As a new dad, space has quickly become a premium in my NYC apartment home.
In my quest to find a compact yet effective solution for my home gym, I came across the Vitruvian Trainer+.
Is this smart, functional trainer good enough to help me downsize my cluttered home gym?
I am pleased to say that this machine has exceeded my expectations – and I have been lifting for over 15 years.
Keep reading to learn more.
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– The Vitruvian V-Form Trainer+ is a minimalist yet versatile home gym solution, ideal for those who want a complete gym workout but have limited space.
– You can do over 100 exercises, including variations of the big 4 (squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press), with up to 440 lbs of resistance.
– The smart technology enables quick and easy transitions between exercises and weight adjustments, saving time and making your workouts more efficient.
– It can replace most but not all of your home fitness equipment.
Is The Vitruvian Trainer+ Worth It? (TLDR Quick Summary)
As someone who has been lifting weights for over 15 years, I can say that the Vitruvian Trainer is hands-down 100% worth it. Brittany and I LOVE working out on the machine.
Every time I see it, I want to turn it back on and keep using it, even after I have finished my workout.
It’s literally that much fun to use.
Most importantly, the Vitruvian has single-handedly replaced 90% of my home gym equipment.
And this is coming from former powerlifters who do functional strength training.
My biggest doubt about the machine was whether I could truly do big compound lifts on it like squats, good mornings, and Romanian deadlifts and if it would feel natural.
Believe it or not, many of these compound exercises feel BETTER and smoother than their barbell counterparts.
Since getting the Vitruvian, I have not touched my rack, barbell, weight plates, or adjustable dumbbells in over a month.
Plus, my workouts are so much more efficient as it only takes seconds to swap the accessories, and change the weight.
All without making noise!
Gone are the days of loading and unloading weight plates, rearranging the rack and barbell at 5AM fearing that we will wake our sleeping son or the neighbors.
Obviously, not everything is perfect, and there are some cons.
Keep reading to learn more.
My Current Home Gym Set-Up
Now that my son is 12+ months and walking, space has become a precious commodity in my home.
We live in a two-bedroom apartment, and get this; our primary bedroom is a gym.
In it, we have
- a squat rack with a pull-up bar
- a barbell
- 300+ lbs of weight plates
- a bench
- adjustable dumbbells
- dip bars
- gymnastics rings
- And many other miscellaneous equipments (bands, cable pulley, parallettes, rollers, mats, etc.)
Oh, and there’s a Peloton in there as well.
It’s a lot.
But I also “need” all of this. Brittany and I like doing functional strength training (squats, bench, deadlifts) and calisthenics (pull-ups, dips, levers, etc.).
But since I have limited space and my son likes to explore, some things will have to go.
Plus, he’s going to need his own room soon.
That’s when I realized that I needed to find a way to downsize my home gym.
My Initial Reservations: Can Smart Home Gyms Be Useful For Someone Who Lifts Heavy?
Before getting the Vitruvian Trainer, my biggest question was whether it could replace my barbell and plates.
As someone who likes to lift heavy occasionally, I was worried that a smart home gym wouldn’t live up to the hype.
I’ve seen other gimmicky gym equipment over the years that have come and gone, so I wasn’t easily convinced.
I first heard of smart home gyms from a podcast. This person was touting the Tonal and how it revolutionized their home gym.
The problem is it only goes up to 200 lbs.
As someone who comes from a powerlifting background, I had my doubts. I would need more than 200 lbs, especially on the big compound lifts. Plus, I didn’t want to mount that thing on my wall.
That’s when I learned about the Vitruvian Trainer+.
The fact that it was a standalone platform and provided up to 440 lbs of resistance caught my eye. I also saw youtube videos of strong lifters struggling and shaking on the machine as they did squats and deadlifts.
At that point, I reached out to the company – told them my story, and they offered to send me one free of charge to give it a spin!
My First Impressions: Pleasantly Surprised
When the Trainer+ arrived at my apartment – I immediately stopped what I was doing and began to unbox it.
The first thing I noticed was how heavy and durable it felt – this thing is a beast. It took my wife and I together to lug it up the stairs.
The hardware is also solid.
The frame is made of a carbon fiber shell, and the accessories feel just as premium.
The Set-Up (Extremely Simple)
One great thing about the Vitruvian is that it is all one piece. You don’t need to assemble it.
Plug in the power cord, download the app, make a profile, scan the QR code on the side, and you are ready to go.
I was able to start using it within minutes of unboxing it.
