Here’s What It’s Like to Work Out in Virtual Reality

Here’s What It’s Like to Work Out in Virtual Reality
Image: Oculus

After some experimentation with fitness in virtual reality, I ultimately came to the conclusion that it’s good at certain things and not others. In this video, you can watch me slashing and punching imaginary things while I figure it all out.

During my experiment, I aimed to exercise in virtual reality for 30 minutes at least a few times a week. This took the place of what would otherwise be a run, or maybe a walk or a kettlebell session. Virtual reality was a good alternative to something like easy jogging, fitness-wise, and I liked being able to work out indoors, in a space as small as my home office.

In the video you’ll see a few clips of my favourite games — shout out to Supernatural and Thrill of the Fight. (You’ll also see the aftermarket silicone cover I added so that when my son borrows the headset, it doesn’t come back to me sweaty and gross.)

Ultimately, there isn’t a lot of variety in VR fitness apps. The system can only track where your hands and face are in space, and you’re limited to a small physical space. You also can’t see your physical surroundings while you’re in-game, so you can’t do something like pick up a weight.

All of that limits the available types of exercise. Mostly, you stand in one place and wave your arms around. Weight training is impossible and high intensity cardio is difficult to achieve (although Thrill of the Fight is probably your best bet there).

But if what you’re looking for is a low to medium intensity cardio workout, and you’d rather do it indoors than get out for a jog or something, VR fitness has you covered. And instead of fresh air, you can enjoy doing your workout in a futuristic arena of neon lights, or on the landscape of Mars.

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