Working on My Fitness with VR
When you hear the term virtual reality, you might imagine someone with a headset playing a game or learning a new concept in school. But the application of this technology is far wider than just entertainment or education. Virtual reality (VR) is "the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person."1 This technology can be used in various ways and in various industries, but the application we will be looking at today specifically is VR and exercise, referred to as VR fitness. This application contains many features that users may be seeking in a workout.
One of the most attractive features of VR fitness is that users receive completely different experiences than what they would receive at the gym. Think about the common gym experience. Lifting weights and running on the treadmill can feel monotonous and just plain boring at times. Gyms may not offer a wide variety of instructor-taught exercise classes, or they may not offer classes at all. With COVID-19 still a significant concern for people, attending classes where others will be breathing heavily in close proximity might not be an attractive option. Working out at the gym isn't always mentally and physically stimulating, resulting in user burnout.
VR fitness provides an alternative to all these concerns. With thousands of personal trainer-led workouts and hundreds of VR fitness games, your workout will never become boring. Companies like Supernatural offer memberships with "new workouts daily, stunning destinations, motivating coaches, music you know and love"2 and more, all for less than $15 per month. Which gym do you know with offers that attractive at such a low price point? Additionally, exercising from the comfort of your own home will give peace of mind if you're concerned about COVID-19; there is no risk of becoming exposed or exposing others if you utilize VR fitness technologies from home. Numerous reviews from those who have tried VR fitness focus on how fun and engaging the exercise is, almost like they aren't working out at all.
The alluring VR fitness technology is not without its flaws, however. In order to receive the full experience and range of motion, users will need a decently sized clear and open space, which may not be possible for those living in apartments. Users will also need to purchase the VR equipment necessary to participate in various workouts, consisting of a headset ranging in price from $200 to $800 and additional accessories like controllers. Some VR fitness technology is compatible with workout machines, meaning users would need to procure machines if they want access to certain fitness programs. Another concern is that a lot of people who work out in gyms respond positively to seeing others working out, not only increasing their competitiveness but also providing social interaction. With intense workouts comes the natural response to exercise: sweating. Although headsets improve with each iteration, there is not yet a solution to the headset becoming sweaty and slipping around on the user's head. Keeping technology clean and sanitized is also not as easy as swiping a saturated Clorox® wipe over a workout bench and calling it a day.
Despite these drawbacks, the business of VR fitness is booming. With Facebook's purchase of Oculus® for $2 billion in 20143, there has been an upswing of VR technologies, games, and applications. As more technology is developed and as interest grows, VR fitness should become more affordable and accessible to users. EduMind is currently offering a comprehensive AR/VR course for anyone wanting to learn how to develop apps and learning modules within VR. Learn more here: https://www.edumind.com/extended-reality/ar-vr/.
1 "What Is Virtual Reality?" Virtual Reality Society, June 30, 2017. https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html.
2 Supernatural. Accessed April 26, 2021. https://www.getsupernatural.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5pqm-tac8AIVwWxvBB0X2AVwEAAYASAAEgKPwPD_BwE.
3 Solomon, Brian. "Facebook Buys Oculus, Virtual Reality Gaming Startup, For $2 Billion." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, April 15, 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2014/03/25/facebook-buys-oculus-virtual-reality-gaming-startup-for-2-billion/?sh=5842cb002498.