The idea of having to watch yourself work out is unappealing to most people, including fitness enthusiasts.
When we’re sweating on a treadmill or grunting on a weight machine, we don’t look our best. However, as any gym-goer is aware, there are always those who enjoy admiring their reflection in the full-length mirrors.
The current trend in home training—smart fitness mirrors—is likely to excite these particular keep-fit fanatics the most.
These are 6-foot (180 cm) or so tall vertical high-tech mirrors with a computer, internet connection, and video screen.
The idea is that you connect with an online trainer, who then appears alongside your reflection in the mirror or screen.
The mirror on the more advanced devices is equipped with cameras and speakers, allowing the trainer to view your motions and make suggestions for improvements.
The video and sound are only one-way on the simpler mirrors; you can see and hear the trainer but not the other way around. Lessons are usually not live; instead, you can choose from a collection of workout videos that are streamed.
The touch-screen mirrors are usually equipped with several sensors that are linked to artificial intelligence (AI) that can provide feedback on your movements and make suggestions for development.
The Vaha was the first such mirror to be sold in the United Kingdom. It was introduced to the market last year by the same-named German company. Tonal, Mirror, NordicTrack, Portal, and ProForm are some of the competitors.
Is there, however, any real benefit to being able to watch yourself work out?
According to Colleen Logan, vice president of public relations at iFit, which owns both Nordic Track and ProForm in the United States, the user can “adjust their form [or position] so they gain the best advantages of the strength workout and eliminate faults in a form that could contribute to injuries.”
Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist, is concerned about smart mirrors for both fitness and well-being.
“These mirrors could end up increasing these kinds of psychological challenges for someone who is already focused on perfection, and perhaps already recognises every apparent ‘flaw’ in their body,” she says.