VR Fitness: Is It a Fad or Is It Here to Stay?

8 Apr 2022

VR Fitness

Over the last three years, virtual reality has taken the world by storm. While it was initially used for gaming and entertainment, it has now found its way into the fitness industry.

Virtual reality workouts have become increasingly popular, and many people are wondering if this trend will last.

So, was it a fleeting trend or is it here to stay?

Before we dive into that, let us take a look at why VR fitness gained popularity in the first place.

The Genesis

The VR fitness trend began with popular pseudo-fitness games. Beat Saber is probably the most well-known of these early games.

The trend was accelerated by the pandemic, with VR headset ownership growing. People stuck at home and with little to no equipment wanted to try something new.

Centre-stage VR, and specifically, VR fitness. Apps like FitXR grew exponentially, quadrupling users over 12 months.

Headset manufacturers like Meta (Oculus) caught this trend and integrated activity tracking statistics (Oculus Move) into the headset software using the built-in sensor suite.

Oculus’ main competitor, Bytedance-owned Pico actually markets itself as a fitness/ workout headset optimized for weight and comfort. Recently, even Apple announced that Oculus Move’s stats will also be integrated into Apple Health.

These manufacturers clearly believe in the trend. But should you?

Here’s what VR fitness users have to say about why they switched.

An immersive experience

One of the main reasons why VR fitness has gained traction is because it provides an immersive experience.

Unlike traditional workouts, VR fitness allows you to escape reality and enter a virtual world. This can make exercising a lot more fun and engaging. This is the selling point for apps like Supernatural.

“ When you’re in a virtual world, you can forget that you’re actually working out. This means that you’re more likely to complete your workout and stick to your fitness routine.”- VR User

Convenience

Another reason why VR fitness has become popular is because of its convenience.

With VR-based applications, you can work out from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to worry about going to the gym or finding a workout buddy. All you need is a VR headset and some space to move around.

This especially appeals to those with busy schedules and need help making time for the gym. Even more so if you live in an area with few gyms or prone to bad weather.

No one feels like getting out of their home in three feet of snow, right?

Personalization

Lastly, VR fitness allows for a personalized workout experience.

With traditional workouts, you’re often limited to the equipment and exercises available at your gym.

However, with VR fitness, you can customize your workout to suit your preferences. For example, you can choose the type of workout, the level of difficulty, and even the virtual environment. This means you can tailor your workout to your specific needs and goals.

Apps like FitXR and Supernatural allow for progression, which can be motivating for users.

Workout newbies find it awkward going to the gym and seeing well-built individuals. Working out at your own pace and your skill level provides an ideal start for these new fitness enthusiasts.

Competition and social experience

Another feature of these applications is the competitive social aspects. Often, you will be completing the same workout with other users, maybe even your friends, at the same time.

This social element has been shown to push users to workout harder, similar to having a gym buddy.

The real-time leaderboards can track performance, further creating motivation. As always, no one wants to finish last.

So does it actually help you burn anything?

It turns out it does!

According to a study, players in the archery game Holopoint burned almost the same calories as they would playing tennis in real life.

Pretty impressive, right!

Researchers have also found that participants’ heart rate reached 80–90% of their max heart rates during intense workouts.

VR workouts are not just enjoyable; they’re the real deal!

So What Should I Consider Before Switching?

While virtual reality fitness has many advantages, there are also some limitations.

Cost

One of the most significant drawbacks of VR fitness is the cost. VR headsets can be expensive, and not everyone can afford to invest in one. Additionally, some VR fitness programs require a subscription or additional fees, which can add up over time.

The good part?

They are much cheaper than a gym membership. So, maybe they’re worth it?

Motion Sickness

Another downside of VR fitness is the potential for motion sickness. Some people may experience nausea or dizziness when using VR headsets, particularly during high-intensity workouts.

If you are generally prone to motion sickness, consider getting a headset with a higher refresh rate, as it might reduce the effect.

Limited Feedback on Form and Technique

Traditional workouts often provide immediate feedback from a personal trainer or gym equipment.

With VR fitness, feedback is limited to what is programmed into the software. This can make it challenging to correct form or make adjustments to your workout. So, if correct form is important to your training, we’re just not there… yet.

The personal trainers I spoke to verified this.

“We use VR workouts as a supplement to actual training. They cannot accurately train form or technique” — Boxing Instructor

Sensing solutions are being built, however, and this may soon change. Wearable sensing for the win!

Space Constraints

VR workouts do need you to have a significant amount of unobstructed space. My recommendation is about a 3x3 meter space.

Smaller spaces may work, but with the amount of movement you will be doing in these workouts, you really want to avoid risking it.

Imagine jumping into your wardrobe or swinging at a wall.

Ouch. Yeah, don’t do that.

BlackBox VR is trying to overcome the no-space-at-home problem by providing an in-gym experience, so if you’re in California, you can try them out. But unfortunately, VR fitness in gym environments is not very common yet, due to the technical challenges and CAPEX (capital expenditure) involved.

But if these pioneers do well, we might see a shift.

Conclusion

The verdict is in. VR workouts do work.

Currently, these workouts are more of a casual and gamified version of what you’d find in a gym.

The trend is here to stay- especially for the casual exerciser.

If your objective is to burn a few calories while having fun, these are great. But don’t expect them to train you to achieve the best boxing form or squatting technique.

At least not just yet. The skepticism from regular gym-goers is justified.

But technology moves fast, and there is potential for a mass conversion around the corner. How soon?

Well, that is to be seen.

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Address

15 KENT RIDGE CRESCENT #06-01 SINGAPORE (119276)

E-Mail

seamlessxr@gmail.com


Seamless XR © 2022-2023, All Rights Reserved

Address

15 KENT RIDGE CRESCENT #06-01 SINGAPORE (119276)

E-Mail

seamlessxr@gmail.com


Seamless XR © 2022-2023, All Rights Reserved