Skip to main content

VR workouts won’t get you ripped, but they’re engaging and can keep you fit

If you’ve been exercising at home like I’ve been doing since the start of this pandemic, you know how tough it can be to stay motivated and achieve those ambitious fitness goals you set for yourself. With on-demand services and fancy connected home gyms cropping up over the course of the last year, you may think that working out at home would be more engaging than ever before — but it can be just as mundane as going to a traditional gym.

I’ve been spoiled the last month trying out on-demand and live classes with the Tempo Studio, which I appreciate because of its focus on strength training. The downside of this and other similar at-home services is that exercises are recycled to a certain degree — many are mixed into other workouts to make them appear new or different. There are just so many times I can tolerate burpees, so that’s why I’ve shifted gears and tried out workouts in virtual reality.

Here’s the thing: these virtual reality workouts won’t get you ripped, but they kept me more engaged.

Abundance of cardio workouts

What’s apparent about checking out a few virtual reality workouts using both the Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is the heavy focus on cardio. Sure, you could buy a fancy Peloton bike, or connected rowers like the Ergatta and Hydrow, to burn crazy calories. But at the end of the day, you’re still doing the same basic exercise. Virtual reality, instead, offers many different variations of cardio workouts.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

One that I’ve been trying out is FitXR for the Oculus Quest 2. If you’re familiar with the rhythm-based game Beat Saber, then you’ll be able to quickly grasp FitXR because it follows the same premise. Instead of wielding a saber to chop objects flung in your direction, you’re wearing a pair of boxing gloves to smack targets with your fists. There’s definitely a fair amount of hand movement and dodging that’s crucial to achieving a higher score, but what’s undeniable is that it kept my heart rate up.

More impressive is the fact that it can detect how hard I’m punching. This is important because on-demand workouts through an app, or a connected fitness display like Mirror by Lululemo, are not be able to discern how hard you hit. And that’s important because harder hits require more effort than wimpy ones.

The pros and cons of VR workouts

Since running outside is out of the question — I don’t run in the winter — virtual reality games have been the alternative for me when it comes to getting a proper cardio workout at home. Sure, my hands were getting a lot of the workouts in FitXR, but I was actually pleased to find that it didn’t neglect other muscle groups. There’s an option in the game to enable squats, which involves physically dodging barriers. Paired with the hand movements, I was actually surprised by how the combination helped to increase my heart rate.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This brings me to my fundamental point about virtual reality workouts: They’re highly engaging and fun. Gamifying the experience ensures that I have a goal in place with each workout session, despite the fact that I don’t have many other friends who own a headset to play against.

Now comes the downside. Despite the advancements made in the last few years with VR tech, the biggest challenge is that you still need to wear a headset and hold controllers for interactions. Sure, it doesn’t pose much of an issue when it relates to cardio workouts like dancing or boxing, but I can’t envision myself doing a set of burpees with them — the gear would just get in the way.

And if you’re into building muscle through strength exercises, you won’t find virtual reality is a practical way of achieving it. Not yet anyway. The technology isn’t quite there, which is why I find this all to be more of a complement to existing workout-at-home solutions. Perhaps there could be a time when traditional workout equipment, such as barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells, could be incorporated into the VR workout experience?

Just as good as walking

Getting into shape doesn’t mean you need to be shredded from head to toe. Something as simple as walking is an effective way of leading a healthier lifestyle. The same holds true here with VR workouts, given the focus on cardio training. Moving in general is better than just being stationary.

Digital Trends

Don’t get me wrong, I feel challenged by the group workouts I sign up for with the Mirror and Tempo Studio, but I wouldn’t go far to say that I love them — that’s because working out can sometimes feel like a chore. Virtual reality on the other hand? It’s a distraction I don’t mind because it keeps me moving without freezing my butt off outside during the wintertime.

Editors' Recommendations

John Velasco
John is the Smart Home editor at Digital Trends covering all of the latest tech in this emerging market. From uncovering some…
ClipDart is an on-demand barber app aimed at people of color
ClipDart founder, Kyle Parker.

It’s funny how we can take certain things for granted, like haircuts. Over the course of more than 50 years of living in different cities, different neighborhoods, or even visiting different countries, not once have I ever worried about whether I could find someone who could cut my hair the way I liked. Then again, I’m white.

But if you’re a person of color, it can be an entirely different experience. That’s what Kyle Parker discovered when he left his hometown of Chicago in 2013 to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, population 9,031. While 24% of Grinnell College’s students identify themselves as people of color, fewer than 10% of residents of the city of Grinnell would say the same of themselves.

Read more
Circular confirms its $259 smart ring is coming to the U.S.
best wearables of ces 2022 circular ring

The Circular smart ring is finally going to be available for pre-order on Sunday, February 27, via the Circular website and will cost $259. The wearable tech will be available for presale in European countries (France, Germany, the U.K., and Italy,) the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Pre-orders will go live at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 27. Those who pre-order the smart ring should expect delivery between April and June 2022, according to a Circular press release.

Circular doesn't clarify what ring sizes will be available when presales go live, however, the company has said that seven sizes for both men and women will be available. Digital Trends has reached out for clarification on the available sizes, and will update this article when we hear back. The Circular smart ring also comes in four different colors that can be switched out with replaceable outer shells: Black, rose gold, silver, and gold.

Read more
How to take an ECG with your Apple Watch and see irregular heart notifications
ecg app apple watch

The ECG app is one of the most vital features of the Apple Watch, allowing you to see an electrocardiogram of your heart whenever you want. Along with this, the Apple Watch can notify you of irregular heart rhythms.

Read more