One of the greatest benefits of virtual reality is the fact that people essentially have complete fitness programs in those little headsets that they can tailor to their own preferences in order to meet personal wellness goals. Kathy Bugajsky is one of the countless people who have had success using VR for weight loss and we’re delighted to share her story as an encouragement to others.
The fourth-generation Chicagoan lives in Seattle and works as a project coordinator at a finance firm where she coordinates graphic designers – a job that involves sitting at a desk throughout her workday. A Gen-X geek who loves all things pop culture and who previously served as photographer for the Emerald City Comicon, Kathy has a bachelor’s degree in film/video and is halfway through a master’s program in photography. She definitely embraces life and we’re excited to share more about her discovery and use of VR as a fitness tool!
VRFI: I’d love to hear more about your wellness journey. Could you please share some of that with me?
KB: I’ve been overweight my whole life. I’ve had successes, but usually, they were short-lived. I decided I needed to do something when I reached my heaviest in 2018. I lost 30 pounds over two years with many ups and downs and never feeling like it would last. So I switched tactics in the last week of December 2020 and embraced technology.
First, I started using Noom for my diet. Next, I made tracking my steps more fun with the My Virtual Mission app, and then I bought an Oculus Quest 2 to work out at home. I use a Garmin watch to track everything and a Tenergy smart scale that measures fat and muscle, among other stats.
I’ve now lost a total of 61 pounds. I canceled my gym membership and workout with Supernatural every day for 30-40 minutes. I go for an hour walk after work and usually reach over 10,000 steps a day. I still have about 100 pounds to go, but this is the first time I feel like I’m doing something sustainable. I never went to the gym more than two or three times a week, and now it feels weird to skip a day. My ultimate health goal is to take up fencing as a sport and will be the first to buy a fencing game/workout when one comes out.
VRFI: How did you first learn about the possibility of using VR as a fitness tool?
KB: It didn’t occur to me that VR would be something for fitness until I started seeing the ads for it. I knew that I needed to do something to be more active. I found gyms so static and boring. I imagined if I did a holodeck program it would be to train to be a vampire slayer since that would be easiest way to convince myself exercise was worth the effort. Since that probably wasn’t going to be an option anytime soon, I needed to figure something else out. I felt zero excitement in returning to the gym anytime soon. Then the ads for the Oculus Quest 2, Supernatural, and FitXR kept popping up, and I thought this might be worth checking out.
Do you remember your first experience with VR? Could you tell us about that?
KB: In 2017, I was visiting my friend, and he had the Oculus CV1. He showed me how it worked. I remember at one point, I was standing on top of a building. He said, “You can lean forward and look if you want.” With my hands firmly holding on to the office chair I said, “No, no, I’m good.” His six-year-old daughter had me watch “Henry,” which she prefaced with “It’s going to seem really sad, but it has a happy ending.” The whole experience was so impressive.
VRFI: At what moment did you realize that VR was helping you achieve your weight loss goals?
KB: I don’t think there was a moment per se. I guess I just started noticing that not only did I want to work out, but working out was actually doing something. My clothes were getting looser, and I was slightly less out of breath on weekend hikes. My grandmother used to say (intentionally mispronouncing), “It’s all those endolphins swimming around in your brain.” I never felt energized when I went to the gym or even after a workout, but now I totally get the whole endorphin rush.
VRFI: What is your favorite part of Supernatural?
KB: There are so many great parts. But, if I had to choose just one, I would say the trainers. All five of them have different styles, so I get something unique from each of them. Unlike personal trainers I’ve had in the past, they seem so genuinely happy to be there, and each session seems directed to me personally. The benefit of virtual reality is that their warmups/cooldowns don’t feel like a pre-recorded exercise video but rather like they are there with me at that moment. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and I always look forward to seeing their smiling faces and hearing their encouragement.
VRFI: Do you play other games on your Quest or do you see it more as a fitness tool rather than a recreational device?
KB: I find the Quest to be very versatile for fitness and play, not to mention a way to be social. For a combination of a bit of fitness and fun, I like Beat Saber and Fruit Ninja. I know Fruit Ninja isn’t really a fitness-type game, but it is the way I swing those samurai swords around. When I just want to sit and be a bit less active and more social, I hop on to VR Poker Stars or RecRoom. It seems like every week, I’m checking out something new. This week I found the VR content on Amazon, and my heart is still pumping after having a great white shark swim past me.
VRFI: What advice or suggestions would you give to someone new to VR?
KB: The first piece of advice is to find a community. There are great official and unofficial Facebook groups where people share their stories, recommendations, tips, and tricks. I’ve learned a great deal following them. For example, “Oculus Quest Ladies” is very welcoming and positive to women of all ages. Next, try new things like a demo of a game that you never heard of or a workout where you aren’t familiar with the songs. You never know what you might find. And finally, don’t forget to have fun!
VRFI: Could you please share your social media links so people can continue to follow your fitness journey or send a friend request to join you?
- Oculus: Fangirly (on the system and on most of the VR games)
- Supernatural: Kathy Bugajsky