Can You Get Fit in VR?

Since the pandemic, more people have been turning to VR for workouts. With limited access to gyms because of lockdowns, many are able to find exercise through VR apps. Whether it is burning calories, engaging in high-intensity cardio or building muscle, getting fit can be achieved with a VR headset.

While gyms may be open again, interest in VR fitness remains strong as Google Trends show. So what are some of the reasons for the demand?

Fun and Immersive Experiences

We can all agree that fitness should be fun, something that VR accomplishes so well with amazing visuals, gameplay and sound. Meta Quest, in a recent ad, declared that “cardio that doesn’t suck is ready”. Head over to their store to browse the huge variety of VR titles. From apps designed for fitness to intense action games, there are plenty of options to keep you entertained while giving you a full-body workout.

Some popular titles worth checking out include:

  • Exercise apps – FitXR, Supernatural, Les Mills Bodycombat, HoloFit, VZFit
  • Rhythm games – Beat Saber, Synth Riders, Oh Shape, Pistol Whip
  • Action games – Until You Fall, Superhot VR, Phantom: Covert Ops, In Death: Unchained, Space Pirate Trainer
  • Sports-focused apps – The Climb, Thrill of the Fight, Creed, Holopoint, Carve Snowboarding, Eleven (Table Tennis)

These apps are so fun and immersive that you forget about the physical exertion. With Supernatural, for example, you smash oncoming targets with your controllers while squatting and lunging to fit inside triangles. There are hundreds of workouts guided by real life trainers and you get to do them to the beat of awesome music while standing in stunning landscapes.

FitXR combines a great mix of video gaming and working out. It offers HIIT, boxing, and dance classes accompanied by an excellent soundtrack and motivational instructors. There is even a Multiplayer feature which lets you work out with a small group of people at the same time.

Effective Workouts

But can VR really make you fit? Fitness apps are certainly designed to do just that. They typically have you performing a combination of moves that you do not usually do in real-life workouts. VR games that are not fitness-focused can also be physically demanding enough to leave you feeling sore in places you never knew existed. In Beat Saber, a game that involves slashing cubes and dodging walls, the sessions level up in difficulty, requiring faster and more body movements. Much like actual sports and exercise, apps like Supernatural and Beat Saber can improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time.

For your VR workouts, you can use a Quest 2 movement tracker to keep track of the calories you burn, the amount of time you are physically active in VR and personal goals reached.

The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise measures the metabolic impact of VR games and compares them to exercises like running and biking. In Beat Saber’s case, it has a similar calorie burn rate as playing tennis.

The high metabolic rate from these games is partly attributed to people expending more energy without realizing it. This is because the immersive experience VR provides is oftentimes more motivating than working out in a gym. Key to maintaining engagement is gamification which rewards players to encourage them to do more.

Not everyone is in favor of working out in the virtual realm, at least not yet. The cost and weight of VR headsets are barriers to the wide adoption of VR for fitness. Sweating into the gear is also something many are uncomfortable with though managing the hygiene aspect of it is easy with solutions like the VR Cover Fitness Facial Interface and Foam Set for Meta/Oculus™ Quest 2.

Despite these challenges, this form of medium is steadily gaining popularity and acceptance that working out in VR can get you fit. From personal trainers to athletes, VR apps are being used more and more to supplement or replace traditional training methods. As the technology continues to evolve, VR certainly has the potential to further revolutionize how we work out and become an integral part of a healthy, active lifestyle.