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Prepare for the Smart Home Fitness Revolution

"Keep coming back to the mirror," said Armond to me. "Keep crushing it." He froze for a split second, then haunted without saying goodbye. I was alone with my reflection, sweating and tried to decide if "Keep coming back to the mirror" was encouraging, unfortunate, or strangely metaphysical. It's what training with this full-length, internet-connected mirror, just called Mirror-like. For $ 1,495 up and $ 39 a month subscription fee, you can stream live and on-demand classes like yoga, boxing and cardio or less training, all led by certified instructors like Armond. You are watching these instructors simultaneously floating in space on the mirror and assessing your own form. They are in a distant studio, watching your screen name and screaming the instructions in a microphone. About useful technically quantified fitness and Instagram glossified it, internet-connected training systems lead home. Whether it's Mirror, a Peloton desktop bike with a touchscreen or Tonal's new "smart" weight training system, these new products provide convenience to work out. Place one of these machines between the bed and the coffee maker, and you really have no excuse not to work out. But wait! You may think, does not a "stupid" treadmill or stationary bike provide the same level of comfort? And if I need another person to tell me how to put my hip in Trikonasana, I can not just accompany a (free) yoga video on YouTube? It does, and you can. But what this new wave of products promises is a feedback loop…

“Keep coming back to the mirror,” said Armond to me. “Keep crushing it.” He froze for a split second, then haunted without saying goodbye. I was alone with my reflection, sweating and tried to decide if “Keep coming back to the mirror” was encouraging, unfortunate, or strangely metaphysical.

It’s what training with this full-length, internet-connected mirror, just called Mirror-like. For $ 1,495 up and $ 39 a month subscription fee, you can stream live and on-demand classes like yoga, boxing and cardio or less training, all led by certified instructors like Armond. You are watching these instructors simultaneously floating in space on the mirror and assessing your own form. They are in a distant studio, watching your screen name and screaming the instructions in a microphone.

About useful technically quantified fitness and Instagram glossified it, internet-connected training systems lead home. Whether it’s Mirror, a Peloton desktop bike with a touchscreen or Tonal’s new “smart” weight training system, these new products provide convenience to work out. Place one of these machines between the bed and the coffee maker, and you really have no excuse not to work out.

But wait! You may think, does not a “stupid” treadmill or stationary bike provide the same level of comfort? And if I need another person to tell me how to put my hip in Trikonasana, I can not just accompany a (free) yoga video on YouTube? It does, and you can.

But what this new wave of products promises is a feedback loop between you and the fitness gurus as shallow and flex and crunch in front of you. Peloton instructors provide shoutouts under live classes to show names as they look good. Mirror studies your personal data to build customized weekly workout. Bum knee? The mirror will adjust your program. Tonal, a $ 2,995 wall-mounted screen with arms and cables, can customize its “digital weight” system, automatically adjusting resistance if you’re struggling.

Connected training started with apps, says Tonal founder and CEO Aly Orady. “Then we went to trackers and then connected to cardiovascular equipment. We focus on the next layer, and that’s intelligence.”

These devices also simulate a sense of togetherness that you can not download from a video. Jump on the Peloton bike and you not only hit a training session, join a full-fledged party led by Alex or Cody or Jenn. One of them may ask a DJ to play records under his spin class. Another may wish you a happy birthday, or even send a bouquet of flowers if you mention the last time of a darling. (Yes, actually.)

Peloton’s instructors have become micro-celebrities-Jane Fondas in the digital fitness world. The company’s marketing efforts include smoothly produced videos, Facebook fan pages, and meeting and greetings in real instructors. Mirror places his instructors the same way, shares their bios in their mobile app and makes their personalities as much of a drawing as the product itself. “We are a content company,” says Mirror founder and CEO Brynn Putnam. “We are a media company.”

During a new Mirror training, a yoga instructor, Rachel (“calm and caring” according to her bio) told her son to learn Okay, she did not tell me, she talked to the group of us who took the course. Did Rachel know I was there? I do not know, but I think we are the best friends now. If I catch Rachel’s next lesson class, I send her an emoji via the Mirror mobile app.

Peloton started selling their bikes in 201

3 and deserves a lot of credit to drive the coach? Now they focus their efforts on the most terrible piece of training equipment: the treadmill.

During a demonstration of $ 3,995 Peloton Tread performed an instructor named Chase on a giant touchscreen to guide me through a 45-minute live run. He gave shoutouts to JohnnyRunsNY (not me) and Charlie1992 to hunt) to work to the top of the sparse leaderboard. It was fun, but also, I drove on a treadmill. Peloton CEO John Foley says the company is experimenting with various social interactions to keep users engaged. “It’s performance theater not just watching a movie,” said Foley. “You are integrated. You are part of the experience.”

But Peloton Tread can only be the sum of all the challenges in the digital fitness market. It’s expensive, and as with Mirror and Tonal, the tight price tags come with a monthly media subscription. If you can afford it, you’ll be comfortable sweating in your own living room – and you will not feel like you’re alone.

Styling by Audrey Taylor

Lauren Goode (@ laurengoode) is WIRED s senior author who covers personal products .

This article is displayed in the January issue. Subscribe now.


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