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Health & Fitness This Mirror Doubles as a Virtual Gym Studio and In House Personal Trainer – I Tried It For a Week

08:40  22 may  2021
08:40  22 may  2021 Source:   womenshealthmag.co.uk

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WH's digital fitness writer Morgan Fargo put the newly launched VAHA mirror to the test for a week – here's how she got on with the virtual gym, studio, PT hybrid.

a person standing in a room: A virtual personal trainer plus on-demand and live classes, here's what happened when WH digital fitness writer, Morgan Fargo, put the tech to the test. © Provided by Women's Health UK A virtual personal trainer plus on-demand and live classes, here's what happened when WH digital fitness writer, Morgan Fargo, put the tech to the test.

If you're a fan of fitness tech, get ready to be impressed: the VAHA X smart mirror has arrived and it's ready to whip you into shape from the discomfort of your own home.

The first of its kind to land on UK soil (US competitor The Mirror has yet to launch this side of the pond) the VAHA X is one of two VAHA mirrors to explode onto the market. And WH was one of the first to try it.

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Here's everything you need to know about the VAHA X smart mirror, what I thought of the classes and, crucially, whether it's worth the moolah. Read on, friend.

What is the VAHA X smart mirror?

VAHA, the German-based fitness brand, created the VAHA X mirror to make it easier than ever to bring the gym home with you. Brilliant for those long months when studios and gyms shuttered and we were left to our own devices, this clever bit of tech houses on-demand and live classes as well as virtual personal training sessions. (Ever wanted a personal trainer who waited in your living room for when you felt ready to work out? Now you have one on-demand, all the time.)

Fairly inconspicuous when switched off, the mirror looks, well, like a full-length mirror –something I feel helps justify the cost.

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How much does the VAHA X cost?

I'm gonna level with you – it's spenny. But there are two ways to break down the investment.

You can either pay the price of the mirror off in instalments of £50 for 39 months with an added £39 per month for the membership (this is how you access the classes). The monthly instalments can also be paid in 24 and 12 months, too, at £81.25 and £162.50 per month respectively.

Or, you can pop down the whole whack of £1,950 and simply pay the £39 membership fee each month, instead. Either way, it's a substantial amount of money but it is cutting edge tech – the first of its kind to launch in the UK, too.

graphical user interface, application: VAHA X Smart Mirror © vaha.com VAHA X Smart Mirror

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How does the VAHA X smart mirror work?

It's a clever piece of kit – equal parts mirror and interactive touchscreen device. During set-up you're prompted to pair your phone (using the VAHA app) with the mirror over WIFI, this makes it possible to track your workout history on the go. From there it's pretty easy sailing.

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You swipe onscreen to move between workout types (strength training, Bootcamp, Pilates etc.) and are given a range of recorded classes to try.

There's the option to choose between trainers, class lengths and skill level, as well as decide how loud you want the trainer's voice/background music combo. During workouts, a visual timer counts down how long is left.

Afterwards, you're asked to rate your experience – this helps the system learn more about what you like.

Love a starter pack? Well, to get you going you're given a heart rate monitor, resistance bands, microfibre cloth and glass cleaner and camera cover – all to keep your mirror usage as healthy as possible.

VAHA X smart fitness mirror review: trying every workout

The mirror sat squarely in my bedroom, I cleared enough space to get busy. After a year of working out at home, I was ready for something more. Something decidedly not me lying on my bed scrolling Instagram between sets. The next week was going to be spent using tech to tone, strengthen and sweat. And, potentially, chill the hell out as well with the help of their meditation classes.

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Here's how it went.

Cardio: V/Sweat

My first VAHA class and I choose a 20-minute beginner-friendly cardio workout with an epic trainer, Jay. He's positive and upbeat, the closest I've been to feeling those real in-class endorphins since before lockdown. Even though it's a beginner class, Jay explains he's not making it easy, he's just going to give us more in-depth explanations about how to do each exercise. I appreciate this re-frame of what a beginner class can be like.

The first exercise – a squat to lunge to squat to lunge –gives me a pretty good idea about what's to come. Strength exercises made harder with no rest periods, challenging combos and cardio moves thrown in, in between.

Being able to see myself in the reflection, as well as Jay, is a big bonus, it helps me see when I start slacking on reps as fatigue sets in and stick to maintaining good form.

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Strength: V/Build Legs and Abs

Does Jay do everything? His 30 minute V/Build Legs and Abs class is the next one I tap into – a combination resistance training class billed around building strength in the lower body and core.

All we need for this class is a set of dumbbells (plus a second set, if we want) and Jay recommends we get them ready before the 5-minute warm-up starts to make sure we can jump straight into the workout after.

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'Today is all about form... It's about what you're doing when you're doing something,' says Jay, echoing what all PTs say when exercising: form is always better than speed. A-bloody-greed.

We kick off with a goblet squat holding both dumbbells, followed by a sit-up with punches at the top of the move. (The fact the punches are done holding weights... #ouch.) The last exercise in the tri-set is a dumbbell Romanian deadlift and Jay talks us through the correct form with enthusiasm. I still can't get over how helpful it is to have the correct form demonstrated on the screen.

Unlike some IRL workout classes where it's impossible to see the trainer over the heads of taller exercisers or "atmospherically" dark studios, I know exactly what to do at every turn: it's genuinely game-changing.

Stretching: V/Stretch

I roll immediately from Jay's strength class into a short stretching class with Lauren. Only 14 minutes, I feel it's doable after a thirty-minute class. The fist cat-cow and I mewl like a small Heffer – stretching feels so good. Who knew?

Her voice is relaxing, a calming antidote to the high vibes of Jay's strength workout. Easy and not too quick to follow (a pet peeve of mine), Lauren gives lots of modifications for those with super tight muscles or other movement inhibitors.

