hey, AC Slater is a good start.
Echelon’s reflection is a newer entry in this category, and it impresses by combining advanced technology with a simple design. I tested a 50-inch model that was large enough to give up wall mounting. Instead, I was able to tilt it into a corner of my room where it added a nice decorative touch when I wasn’t using it. The mirror frame also houses two speakers and a hidden front camera. Reflect also connects to wireless headphones and heart rate monitors via Bluetooth.
Training will become more valuable if you connect a heart rate monitor as the Echelon software measures your heart rate and tracks it in different zones, giving an assessment of each zone. Scores range from 5 points per minute in the light green zone (indicating light exercise) to 20 points per minute spent in the red zone (your maximum heart rate). At the end of the workout the leaderboard compares you to other Echelon fans to show who earned more points.
When I turned it on, Reflect immediately turned from a simple mirror into a portal into a full-fledged fitness studio. The main menu screen presented me with a selection of exercises from each of the various fitness programs. You can just tap and hold your finger until you find what you like. (The smaller, touch-free Reflect is controlled by a mobile app that is available for both Android and iOS.) Every weekday there are up to 10 live classes, and on weekends-less. If your schedule is out of sync with live classes, you can choose from multiple on-demand repetitions that last 5 to 80 minutes apiece.
The workouts themselves are well composed. During the classes you can see the trainer as well as your reflection, which allows you to display the movements of the trainer and gain shape during the course. Echelon coaches are also encouraging and enthusiastic, and it’s nice to see coaches with a wide range of physiques. If you’re the kind of person who’s intimidated by a fit coach who yells you instructions, you’ll find it easier to work with coaches who have a more achievable physique.