During the Covid lockdowns, Christine Whyte dealt with stress by turning to food for comfort and since she had never enjoyed exercise, her weight reached an unhealthy level. Like many others throughout 2020-2021, Whyte decided to try an alternative option for fitness and she discovered a path to better health through immersive reality.
Some of Whyte’s unhealthy weight gain began in 2016 when she lost her grandmother. This was before most of us had heard of virtual reality and a pandemic was typically something we thought of in reference to the 1918 influenza or sci-fi apocalypse movies.
Upon her grandmother’s death, she inherited her recipes, which she then baked and ate daily as a way to cope with the grief of losing her loved one. The West Yorkshire resident also has a sedentary, desk-based job in the United Kingdom that compounded the issue.
In 2020 when the global population began coming to terms with sickness and lockdowns, Whyte was dealing with a recent diagnosis of asthma, worries about her job at a time when many businesses began to furlough, and stress over a family issue. She once again turned to food and by December 2020 she weighed 215 pounds.
Just before Christmas that year, Whyte had joined a weight loss support group on Facebook set up by UK comedian Jason Manford to focus on the struggles of diet and exercise. After reading a post by a woman who had lost weight through a virtual reality boxercise class, Whyte ordered an Oculus Quest 2 under the guise of it being a present for her three teenagers.
“On Boxing Day 2020, I downloaded FitXR and I have been absolutely hooked from then onwards,” states Whyte, who adds that there have only been a handful of days since then when she hasn’t used her Quest. “I found myself using it so much that my kids got bored of chasing me off it that I bought myself another headset in February.”
Through a combination of calorie counting and working out on FitXR for at least an hour each day, Whyte has dropped an astonishing amount of weight. She has gone from 215 pounds to 141 pounds and the 39-year-old mother has also shrunk from a UK size 22-24 to a size 8-10 with well-toned arms and legs. Although her weight loss has tapered off, she’s proud of the slimmer, healthier version of her body.
Prior to VR, Whyte’s hobbies consisted of crafty, artsy projects and she also enjoyed sewing. She avoided exercise in general and since she’s also an introvert, the thought of exercising in public was unappealing.
“I had an irrational fear of being judged by others,” she explains, “so if I were to break a sweat in public or appear out of breath, I would be mortified that people were secretly laughing or passing comment on the sweaty chubby girl.”
While she used to give her kids pocket money to walk the dog, now she enjoys being outdoors more with her French bulldog or walking to the city center for shopping trips versus ordering online to avoid exercise.
“My health and energy levels are the highest I’ve ever known thanks to using FitXR,” states Whyte. “Instead of making excuses not to move, I find myself making excuses why I can’t sit down and it’s all benefitting my health as I now no longer use my blue inhaler which was the one I reached for around 10-15 times a day.”
Whyte says one of the things she loves most about working out in virtual reality is the fact that she can do it in the privacy of her own home. She says she never would’ve joined a gym, but the Quest gives her the ability to squeeze in a class or two between calls and the quick sessions are a healthy alternative to eating an unhealthy snack or zoning out watching television during the same breaks.
“I think the reason I love this app [FitXR] so much is that I don’t see it as exercise, although it is exercise,” says Whyte. “I never associated exercise and working up a sweat with having fun and being so enjoyable, but I now stand corrected.”
Some of the things Whyte enjoys about FitXR include the DLC packs and variety of content. Although she initially wasn’t a fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), she has now embraced this as part of her training routine.
Like many people who grew up in the 80s and 90s, when Whyte thought of exercise or health and fitness, she had visions of treadmills or exercise bikes that were retired to the shed after a couple of weeks and never seen again. When she first purchased the Quest she had no idea how much it would impact her life, but she was willing to take the chance and now she encourages others to buy a Quest for themselves or download FitXR on headsets that were purchased for their children.
“This form of exercise was completely new to me,” says Whyte, adding that she “couldn’t be more impressed with the results. Virtual reality fitness really is the future, and I am so pleased I stumbled across it. It really has changed my life!”