Fitness app MIRROR pulls in $38 million in capital, using a reflection to boost your workout

Key Points
  • Fitness start-up MIRROR uses a built-in video screen to project workout classes onto your mirror at home.
  • The company was founded by Harvard graduate and former professional ballerina Brynn Putnam, who previously started the fitness studio Refine Method.
  • "MIRROR is really the first entrant into this smart screen space. We are the next and newest screen in your life since the iPhone," Putnam says.
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Smart Mirror offers in-home fitness training

Getting to the gym has eternally been a problem for busy people looking to squeeze in a workout. The latest solution to that problem is high-tech, yet surprisingly simple.

A mirror with a built-in video screen has instructors leading exercise classes. The company behind it is called, quite simply, MIRROR. Founder Brynn Putnam is no stranger to the fitness startup game. Back in 2010, the Harvard-grad and former professional ballerina founded the successful fitness studio Refine Method.

"MIRROR is really the first entrant into this smart screen space. We are the next and newest screen in your life since the iPhone. I think what's exciting about that is that we are paving our own path," Putnam told CNBC at her Manhattan office.

Mirror provides highly varied workouts in cardio, yoga and strength training
Source: Mirror 

The product costs $1500 up front, plus a $40 monthly subscription for unlimited live and on-demand classes.

The business model is very similar to Peloton, the in-home spinning bike. But with MIRROR there is no bike, which  opens up the exercises to be more body-weight focused. The most popular categories include yoga, pilates, boxing, cardio, strength, and stretch.

"I think our competitors like Peloton have done a great job demonstrating the market opportunity, demonstrating that two-thirds of Americans that work out do some sort of working out at home," said Putnam. "For us, the big differentiator is we are a workout agnostic platform."

Beyond just the everyday citizens who are buying the product, Putnam says MIRROR is catching on among professional athletes as well. "They are using the mirror differently than we anticipated. Many of them are using it for off-season training, and they are exploring different types of fitness they may not otherwise do in a public setting. So you have baseball players taking a yoga class for the first time, or basketball players trying out boxing."

MIRROR has raised $38 million in venture funding from top firms like Spark Capital and Lerer Hippeau, becoming the latest option in the $83 billion per year global fitness industry.

"We are the canvas you can explore any type of workout experience and eventually, potentially other experiences outside of fitness," Putnam told CNBC. "I think for investors, they have been really excited about the possibilities for growth."

Mirror provides highly varied workouts in cardio, yoga and strength training
Source: Mirror 

One athlete who is taking advantage of MIRROR is Katarina Jamskikova, an elite marathon runner who is balancing motherhood while pregnant with her second child. She needs the flexibility to augment her training at home while she prepares for the next Olympic trials.

"It's refreshing to run outside, but you still need to maintain your core and strength, and that you can do in the convenience of your home, and you don't need a gym membership," she told CNBC recently.

Putnam, the company's founder, sees pro athletes as just one dimension of the product. "We have already been in contact with a handful of sports teams about the ability of integrating the mirror into their facilities," she said.

"I think everyone is excited about the prospect of connecting athletes to trainers outside their immediate geography. So you have a trainer in New York who connects with a high level golfer in Arizona, and they can work together," Putnam added.

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