Gone are the days when a home workout meant a pair of dusty old dumbbells and whatever you could manage to remember to do. Nowadays, working out, along with much else, has gone Smart.
Whether it be as simple as following a YouTube livestream from your favourite yogi, taking part in a virtual personal training session, or making use of iFit or similar on-demand training systems, it’s possible to get expert crafted fitness classes sent direct to your living room.
There are plenty of machines that offer plenty of options. I personally like NordicTrack’s programming and ProForm’s homegrown iFit capabilities, for instance. Their cardio machines are brimming with designer features and hundreds of expert lead classes, meaning you will never get bored and never be without a plan.
Fitness mirrors seem to be the latest evolution in the 21st century’s smart fitness capabilities. This began with the original MIRROR Gym, but a slew of imitators has swept in to tweak and improve this budding technology. ProForm have come out with a particularly good one.
ProForm’s Vue comes with a decent set of weights, putting one up against worthies like Tempo and NordicTrack’s Vault, and have provided plenty of training options to aid your at-home workouts. It’s not cheap, but it’s incredibly good. Is it for you?
ProForm Vue – First Impressions
I want to talk about the Vue in detail. However, before that, we should probably cover some of the background. We’ve all been on cross trainers, bikes, and treadmills. We’ve all used barbells and dumbbells. If I’m talking to you about any of the above, you sort of know where we’re going with it – or, at least, where we’re coming from.
Few of us have ever used fit mirrors, though. They are brand new, after all.
So, what are my first impressions of this growing trend?
According to CB Insights, connected fitness equipment is becoming increasingly popular. To give you some context for this claim, the connected fitness category accounted for only 2.9% of the overall revenue in the fitness industry in 2015. This figure was up to around 7.5% by the end of 2020, just five years later.
It’s going to be the next big thing. In fact, it kind of already is.
But what exactly are fitness mirrors?
In essence, fitness mirrors are mirrors that allow you to bring a full range of training options and tuition into your home. Think of a fitness mirror as a reconciliation between a mirror and a massive tablet through which you can watch fitness sessions, and that is monitoring your movements and your progress.
The Vue has a HD touchscreen that allows you to access thousands of workouts from iFit, ProForm’s dedicated application. You can hang the mirror pretty much anywhere in your home, where it will be an aesthetically pleasing addition to any modern décor – it really does just look like a mirror! It has a handy storage section on the mirror’s back in which you can neatly conceal and store your weights between sessions.
As long as you have enough floorspace in front of the mirror to take part in their sessions (which is actually a lot less than you might imagine), you’re good to go. The Vue really does seem like the perfect home fitness solution, at least on first glance.
ProForm Vue Specs And Features
Essentially, the Vue has all the specs and features you would ever need for a full-blooded, well-rounded training programme, delivered entirely virtually. For a couple of grand, you get an awful lot.
Firstly, you get full access to iFit. You should note that you get a year’s free membership with the Vue (making the price far more palatable!). This then becomes a recurring monthly subscription. Depending on the plan, this should set you back around thirty quid a month. Though this may sound steep, it’s not much for what you get. For the same price as most moderately costed gym memberships, you get access to hours and hours of training expertise, all delivered effortlessly into your own home.
iFit comes with plenty of different training styles, including the likes of strength training, HIIT, yoga, flexibility work, and so forth (more on this below).
You get a range of free weights to help deliver these workouts, including a couple of 5lb dumbbells, a 10lb bar, and a couple of small plates. These all hang conveniently on the back of the mirror, so that they really are unobtrusive when not in use.
These aren’t heavy weights, not by a long way. They will be usable for complete beginners looking to build strength, and for a lot of people in explosive HIIT workouts. Although, they will be insufficient for most athletes. However, you can always invest in heavier dumbbells and extra plates – for a few extra pounds, you can keep progression going indefinitely as you make the most of the Vue’s training options.
The Vue isn’t small. It has a footprint of 24.25” x 14” and stands at 72.65” high. However, this makes room for a fantastic 22” Smart HD Touchscreen Display, with a 60” reflective surface to watch yourself in.
The speakers are good quality, too. The Vue features dual 3” high quality speakers and has Bluetooth headphone connectivity.
You get a generous warranty with the Vue (as you should, for the money you spend!). This includes ten years on frame, two on parts, with a year’s labour warranty.
Using The ProForm Vue
Fitness mirrors are a bit of an oddity to review. They have very few tactile components. None of the components you buy it for are tactile at all (the bar and weights are easily sourced anywhere – they are not the point of a fitness mirror). Rather, it’s the display and content itself in which the money and effort come in.
This means relying on iFit, which I’m always happy to do. It is an interactive streaming fitness experience used by a few fitness equipment makers – I’ve primarily used it on other ProForm items, and machines built by NordicTrack.
iFit offers a lot. You get hundreds of hours (probably even thousands) of gym classes and personal training sessions beamed right to you. There is a very generous back catalogue of recorded, on-demand classes, plus streaming options. All content is produced by professional trainers and fitness experts.
Vue lends itself most ably to strength training workouts, especially if you invest in a fuller, heavier set of free weights, reflective training, during which you mimic your instructor’s movements, HIIT training, yoga, and stretch training. There are hundreds of live and on-demand workouts to choose from across all of these.
They are all fantastic, as far as I can make out. Similar to other streaming services (Peloton leaps to mind as a close competitor), iFit’s instructors all come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. They are all dedicated, highly trained and highly qualified for what they do, all with their own specialities for you to make the most of.
This gadgetry is all reached through the touchscreen built into the mirror’s reflective surface itself. The screen is very navigable and intuitive; nothing should be too hard to find, and you should be able to work it all out in a very short amount of time. The speakers and screen are fantastic quality, enhancing your training exactly as they should.
This all makes the Vue a pleasure to use. I would, as above, invest in heavier weights if I were to buy one for regular use. I would also get a yoga mat for ground work. With these, you really do have everything you need. Everything is accessible and professional; the workouts are all as tough as you need them to be; the trainers are all knowledgeable and helpful.
I really like the Vue, as far as fitness mirrors go. It is one of the best by quite a way. iFit is always fantastic, the usability is all you want it to be, the quality of the hardware and software are peerless, and the mirror itself is easy to live with.
I am slightly sceptical of fitness mirrors, however.
This is partly due to my background. I’m a personal trainer and martial arts instructor. The kinds of routines that iFit delivers to the Vue are the kind I generally wouldn’t need help with, whilst I am completely out of my depth on a bike or rower, where iFit is very useful.
It’s also partly because of what a fitness mirror gives you. It will essentially be a mirror with a smart screen and a set of weights, priced in the thousands. I could go to Ikea tomorrow (or on Amazon right away) and get a mirror for fifty quid. I could then download iFit onto my tablet or Mac and buy a cheap set of dumbbells for another fifty quid.
That’s a hundred pounds (plus thirty odd quid a month on iFit) to get similar capabilities to a fitness mirror.
I know I’m missing the point, here. Fitness mirrors are more than simple training video delivery systems. They are beautiful and ingenious. I really do think they are the future – they will be a great stand in for in-person teaching, enhancing any fitness regime, for many, many satisfied athletes. And, though pricey, the Vue is no exception. Cynicism aside, it is one of the best pieces of at-home fitness items I’ve used in a long time.
If you buy one, you will have a better time of training than you would with a simple tablet. You will have a trainer in your living room, working with you, and you will be happier and fitter for it.