The Foot Print
The Vitruvian Trainer+ is (obviously) a lot smaller than my current set-up, taking up less than 6 square feet of real estate.
It is also on wheels, which makes it easy to move around and store in a corner when not in use.
However, it is heavy!
The machine weighs about 80 lbs – so I prefer to leave it one space.
Another thing that may be a pro or a con is that the machine only works through the companion app. The app is how you choose the exercises, the number of reps you plan to do, the weight, and the rest time between sets.
They improved the app significantly in June 2023, making it much easier to use.
You can sort the exercises by alphabetical order, muscle group, or equipment (barbell, rope, ankle straps, etc.).
I also love seeing all the exercises you can do on it – which is super motivational.
Brittany and I often find ourselves going through the expansive library and wanting to try all the different exercises.
The app also helps you track your progress and can automatically up your personal records as you get stronger.
The standard Vitruvian comes with just a pair of handles, analogous to dumbbells, and some ankle straps.
You also have the option of getting an entry kit or a Pro-kit. The Pro-kit has a workout mat, a bench, a long bar (barbell), a short bar, a rope, a belt, safety cables, and premium handles.
It should go without saying that the extra equipment opens up a world of possibilities.
You need the Pro-kit to get the most out of the machine.
At the time of this writing, the Pro kit add-on costs an additional $500.
With these accessories, you can do almost every exercise you can think of. The best part is that swapping the accessories take seconds.
For example, I love doing the belt squat exercise.
If you do not have a belt squat machine, think about how cumbersome it is to do this exercise at a regular gym. You would need a dip belt, weight plates, and two elevated platforms, which can be awkward.
With Virtuvian, all you have to do is put on the belt, turn on the app, and you’re ready to go.
The Most Impressive Part: The Resistance System
The most impressive part of the machine is the resistance system. It uses magnetic resistance to generate the weight, and it is incredible.
It feels different, yet familiar.
But one thing is certain; the digital weight feels heavier than traditional weights.
I can easily bench 225 lbs + on any day with free weights, but I haven’t yet dared to approach that number on the Vitruvian.
I don’t know what it is exactly, but it probably has to do with the fact that you aren’t limited by gravity. With regular weights, you can cheat and use leverages to make the weight feel lighter/easier in certain positions.
With the Vitruvian, the weight is constant no matter where you are in the range of motion.
Other Benefits and Features of The Vitruvian
The Eccentric Only Mode
Another part of the resistance system that I love is the eccentric-only mode. This mode allows you to do heavy negatives, which you can’t easily replicate with traditional free weights.
The technology knows when you are doing the concentric and completely unloads the weight on the way up and then turns on the resistance on the way down.
We are all stronger on the way down than on the way up. As such, you can use heavy negatives to increase your strength and time under tension, which is a great way to stimulate hypertrophy.
I use the eccentric training mode for my lagging muscle groups (primarily my biceps).
There are three additional workout modes, old school, time under tension, and pump.
The “old school” mode is when the weights are constant on the concentric and eccentric portions. I don’t use either of the latter two options.
The Automatic Spotter
This feature is terrific.
The machine has an automatic spotter built into it that monitors your reps and your range of motion. If it detects that you are failing a repetition, the device flashes red and unloads the weight automatically.
As you can imagine, this feature prevents you from getting stuck in a dangerous position.
I almost never train to failure, but I have inadvertently gotten to that point a few times with the magnetic resistance.
It works beautifully.
I’ve even allowed it to turn on automatically when I just wanted to dump the bar off my back when doing squats :).
Easy Progressive Overload
Another great feature is that you can increase the weight of each exercise in one-pound increments!
Gone are the days of adding 5-10 lbs per exercise because you don’t have the exact weight plate adjustments.
The Strength Assessments
Vitruvian also recommends you do a strength assessment workout to determine how much weight you can lift for each major muscle group.
It’s not necessary to do the assessment, but it can be helpful to learn how much you can lift using the adaptive technology.
The machine also caps you at a certain weight on all exercises until you can prove to it that you can handle more, another built-in safety feature.
You Can Do Cardio Too
Since becoming a dad, I have started to focus my workouts more on long-term health. As such, I have been incorporating more cardio and aerobic work into my routine.
With the Trainer+, I can easily create custom exercise circuits with short rest periods to get my metabolic conditioning in. Using it, I’ve even emulated a Crossfit WOD (workout of the day).
You Can Train With A Partner Easily
This benefit should be talked about more.
