Vitruvian Trainer+ review: Is this the home gym revolution?
- Huge range of workouts and modes
- Algorithm based weight resistance personalises routines
- Small footprint and relatively easy to store
- An Australian start-up
- Many features gated behind subscription
- App needs a few more updates
- Original V-Form Trainer’s weight range not low enough
Ask the staff at Vitruvian, and they'll tell you their new fitness device won't replace your gym. Instead, the Vitruvian Trainer+ is supposed to be the perfect at-home accompaniment to your current fitness and workout activities. That's not how I see it. It's also not what I'm after.
Installing gym equipment at home isn't just expensive, but it takes up so much space. One of the biggest inhibitors for many Aussies trying to stay healthy at home with workout equipment is storage. Installing gym equipment at home isn't just expensive, but it takes up so much space. With this in mind, I tested the Vitruvian Trainer+ hoping it would solve my biggest issue: scaling back on my gym membership.
The Vitruvian Trainer+ is an updated version of the original technology, the Vitruvian V-Form Trainer. I used the original Vitruvian V-Form Trainer at home for over 4 months as part of this review. Then, I used the Vitruvian Trainer+ as a guest at a Sydney gym and at a Vitruvian event.
In this review, I'll analyse not just the Vitruvian Trainer+ experience, but whether there is any value left in original Vitruvian V-Form Trainer, too.
Vitruvian V-Form Trainer vs Vitruvian Trainer+: What's new?
The upgrade form the V-Form trainer to the Trainer+ is subtle. But, the changes do make a world of difference. Much of what the Vitruvian experience offers ranscends both devices. However, the Vitruvian Trainer+ is just a lot better at it.
There are 3 main differences between the 2 devices. First, the Vitruvian Trainer+ has a bigger weight range. It's able to provide a resistance from 0kg to 200kg as opposed to the original V-Form Trainer's 7kg to 180kg. I'll talk more about this later, but it's a big deal.
Second is the smoothness of the resistance. The motors in the Vitruvian Trainer+ are leagues ahead in terms of how smoothly it moves in and out as you go about your workout.
And finally, there is a new locking mechanism for the attachments. This includes the handles, bar, straps, belt and ropes. Attachments on the original Vitruvian V-Form Trainer were joined to the body via a carabiner. Instead, the Trainer+ does so with a magnetic holder similar to the system that connects a drill bit to an impact driver. Not only is this easier and quicker, but it gives you more range as the cables can get an inch deeper into the machine.
There are few other minor improvements, too. The original Vitruvian V-Form Trainer makes a high-pitched whining sound that may irritate some people, but that appears to be gone in the near silent Trainer+. Plus, the new range of accessories have a much nicer feel to them than the initial range.
Features: What is the Vitruvian Trainer?
The Vitruvian Trainer+ is a single machine that's around the same size as the track section of a treadmill. In it there are 2 motors, each of which is connected to a cable that comes up through the top of the device on the left and right sides. At the end of this cable, users can attach a variety of accessories in order to fulfil desired exercises.
Unlike traditional gym equipment, where a cable is attached to weights yanked over a pulley, the Vitruvian Trainer+ is controlled by an algorithm via an app. The app starts by allowing you to choose an activity, it then measures your range of movement, and then applies the selected weight in the form of resistance as you power through your pre-selected number of reps.
What's particularly cool is that the resistance occurs on both the upwards (concentric) movement and the downwards (eccentric) movement. The machine intelligently adjusts itself so that you're working to pull it upwards as well as bring it downwards. Unlike traditional weights where you tend to let gravity do the eccentric work for you.
I also love the range of modes you can set in the app to change the way the weights behave. In particular, "Progressive" mode pushes the weight a bit higher on each rep until the machine senses you've reached your limit. Then it can be scaled backwards or maintained as your efforts inform the machine.
You can use the basic features of the device at no additional costs. But, the most exciting features such as progression data, classes, custom workouts and, in the future, games are gated behind a subscription fee. More on that later.
There are a range of official accessories. 2 are included in the base purchase and more are additionally available, each opening up more of the 100+ exercises.
