The timing might seem apt, but Forme Life, the new home fitness company and system launched by co-founders Yves Béhar and Trent Ward was three and a half years in the making. It is being released (orders will be accepted from May 1st) as millions of people around the world are deep in self-isolation mode due to COVID-19. But even as the most ambitious among us are adopting hardcore exercise regimens – running marathons on balconies and sharing push-up sets on social media – Forme takes home fitness to a whole new level.
The physical product (or hardware) takes the shape of a full-length mirror – and appears as such when turned off – that measures 178 centimetres high and 66 centimetres wide. When switched on, the panel becomes a touchscreen that is also voice controlled. Users can choose from a wide selection of fitness routines, from boxing to core and quad work, or pull out the resistance training arms from the sides to do bicep curls. Whatever app they select, a digital instructor appears and guides them through the class – all while the user can see their reflection on the surface as well as their real-time biometric data.
“For me, there’s always been the need to complement health with instruction and motivation,” Béhar explains. “Having the screen and the reminders and motivations is a way to begin to be consistent and exercise in an efficient manner. Getting expert instruction is critical.” He goes on to explain that the type of instruction you get (the pre-recorded sessions were created with a team of real-life fitness pros) reflects your level of performance and the graphics displayed show your level of achievement – both of which are incentivizing features.
The Fuseproject founder explains that the system is especially important for people who feel they’ve aged out of going to the gym, or are simply too busy to do so. Forme is therefore equipped to adapt to the user’s strengths and weaknesses the way a trainer would. Its 3D motion-tracking technology (i.e. cameras and sensors) captures the user’s movements and creates a workout history to preset their session; this same data-harnessing ability also allows the system to adjust weights according to real-time performance. This is the machine-learning aspect of Forme: It adds weight by one-pound increments to the pulley-controlled resistance training arms if you seem particularly ambitious during a given session and subtracts weight if it senses you’re slowing down. This AI component allows for a customized experience.
The compact and minimal design (which is made of steel) addresses an important problem with typical home workout equipment – it often requires its own room, or creates a mess in a shared space. “It was important to make the machine disappear,” says Béhar, explaining it’s only seven inches deep and can be floor or wall mounted, and that – rather than appear as a massive black screen – it turns into an elegant mirror when switched off.
It’s also the kind of device that the entire family can use: enough content is packed in so that the system can be programmed with the various preferences of different household members. “We’re entering a new era,” says Béhar, “where wellness and health is a key investment we’re all going to make. And Forme is the first example of a multi-activity fitness system for a multi-member household.”
The San Francisco designer (together with co-founder Trent Ward) has created a self-learning exercise interface that doubles as an inconspicuous mirror.