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Vitruvian’s Trainer+ is an all-in-one home gym that actually lives up to its promises



The connected home gym gear craze probably experienced its zenith during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with indicators like Peloton’s fortunes pointing to waning interest as people get back to using their gym memberships. But the category still has plenty of potential, especially if the gear in question can combine smarts with other key value propositions, including a small footprint that can fit into anyone’s home. Vitruvian’s Trainer+ offers that and more, nailing the tricky proposition of offering a comprehensive weight training experience at home while keeping things small and simple.

The basics

The Vitruvian Trainer+ is not cheap. At $2,990, it’s around the cost of six years of gym membership at the average rate paid in the U.S. per month, and that doesn’t include the Vitruvian All Access recurring subscription fee for access to advanced workout features including guided sessions, which is a hefty $39 per month after the first 12 months, which are included free with the purchase of the machine.

That the recurring sub is itself more expensive than the average American pays for their monthly gym membership is a very steep hill to climb, and clearly Vitruvian knows it since they don’t make it very easy to find that pricing on their website — even in the FAQ question that specifically asks how much the membership costs. You can opt to pay for a subscription that lasts the lifetime of your machine for a one-time fee of $990, which is definitely a better deal if you actually are using the machine consistently and plan to continue. Finally, you can always opt not to use the subscription features, which still gives you a very capable piece of workout hardware as long as you’re good at charting your own workout path.

Speaking of the hardware, it’s actually easy to see why even with a base price of nearly $3K, Vitruvian needs to also ask a hefty recurring fee from its users: The Trainer+ is a fantastic piece of kit that no doubt incurred high development and production costs.

What you get is a compact but solid platform with two clips that connect external accessories including various handles, a barbell and ropes to an active resistance mechanism contained within. The platform itself is easy to tuck under a couch or table, and measures just around 46 by 20 inches and weighs only 80 lbs. Considering the range of workouts the Trainer+ offers, and the fact that it can provide anywhere up to 440 lbs of resistance, the fact that it comes in such a relatively small package is incredibly impressive.

The Trainer+ is super easy to set up and pair with your smartphone using a QR code on the machine itself, and the quick clipping system it uses to connect to handles and other accessories is incredibly smart and useful for rapidly switching between different items during a structured workout.

Resistance is controlled by the app, and every time you start a workout the machine requires three setup reps to establish your proper range of motion before you get into doing the exercises with actual weight. Once you do get into an actual exercise, there are three possible modes for each, including one that adds 1 kg (2.2 lbs) with each clean rep, once that decreases weight over time, and a sustained mode where weight stays the same.

Vitruvian's Trainer+ all-in-one home gym device

Image Credits: Vitruvian


On the surface, there’s not much too the Trainer+’s design: The flashiest thing about it is the customizable LED lighting that also offers some helpful visual cues about whether you’re competing reps properly or not. Otherwise, it looks like an overgrown Wii Balance board if you’re old enough to remember what that is, or basically just an elevated stand. The Trainer+’s top surface is made from a carbon-fibre composite, which is fine to use on its own with training shoes, but you can also opt to get the additional soft, tacky mat that is included in either the Entry or Pro level accessory kit (I received the $500 Pro kit in my sample package).

As mentioned, the Trainer+ is around 80 lbs, and it comes in one solid pre-assembled piece. Setup is therefore a breeze compared to just about any other home gym equipment, but you probably should get another person to help you moving it, say, up and down stairs. For moving it around your space, there are wheels on the underside that come in contact with the ground when you tip one end up, making it easy to slide across floors for storing under a couch or desk.

The key to Trainer+’s versatility are its two recessed “Quick Connection System” receptors, which are themselves permanently connected to retractable cables that tie into the device’s programmable active resistance system. The quick connectors allow the included handles and ankle straps to easily snap in, and they release via a simple collar push mechanism that won’t come loose in use but that is dead simple to change out between exercises. This replaces a much more cumbersome carabiner system on the Trainer+’s predecessor, and it’s a fantastic, intuitive upgrade.

Another area where Trainer+’s overall cost of ownership creeps higher still is with the various attachments on offer. There’s a ‘Basic’ kit that adds a long bar, a tricep rope, “premium” handles, the aforementioned workout mat and safety cables. Then the ‘Pro’ kit that I tested the Trainer+ with includes all that, along with a short bar, a belt, and even a bench. You can accomplish a lot with the Trainer+ without any of these things, but the truth is that the experience is greatly enhanced by adding them in – especially the bench and bar – and you can’t buy them piecemeal.

The Trainer+ works with a dedicated Vitruvian companion app, which connects to your machine via Bluetooth. The good thing about the expensive All-Access membership is that it’s tied to the machine, not the individual – meaning anyone in your household (or even visitors) can create their own profile in the app on their own phone and pair with your machine to access all training options and guided workouts. The app itself is great, offering multi-week programs you can follow, trainer-led classes, and a wide range of individual exercises that you can assemble into your own custom workouts if you’re a subscriber, too. I used the app’s guided video on my gym Apple TV via AirPlay and that worked flawlessly as well.