There's not too much to look at with the Vitruvian Trainer+. As mentioned, it's not that big at 1170 x 520 x 115 mm. It's awfully heavy, though. Despite its carbon fibre shell, it's 38kg and you feel every gram of it due to its density and unwieldy shape.
Thankfully, there are robust wheels on 1 end and a handle on the other, so you can pick it up and wheel it relatively easily into position. The slim profile allows you to store it out of the way under a bed or couch when not in use. Despite its portability, I wouldn't want to try moving it very far because of the heavy weight.
Both versions of the Trainer look exactly the same and take up the same footprint. They don't come with a mat, which is a bit of a letdown. But the soft rubber top adds comfort and while it's not necessary, it's the kind of luxury feel that customers expect when paying over $3K.
I would have liked a longer power cable, too. It's a little on the tight side given you might have this at the foot of your bed, from which the cable wouldn't reach your bedside table. A small complaint, to be sure.
Vitruvian has tried to add some sexy features to an otherwise utilitarian design with flashy LED lights. But unless you're working out in the dark, they don't make a hell of a lot of difference. What it doesn't have is speakers. I would have loved if I could sync my Spotify to play some beats, for example.
There are 2 things to consider about the performance of the Vitruvian Trainer: the machine and the app.
The core science behind the Vitruvian Trainer worked well. It provides quick, efficient and easy workouts without the need for a whopping big piece of equipment with stacks of banging weights. And, I enjoyed experimenting with the way the different modes and resistance methods to work my body in ways I hadn't experienced before.
The idea of having the weights adapt as you go through the reps is not only futuristic but functionally awesome. If you're going through your reps without hassle, it will get heavier. If it senses you are struggling, it will pull back on the load a bit. You can take it easy by locking the weight in where you want it in "Focused" mode, or let the Vitruvian take over in "Progression" and "Pump" modes. You can also focus solely on eccentric weights. There's more, too.
While the Vitruvian Trainer+ is significantly better, the V-Form Trainer is still really good too. Most of the exercises offered by the app, I could do without hinderance. However, it does become challenging with any routine that sees you crossing your body or reaching above your head. This is because the cable can rub into your body or hands in an uncomfortable way. I'm not sure if there is any way around that without a pulley to keep the cable away from you.
You can do a lot with the handles and the ankle straps that come with the machine, but the added accessories – in particular the bar and the bench – certainly do open up many more options. I should also point out that I'm 6ft 4 and while there were a handful of exercises that became a little bit awkward on a 1m long device, I could always find a way to make it work.
The lower weight range of the Vitruvian Trainer+ over its original form is a huge win. It just opens up the device to so many more people. And even to those in peak condition, I'm sure it allows for a greater range in exercises and movements.
I'm a reasonably fit guy with over a decade of gym experience (not that it shows). So I can comfortably stack plenty of weight on something simple like a bicep curl. But, I've dislocated my shoulder a lot. So, for something like a lateral raise, my strength just isn't there. The previous minimum of 7kg was too high, so I couldn't even start it. With the Vitruvian Trainer+ I can go 4kg or 5kg and do that exercise.
I even found myself starting on lower kilograms for exercises I could do and then put it on "Progressive" mode. This allowed me to find my range and form in the first few reps and then build into the heavy movements as I got into a flow.
As mentioned earlier, the Vitruvian Trainer+ also has much smoother cable movement in and out of the machine. The original is perfectly functional, but by comparison, it feels clunky.
I found with the original V-Form Trainer, it could get awkward moving the accessories into position. The machine would often misread that struggle as an attempt to define your range of movement. It's also a bit jolty when you transition from concentric to eccentric and tends to bite and pull a bit harder when shifting between weights. Sometimes, the entire device would lift off the ground as I did my rep because it was just a tad slow adjusting to my power.
There's always a risk of injury when it comes to using gym equipment. But I do feel t's far less likely to happen on the Vitruvian Trainer+ simply due to the smoothness of the cable.
As of the end of 2021, I would call the Vitruvian V-Form Trainer app a good start. It's functional, but there's plenty of room for improvement.
