When the world went into lockdown, anyone with a fitness studio membership had to figure out how to adapt at home.
People borrowed weights from their gym, or hired reformer Pilates machines that took up space in their lounge room, but ultimately you couldn’t recreate a whole studio experience at home.
Now you can – with a new machine that loads up to 200kg – the equivalent of a whole rack of weights in a gym.
The Perth father-of-three behind the Vitruvian Form came up with the idea back in 2008.
Jon Gregory was a high frequency trader for hedge funds and banks who had a degree in applied physics.
“We had a gym in the back of our trading room which we’d use when the markets were quiet,” he said.
“That was the genesis of the idea, thinking we should be able to do much better than just pushing metal around.
“We started thinking about it, taking about it. We called it the torture machine.”
The V-Form resistance trainer is driven by intelligent algorithmic technology, with the device modifying weight loading to match the user’s ability, during their performance at the time and based on workout history, enabling them to train more effectively.
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After learning about how such a machine would have to work, Mr Gregory didn’t take the idea much further.
“I thought I didn’t really want to make gym equipment,” he said.
“It seemed like a horrible business idea. I was a bit down on it but in 2016, for me it was seeing Peleton for the first time and thinking those guys have cracked how to turn a product into a subscription business.”
Peleton is an internet-connected indoor cycling bike that’s grown in popularity since its first machine sold in 2014.
It’s based on a subscription model offering live and on-demand classes, just as the V-Form will be.
“At the same time I was looking at the rise of social media and the rise of the fitness influencer,” Mr Gregory continued.
“There were sporty, attractive people gaining lots of influence and not having a way to monetise that.
“In a light bulb there was a device that connected the influencers and PTs of the world to people in their homes. That was the vision.”
Mr Gregory continued with proof of concepts in 2016 in his shed but it wasn’t until January last year that things really kicked off with a $100,000 angel investment.
“That was the catalyst for me to go, right, lets do this,” he said.
“It wasn’t so much the money, it was the encouragement and motivation that they backed me without much to go on. That was the pivotal moment.”
In June the company ran a pre-sale campaign, kind of like an internal Kickstarter campaign, to test the appetite for the device and the pricing and “see if the world was ready”.
They pre-sold 300 units, outdoing Peleton’s initial success.
“The response from consumers has been overwhelming, I knew we were on to something after spending the last 10 years iterating the technology, but I am glad the general fitness community has also bought into what we are building,” Mr Gregory said.
Mr Gregory said they were now figuring out how make more of the machines and deliver them, with plans for a wider launch in the coming weeks.
Mr Gregory said the “grand vision” was for fitness professionals and influencers to be able to upload classes through the platform, and already those who have tried one are loving it.
“We can make the internet physical,” he said.
“We think the world is waiting for it. It’s a surprising experience.
“It’s a different ball game to just watching a YouTube workout video.”
But Mr Gregory said they’d need thousands of the machines in people’s homes for that vision to take off.
Aussie fitness influencer and former pole vaulter Amanda Bisk said she was so impressed with all the features.
“It’s going to absolutely revolutionise the fitness world,” she said.
American influencer Rachel Joy said the machine made it so easy to track a workout.
“This is the ultimate smart device, I haven’t seen anything like this in the fitness industry before,” she said.
Mr Gregory said the price point would be about $138 for the machine and the content for a three-year contract, or about $3500 to buy the machine outright.