Vitruvian's Trainer+ all-in-one home gym device

Image Credits: Vitruvian


The Trainer+ is probably going to feel different from other workouts you’ve tried if you haven’t used an active resistance machine in the past: it’s different from either all-in-one cable and weight-based equipment, or free weights. To Vitruvian’s credit, though, the learning curve is not at all steep, and it only takes a couple of sessions before using the Trainer+ feels like second nature.

Vitruvian’s app provides everything you need to use the Trainer+ to max effectiveness, too, whether you’re just starting out, or you’re experienced with personal fitness and looking fro something to fit into or supplement your existing routine. It’s basically as guided or as self-directed as you want, and anywhere in between.

The Trainer+ is also great at making real-time adjustments to your workout based on your strength and performance level. There’s a strength assessment that the app will ask you to do initially to establish your baseline suggested weights for all the various workouts, and you can jump back into that at any point to change that calibration, which is useful to do every few weeks as you progress with your training.

In a month of testing, with near daily use, the Trainer+ had been incredibly consistent. Once you’re done with a workout, you can just let the handles or attachments drop and the cables retract, without having to worry about damaging the durable carbon composite material of the hardware itself. The clips come in and out easily, and the platform is easy to wipe down with simple soap and water when needed. The connection is rock solid and remembers your phone so long as you toggle that option in the app, and the Trainer+ automatically sleeps so you can leave it plugged in all the time if you want.

One issue I found with the machine: The power cable seems to sit rather lightly in the socket on the machine, and until I learned how to steer well clear of it, it was relatively easy to cut power to the Trainer+ just by even lightly brushing the cord itself. That hasn’t been an issue since identifying it as a problem and avoiding any contact with the cord, and it’s possible this was included intentionally as a kind of safety backup, but I’d appreciate a more snug fit between cable and machine.

Bottom line

There’s no question that the Trainer+ is a fantastic piece of home workout hardware, with a smart, useful app that’s at once far more approachable than something like Peloton, but also much more flexible for people who take working out very seriously and want to be able to customize their experience to match.

The real sticking point with Vitruvian’s offering, however, is the price: With the Pro kit, which I do recommend, you’re already at $3,500, and that’s before you start adding in the ongoing cost of the app subscription. That could pay for a fair amount of gym membership, along with some personal training thrown in.

With the Trainer+, however, you get a number of things that are basically impossible to get anywhere else, including a solution that’s so portable it not only works in just about any home or condo setting, but can also easily pack into the car for a road trip – or fit into your #vanlife if that’s what you’re into. It’s much more versatile in this regard vs. other similar active resistance products like the Tonal, too.

If you place a premium on flexibility with almost zero sacrifices vs. a full set of free weights or a much more cumbersome home tower or complete gym, then the Trainer+ is easy to recommend. It’s clearly well-engineered and designed, with a focus on delivering value to actual athletes and fitness buffs who can be notoriously hard to please, and yet it’s also a great place for people to start out their home exercise journeys – so long as they want to commit the the upfront cost that comes with it.

Where to buy: Vitruvian’s website


Tesla more than tripled its Austin gigafactory workforce in 2022



Tesla’s 2,500-acre manufacturing hub in Austin, Texas tripled its workforce last year, according to the company’s annual compliance report filed with county officials. Bloomberg first reported on the news.

The report filed with Travis County’s Economic Development Program shows that Tesla increased its Austin workforce from just 3,523 contingent and permanent employees in 2021 to 12,277 by the end of 2022. Bloomberg reports that just over half of Tesla’s workers reside in the county, with the average full-time employee earning a salary of at least $47,147. Outside of Tesla’s factory, the average salary of an Austin worker is $68,060, according to data from ZipRecruiter.

TechCrunch was unable to acquire a copy of the report, so it’s not clear if those workers are all full-time. If they are, Tesla has hired a far cry more full-time employees than it is contracted to do. According to the agreement between Tesla and Travis County, the company is obligated to create 5,001 new full-time jobs over the next four years.

The contract also states that Tesla must invest about $1.1 billion in the county over the next five years. Tesla’s compliance report shows that the automaker last year invested $5.81 billion in Gigafactory Texas, which officially launched a year ago at a “Cyber Rodeo” event. In January, Tesla notified regulators that it plans to invest another $770 million into an expansion of the factory to include a battery cell testing site and cathode and drive unit manufacturing site. With that investment will come more jobs.

Tesla’s choice to move its headquarters to Texas and build a gigafactory there has helped the state lead the nation in job growth. The automaker builds its Model Y crossover there and plans to build its Cybertruck in Texas, as well. Giga Texas will also be a model for sustainable manufacturing, CEO Elon Musk has said. Last year, Tesla completed the first phase of what will become “the largest rooftop solar installation in the world,” according to the report, per Bloomberg. Tesla has begun on the second phase of installation, but already there are reports of being able to see the rooftop from space. The goal is to generate 27 megawatts of power.

Musk has also promised to turn the site into an “ecological paradise,” complete with a boardwalk and a hiking/biking trail that will open to the public. There haven’t been many updates on that front, and locals have been concerned that the site is actually more of an environmental nightmare that has led to noise and water pollution. The site, located at the intersection of State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road, east of Austin, is along the Colorado River and could create a climate catastrophe if the river overflows.

