Let’s not underestimate vanity – it’s an important factor in most people’s training. No matter how much we discuss and motivate ourselves with the idea of health and performance, we all have our own internal images of ourselves. We are all trying to reconcile how we actually look with those internal images, whether it be athletic, jacked, slimline, toned, or anything else.
Aesthetics play a big part in training.
Putting mirrors up in your gym, home gym, fitness studio, or any other training venue, can therefore be a big motivator.
There are more reasons to have gym mirrors around – ones which I personally value far more than their aesthetic function. Keeping tabs on our progress is in large part a visual thing, after all. This counts for our technique, too. I’ll go into this in more detail below, but for now, suffice it to say, that they help us to keep to good form, good technique, and good posture.
With this in mind, I wanted to take a look at some of the best gym mirror options out there.
What Are You Looking For In A Gym Mirror?
There are a few things you want to look at when choosing the best gym mirror that will be right for you.
Cost is a factor, of course. We all have different budgets, and there is absolutely no need to spend a fortune if you don’t want to. I have a couple of options below that can save you some money – one very low end, one a saving on a mid-range style mirror. I also have an option for those looking to spend a lot on something that will last forever.
Then there is the space itself. How big is your wall? And how much of your wall are you looking to take up?
If you just need a single mirror in the middle of a space, you can go expensive without it mattering too much. Smaller mirrors will also, obviously, suffice.
However, if you have a large studio and are wanting floor to ceiling mirrors along an entire wall (a common situation, and one that I always like to see), then you will have to rethink things a bit. You will obviously need large mirrors. The ones below are all pretty big, with two at around six by four feet. You will be able to cover most walls with just two to four of them. However, it can be pricey, as this can set you back hundreds. I also have an option below that will allow you to do it at a fraction of the price, with a couple of inevitable trade-offs.
Thickness can be a big deal. The thicker a mirror, the sturdier and more robust it will be. Thin ones will likely crack as soon as someone looks at them. However, you will need to balance this against the added weight that a thicker mirror will bring – some walls won’t be able to take being completely covered in 20kg+ mirrors.
4mm is a good area to aim at for glass mirrors. This is the minimum I would ever go with, and I shouldn’t think many cases will call for thicker. The glass mirrors below are both 4mm thick, so they should be a good compromise between weight and durability.
Glass isn’t inevitable, however. Glass is brittle and expensive. One wrong move and it will be gone forever (more on this below). Though it gives the best reflection, it isn’t for everyone. Acrylic can work almost as well, giving you a decent reflection, whilst being a fraction of the price and weight (the acrylic offering below weighs less than 10% of the average glass version and costs around a sixth).
Our Top Gym Mirrors
Each of these mirrors represents fantastic value for money, is easy to care for, gives a good finish to any gym studio, and is easy to hang. Any one of them will work well for you and your space, though each one has something a little unique to offer.
Mirror Outlet 6ft x 4ft Studio Mirror
Let’s start off with a good quality, wall mounted, rectangular glass mirror.
Mirror Outlet’s offering on this list measures 6ft x 4ft, or 1210 x 1830 millimetres for those of us working in metric. It’s not light by any stretch of the imagination, at 23 kilograms, but it’s a large sheet of durable glass, so this is fair enough.
It should also make light work of this weight (pun intended), as it comes with some pretty durable screws and washers, along with some nice looking chrome screw head caps that should suit most settings. Any home, gym or studio will look good with a few of these on the wall.
It could also be a lot heavier. Mirror Outlet have managed to keep it incredibly thin, at a mere 4mm. This can be a little worrisome, as obviously this lack of heft can mean that it’s on the weaker side. However, if you follow the instructions carefully, it is easy to move and attach. If you’re a little worried about stability, try using a little adhesive as well as the screws provided.
In fact, I would generally go with adhesive. The screws provided with mirrors can be a little sub-par. Anyone seriously into construction would turn their nose up at them. Unfortunately, this mirror is no exception – they are a little on the weak side. Adhesive is therefore very welcome. If you can get down to a hardware store for some proper screws to go with it, all the better.
The instructions are also really good, as is Mirror Outlet’s customer service more generally. The delivery driver will help you get it into place, wearing specialist gloves. This is needed – the edges are pretty sharp, so beware.
The finish is nice; it’s easy to keep clean, giving you the best reflection possible.
Overall, for just a little over a hundred quid, this is a really decent, large, usable mirror. Three or four in a row would complete a gym wall nicely.
