Close followers of all things Peloton already know that two of the biggest names in the athletic and workout industry, Lululemon and Peloton, recently joined forces in a ground-breaking, mutually beneficial five-year partnership. As reported in The Clip Out when the news first broke, Peloton is transitioning to become Lululemon Studio Mirror’s exclusive digital fitness content provider, while Lululemon simultaneously becomes Peloton’s primary athletic apparel partner.
A Little Backstory Here
For our Clip Out listeners that might not be familiar with the Lululemon Studio Mirror, it was the first-of-its-kind piece of premium connected fitness hardware when it broke onto the scene at its launch in 2018. The concept at inception was an aesthetically pleasing full length wall mirror in its power-off mode that could blend into any living space (even a living room or a bedroom). But in the power-on mode, the Mirror turned into a (then) unique mirror/screen where an instructor appeared to guide a class, and allowed the user to “mirror” the instructor’s form and movements by watching themselves next to the instructor.
Now remember, when the pandemic hit, people were scrambling to come up with creative home workout areas that didn’t intrude into their already limited space. Entire families were working from home, home-schooling kids, and trying to cram their workouts into the same tight areas. Like Peloton, Mirror was in the right place at exactly the right time and they dovetailed into this stressful environment perfectly. After a huge run-up, Mirror was subsequently bought out by Lululemon in June 2020. But also just like Peloton and other connected fitness companies, Mirror began to struggle as the pandemic started to wane.
Just barely a year ago, Lululemon Studio Mirror made waves by announcing broad content partnerships with several popular boutique fitness offerings, including DOGPOUND, FORWARD_Space, AARMY, Y7 Studio, Pure Barre, Rumble and Yoga Six. These diverse classes supplemented the proprietary Mirror content created by Lululemon Studio’s own in-house fitness instructors.
But just recently on November 1, 2023, all boutique fitness content from other partnerships was purged from the Lululemon Studio Mirror, and was replaced with “thousands” of classes provided by Peloton. This content is expected to be updated weekly on the Mirror and its corresponding app.
While Lululemon Studio continues to create and offer its own in-house class content for the time being, production of new content may be discontinued as early as spring of 2024, leaving Peloton as the sole content provider to the Studio Mirror. In addition, Lululemon has discontinued selling app-only subscriptions as of November 1, and app-only subscribers will be offered the opportunity to transition to a Peloton App One membership.
Not Everyone is a Fan of the New Partnership
There has definitely been some backlash from some existing Lululemon Studio Mirror members, who are upset at the loss of content, live classes and their beloved instructors who have been with Mirror for, in many cases, years. While Lululemon has already responded by reinstituting some popular content like Step classes, the loss of live classes and favorite instructors is a harder issue to resolve.
And there is no doubt that there is a cultural and stylistic divide between Peloton classes (butt-kicking but also highly produced, creative, and entertaining) and the typical Mirror class (all business, minimal chatter, somewhat generic music and zero explicit language).
Forbes recently did an in-depth analysis summarizing the frustrations, both major and minor, of existing Mirror members. In full transparency, the writer of the article is a Lululemon Studio Mirror member (she acknowledges this in the article), and the article is written primarily from that point of view.
In a gracious counterpoint, founding Mirror trainer Gerren Liles recently posted a kind and classy message on his Facebook group page acknowledging the sadness of Studio Mirror members at recent changes, but also encouraging them to work through the transition and find their Peloton people (he noted that many Peloton instructors are personal friends of his from the days that they were all rising stars in the NYC fitness industry). I can personally attest that Gerren is a highly effective strength trainer and I will miss his classes.
So what does the new Peloton content rollout look like on the Mirror?
Glad you asked! I acquired both a Bike and a Mirror way back in the very early days of the pandemic when gyms were in full-blown lockdown and at-home equipment of any kind was scarce. I started my home gym in my basement with these two pieces of equipment, and I have plenty of observations!
Right off the top, I’d say the Mirror offerings are most closely comparable to the Guide, with one huge exception. The Studio Mirror classes offered by Peloton don’t include any equipment offerings (Bike, Tread, Row), all of which can be streamed on the Guide. Despite the mobile app availability, there are also no options for outdoor walks or runs.
Mirror class categories offered by Peloton include Strength, Cardio, Yoga, Meditation, Stretching, Pilates, Barre, Dance Cardio, and Boxing. A quick review of classes offered as of this writing don’t appear to be anything new that was specifically produced for the Mirror; all classes look like classes that already existed on the Peloton platform (dates ranged from 2021 to current). It will be interesting to see if any future content is developed especially for the Mirror. Initial speculation during the announcement of the partnership presumed some original content creation, but it hasn’t yet happened and it continues to be a sticking point among disgruntled Mirror members.
Onscreen metrics are definitely different on the Mirror but will mirror (sorry, couldn’t resist) the format that those users already know. Those of us that have a Guide should be familiar with the Peloton metrics (reps, time, weight volume, etc.), as well as the class countdown timer. Users of the Mirror won’t see the Peloton metrics that are available on the Guide, but rather, the proprietary information that they’re used to on the Mirror, such as heart rate and corresponding target zones for the class, move timer, class timer, next move, and Mirror’s version of a leaderboard.
The app itself (which is required to drive the Mirror) is sleek, streamlined and easy to follow. I noticed an interesting quirk in video formatting between the app and the Mirror; when taking a class on the Peloton app or the Guide, the typical widescreen format of a Peloton class is retained, but when viewing the same class on the Mirror, the screen is necessarily cropped from its original widescreen rectangle to a square box, to keep a clear view of the instructor.
This formatting has already been called out by Studio Mirror members as a negative, noting that they cannot see themselves in the Mirror during a Peloton class to compare form. In fairness, this was also true of some of the boutique fitness content that was recently purged from the Mirror, so this is not new solely to Peloton.
Will the Studio Mirror stay in my home gym?
What has made the Mirror worthwhile for me since 2020 were some truly different class offerings not available through Peloton … Tai Chi, Kettlebells, and Body Sculpting are all big contenders here. Step classes, although not new, are rolling back out as of this writing (cue the Flashdance soundtrack and the leg warmers!) The diverse content partnerships that Lululemon Studio has had over the past year also offered some really fun change ups to my routine. The only Pure Barre class I’ve ever been in was in my basement from the Mirror!
Many of the proprietary Yoga, Barre and Pilates offerings on the Studio Mirror are substantially different from those offered by Peloton, making for a broader variety in those disciplines. I’ve stumbled across some really great Strength programs on the Mirror that were no-nonsense and zero chatter, just a boatload of really hard work (reminding me – ouch – of the old days with my personal trainer).
If the Studio Mirror just becomes one more device that I can use to stream Peloton classes, that would be redundant in my space, since I already have the Guide (used daily for literally every kind of floor work), not to mention already owning the trifecta of the Bike, Row and Tread as well.
Given a choice between taking identical Peloton classes on the Studio Mirror versus my Guide, I’d have to say that the Guide wins by a very long shot due to more sophisticated metrics and a better video display. Will I still keep my Mirror? The jury’s still out on that one, and diverse class choices will have a lot to do with it. I’m keeping an open mind and my fingers crossed!
What do you think of the new partnership between Peloton and the Lululemon Studio Mirror? Let us know!