This High Tech Machine Uses AI to Make Your Workout Smarter04/01/2021
Pro athletes love Sam Miller’s Proteus Motion machine, which transforms how you work out with new, complex motions—and a detailed analysis of those moves. In a few years, you’ll love it, too.
The gym is full of weights and machines. It does not come with an instruction manual. That, of course, is why you might hire a personal trainer, who might take you through a lengthy assessment to discern muscle imbalances, then build you a workout to reach your goals.
Or, if Sam Miller has his way, you’ll know exactly how to navigate your gym after four minutes with his AI-powered Proteus Motion machine. In that time, Proteus—with its swiveling, rotating, lifting retractable arm—can put you through a 17-move assessment test that yields a data-laden, full-body analysis complete with muscle imbalances and comparisons with similar athletes in your age group. These results can be used to map out a workout plan. “This is a whole system that is designed to strengthen and optimize movement patterns,” says Miller.
Proteus does it with a blend of AI, sensors, and magnetic brakes, offering consistent, natural-feeling resistance that challenges key muscles in complex motions. It’s the product of two generations of work. Miller’s father, Larry, then a visiting scientist at MIT, built a fitness and rehab hardware prototype in the 1990s that would later inspire his son’s work. In 2015, Miller and a small team built the first Proteus models, and in 2017 they partnered with the Hospital for Special Surgery to validate the machine’s effectiveness. The findings: Proteus can produce up to 95 percent greater muscle activation compared with free weights or classic gym machines.
Right now that appeals most to athletes like Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard and NBA all-star Blake Griffin. But Miller believes his robo-machine has major gym potential. In ten years, you could enter a gym clueless, spend four minutes on Proteus, and instantly have a workout plan.
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Miller has seen it happen, too. Cressey Sports Performance, run by strength coach Eric Cressey, does about 50 Proteus Motion assessments a month, and 30 athletes train with it per day. “We can deliver super-short and effective training sessions—and not necessarily with a trainer present,” says Miller.
Just Move With Proteus
Proteus can challenge you during simulated athletic movements, like throwing a pitch and shooting a jump shot. Here’s a breakdown of the machine’s parts and how the work to keep your training smarter.
As the interface between you and the machine, the anodized aluminum handle is designed to mimic natural movement. It rotates freely, offering five degrees of freedom. Proteus provides sport-specific attachments, but the primary handle is sufficiently versa-tile for most motions.
As you swivel, lift, and extend the carbon-fiber arm, a series of sensors and magnetic brakes creates consistent resistance. Hundreds of guided movements are preprogrammed, but it’s all fully customizable. As soon as the handle is released, the arm stops and stays in place, minimizing the risk of injury.
The 27-inch touch screen steers you to one of three pathways: freestyle, guided training, or performance testing. Those assessments include Power Reports, as well as bespoke tests chosen from the movement library.
A version of this story originally appears in the March 2021 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “THE HI BEHIND THE SMARTEST FITNESS AI”.
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