Mirror Outlet Safety Backed 6ft x 4ft
We have another offering from Mirror Outlet here. It’s one I would definitely recommend for any home gym, given that it is safety backed.
It’s a good size, still, with the same dimensions as Mirror Outlet’s standard studio mirror (6ft x 4ft, or 1210 x 1830 millimetres in metric), made from glass, completely frameless, and can easily be mounted to any wall. It even weighs 23kg, the same as their standard model.
In case you hadn’t realised yet, it’s the same base model. However, it costs a little more (fifteen or twenty quid, give or take) and is safety backed, which is a lovely feature. Safety backing film, made from polypropylene, has been applied to the rear of the mirror paint. This acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive is only microns thick and prevents the moisture entrapment that leads to delaminating. In short, it will add years to your mirror’s life.
This makes that extra few pounds look like a complete bargain; it will allow you to leave it in place at home once mounted, potentially for decades.
The mirror itself comes with screws, washers and chrome screw head caps, as does the basic model. This makes installation easy and gives a nice finish, perfect in any environment. As with its more basic model, I would recommend using some form of adhesive and buying some better quality screws – for the sake of a fiver or so and a trip to the DIY shop, you can make a really good job of it.
Again, as with the more basic version, watch out for those edges – they are incredibly sharp. This won’t matter too much once the mirror is in place, especially if you line a few up together, but be careful with installation. You can get the edges specially treated to avoid cuts, or simply edge the mirror with wooden batons – a good idea if you have kids running about.
It’s everything the basic model is, plus a bit more – a little bit more money for a lot more longevity. You also get to make the most of Mirror Outlet’s outstanding customer service, with free delivery, free returns and exchanges, and an exceptional mirror delivery specialist.
Foamboard Warehouse’s Acrylic Mirrored Perspex Sheet
Let’s move away from Mirror Outlet for our third and final offering in this list and look to Foamboard Warehouse instead. They sell a particularly good acrylic, mirrored Perspex sheet that is genuinely perfect for any large studio setting.
It is, of course, acrylic, designed to be easily wall mounted, and is incredibly thin and lightweight. In fact, though it has a surface area of 420mm x 594mm, the material used and the 3mm depth means that it comes in at only a single kilogram.
It isn’t a perfect mirror. Though one side is, of course, mirror finished, it distorts images a little, especially when you’re moving. It’s not much, but the quality is not the same as a proper glass mirror.
This is the trade off, and it’s one that I would be happy to make in the right situations.
Firstly, if I was trying to get a decent mirror up without spending much money, I would choose this kind of product. A single sheet, roughly 4 x 6 metres, will set you back only around twenty quid. That’s incredible value for money. If you need to get an entire wall mirrored in a dance studio or something similar, this is what I would advise you go with.
The material is also a lot more forgiving in many senses. Firstly, it is lightweight, so you can realistically put it up with just adhesive, no nails required (I would still get a couple of screws in there, but you can do without). You can also hang it on lighter surfaces, so non-loadbearing walls, partitions and so on. It’s also a lot more portable, so you can take it down if you need to when you’re not using it.
It is also shatter proof. A fancy, big, good-quality mirror is great. However, it only takes one clumsy child in your dance class, one missed kick in karate, an errant plate in CrossFit, and it’s seven years of bad luck.
If you want to save money and get something more usable and more durable, and don’t mind sacrificing a little image clarity, this is the one for you.
Why You Should Invest In Gym Mirrors
There are a good number of reasons for kitting out your home gym or fitness studio with decent mirrors. I mentioned a couple in the introduction, but it’s worth taking a deeper dive into this.
Firstly, as above, aesthetics is a thing. If you want to train to look more like your ideal version of yourself, whatever that may be, it can spur you on if you can see yourself during exercise. You will be able to see your progress, and where progress has yet to be made.
This is minor, to me, however. There are solid, form based reasons for including mirrors in your gym set up.
They Aid Performance And Technique
They can help you with technique. You should be able to feel when something is off, when your squat is wonky, when you’re not locking out properly overhead, when you’re not getting your stances or positions right. However, the more feedback, the better. If you can see yourself as you train, you will be able to execute each movement more precisely. You will be able to see where your technique is off, where it needs some work.
Let me give you an example – a true story, from my own training. My squats have always been good. They are far stronger than average for my size and training experience. They are far stronger relative to all my other lifts (my presses suck as much as my squats excel!).
It should follow that my deadlifts are pretty decent, too. I’ve worked on my grip strength over the years. My back is well muscled. My legs are incredibly strong.
