With shelter-in-place measures in place and wide-spread gym closures sweeping the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned to online workout classes. And, after nearly a year at home, we’ve learned that getting some movement in — even over Zoom — can be beneficial to the mind and body.
However, even though online classes and virtual gyms are the safest way to exercise with a group or instructor right now, there are some drawbacks. One of the most obvious? It’s difficult for instructors to correct their students’ form over Zoom. Unfortunately, poor form can lead to injuries, which is why using a mirror while working out can be immensely beneficial, especially if you’re practicing yoga, pilates, boxing or any other mat-based exercise regimen.
Home Workout Mirrors Help You Nail Your Form
Gyms and other workout studios often have walls of mirrors, and the purpose remains the same: perfecting your technique and form. If you need to make corrections, you can see that change that needs to happen more easily. In fact, watching yourself during exercise can also help you understand which muscles you’re using, making for more effective workouts.
For mat-based workouts like yoga, proper form is crucial. While you’re watching your instructor, be sure to check your own form and alignment in a mirror. Sure, a small Zoom square can be a good jumping off point, but seeing your entire body and how it’s positioned while you’re exercising can make you more mindful. Even outside of class, you might be able to more easily recognize slouching or bad posture, for example.
Research backs this up: External focus — focusing on your movements in an external environment — lends itself to better workout performance. A mirror aids external focus because it gives you a third-person view of yourself; often, there’s a disconnect between how you think you’re performing movements and how you’re actually performing them.
On the other hand, internal focus — focusing on how your body and muscles are moving — is not as great for workout performance, at least not in a technical sense. However, internal focus during workouts does offer some more subtle benefits: You become aware of things like your muscle tension and breathing. While a mirror may not help correct these elements as easily, catching yourself not breathing properly or looking tense can help you identify areas that need attention or improvement.
A Home Workout Mirror Can Prevent Injuries
Exhibiting incorrect form and alignment while working out can lead to serious injuries, especially if you’re consistently performing movements incorrectly. In fact, even the subtlest misalignments can cause injury. When using a mirror, you’ll learn what proper form looks like — from all angles. Catching yourself mid-movement and making those adjustments can save you a lot of pain in the long run.
What Kind of Mirror Should You Get for Your Home Workout Studio?
The key here is picking a mirror that allows you to see your entire body. A full-length, or full-body, mirror can be hung or, if you need something more portable, leaned against the wall. If your at-home workout space allows for multiple mirrors, go for it. After all, seeing your full range of motions can be made that much more difficult when you’re trying to position yourself in front of a smaller mirror.
While a regular old mirror from Target or Amazon will work wonders, a new trend has taken hold, especially over the last year: high-tech fitness mirrors. Like the Peloton of mirrors. Sort of. Although these look like standard, full-length mirrors, they become personal trainers at the push of a button. Essentially, a fitness mirror is a way to catch your reflection, a computer screen and a camera — all in one. Whether you want to access a recorded workout regimen or stream a live workout, all you need is one of these high-tech mirrors. Best of all, these fitness mirrors allow you to watch your trainer and yourself at the same time without having to look in several different directions throughout the workout. Additionally, these mirrors allow your trainer to see your movements more closely, making feedback about alignment, form and technique easier. It’s really the next best thing to going to an in-person fitness class.
The one con? The most popular high-tech fitness mirrors on the market, like Mirror, Tempo Studio, and NordicTrack VAULT Fitness Mirror, require a subscription on top of the price of the equipment. That subscription allows you to access personal trainers and classes, so it might be worth the investment if accountability is important to you — and if you have a higher budget. If not, a good, old-fashioned mirror will do the trick and help you get the most out of your at-home workouts.