What it does well is allow you to flip through various activities based on your available equipment. You can see your old results, track your routines and progress, even gamifying the process by unlocking bigger weight load limits as you complete more and more reps. You can look at graphs to gain insight into your form and how you can improve, too.
It's also very easy to connect your Vitruvian Trainer to your phone and get started in a matter of seconds.
You can build your own workout, but the classes are where things step up. The classes drive you to try new activities, stepping outside your comfort zone. They provide some verbal advice to go with the visual indications of what you should be doing, too. And, I like the future possibility of a trainer or physio sending bespoke workouts to you directly through the Vitruvian platform as well. But, while the experience is a step up, these features fall behind a paywall.
The app also requires a little too much swiping and back and forth on small screens like a phone. It annoyingly doesn't remember your settings from your last workout, meaning you have to put them in fresh each time. There's no audio countdown to your reps, so you have to look at the screen, which can be tough in some positions. The app isn't yet native on smart TVs or devices like Apple TV or video game consoles, meaning you have to try and cast it. And activities that require you to do left and right sides of your body aren't accounted for in the exercise set.
While I feel the app has some way to go, it's still good in its current form and you can clearly see where it is going.
Verdict: So, does it replace the gym?
Even though there are plenty of activities and exercises I can only do at my gym, there's not so many that I feel a need to keep up my gym membership. With the Vitruvian Trainer+, you really can work all the muscle groups from the comfort of your own home – especially if you get all the accessories.
But, if you're not used to training alone, then that's another discussion altogether. While some handy videos of each exercise give you an idea of how to do each rep, it's no personal trainer. The app also does a poor job in explaining the intricacies of form or providing education on the how and why of your body shape and position in the basic workouts. If you don't already know what you're doing, you may find yourself not actually targeting the muscles you're intending to, which can even result in injury.
The classes rectify this, but do so from behind a significant paywall. That's something to keep in mind. Hopefully, Vitruvian won't be as aggressive in what they gate behind a subscription as they're currently intending to be. When the subscription does kicks in, I will reassess my current review score based on what does and doesn't make the cut.
I like the Vitruvian Trainer, in particular the Trainer+. For me, being able to binge my favourite show while working out in my air-conditioned living room is an improve on sweating it out my humid gym floor with nothing but my thoughts to distract me. It's a hell of a buy-in, but it's a well-made product with an exciting future that should grow and adapt itself to your body the more you use it.
Price, availability and is the original Vitruvian Trainer still worth it?
The Vitruvian Trainer+ isn't a small investment. It will cost you $3,150, with ankle straps and handles included. And while you can use it in basic workout modes at no additional cost, all the main features fall behind a $49 per month subscription paywall come February 2022.
I think the gated subscription goes way too hard and too much is cut out, especially on the back of a $3K spend. I can understand why classes, games and team-building features are subscription based as they require ongoing human input. But why is the data tracking, custom workouts, performance insights, leaderboards and goal-orientated programs not free as part of that huge initial spend? These features only utilise the base functions already built into the device. It's just data.
For the cost of a Vitruvian Trainer+, I could also stay at my gym on my current rate for a further 5 years. So, to make the switch is a big call. To then be asked to put in another $49 per month to get access to even basic things like progression data is in my opinion and a deal breaker.
As for the original Vitruvian V-Form Trainer, the company has dropped the price to $2,300. I reckon that's a little on the high-side. I think if it was closer to $2K it would still be good value. And while the Trainer+ is definitely a lot better, I'm not sure it's worth an extra $1K. I've scored the Vitruvian Trainer+ a 4.5 out of 5 in this review, but if we were to focus on V-Form Trainer, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5.
The bummer is that the accessories for the V-Form Trainer do not work on the Trainer+, creating a barrier to future upgrade. While the new locking mechanism means you have to buy official accessories with the Trainer+.
Pricing and availability
PriceThe Vitruvian Trainer+ retails in Australia for $3,150 outright.
Where to buy
How did we test it?
I had the Vitruvian V-Form Trainer in my home for over 4 months, where I returned to it regularly to try more accessories, classes and exercises. I then got invited to use the Vitruvian Trainer+ at events and at a gym to get a handle of the differences.
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