Editorials

VR Workouts — how augmented reality is changing exercise

Working out in VR is hardly new. Plenty of folks, including myself, have lost weight working out and playing in the virtual world. When VR was new we had music games that kept your body moving, and dodging zombies could peel off pounds if you stuck with it. As VR evolved, so did the options for a more focused workout. Combined with the clarity of the Quest 3’s augmented reality, and the introduction of structured workouts complete with coaches, have we finally reached the moment where virtual reality workouts are worthwhile? I took on a Meta Quest Fitness Challenge to find out.

This is Meta Quest 3

I picked up a few programs to sample the offerings. FixXR is a mixed reality workout with over 1000 cardio classes that incorporate HIIT, boxing, dance, Zumba, and more. Les Mills XR Bodycombat offers a VR-focused workout with some of the most enthusiastic coaching staff you’ll ever find, using MMA-style moves to drive your heart rate. OhShape is another rhythm-based workout, having you punching, dodging, and then posing into whole body positions to match the beat. Litesport provides a huge list of very diverse workouts, emphasizing bootcamp-style body conditioning and strength training. Tripp is my go-to cooldown program, with over 100 immersive meditation zones to help you re-center after a tough workout. There are plenty more to choose from, but these all struck a chord with me. Let’s get a closer look at them.

FitXR | Oculus Quest Platform

The first thing you should know is that all of these workouts are available on both Quest 2 and Quest 3, but the augmented reality on the Quest 3 provides a whole new way to play. For example, in some games a rip in the real world can happen, and creatures can pop out that you have to shoot or punch. Obstacles can fly at you from your fireplace that you have to block or otherwise dodge to stay alive. One of my personal favorite games, Synth Riders, has a new augmented reality mode where the music comes through from their reality to yours through a rip in my wall. I’ve put hundreds of hours into Synth Riders, but this was a whole new way to play.

Meta Quest 3 Mixed Reality Gameplay | Synth Riders

FitXR is probably the most extensive use of augmented reality for the Quest 3. The game can put targets in the environment, asking you to move through your living room and punch, hool, and slam those targets. If you have the kind of space to make this happen, it’s a very different type of workout. I personally don’t live in a studio apartment or anything similar, so I’m a bit more stationary, but it doesn’t lessen the workout by much. I don’t recommend (and neither does Meta) that you take your headset outside, but FitXR is happy to put those targets in your lawn. Just make sure you rake the yard before you get rolling.

LES MILLS XR BODYCOMBAT | Mixed Reality

While there are a number of augmented reality “toys” to play with, from little dancing aliens to simple minigames where you can shoot creatures that come out of tears in the “universe”, VR workouts continue to be an effective use of the tech. FitXR and Les Mills Bodycombat were effective when fully immersed in VR, but with an AR spin they allow you to stay spatially aware. The same goes for Synth Riders, though the backgrounds in that game are awesome to watch. All of these applications have one thing in common – big movements in what can be a confined space By shifting to, or at least allowing augmented reality, all of them can now be done safely. Sure, there are safety rails where you’ll see a red grid appear when you are out of position, but this way you can see “Yep, I’m too close to the wall” or “any closer and I’m gonna have a collision with this side table”, meaning you can work out in a far smaller space than before. The fact that it’s safer means you don’t need a chaperone either, and that’s a bonus for all involved.

OhShape Mixed Reality Trailer

I jumped into the January / February months with the full intention of using VR to shed a few pounds and pack on some muscle with something I enjoy immensely. Unfortunately an injury to my knee has had me spending more time in an MRI machine than in VR, foiling my plans and making this article later than I intended. My doctor tells me that I’ll be cleared for a return to VR duty soon, and I found that I’m looking forward to it even more now that it includes an augmented reality that’s not only enjoyable, but also very useful in the bargain.

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief | [email protected]

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 28 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes), and an Axolotl named Dagon!

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