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How this new Quest VR app totally sold me on exercising in virtual reality

Including more variety of movement is important for everyone, but this is particularly critical for people like me, a tech worker that tends to spend a large amount of time behind a computer or fixed in place, interacting with the latest app on my phone.

VR is already good at inviting more movement, particularly when playing fast-action games. Having experienced this with games like Beat Saber and Until You Fall, which involve a large amount of arm movement, I was intrigued by the prospect of exercising with an app specifically designed for fitness, like Supernatural.

I tried a month of fitness and was amazed by how quickly it breezed by. I liked it so much, I found myself hitting the subscribe button after my free trial had expired.

Supernatural feels like a game

Supernatural VR fitness feels like a game with targets and points.

Supernatural made working out feel like playing a game. That was something I noticed my very first time after donning my Quest Pro and installing the new app — because in a lot of ways, it is. With each class, set in a beautiful nature scene, or other amazing 360-degree environment, targets flew toward me, appearing from portals from any direction. My goal was to strike with a baton or to punch with boxing gloves and I earned points and received awards as I made progress.

The points are based on a combination of accuracy and speed. If I hit a target, that’s good, and if I do so while swinging faster, that’s even better. In truth, I was so caught up in the experience, which involves many more elements, that I rarely noticed the points until a workout segment was completed.

Music makes a difference

Supernatural lets you search for particular artists, such as The Black Keys.

Moving is easy and natural when there’s music. It’s almost hard not to tap or sway when my favorite jams are playing. Working out to a beat is always better and adds greatly to gaming as well. Supernatural borrowed a page from rhythm games, having targets stream toward you, timing the choreography so that you strike to the beat of the music. Finding the music that works best for your practice will inspire you to move from low intensity to medium, and high intensity.

Supernatural includes a large library of songs, and it’s easy to find a workout that includes a particular artist or songs in your favorite genre. With the music rolling, swinging your arms, ducking, and stepping in time to the beat, feels like dancing.

Twenty minutes, even an hour can fly by without realizing that you’ve already completed a full workout. The sweat, fast pulse, and heavy breathing might be the best clues that you aren’t just having fun.

Coaching took me further

Supernatural coaches inspire more movement.

The great thing about having a fitness coach is the extra incentive to push a little harder, as well as getting tips to help you stay safe to target your workout for the greatest effectiveness. A VR app can’t compete with a personal coach, which allows you to tailor workouts specific to individual needs.

Supernatural does a great job, however, of providing a variety of enthusiastic coaches and real fitness experts that gave me the extra motivation to finish strong, alerting me not to hold anything back since this was the final song and the last 30 seconds.

A coach appeared on-screen, helping me through the setup process from the beginning. Trainers also instructed me to do a warmup before getting into a set and wrapped up each class with cooldown stretches to ease muscle tension. Throughout the workout, the coaches shared boxing tips, personal stories, their love of the particular songs in the set, and guidance for what was coming up.

Alan Truly's Supernatural workout card for social media.

I had help in making it through challenges, like 45 minutes of exercise wrapping up with a “Molten Rock” boxing workout at what Supernatural calls medium intensity level.

The coaches are also fairly active in the official Supernatural Facebook group, responding to comments and posting their own, at-home Supernatural flows as well as motivational tips and extras.

Finding the right space

Playing a fitness game in VR with the Quest Pro.
Tracey Truly

For any indoor exercise, a suitable room with enough space is needed to allow for movement. This is true for Supernatural’s VR workouts as well. Since I don’t wear shoes indoors, a rubber mat helps prevent slipping. My wife and I practice yoga and those mats served me well for my exercise. Supernatural sells round rubber mats specifically for this purpose.

I’m 6 feet tall, with long arms and legs, meaning I needed a fair amount of room to swing my arms, lunge, and punch while spinning in a circle. It turns out that your height and your arm span are usually about the same. That meant a room with at least 6 by 6 feet clear on the floor for my feet and no objects at hand or waist height — for the new knee strike option.

Extra gear for heart rate data

Supernatural can connect to an iPhone and Apple Watch for heart rate tracking

Supernatural makes an iPhone and Android app to help you stay on top of your fitness, sending alerts when it’s time for your workout and keeping track of your favorite sessions, providing community features, and monitoring your journey as you progress toward better fitness.

If you own a compatible smartwatch or fitness tracker, your heart rate data will be recorded and shown after each segment of a workout with detail about how it rises and falls during the class. The Apple Watch works very well with Supernatural, but it can be a little challenging to find a compatible smartwatch for Android.

I use an iPhone and Apple Watch and connecting to the Supernatural app and seeing data in VR, on the iPhone, and Apple Watch was easy and intuitive. My wife uses a Google Pixel and wasn’t able to find a smartwatch or tracker that she liked that would work. Chest or arm bands seem to be a more reliable solution for heart rate tracking when using an Android phone with Supernatural.

The month flew by

Alan Truly holds a Quest Pro while sweat drips after a VR workout.
Tracey Truly

After a month of using Supernatural, I found the time flew by and I was genuinely disappointed on the few occasions that I didn’t find time to take a few minutes to work out. Beautiful scenery and a huge variety of great music, from oldies to the latest hits, along with encouragement from fitness experts, added all of the elements needed for a fun, rhythm-based, gamification of exercise.

This made it much easier to engage in cardio exercise, something that I have wanted to do regularly. I do a daily yoga practice and stay fairly fit, but I always felt like I needed to bring more movement into my life, particularly during the winter months when the weather makes the outdoors less inviting.

Suoernatural has a wide selection of music.

I thoroughly enjoyed working out and playing with Supernatural for a month with no sense of having to work during my workout. My wife and I enjoyed it so much that we subscribed. Supernatural offers a free seven-day trial and if you know someone that’s already a subscriber, they might be able to send you an invitation for a 30-day trial. At about $20 per month, it’s less expensive than a gym membership, and I found it to be well worth the money.

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