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Lululemon Studio review: A great and compact home gym

Lululemon Studio review: A great and compact home gym
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Lululemon wants to fill all your fitness needs. The newest launch of the company’s updated paid membership program, called Lululemon Studiocombines the company’s popular interactive smart mirror, streaming classes, in-person workouts and discounts on your favorite apparel.

This software upgrade not only comes with live and pre-loaded classes from Lululemon’s 15 professional trainers on the pricey in-home Mirror hardware, but also includes new workouts from eight studio partners representing everything from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and boxing to yoga and meditation to barre and dance. And, for those who want the choice of the IRL experience mixed in with their virtual exercise, the membership offers 20% off classes at those studios’ locations as well as free classes in Lululemon stores.

I spent a few weeks trying out all Lululemon Studio has to offer and it’s an impressive package of interactive and live workouts as well as a nice discount on all that expensive gear. But is it worth the promotional starting price of $795 (normally $1,495) plus a $39/month subscription? Well, it depends what you’re looking for.

Here’s what you should consider before you go all-in on Lululemon Studio.

A great home gym mirror

If you’re looking for a mirror-based home gym solution with tons of great workouts (and a cheaper price than most competitors), the Lululemon Studio is well worth it.

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Tobey Grumet/CNN

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The actual Lululemon Studio Mirror device, which looks like a sleek, everyday full-length mirror, isn’t new — the company acquired the popular Mirror platform in 2020. But it was my first time using one in my home. Though I was worried I wouldn’t have the space to work out correctly, once I propped the Lululemon Studio against the wall and plugged it in, I was thrilled to find that my cramped area was roomy enough for all the classes I tried. And best of all, since the Mirror sits right behind my desk, I didn’t have to worry that folks on the other end of a video call might notice that my gym is also my office.

I decided to lean the Mirror against the wall with its carbon steel frame, but you can opt to have it mounted during delivery. The whole thing weighs 70 pounds, which means that while you can move it around the house, you probably won’t want to. But I can also attest to migrating it from the original spot I thing to another room — though I did need a hand carrying it.

Setup was so simple, I had to wonder if I missed something. First, you’ll need to download and create an account on the Lululemon Studio app (available on both iOS and Android). Then, just plug it in, press the power button at the bottom and you’ll be greeted by a full HD 43-inch display. It will then walk you through pairing it to your Wi-Fi, connecting to your phone and syncing your device to the app.

Because the Mirror is not a touchscreen, you will have to use the app to control it. At first I thought this would be less efficient, but quickly realized that since everything is in my home, I wouldn’t have to worry about stuff like my phone dying. And because it connects to its own Wi-Fi, you can put it in a room with a slower signal or even in a Wi-Fi dead zone.

For those who already have a Mirror and want to upgrade to Lululemon Studio, you’ll just have to update the app and the software on the device.

New studio partners (and instructors) are fun and eclectic

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Tobey Grumet/CNN

Now that I was ready to go, I was psyched to check out the new workouts.

No doubt about it. I miss live fitness classes. Before the pandemic, I took at least three classes at my gym per week. But then I got used to working out virtually and just heading down to the gym in my building, and that’s a wrap. Lululemon Studio embraces the sensation of live classes, even more than my experience with Peloton. Maybe that’s because the way it’s filmed and shown on the Mirror is like the instructors are in the room with you, rather than just following them from a broadcast studio. Plus, you’ll still be able to see yourself in the Mirror alongside the trainers, just like a real studio class.

The eight studio partners are Dogpound for cardio, Aarmy for bootcamp, Y7 and YogaSix for yoga classes, Forward_Space and AKT for dance, Pure Barre for barre and Rumble for boxing. I started with the dance classes because that’s what I miss the most, and I could sweat off over 500 calories during a 50-minute Forward_Space class without even thinking about it. In fact, I had a blast and it was super easy to follow the moves, even in my small space.

Next, I tried the yoga class. I will admit, I’ve never been a yoga fan. I’m that person, in the back of the class, with one eye open when we’re all supposed to be “looking inwards.” So it was with great pleasure that I tried YogaSix, which offers Power Yoga and Sculpt + Flow classes set to upbeat music. I started with a Beginner Power class and enjoyed it so much, I went to intermediate the next day. I liked that it kept me motivated to follow the moves with banging tunes, and I didn’t have to pretend to be spiritual (not that there’s anything wrong with it).

I was also pleasantly surprised by the Rumble classes. There happens to be a Rumble studio around the corner from my apartment and I’ve always wanted to check it out, but never got to it before the pandemic. I tried a 30 minute Boxing + HIIT class and I had SO MUCH FUN while nixing nearly 400 calories. The instructor kept me involved, focused and inspired and you better believe I was dripping sweat when it was done. And with the 20% off live classes, I may just get to the studio yet.