The site of Tesla’s gigafactory has also historically been the home of low-income households and has a large population of Spanish-speaking residents. It’s not clear if the jobs at the factory reflect the demographic population of the community in which it resides.

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Launch startup Stoke Space rolls out software tool for complex hardware development



Stoke Space, a company that’s developing a fully reusable rocket, has unveiled a new tool to let hardware companies track the design, testing and integration of parts. The new tool, Fusion, is targeting an unsexy but essential aspect of the hardware workflow.

It’s a solution born out of “ubiquitous pain in the industry,” Stoke CEO Andy Lapsa said in a recent interview. The current parts tracking status quo is marked by cumbersome, balkanized solutions built on piles of paperwork and spreadsheets. Many of the existing tools are not optimized “for boots on the ground,” but for finance or procurement teams, or even the C-suite, Lapsa explained.

In contrast, Fusion is designed to optimize simple inventory transactions and parts organization, and it will continue to track parts through their lifespan: as they are built into larger assemblies and go through testing. In an extreme example, such as hardware failures, Fusion will help teams connect anomalous data to the exact serial numbers of the parts involved.

Image credit: Stoke Space

“If you think about aerospace in general, there’s a need and a desire to be able to understand the part pedigree of every single part number and serial number that’s in an assembly,” Lapsa said. “So not only do you understand the configuration, you understand the history of all of those parts dating back to forever.”

While Lapsa clarified that Fusion is the result of an organic in-house need for better parts management – designing a fully reusable rocket is complicated, after all – turning it into a sell-able product was a decision that the Stoke team made early on. It’s a notable example of a rocket startup generating pathways for revenue while their vehicle is still under development.

Fusion offers particular relevance to startups. Many existing tools are designed for production runs – not the fast-moving research and development environment that many hardware startups find themselves, Lapsa added. In these environments, speed and accuracy are paramount.

Brent Bradbury, Stoke’s head of software, echoed these comments.

“The parts are changing, the people are changing, the processes are changing,” he said. “This lets us capture all that as it happens without a whole lot of extra work.”

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Amid a boom in AI accelerators, a UC Berkeley-focused outfit, House Fund, swings open its doors



Companies at the forefront of AI would naturally like to stay at the forefront, so it’s no surprise they want to stay close to smaller startups that are putting some of their newest advancements to work.

Last month, for example, Neo, a startup accelerator founded by Silicon Valley investor Ali Partovi, announced that OpenAI and Microsoft have offered to provide free software and advice to companies in a new track focused on artificial intelligence.

Now, another Bay Area outfit — House Fund, which invests in startups with ties to UC Berkeley — says it is launching an AI accelerator and that, similarly, OpenAI, Microsoft, Databricks, and Google’s Gradient Ventures are offering participating startups free and early access to tech from their companies, along with mentorship from top AI founders and executives at these companies.

We talked with House Fund founder Jeremy Fiance over the weekend to get a bit more color about the program, which will replace a broader-based accelerator program House Fund has run and whose alums include an additive manufacturing software company, Dyndrite, and the managed app development platform Chowbotics, whose most recent round in January brought the company’s total funding to more than $60 million.

For founders interested in learning more, the new AI accelerator program runs for two months, kicking off in early July and ending in early September. Six or so companies will be accepted, with the early application deadline coming up next week on April 13th. (The final application deadline is on June 1.) As for the time commitment involved across those two months, every startup could have a different experience, says Fiance. “We’re there when you need us, and we’re good at staying out of the way.”

There will be the requisite kickoff retreat to spark the program and founders to get to know one another. Candidates who are accepted will also have access to some of UC Berkeley’s renowned AI professors, including Michael Jordan, Ion Stoica, and Trevor Darrell. And they can opt into dinners and events in collaboration with these various constituents.

As for some of the financial dynamics, every startup that goes through the program will receive a $1 million investment on a $10 million post-money SAFE note. Importantly, too, as with the House Fund’s venture dollars, its AI accelerator is seeking startups that have at least one Berkeley-affiliated founder on the co-founding team. That includes alumni, faculty, PhDs, postdocs, staff, students, dropouts, and other affiliates.

There is no demo day. Instead, says Fiance, founders will receive “directed, personal introductions” to the VCs who best fit with their startups.

Given the buzz over AI, the new program could supercharge House Fund, the venture organization, which is already growing fast. Fiance launched it in 2016 with just $6 million and it now manages $300 million in assets, including on behalf of Berkeley Endowment Management Company and the University of California.

At the same time, the competition out there is fierce and growing more so by the day.

Though OpenAI has offered to partner with House Fund, for example, the San Francisco-based company announced its own accelerator back in November. Called Converge, the cohort was to be made up of 10 or so founders who received $1 million each and admission to five weeks of office hours, workshops and other events that ended and that received their funding from the OpenAI Startup Fund.

Y Combinator, the biggest accelerator in the world, is also oozing with AI startups right now, all of them part of a winter class that will be talking directly with investors this week via demo days that are taking place tomorrow, April 5th, and on Thursday.

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