Barre: V/Barre Full Body

I've sweat (and sworn) my way through a few Barre classes in my time. The thing that linked them all together? They're bloomin' hard. Characterised by strengthening exercises that work large and small muscle groups, incorporate pulsing movements to fatigue and weaving a lot of Ballet-inspired moves in the mix, Barre is difficult.

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Instructor Nikolai is as strong as he is supple, sinking into perfect Plié squats and moving with intention. Not three minutes into class and we start to pulse. My quads are on fire. 'That burn is getting incomprehensible,' laughs Nikolai as we pulse through shaking legs and glutes. Ha. (I don't chortle back.)

I enjoy the fact he's using the back of a chair, like me, to do the movements that require a Barre bar. Normally, when I'm making do at home and the instructor's kitted out, it can feel intimidating. This makes it feel as if Nikolai and I are in it together.

Half the class is standing, half on a yoga mat. The mat section is no easier though, just focused on our upper body instead. Easily my favourite class so far.

Bootcamp: V/Burn Dumbbell HIIT

A Tabata style class, instructor Lauren ups the burn with challenging HIIT exercises: lateral walks with dumbbell punches and burpees over a dumbbell (that's where you jump laterally over a weight between reps).

Each exercise is performed for 20 seconds with a 10-second break in between. When you write it down, it doesn't sound that bad. When you do it IRL... different story. Fortunately, Lauren gives modifications if you're finding it too hard to handle, a great way to keep everyone engaged from beginning to end of the workout.

The background music starts to annoy me, so I switch it off. Lauren is now shouting encouragement with no backing music and while it's quite bizarre, it does feel more like a personal training session.

High knees with dumbbell punches enter the class, along with butterfly sit-ups with an overhead press for the second set. I am a sweaty, red-faced mess by the end of the class – happy to have made it through but not so keen to repeat soon.

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a dog lying on the floor: IMG_3119.JPG IMG_3119.JPG

Pilates: V/Pilates Strong Core

It would be fair to say we're *obsessed* with a strong core at WH. And no, I'm not talking about having a six-pack, at all. A strong core refers to building strength in the muscles that make up your abdominals, lower back and pelvic floor. Basically, your "trunk".

We use our core every day for everything from doing exercise (squats, deadlifts and planks) to sitting in the right posture at our desk. So, of course, I chose Cari's strong core Pilates class.

I love Pilates for its methodical, challenging exercises. While it has a flow, it's not as fluid as Yoga, nor as jerky as circuit training. Everything is about small movements and engaging the right muscles. But, don't let that fool you – it's not easy. From small taps to pulsing movements and very short rest periods, Cari's class is upbeat and spicy, my muscles were shaking by the end of it, but I leave on a high, determined to do more Pilates exercises. (Remember when I did Pilates every day?)

Cari's class also has the best playlist of all I've tried so far... just saying.

Yoga: V/Flow Sunrise Yoga

For my Yoga session, I pick the positivity-promising "sunrise yoga" class. The weather forecast predicts rain and nothing but for the rest of the day and I want to pick up some good vibes early on.

Slight issue when I realise it's an advanced Yoga flow and I am an intermediate at best. But instructor Markus says there'll be options for every level of Yogi, so I stick around. It feels good to stretch with a coffee nearby. I feel accomplished.

The class is gentle and calm with longer held downward dogs to really stretch and ground between cycles. Markus is brilliant about giving clear, non-rushed instructions and it actually feels like I'm in the moment rather than worrying about the next – although I'm sure the atmospheric, slightly ethereal background music is helping with that, too.

As a Vinyasa-apprehensive person (the classes are often too fast-paced and I finish feeling like I've gone through a car wash), I can actually keep up even though the poses are challenging and enjoy the experience. This counts as a major win.

a young boy standing in a room: IMG_3106.JPG IMG_3106.JPG

Meditation: V/Meditate

10 minutes of meditation may not sound like a lot but for someone who is chronically "too busy to meditate" sitting down for my short session with Cari feels monumental. We start with a visualisation exercise about how we want to feel a year from now – what brings us joy, what makes us feel alive, how do we spend our time – and it's a nice distraction from the inbox pinging emails in by the second.

Cari's approach is simple and relaxing – no flowery language or intangible instructions. Good for beginners (and those more experienced with meditation) it made me want to slow down and intentionally breathe more regularly. Like, every day. Or maybe every other day. But more regularly, for sure.

Verdict: Is the VAHA X smart mirror worth it?

Again, if you have the cash, the VAHA X is beyond great. It's slick, smooth and makes working out at home feel more like a high-end in-studio experience. But it is expensive and it's not an essential fitness gamut.

I'd say if you're still not keen on heading back to gyms and workout spaces, love to sweat under the beady eye of a personal trainer and want a seamless sweat experience, the VAHA X is for you. Not only that but you can control the volume of the music and instructor speaker separately, perfect for those days you just want to zone out (or in)!

The clincher for me is the Barre classes: there are few better ways to know you're doing the exercise incorrectly than to be able to actually see yourself doing it incorrectly...

*The VAHA X mirror costs £1,950 and can be purchased from uk.vaha.com

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All I Ever Want to Wear Is Sweaty Betty's New All Day Gym Leggings .
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kirsty Welsh If, like me, you basically lived in workout leggings throughout lockdown, and you therefore appreciate the importance of a good fit and comfortable fabric, then you're going to love Sweaty Betty's All Day Gym Leggings (£65).Touted as the "softest leggings on the planet" due to the unique buttery-soft fabric (and believe me, they're mind-bendingly weightless), as soon as my courier delivered my Betty package I couldn't resist getting my legs into them pronto. Comfort certainly doesn't outdo performance here, either. During those months being homebound, I craved the utmost comfort from leisurewear.

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