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This $1,500 mirror works as a personal trainer

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer
Yahoo Finance

A mirror is a statement piece at best and a source of self-scrutiny at worst.

But Brynn Putnam, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, had the idea to transform a functional mirror into an in-home gym complete with a virtual trainer. The company is aptly named Mirror and launched on Thursday morning.

A Mirror retails for $1,495, plus a monthly $39 subscription for classes. The company streams 50 live workouts, ranging from boxing to barre, each week from its production studio in New York. The display has an LCD panel, surround-sound speakers, camera, camera lens for privacy, microphone, and one-way glass. A white glove delivery team will come to your home and either mount the mirror on the wall or set it on a stand.

A boxing class through Mirror

Putnam is also the CEO of Refine Method, a boutique studio chain with three locations across New York City. Since founding the company in 2010, she has built out a network of trainers who are also teaching Mirror classes.

“I found that I was a gym owner who was struggling to work out,” Putnam said to Yahoo Finance. “As a busy entrepreneur and new mom, it was increasingly difficult for me to get to my own gyms to fit in a workout. So I started to think about how we could bring the studio experience in-home.”

“The aha moment came when we put a bunch of regular mirrors in our fitness studios and our clients said it was the best thing we had done all year. We realized that the mirror was the perfect tool to build a nearly invisible, interactive home gym.”

Following in the footsteps of indoor cycling company Peloton, Mirror is capitalizing on the popularity of in-home convenience that’s not confined to a small screen. Even its pricing is similar, if not slightly more competitive than a Peloton bike, which costs $1,995 and an additional $39 per month for classes.

The boutique bright spot

Gyms are as popular as they’ve ever been. A record 60.9 million Americans have memberships to health clubs, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. The fastest-growing segment is the boutique fitness studio industry, which offers specialized and focused workouts.

Over 18 million Americans belong to a boutique fitness studio. These premium venues that focus on classes like boxing, boot camp and indoor rowing attract a member who is, on average, 10 years younger and more racially diverse than a traditional gym goer.

“If this trend continues in the years to come, studios may reap the profits of serving a consumer base that seems to be overlooked by other commercial clubs,” according to IHRSA’s report.

Putnam is tapping into that very consumer.

“The market is large and growing,” she said. “We have a growing population of millennials who have grown accustomed to higher quality classes, instruction and the experience of boutique studios. They are now finding it more challenging to work out due to geography, cost or schedule. That’s a population that’s going to age into demanding higher quality workout experiences at home.”

A Mirror yoga class

The competitive landscape

Mirror also announced Thursday that it had raised an additional $25 million from existing investor Spark Capital, bringing the company’s total funding to $38 million.

While Mirror may offer a differentiated product, it faces stiff competition from other players in the in-home fitness market. Peloton’s latest $550 million round of funding values the company at $4 billion. Peloton has already debunked the idea that an in-home workout can’t be sufficient unless you have the means to build out a full gym.

At first, Mirror actually started with the idea of an iPhone app like Aaptiv, which offers audio-based classes. Aaptiv closed its Series C round earlier this year, raising $52 million to date from backers like Amazon’s Alexa Fund and Disney. Former Google employees founded Fiit in the U.K., where you can take classes through a mobile app that connects to a smart TV.

“There are some competitors who are trying to create connected fitness product…smarter treadmills, bikes and weight machines. We’re really vying to be the next screen in your life,” said Putnam.

“For us, we don’t want to be the next treadmill in your home. We want to be the screen you go to for all personalized premium content.”

Consumers feeling flush

This appetite for pricey fitness offerings like Mirror and Peloton reflects just how flush Americans are feeling. Consumer confidence neared an 18-year high, and individuals are spending their discretionary income on everything from RVs to Lululemon leggings.

While this may indicate to some that this is peak spending, Putnam believes there’s still plenty of opportunity ahead.

“Users are showing a great passion for health and wellness and allocating more and more of their leisure and time to health and wellness activities. Our users will go to a class or have a Mirror at home.”

While Mirror may be trying to entice trend-seeking millennials, it can also attract retirees who want to stay healthy without having to trek to the gym.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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