Fans of Holodia’s Holofit on the Oculus Quest now have an extra way to get shredded using the app with the introduction of Holofit Freestyle. I’ll let the team themselves explain what it is in the official press release notes below. I’ve tested the new mode and will give my thoughts, along with some video footage following;
Holodia Freestyle Press Release
The VR Fitness company Holodia has just diversified its offering of HOLOFIT VR rowing, VR cycling, and VR running/elliptical workouts to also include HOLOFIT FreeStyle, a VR Workout program that enables people without fitness machines to get a full-body workout through rowing, bicycling and running-like exercises.
Holodia is building the HOLOFIT platform to become the users’ future Fitness Alter Ego: all your fitness needs in one product. They have released the first iteration of HOLOFIT Freestyle, which offers workout options for people that need an effective, efficient, and quick fitness program that engages most of muscle groups at once.
HOLOFIT Members will be able to combine their cardio workouts on the fitness machines with workouts off the machine in HOLOFIT Freestyle. Right now, those comprise a combination of core exercises, back and upper body exercises, and leg workouts. Holodia is planning to further enrich Holofit Freestyle by adding two new sports, focusing more on lower body and core muscles.
HOLOFIT FreeStyle is currently available on Oculus Quest only.
How HOLOFIT FreeStyle Works
In the settings, members will be able to switch between the regular HOLOFIT Go and the Freestyle. When they choose Freestyle, before entering a VR environment, they’ll choose between sports – rowing, running, or cycling, each of which is exercised through specific movements.
Rowing: Sit on the floor, back 90 degrees to the ground and legs straight. Get your feet stuck under the sofa or something similar, hold the Quest controllers in your hands, bring your arms to the side of your body, and make rowing motions.
Keep your core strong and engaged. The farther back that you lean, the more core muscles you’ll engage!
Cycling: This is, somewhat ironically, a great arm workout. Stand up straight, keep your core strong and engaged, and start “cycling” with your arms. It might sound easy, but trust us, after one minute of doing this, you won’t think so anymore!
There are also two ways you can do circular arm movements:
- As regular arm bicycle movements with your arms being on the side, that will mostly focus on your shoulders, chest and triceps muscles, or
- As boxing speed bag movements, with your forearms next to each other at face height, that will focus on your forearms, triceps, and shoulders.
Running: Stand up straight, hold the controllers in your hands, keep your core engaged. Start running in the same spot. Move your arms as if you were really running, and jog on the balls of your feet. This will activate your arm and shoulder muscles, as well as your calves.
You can also keep your feet on the ground, making more energetic arm movements while bending your knees slightly. This way you’ll put more pressure on your quads and stomach muscles.
HOLOFIT FreeStyle is part of the HOLOFIT app and is available today on holodia.com
Hands-On with Freestyle Mode
Playtesting the freestyle mode over the past week I find it to be an interesting addition to Holofit’s cardio lineup. As is typical with all Holofit game modes the virtual avatar models are excellent, and there are appropriate machine models for what you are doing. The bicycle now features arm pedals instead of foot pedals. In running mode, you can look down and see both your hands and legs, whilst the rower avatar is also adapted accordingly with your virtual legs remaining stationary so that all modes correctly embody what you are actually physically doing in reality. This both improves immersion and probably helps to reduce motion sickness as there is no disconnect between what you see you in the virtual world and what your body is physically doing in the real one.
I’ll give my thoughts on all the game modes below, and show some video footage of them in action, and then suggest what improvements I’d like to see to make this a fully worthwhile additional mode.
As I actually own a Concept 2 I thought this would be pretty pointless for me but it’s actually a surprisingly good ab and core workout. My abs have never been punished in VR before but this was torturous. As you can see in my 500-meter race video below I started well, keeping pace with the leaders but after 300 meters or so my abs were on fire. I tried to cheat and just move my arms to go faster but the game must be tracking your heads forward and back movement too as my pace just died and I limped home in last place!
It doesn’t feel like rowing, it feels like crunches and it was certainly effective. I could see myself doing a 500-meter race like this at the end of a workout a couple of times a week as a fun and challenging ab and core routine.
Again already owning a stationary bike I didn’t think I’d ever find a reason for pretending but an arm cycle is a very different experience. After 500 meters my shoulders were on fire! This was an incredibly tough workout to sustain and my hat is off to anyone who could keep this up for more than a few minutes. I really like the animation of the bike, it was fun, but I could not do this for very long.
With the elliptical being the only compatible machine that Holofit supports which I don’t own this was the mode I was most looking forward to trying. Now it’s only your arms that are tracked not your feet, so whilst you can jog on the spot as you run, you won’t get a fast pace that way. In my 500 meter race below you’ll see I started slowly whilst actually jogging, and that to win the race I needed to abandon the running and just focus on swinging my arms as fast as possible. Another drawback to physically running on the spot was that I inadvertently stepped forward, out of my virtual avatar, in other words, I left my body behind! I could probably improve this with practice but until they actually have leg trackers for the Quest its best to just focus on arm movement here. This was a great workout, even with just arms and my arms felt it even after just 500 meters.
Improvements I’d love to see
Currently, in this first iteration, Holodia has just implemented the freestyle mode and kept all the same options, Explore, Time Attack, Cardio, and Race Mode, and the preset distances are all the same as for the actual machine workouts.
Shorter Distance options
This is the first thing I’d like to see changed. Nobody and I mean absolutely nobody is going to attempt a half marathon doing an arm cycle with the controllers! For all of these freestyle modes, the distances should come way down. I’d like to Olympic style distances of 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and 1500 meters as anything above that is unrealistic.
Short distances are best for this mode as they are pretty intense to perform and each motion is quite repetitive to maintain for very long on their own. Which brings me on the second feature request, and one that I think could make this a lot more enjoyable…
Combine all game modes in one workout with Duathlon and Triathlon modes
Obviously, when training with real machines you can’t switch machines mid-workout however in freestyle mode this is no only possible but also highly desirable. To playtest each mode I needed to set up separate 500-meter workouts for them all which involves a lot of tedious menu selection and pauses to the action whilst you exit one mode and start another.
It seems to me that Freestyle is crying out for a triathlon mode. Imagine a 1500 meter triathlon that begins with an 800 meter run to the lake where you get into your rower for a 400-meter sprint across to the other side, hop onto a hand-pedaled cycle for 200 meters before ditching the bike and running a 100-meter sprint to the finish!?
That would be a fantastic killer HIIT workout that would also be a lot of fun.
Incorporate extra freestyle move options like climbing, squatting
Looking a bit further down the line I think with the addition of a few extra mechanics like climbing, squatting, and punching Holodia could create multidisciplinary obstacle/assault courses that take place in their already excellently realized game worlds.
Proof of concept but strong potential
So far I like the concept of Freestyle and the game modes are all well presented, physically challenging, and fun in short bursts. With some extra development, I think there is potential here for a really excellent fitness program that could offer something unique in the VR fitness sphere. Currently, the vast majority of VR fitness games are either Beat Saber clones or involve punching things. If they worked on creating triathlon and assault course type race modes Holofit could have a unique fitness title on their hands with only Sprint Vector offering anything comparable to it, although Holofit’s intensity is a lot higher.
I’ll definitely be feeding my thoughts back to the developers as there is a ton of potential here and Holodia already has the excellent environments and game world locations to put together some great freestyle content.
Right now Freestyle is an interesting feature to try out for curiosity, but with the right development, it could become something special.