Thanks largely to the growing popularity of Facebook’s Oculus Quest platform, and the excellent early sales of its latest Quest 2 model, more and more consumers are becoming aware of virtual reality’s surprising utility as an exercise tool. Yet it wasn’t always this way. One of the earliest titles to tap into VR’s latent energy busting potential was BoxVR, offering structured boxercise workouts paired to thumping soundtracks that got you jabbing, hooking, twisting, and ducking until your arms and shoulders turned to jello and your legs were on fire. It seemed like a startling novelty back in 2017 that playing a video game could actually be a pathway to better fitness and health, but after BoxVR launched people started to take notice.
Three years on and BoxVR has gone from strength to strength, and platform to platform. It’s now available for PCVR, standalone VR with the Oculus Quest, and even Sony Playstion’s PSVR headset.
Alongside Beat Saber and Thrill of the Fight, it forms part of the VR fitness triumvirate, one of the three essential VR fitness games that we recommend to everybody wanting to use their VR headset to improve their health.
Earlier this year, BoxVR, at least on Quest (it’s coming later to PC and PSVR) became FitXR, matching the name of the developers and released as a free, not so much upgrade, as a total replacement for the old title.
FitXR (the developers) revealed they had plans for FitXR (the game) that involved new workout modes and functionality, providing players with new and more varied ways to keep fit. The first fruits of FitXR’s branching evolution have now ripened with the release of a completely new dance mode, available as a free update on the Oculus Quest.
If you already have FitXR the automatic update should prompt you of the new content availability and automatically show a quick tutorial when you load up. If it doesn’t, or you want to watch the tutorial again, it’s easily available in the help section on the game’s main toolbar.
By default all the game’s workouts are listed together so to check out the dance workouts specifically you’ll want to toggle the workout mode option as in the picture below.
Dance Workouts Difficulty Gradings
Currently, the FitXR class list menu allows you to sort by workout intensity, but not dance move complexity. So you might find a workout is fairly light in intensity but too complicated and intricate in terms of dance moves, or vice versa. Thankfully, for this hands-on look, the FitXR devs have supplied me with a difficulty rating list, so that you can start with easy movements and work your up. What follows is presented exactly as given to me;
FitXR has a variety of different dance workouts suitable to whatever ability you might be, so even if you’re someone who’ll currently only go as far as a bit of foot-tapping along to the radio, there’s a dance workout that can make you feel great. We’ve compiled our recommendation on which dance workout to go for in FitXR based on previous dancing experience.
Level 1 – Brand new to dance
- Onboarding beginner
- Ianthe Beginner 1 – Shot Away
- Garret Beginner – Be With You
- Ianthe Beginner 2 – Feels So Good
- Sarah Beginner 1 – IDK
- Karma Beginner 1 – Piece Of Me
Level 2 – Knows the difference between a grapevine and a side step
- Karma Onboarding Intermediate – With Me
- Karma Intermediate – We’re Dynamite
- Sarah Intermediate – INCRDBL
- Frida Intermediate – Shakin It
Level 3 – Can already burn up the dance floor
- Frida onboarding advanced – Dance it Up
As a mid-forties male with barely enough coordination to tie a knot I never expected or desired to write a review on a dancing game. Yet perhaps having two left feet and a stifling awkwardness when on the dance floor might prove a virtue, having a lot to learn means FitXR has plenty of opportunities to teach me. Hours of playing The Climb has noticeably reduced my fear of heights, fingers crossed some time spent virtual dancing will improve my sense of rhythm. I’m also excellently positioned to assess how beginner-friendly this new dancing mode is!
Following FitXR’s suggestions, I started with Ianthe’s beginner lesson Shot Away which you can see in the video below.
I chose to do this in solo mode, I don’t yet feel ready for my ungainly and disjointed movements to feature in other players’ ghost modes just yet, but you can play against other players past performances if you wish, and I imagine this will be a lot of fun. Once I feel more competent I will join the main mode and enjoy watching other players bust a move as I get my groove on.
The dance studio has you facing your trainer, who stands upon a podium. You mirror the trainer’s moves and are given feedback according to how well you’re doing. Nail a move and you’ll be told your awesome, if you get it half right, you’re just OK. With Shot Away I found the moves matched fairly well to my competency level and I think with a bit of practice I could get my scores up. Talking of scoring, FitXR awards points according to a similar system used in the base game. Timing and speed are crucial, so moving with gusto and vigor is rewarded. The new streaks addition to FitXR’s box mode is also present here, so stringing consecutive dance moves together will award you nice streak bonuses.
Quest 2 Controller Woes
I did encounter one frustration that was not the game’s fault in any way, but the new Oculus Quest 2 controllers are really bulky and ungainly compared to the Quest 1. This is one of the rare times I’ve preferred the original Quest, as those controllers virtually disappear into my hands and I forget I’m holding them, whereas the Quest 2 kettlebells kept hitting my knees when I was raising them up forcing me to wear the straps around my wrists to stop from dropping them. These collisions also often triggered the pause menu. I did start to adapt with some practice, and in fairness, I’m the kind of clumsy person who if I’m wearing a bulky watch, will constantly smash into door frames and walls with it as I walk by, so this could be as much my lack of spatial awareness as the controller’s ergonomics but it’s worth mentioning to my fellow ham-fisted FitXR users, as I know won’t be the only one.
Overall I thought the beginner-level dances were pretty good. It was difficult for me to get the moves right initially as you’re following an instructor in real-time but after repeating the level a couple of times the routines became a bit easier.
They are a nice workout too. You’ll certainly get your heart rate up on the more demanding soundtracks and the movements are a nice change of pace from the main box mode. I often find that playing the box mode for long periods can cause me to get lower back pain and stiff shoulders, but the dance movements, whilst aerobically challenging, don’t put quite the same physical stress on the body as punching as hard as you can for sustained periods.
Stepping up to intermediate raises the complexity of the dance moves. Below is trainer Karmer Stylez’s intermediate workout With Me.
Currently, there are about 60 minutes of dance workout content in total, and as is typical with FitXR the music, although not commercially licensed is well-curated and matches the workouts well. Although I’ve not had any confirmation from FitXR I would assume future dance DLC packs will be in the works, hopefully adding more complex dance routines and longer, higher intensity workouts for dance lovers, as most of the content here, whilst challenging for me, will likely be fairly simple for people who can already dance well.
Final Thoughts – A Nice Addition To An Already Essential Fitness Focused Game
FitXR’s dance mode is a nice addition to what was previously a purely boxing centric title. For users who use the game to exercise regularly, the additional dance mode will provide welcome variety and make it easier to mix up a workout routine without needing to load up a different game.
My intuition would be that the dancing would appeal to more female users whilst men would prefer the boxing but I’ve been surprised when on Facebook groups just how many women love the main box workouts in FitXR and are often better at the game than men, so maybe this dance mode will have crossover appeal too, and appeal equally to all.
If you don’t yet own FitXR and want to know more about the base game then check out my full FitXR game review on our site. I have no hesitation in highly recommending this game as being arguably the most well rounded and comprehensive purely fitness-focused title available in VR. Hopefully, we will see more dance content added to fully flesh out this new game mode in the future.