But my deadlifts used to be rubbish. I’m talking about 70% of my legs’ strength, which is way off what it should be (though, of course, individual differences can account for some of this).
Then, one day, I was training in front of a mirror, working regular deadlifts. Looking up as I lifted, I saw that my torso was way forwards. It was far beyond where it should have been. This was causing my lower back to compensate and the bar to swing, meaning I couldn’t get my full strength behind it. Eventually, I would probably have injured myself.
Next set, I pulled my torso back, making sure that my clavicle was over the bar, that my hips were back, that my hamstrings were properly tight. I put myself in the right position, so that a simple snap of the hips, grinding my heels into the floor, put as much power as possible into my posterior chain and, thence, the bar.
I hit a personal best immediately. My deadlift can now give my squats a run for their money. All thanks to a simple mirror.
This applies to pretty much every athletic discipline going, whether you’re boxing, dancing, HIITing, CrossFitting, or anything else. Visual cues are vital in perfecting technique. Mirrors are needed.
They Aid Posture
Lots of people have bad posture. They shouldn’t – it’s something we should all really try to stay on top of. It can bring about plenty of joint and muscle pain, increase your risk of injuries, and greatly hamper your athletic potential.
To achieve good posture, you need to stretch every muscle, regularly, and to strengthen every muscle, regularly, globally.
You also need to be aware of what your body is doing. You need visual cues to remind you to broaden your collar bone, retract your scapulae, pull your lats down, keep your chin up, keep your lower back straight, your glutes engaged.
Guess where those visual cues can come from?
You guessed it – your gym mirror.
Posture becomes even more important when you are tired and under load. Your body will seek to compensate for weak, tired muscles by putting you out of posture. Your skeleton-muscular system will flag, unable to cope. You will be at risk of injuring yourself.
This all occurs, obviously, during exercise. Your body will be tired. It will be loaded in some form.
Visual cues can make all the difference.
They Add To The Room
Mirrors are, in essence, a piece of furniture. It’s not all about what they can do for you – in part, it’s about how they can add to a room. They lighten darker areas by reflecting and spreading light. They add the illusion of space and openness to any room, no matter how small.
They can also be aesthetically pleasing in their own right.
If you’ve ever tried to train in an ugly, cramped environment, without light, without a feeling of freedom, you will know that it can greatly impair your ability to push yourself. Your motivation will flag and you will perform very much sub par.
Contrast this to an open, airy, light, joy-filled space. You will get far more out of it. You will be happier and you will be able to train harder.
Of course, gyms are not the only ingredient here. Large, clear windows, preferably with a reasonably unobstructed view, are also good. So too is decent lighting – plenty of overhead and sconce lights to open it all up. Light colours can work well, and no matter how much floorspace you have, you should make an effort to keep clutter to a minimum (even if this means not having as much kit as you might otherwise like).
However, mirrors are the finishing touch. They create the illusion of space, as above, and can make even the dingiest room feel palatial.
It really does make that profound a difference.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I install the mirror myself?
I wouldn’t unless you are very experienced. It takes a fair skillset and, with mirrors often weighing in excess of 20kg, can be very hard to do, especially alone. The cost of dropping them is also quite high, especially if they are glass. You don’t want to ruin your new, hundred pound plus mirror before it’s even gone up, and you definitely don’t want jagged shards of glass everywhere.
Many companies will have installation options. Their experienced tradespeople can mount everything for you without any fuss. Alternatively, it may be worth checking out local tradespeople to come round and do it for you. The small call-out fee will be more than worth it.
Acrylic mirrors are far easier to install. They are light enough that one person can manage one easily, and they will generally be okay with adhesive, so will be much simpler to put up. This is one of the main reasons it might be good to go with one in your home gym – you’ll save yourself money at every turn.
How much should you pay a tradesperson?
It depends on how much work they will be doing. However, you will need to employ a couple of people due to the mirrors’ weight and unwieldiness.
Several heavy mirrors going up in a commercial space should cost around £150. This may sound like a lot, but if you’ve got £500-600 worth of mirrors going up, and you don’t want any of them breaking (which, trust me, you don’t), this is just the cost of doing business.
How many mirrors should you have?
It depends on the space, obviously. For a home gym, where you’ll be working out alone or with one or two other people, I see no reason to go with more than one. Maybe have two in different places to open up the space a bit.
However, if you’re setting up a studio or commercial gym space, where multiple people will be training, in which they will all benefit from seeing themselves as they work, I would cover as much of one wall as possible. If you can, cover the whole lot. Everything will feel more open and the benefits to form practice will be profound.