The Vitruvian Trainer+ allows you to train with a friend very easily. I remember the days when Brittany and I shared the bench press. You could imagine how annoying it was to adjust the weight after each set (often by hundreds of pounds), as well as the height of the barbell.
With the Vitruvian, however, it takes a few seconds to adjust the weight for each person.
Moreover, each time you start an exercise, it automatically forces you to do three calibration repetitions so that the machine can learn your range of motion. That way, you don’t need to adjust the heights of anything, either!
Pre-Programmed Workout Classes
Lastly, the Vitruvian app also comes with follow along workout programs – which is great if you are looking for something specific or don’t have the time to create your own workouts from scratch. However, you do need the membership to use this feature.
I never follow an exercise class, so I have not looked into this, but Brittany has tried some of the workouts and enjoys them.
What The Trainer+ Replaced In My Home Gym
One of the biggest reasons for wanting to get the Vitruvian Trainer+ was to help me save space.
When I first got it, I was afraid to give up the classic gym staples such as barbells, plates, and dumbbells.
So when I got the V-Form, I just put the machine in the corner and added it to my already cluttered home gym.
However, after two weeks, Brittany and I realized we hadn’t used the vast majority of my equipment – the Vitruvian Trainer+ replaced them all.
We went ahead and rearranged the entire gym to put everything we weren’t using into the corner and allowed the Vitruvian to have the entire open floor.
Now, a month later, I have not used:
- my squat rack
- my bench press set-up
- my barbell
- my weight plates
- my adjustable dumbbells
- my cable pulley system
- my rings
With that said, it has yet to replace everything. It cannot replace a pull-up bar or my dip bars.
Sadly, my pull-up bar (and the only one I will use) is attached to my rack.
As such, the rack is just in the corner for the sole purpose of having a pull-up bar there.
I cannot drill one into my walls and am not too fond of the doorway pull-up bars.
I am also keeping my dip bars to do dips and calisthenics skills like front and back levers without needing a pull-up bar.
Once we move from this apartment, the barbell, plates, rack, and bench will not be coming with us.
What I Don’t Like About The Trainer+
Okay, so now let’s get into the cons. These aren’t a big deal, but it could be a deal breaker to some.
You Need The Pro Kit
The Pro kit is a must for the Vitruvian.
With it, your exercise selection and variety will increase by a lot!
The problem is, this machine is already expensive. The need to spend an extra $500 for a bunch of accessories is a tough pill to swallow, but if you are looking for the best experience and are serious about lifting, you need to get it.
*You also need to have the V-Form accessories. Other third-party handles will not work with the machine.
The Vitruvian Trainer+ is expensive. The retail cost is ~$3000. They have a financing option, but the price will be a big turn-off for most people. If you want to take advantage of the membership, that will add a monthly subscription fee of $39.
I can’t blame them. For a business to remain sustainable, they need recurring revenue, and I want to see them succeed.
My Trainer+ included a year-long membership, so I can only comment on using the machine with it. However, others have said that the membership isn’t necessary to get the most out of this machine.
A Handful of Exercises Are Awkward
The Trainer+ has incredible versatility, supporting well over 100 exercises. Brittany and I are constantly trying to find new movements that were previously impossible to do in our home gym.
However, a couple of the movements are awkward, and the line of pull isn’t where it should be.
A quick example is the Pallof Press. The resistance is supposed to be on your side and rotating you laterally. However, since the resistance is coming from the ground on the V-Form Trainer, the Pallof Press isn’t really feasible. Thankfully, I found only a few exercises that could be better, like this one.
No Overhead Pulling Movements
This con has been beaten to death. Everyone knows that the V-Form Trainer+ does not allow you to do overhead pulling movements, specifically the lat pulldown.
I also can’t hang from a bar to do pull-ups.
I heard they are creating a new overhead attachment called the V-Frame to combat this issue, although there has yet to be an official word on the release date.
Other Small Pet Peeves
Another minor pet peeve is that if you use it right after someone else, that person needs to remember to disconnect the machine from their app.
Brittany is the first to use it at 5 AM; I go at 5:30.
We do this to switch parenting duties if the baby wakes up when one of us is training.
I often have to remind her to go on the app and click the disconnect button before I can log in and start my session.
Another pet peeve is that some exercises don’t register perfectly when you are doing your calibration reps.
For example, sometimes, I can’t get the resistance to turn on during the correct portion of a calf raise.
Similarly, when doing squats and bench presses, I cannot figure out how to turn the weights on at the top of the movement. It always turns on at the bottom of the rep for those two exercises. It’s not a big deal, but worth noting.
