As the newest team member of a VR Fitness startup, I recently had my first ever virtual reality workout experience. I have worked out for most of my adult life, but I have always gone to the gym to lift weights or long runs training for half marathons. Working out in VR seems so foreign to me, and I didn’t know if I was going to like it. In all honesty, I was a little nervous about it. The questions that kept going through my head were, “Can I get a good workout?” “Will I get motion sickness?” “Is it going to be hard?” “Will the headset get sweaty?” Well, with all my preconceived notions and fears, I decided to jump right in, and this is how it went.
Before most of my workouts, I take a pre-workout supplement. I drank one of my favorites and started getting ready. Since this was my first time working out in VR and only my second time just being in VR, I felt a little clumsy getting the controllers paired, and headset all fitted to my head. Once I got past the initial setup though, I was off and running.
I put the headset on, and immediately I am taken to another world. The workout game I was in is a space demo game created by Black Box VR. I am in control of a large battle gun, and It’s up to me to shoot down the incoming enemy ships. I grabbed the handles, pulled back on the cables, lined up my sights on the enemy and did a rep. The cannon fired! I pulled back again. The cannon fired! Two ships destroyed. The battle went on until my muscles went almost to failure. Then, I was shadow boxing incoming drones and dodging laser fire from gun turrets above. Before I knew it, I was back to firing at enemy ships but this time using different moves that activated different muscle groups. The battle raged on and on. I was engrossed in the scene, and for that short while, I didn’t think about anything in the real world. My only goal was to defend my ship and battle with the enemy. It was a lot of fun!
At some point during the game, I did think to myself, “how long have I been doing this”? I was sweating, my heart beating fast and I was breathing hard. I felt like I just ran around a school track a few times, but I couldn’t stop. The enemy ships just kept coming and firing at me, I kept pulling, lifting, pushing, bending, dodging and jumping until the game was over.
I took the headset off, smiled and said: “That was one hell of a workout”! I was sweating like crazy and had endorphins racing through my system. I just kept smiling. I couldn’t believe that just happened. Maybe it was the feel good chemicals running loose in my body; maybe it was the accomplishment of battling the enemy and winning. Whatever it was, I felt good and wanted to workout again.
Once I had time to cool down and was sipping on a post workout shake, I thought about the experience and my original questions.
Can I get a good workout in?
Yes! That was one of the better workouts I’ve had in a long time. It was because my mind was engaged in something else instead of just counting what rep I was on. I wasn’t thinking about the exercises, I was thinking about the ships I had to destroy so I could make it to the next level.
Will I get motion sickness?
No. I was surprised about this. I can get nauseous very easily. I love amusement park rides but I have to have to take Dramamine before I get on one or I will be ill for a few hours after. Not once did I feel this way. My body was stationary for the most part so I never got the feeling of vertigo like some VR games can make you feel.
Is it going to be hard?
Yes, the workout was hard, but it didn’t feel like it. My mind was not thinking about the exercises or the weight. I just followed the instructions and stopped the enemy from taking me out. I was immersed in the visuals and the tasks at hand.
Will the headset get sweaty?
Yes, my head did get sweaty, but I used a headband and the HTC Vive Disposable Hygiene Covers to keep it under control. I honestly didn’t even notice I was sweating until after I took off the headset.
All all, working out in VR is a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to continue my workouts with it. It can deliver a muscle strengthing workout in half the time I would spend at the gym. I will be adding VR to my weekly exercise routine for sure.