There are too many classes to specifically discuss (over 10,000 on-demand, streamable classes with 60+ types of fitness, from beginner to expert) but I can honestly guess it would be impossible not to discover something you enjoy. I even found my old ballet slippers and took an intermediate classic ballet class (ouch). The fact is, no matter what type of class you want to try, it’s probably here in some form.

Easy app and tight-knit community

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Tobey Grumet/CNN

If you’re going to hop on the virtual workout train, you’ll need an app that won’t confuse the heck out of you. The Lululemon Studio app lays everything out clearly, and the Home screen lets you choose a target for your weekly workouts and then plainly shows your progress. Here you’ll also see new classes, browse the eight studio partners, check out what the community is digging and save your fave classes under My Shortcuts. A Time Savers area shows 15-minute classes for a quick hit and below that, you can even get information on booking a personal training session for $40 per 30 minutes. These use The Mirror’s built-in microphone for two-way audio and the front-facing camera (which comes with an optional physical cover if you’re worried about privacy) for interaction.

Elsewhere in the app, you can more broadly peruse classes via Genre, Channels, Programs and Collections; see a calendar of all the live classes; and get a better breakdown of your Activity (including a color-coded heart rate chart, calories burned and a Health Score that encompasses Heart, Muscle and Recovery). You can scroll to the settings to invite up to five household members to share your membership as well.

One thing I did not expect to appreciate as much as I did was the Lululemon community. I could log in at any time to start a class and see hundreds of members’ icons (including username, picture and age) scrolling on the bottom, without the pressure of a super-competitive leaderboard. I don’t know why, but it felt strangely comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one werking it, and I could go at my own pace without feeling badly about myself.

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Tobey Grumet/CNN

I get it, Lululemon, you want to sell hardware. But, to be honest, as much as I like working out with the Mirror, I could just as easily take those classes on my phone or even stream them on a TV — especially since there’s no touchscreen. For those of us with smaller spaces, or like me, with a gym in my building, it would be much easier to pay a monthly subscription fee for the app. I didn’t splurge for a pricey Peloton product during Covid-19, but I was still able to take unlimited classes with a monthly software subscription — which was life-saving during lockdown.

When I spoke to Mike Aragon, CEO of lululemon Digital Fitness, at the Lululemon Studio launch event, he suggested that the company would consider allowing an app-only subscription sometime next year.

Mirror workout products are a hot commodity, and Lululemon has some competition — though at this time, they are most definitely the lowest-cost option at the promotional price of $795, and offer the best variety of classes. The nearly $4,000 Tonal comes packed with a 24-inch touchscreen as well as built-in weights and cables for a full body workout, while the 24-inch interactive screen on the Tempo Studio uses AI paired with 3D technology to better mimic a personal trainer for $2,495 (there’s also the $395 Tempo Move if you want a more affordable option that uses your TV as the screen). The newest addition to the mirror-based fitness products is the $2,495 Studio Formwhich includes access to streaming Barry’s Bootcamp classes and is focused on offering a “personal fitness concierge” to help you train one-on-one through the interactive touchscreen hardware.

In the end, for the promotional price, you’re missing out on more-advanced hardware, including a touchscreen, larger screen and AI, and swapping it out for a plethora of fun, well-produced classes. But, since Lululemon has not announced when it will push The Mirror back to its original $1,495, it feels well worth it at its promotional price.

For many of us, daily fitness regimes have changed drastically since Covid-19. Getting back to the gym may not be on everyone’s list — especially if you’ve gotten used to working out at home. Mirror-based fitness products are fun, easy to set up and certainly trendy, but Lululemon has added an extra layer to its offering with Studio’s eight new partners and 15 trainers.

The mix of classes is well-curated, and in addition to getting back to stuff I love, like dance, I was highly engaged with things I wouldn’t bother trying under other circumstances, like yoga and boxing. Plus, I can take these classes anywhere — though I do wish there were a lower-cost option for just the app-based subscription.

For the promotional price of $795 (the full price is $1,495), you can try the Mirror for 30 days risk-free. Yes, it’s pricey if you add on the monthly subscription, but so is a gym membership, so it depends on what you want to get out of it. And if you don’t love exploring these classes and trainers as much as I do, Lululemon will pick it up for free for a full refund.

Not bad for a well-rounded home gym experience, a good-looking full-length mirror and a nice discount on your premium Lululemon gear. Did someone say “holidays”?

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