Lastly, the cables might touch your head when bringing the handle overhead, like in the tricep rope extension.
Not deal breakers, just minor annoyances.
The Pros and Cons
Now let’s list out all of the pros and cons.
- Versatile – Supports over 100 exercises to train the entire body, including the big 4 (squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press).
- Plenty of Adaptive Resistance – Includes up to 440 lbs of resistance which is great for experienced lifters who are already strong.
- Comfort- I don’t know what it is, but some exercises feel smoother and more natural on the Trainer+. It’s like everything a Smith Machine was trying to be but infinitely better.
- Incremental Resistance Adjustment – Allows you to adjust resistance in 1 lb increments for precise progressive overload.
- Constant Tension – Unlike dumbbells, the weight is constant no matter where you are in the range of motion
- Different Training Methods– The technology allows you to use different training modes (old-school, eccentric only, time under tension, and pump).
- Automatic Spotter – The machine monitors your reps and range of motion and unloads weight automatically if you are failing a rep.
- Form Factor and Design– The machine is well-built, has a small footprint, and takes up only 6 square feet of space.
- Time efficiency– You can change loads from five pounds to hundreds of pounds in seconds. You can also change exercises/accessories in seconds.
- Functionality– This machine replaces the majority of gym equipment and saves you a lot of storage space
- Cost – At nearly $3000, this isn’t an impulse buy for most people. The accessory kit is a must-have and will cost an additional $500. The all-access membership is an additional $39 per month, but if you create your own custom workouts, you don’t need it.
- V-Form Accessories Needed – This machine only works with V-Form accessories and not third-party handles or attachments.
- No overhead Pulling – You cannot do lat pulldowns or hang from a bar (at least not yet).
- The Vitruvian App- You need a phone with Bluetooth connectivity to use this machine. It has no built-in screen, which can be a plus or a minus. I prefer not to have an attached screen to save even more space.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It Compare To The Competitors?
There are a few other smart fitness machines on the market. One notable competitor is the Tonal.
The Tonal has a few benefits, which include:
- A built-in screen which means you don’t need a smartphone to use it
- Movable arms, which allow you to do overhead pulling movements and standing horizontal exercises
However, the cons outweigh the pros for me.
- It only supports a maximum load of 200 pounds
- It has to be drilled into your wall, so it is not portable
- Apparently, the device is useless without the membership
There are other similar products like the Speediance and Oxefitt, which overcome two of these cons, but they still only support 200 pounds of resistance.
How Do You Justify The Price?
The Vitruvian Trainer+ starts at >$2900. While the initial investment is steep, the value it offers justifies the price.
First, the Trainer+ replaces the majority of standard gym equipment, which would cost a few thousand dollars anyway. Its compact size is also essential for me living in NYC.
Second, the ability to get a complete full-body gym workout without making noise at 5 AM while my son sleeps in the other room is priceless.
Third, for someone like me who values their time and wants an efficient workout, the Trainer+ is an excellent investment. I no longer need to waste time racking and unracking weights or setting up equipment between exercises.
It’s difficult to put a price on convenience.
Lastly, I am not a newbie. Despite my training experience, this machine has motivated me to work out even more than I normally do. Brittany has exercised on it every single day since we have gotten it.
Vitruvian Trainer+ Discount Code
Use the coupon code WCTSTRONG at checkout to get $50 off using this link.
Becoming a dad has made space a precious commodity in our NYC apartment.
As a former powerlifter who likes to do functional strength training, I needed a way to still get my workouts in at home with limited space.
The Vitruvian Trainer+ is everything I was hoping it to be. It has allowed us to continue training like we were with our traditional weights but in a more compact and efficient package.
Plus, it has enough weight/resistance to last our lifetime. (I no longer plan on squatting or deadlifting over 400 lbs).
What’s more, this smart device helps me save so much time during my workouts. Gone are the days of constantly racking and unracking weights and wasting time setting up equipment between exercises.
Not only does the Trainer+ make my workout routines more efficient, but it also offers me endless exercise possibilities. Plus, I don’t have to worry about making noise at 5 AM and risk waking up our son or the neighbors.
The machine has proven to be a real game-changer, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quality smart home gym.
Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM Certified Personal Trainers, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a resource dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals using time-efficient strategies. Their advice has been featured in My Fitness Pal, Prevention, Livestrong, Reader’s Digest, Bustle, The Active Times, and more. Learn more about them here.