When most people think of video games, they think of sedentary activities. Video games are often associated with unhealthy pursuits. Even with the success of the Wii Fit and the Nintendo Switch Fitness Bundle, few others saw opportunities to turn video games into exercise. Enter — virtual reality fitness.
Innovative virtual reality technology companies have seen a mass market appeal for video games that combine gaming with a heart-pumping workout. Today, fitness enthusiasts can enjoy the immersive experience of VR while also getting a great workout.
Whether it’s a total VR immersion kit or VR gear and some controllers, here are the five best VR fitness experiences to keep you fit, healthy, and motivated.
1. Beat Saber
A VR rhythm game, Beat Saber challenges your rhythmic ability to keep up with adrenaline-pumping beats. This immersive gaming experience has you physically (and virtually) slashing beats (represented as cubes on the screen) as they come at you.
The goal of the game is to match the direction of the beats when slashing and avoid obstacles.
Each level is supported by immersive visual effects that draw players in. The perfectly composed music encourages movement, and many players subconsciously find themselves dancing to the rhythmic beat.
A recent study by the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise found that an experienced Beat Saber player can expend the same amount of energy as they would while playing tennis.
2. Hot Squat
Those craving a lower body workout can find a rigorous and demand leg and glute workout in Hot Squat.
Despite its simple mechanics and no-frills visuals, Hot Squat is an engaging VR workout experience. Using VR gear, players must squat to survive the oncoming walls and progress to the next level.
While that sounds basic, the pace and intensity of the levels infinitely increase as you progress.
A leaderboard allows players to challenge their friends and other players, adding a sense of motivation and urgency to the gameplay.
3. SUPERHOT VR
If squatting in place or slicing cubes to rhythmic beats doesn’t excite you, then SUPERHOT VR surely will.
A supercharged strategy first-person shooter game (FPS) with time-warping action, SUPERHOT VR challenges players to survive in its rapid-pace environment as combatants charge towards them. Players have access to super slow-mo action, making them feel like an action hero.
Because of its immersive gameplay, slowing down time gives players the illusion of superhuman reflexes.
SUPERHOT VR is physically demanding. The battles are pretty fierce and thrilling.
Players are required to use full body movement to avoid bad guys and sidestep projectiles. And the more a player moves, the more the combatants move. If you move faster, they also move faster. It is a game of strategy where timing is everything.
VR production companies are also tapping into this highly lucrative market. Icaros is a full-body VR fitness apparatus that is a cross between a flight simulator and a fitness machine.
A degree of skill is involved as players are positioned in a deeply engaged plank hold and must use core strength to navigate the virtual landscape in front of them. The shifting body weight improves coordination and targets specific muscle groups, namely the core muscles.
The degree of difficulty within the game is fully customizable allowing Icaros to accommodate various health and fitness abilities.
5. Holodia Fitness
Bored of the view in front of you when you hit the rowing machine or ride the stationary bike?
Holodia spirits you away from the tedium of the gym and puts you in an immersive virtual landscape. Those on the rowing machine can choose from a variety of nautical themed settings such as oceans or rivers.
Holodia simulates a more engaging environment, limiting the tedious experience of rowing or cycling in place. The perk of sensory motivation can motivate regular gym goers who have lost interest in doing the same workout week in and week out.
Other virtual fitness considerations
The fitness industry isn’t the only industry tapping into the power of virtual reality to improve the performance of its members and community. VR training programs are used worldwide by military personnel and emergency services to train new recruits.
The endless applications and scenarios available through VR technology make it the ideal training tool for such industries. Soldiers can train in tactical exercises that mimic real-scenarios. Firefighters and other emergency personnel can test physical fitness and skills in various, diverse scenarios.
It’s only a matter of time before VR fitness becomes more accessible and mainstream. As technology continues to evolve and resolutions and graphics improve, VR will soon be combined with other innovative technologies that will continue to enhance the fitness experience.
About the Author
Judit Chackal is responsible for the marketing, communication and business development efforts of Reach MENA and its sister company, SENSE-R, the leading MENA-based virtual reality developer for VR branding projects and Industrial Training Simulators. She has over a decade of experience in delivering strategic marketing & business development visions for global clients in the travel, hospitality, events and education sectors. Her passion for content and experiential marketing led her to the field of virtual reality project development.