We Tried The Vitruvian Trainer+. Is It Worth The Hype?

We tried the Vitruvian Trainer+. Is it worth the hype?

With the advent of the Vitruvian Trainer+, the case for cancelling your gym membership has never been stronger

IF YOU WANT to stay fit and strong, the traditional avenues dictate that you must decide between a commercial gym membership and investing in a home gym. Both have their flaws, and they certainly aren’t inexpensive. A gym membership will get you all the equipment you need, but you’ll have to put up with crowds and the congestion, noise and smells that come with them. If a home gym is more to your liking, you’ll need to be willing to make several costly purchases, and of course, have the requisite space to house such a sanctuary of sweat. But what if there was a third option?

As someone who has gone down each of these paths and teetered between both for some time without committing to any one plan of action, Vitruvian’s flagship product, the Trainer+, had been on my radar for a while. In essence, the Trainer+ is an all-in-one home gym. It’s a compact, portable platform that can generate resistance up to 200kg. With a variety of attachments, the Trainer+ allows you to perform just about any strength exercise you can do in a commercial or home gym, without all the bulky, space-consuming equipment.

So, how does the trainer plus actually work? It’s more complex than simply setting a weight and lifting it. The Trainer+ uses artificial intelligence to adapt to your needs. Translation: the weight will dynamically shift mid-set. If you’re flying through your set, the Trainer+ will recognise it and add resistance. If you’re struggling through those last few reps, the Trainer+ will lighten the load.

It’s not just the futuristic aspect of the Trainer+ that appeals. AI is all the rage nowadays, and to justify its price tag, the Trainer+ has to do more than simply spark initial curiosity. Thankfully, it does.

Strength training is important to me, but these days I tend to prioritise running and cardio – although, I was a six-days-in-the-gym-per week kind of guy in the past. I’m not bold enough to assume that everyone is the same as me, but the point is, strength training exists in a grey area for me right now. I don’t like the idea of a gym membership siphoning funds from my income every week when I feel like I’m not getting enough value for what I’m spending. Nor am I willing to fork out for a slew of pricey equipment to build a home gym, when it could very easily rot in my garage barely used – or worse, end up on the nature strip if I move houses and don’t have room for it anymore.

The Trainer+ is a refreshing alternative to these options. To see if it could surpass them and live up to the hype, I tested it out for myself. Here’s how it went.

What we like about the Vitruvian Trainer+

The frame:

If your biggest barrier to starting a home gym is finding the space to keep equipment, the Trainer+ is a godsend. The entire machine is only around the size of a treadmill’s track and weighs about 36kg. It has wheels and is ultra-portable, able to be moved with ease and stored in places you wouldn’t dream of stuffing gym equipment into (I usually kept it under my couch).

Despite its advanced capabilities, the Trainer+’s design is surprisingly minimalistic. It requires no installation, simply plug it in and start it up. No assembly and de-assembly are required before and after use, perfect for when you’re trying to squeeze in a quick workout.

The AI:

Back in February, Vitruvian founder Jon Gregory gave me a hint of just how intelligent the Trainer+’s artificial intelligence is. “One of the key features of our AI is its ability to dynamically adjust the weight resistance in real-time. Whether a user needs more challenge or less, our AI responds,” he said. At the time, I had my doubts. AI has proven to be a temperamental beast. For every advancement, there are myriad teething issues that prove we still have a long way to go. The Trainer+ is the exception in this case, not the rule.

The Trainer+ does require some human input. You don’t just pick up the gear and start a set, expecting the platform to automatically adjust. Instead, you set a desired starting weight, and from there the Trainer+ will intuitively do the rest. It’s surprisingly quick – and equally effective. Not only does this ensure you get the most out of every rep, tracking across workouts means the Trainer+ knows what you need to do to make progress in the future. As Jon Gregory previously told me, “You’re always challenged just enough to improve, but not so much that you risk burnout or plateauing.”

The versatility:

Vitruvian advertises the Trainer+ as an all-in-one home gym. That’s a big call, but the machinery more than lives up to it. The Trainer+ is compatible with a wide range of attachments, from basic handles and short bars to ropes and pump handles for rapid movement. In practice, this means you can perform just about any exercise that you would in the gym. When scrolling through the more than 200 potential exercises on the Vitruvian app, I was taken aback by the plethora of available options.

For the most part, the Trainer+ deftly tackles whatever you throw at it, with most exercises feeling almost exactly like they would with free weights or on regular equipment – with the added adaptive AI bonus. There are a few exercises, however, that don’t function quite as well. In particular, the Trainer+ can struggle with some exercises that require heavier weight, but use less sturdy attachments. For example, bench press with the long bar was perfectly fine, but attempting chest press with handles often resulted in shaky cables, as the equipment struggled to handle some extra force. Overall, the Trainer+ still held up to standard for most exercises.

The app interface:

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Trainer+ is the ability of the Vitruvian app to work in tandem with the machine to create a seamless workout experience. The app allows you to design your own workout, or select a premade itinerary that caters to specific focuses. Moreover, the app is as intuitive as the Trainer+ itself, recording workout data and providing performance insights and metrics. Gone are the days when you needed to carry around a notebook at the gym and note down every performance detail.

The verdict

I came into my test of the Vitruvian Trainer+ mostly curious about the capabilities of its AI. Plus, as a Men’s Health writer, when anything is proclaimed the ‘future of fitness’, I’m duty-bound to investigate. Typically, such a claim would be nothing more than naturally exaggerative marketing parlance, but in the case of the Trainer+, it’s hard to disagree.

The Trainer+ stood up to all my rigorous testing, withstanding just about everything I challenged it with and quelling many of my doubts about the ability of AI to be advanced enough to have applications in fitness. Whether you’re a workout hobbyist just trying to stay fit and maintain muscle mass, or an acolyte of iron attempting to crush PBs and chisel out an even buffer physique, the Trainer+ is worth your consideration. As for me, it’s safe to say that my gym membership is in peril.

Learn more about the Vitruvian Trainer+ here.

Related:

Gamification is revolutionising the fitness industry: these men are leading the way

Stepper-Ton: the cardio workout that’s putting the fun back in fitness

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

More From

Nike Pacific Running Summit
Inside the Nike Pacific Running Summit

Inside the Nike Pacific Running Summit

Over the last two days, Nike brought together the paragons of Australia’s running community for a celebration of all things running at the first ever Nike Pacific Running Summit. Men’s Health was there to test the latest innovations, get an inside look at the gear that will be lighting up the track in Paris next month, and to discover what separates Nike from the pack