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Fitness founder explains the algorithms behind new smart fitness device

Smart fitness has been a popular topic of conversation for the past few years. Connected devices range from the small wearables –  think Apple Watch, Fitbit – to high-end home gym equipment.

The likes of Peloton and Mirror take everything you get in a spin class, a PT session and the gym, and package the technology with a plethora of digital features to allow you the convenience and control of your favourite workout at home.

Named for Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous drawing of the ideal human physique, the V-Form Trainer by Vitruvian Form is designed for building your perfect form. The device can load up to 200 kilograms of resistance and is intelligently adaptive – meaning it adjusts to your capabilities, uses data insights to push you further, and works as a spotter to ensure you are safely ‘lifting’.

.The V-Form Trainer is the brainchild of Jon Gregory, previously a high frequency trader who forged a successful business ahead of the curve, when the financial trading tool was first emerging. Also an applied physicist by education, Gregory’s expertise in building complex algorithms that analyse behaviours and respond favourably to certain conditions laid the perfect foundation for his next solution.

During quiet moments on the markets, Gregory kept up his fitness with a set of weights in his trading room. Struck by the stark contrast between the sophisticated technology used at work and the rudimentary heavy weights we’ve used to get strong for centuries, he set about building a mechanised weight system underwritten by algorithms, with the intention to push people to train not just harder, but far more effectively.

We spent some time with Jon Gregory, creator of the innovative technology inside the Vitruvian Form:

Let’s start with the basics. How do you describe it?

The V-Form Trainer is a sleek carbon fibre platform, weighing in at just 20kg. Two cables retract into the platform; each can provide 100kg of resistance. So, that’s up to 200kg of resistance in total. You can do hundreds of different exercise types and workouts across all muscle groups including squats, presses, curls, lifts.

The adaptive force algorithm we have developed manages load, dynamically changing resistance to slash the time it takes to build muscle.

The V-Form App connects with the Trainer to deliver a wide range of fitness classes and PT sessions, as well as track all performance data – for both your own insights and for the benefit of our trainers, who will adjust your programs accordingly.

What’s the problem with conventional dumb weight?

It just doesn’t make sense that we are still pushing around static weight – it’s not measured anywhere near accurately enough or can take into account personal capabilities, so without professional insights and or diligently monitoring every small data point manually, you can’t ensure that you are getting the results that you want, or are doing the right thing for your body.

In other words, unless you have a specific plan or a trainer who is making sure that your entire body is worked, the odds are high that you’re skipping something that you should be doing – or you may be doing too much of something else. 

With the V-Form Trainer, the algorithm keeps track of what you lifted before so you can keep progressing. It can feel if you need more resistance or less and it alters the weight as required. It even spots you to help you stay injury-free – if it assesses that you’re struggling to maintain a load, it reduces the weight. It really is the perfect way to train, in terms of both safety and analysis of your progress.

Why is variable weight better?

In addition to the adaptive weight load, the V-Form Trainer can vary the weight of the concentric to eccentric phases of movement. Eccentric training keeps the muscle in tension for the entire range of motion. This is not as easy to achieve with free weights, due to natural momentum, and conveniently you don’t need to stop to change your weight, as the device will do it for you.

The benefits of eccentric training for strengthening, conditioning, burning fat at rest and more, have long been known by the pros. It’s time for everyone to have access.

How do the algorithms work? 

We have used velocity targeting to adapt to the individual and subtle pauses to give the user control. There are also settings that can change the workout depending on what the user is trying to achieve.The device also uses intelligent algorithms to dynamically update resistance in real-time, giving you a workout perfectly tailored to your strength, allowing you to build muscle strength and tone faster than ever before.

How does the V-Form App work with the Trainer? 

The app is what makes the device truly personalized. You load your profile in and it’s where your performance data is stored. The device settings are accessed and managed through the app, according your various goals, and it’s where you can follow exercise instructions, classes and immersive training experiences.

What excites you about the future for Vitruvian Form?

We have a fantastic product that’s a genuine game-changer. It’s really exciting and a wonderful endorsement that we have had a hugely positive response to our pre-launch offer. Every elite athlete, fitness influencer, sports science professional and, importantly, every regular person, who has trained with Vitruvian Form are reporting serious satisfaction. We can deliver training techniques and benefits to everyone, that were previously only the domain of professional athletes and sports scientists.

But we won’t stop pushing the resistance revolution further. There is a fundamental, unanswered question in exercise physiology: what combination of volume and intensity of resistance training is required to achieve your goals in the most efficient way? As more and more people train with Vitruvian Form, we will be able to answer this question using data science and feed the conclusions back to everyone training with us.

One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

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