Sitting at a desk job for hours at a time is a reality that most people have to endure for work’s sake. Kevin William is a great example of someone who has a job that requires long periods of sitting but still makes time to exercise daily by using his Vive. Kevin works in IT, 3D prints VR gun rails, and is looking to design and 3D print high-quality prosthetics in the future.
Keep reading to find out more about how he dropped over 32 pounds and counting with VR and how he wants to help others with 3D printing!
VRFI: Hi, Kevin! Which PC VR headset do you use? Why did you pick that headset over the others available?
KW: I use the HTC Vive with the TPCast for wireless. I have owned a few headsets starting with the Gear VR dev edition back on the Note 4, the Oculus DK1 and the Vive. I chose the Vive because I hate sitting while playing video games, it is one of the reasons I am overweight.
I like immersion and being able to move around and interact with the environment freely which is why I chose the TPCast as my wireless solution. Playing super hard and intense games, I have yanked the cable from the ceiling and almost strangled myself many times not remembering to turn left or right so many times so the cable wouldn’t get tangled.
The Vive is just overall, in my opinion, the only way to VR due to its vast amount of support from the community, the selection of experiences and games and the constant updates. The controllers may not be the best and I have experienced many issues with them, but I can live with that when a lot of the exercise-related games don’t take the broken buttons.
VRFI: How long have you been playing VR for fitness? How long do you play Soundboxing and Beat Saber?
KW: I started playing back around April 1st but didn’t start logging calories and all that until I got the Fitbit Charge 2 on April 22nd. I started playing Soundboxing after seeing Job Stauffer playing it, I went hard on the song Harry Potter and the Chamber of Bangers until I was able to get a 1st-20th place, aimed at getting the highest score I possibly could arriving finally at 5.12 million-ish (sadly can’t even beat that score now, lol).
I play between 30 minutes to an hour a day unless it’s the weekend when I play for however long until I get bored, my batteries die on the TPCast or the controllers, or I get tired. Beat Saber, I bought the day it came out and played pretty light on it at first starting at Medium and working my way up to Expert on Legend, I play that for around 30 minutes to an hour also. I try to aim for a minimum of 100 minutes a day of VR exercise.
VRFI: You mentioned that you play Soundboxing and Beat Saber, two amazing fitness titles we work out to frequently here in the office. What are your favorite songs to workout to?
The song Legend on Beat Saber and Harry Potter and The Chamber of Bangers on Soundboxing (also shout out to the Soundboxing creator, that update recently was well welcomed, the bugs were killing me).
VRFI: Jumping around and doing leg lifts (toe lifts) during any momentary breaks in action is a great way to keep the heart rate elevated. Do you have a workout regimen outside of VR that you stick to? Or do you only exercise using VR?
KW: I try to keep everything in VR but there have been a few occasions where I have been so pumped after beating/scoring high on a song that I decide to go run a few miles after. These games work the upper portion but not so much the lower, so I started jumping around or doing anything that worked out the lower half while playing.
It definitely makes things much harder not only because you are trying to concentrate on what’s coming but because it makes it much harder to hit the “target”. This is especially if you are landing in a way that is offbeat and you kind of have to shuffle or 2 step to make it fit the beat.
VRFI: Thank you so much for serving our country, Kevin. You told us that you gained 70 pounds during the time you served in Afghanistan and currently have an IT job where you sit a lot. You say you’ve lost 2 pounds a week and have lost 32 pounds and counting, are your clothes fitting better, or are you seeing health or quality of life improvements from VR?
KW: I have lost 5 belt sizes so far. I am not 100% sure how well my clothes fit because I mainly wear clothes that are expandable, mainly for comfort but the clothes I wear to work I have most definitely seen a difference.
Shirts that I would wear are now loose and flabby and make me look unprofessional (which doesn’t work well where I work), the pants are looser but the belt makes up for that and that is where I first noticed the weight loss. Looking in the mirror I didn’t see a difference and it kind of bummed me out.
After finally seeing the scale drop I decided it was working. At first, I thought maybe the scale was broken or the different scales I tried were in some way different. But, when putting on the belt I put it in the same loophole and realized the belt was loose, so in turn, I moved it over a slot. That seemed to continue every week or so until I ended up where I am now — I’m not sure how much smaller the waist can get!
VRFI: Why is getting fit using VR different? How is it keeping you coming back for more?
KW: The main part that makes VR different is that when you are in the headset you lose track of everything in the outside world (headphones help) meaning no sunlight, no darkness or clocks to tell you just how much time has passed.
This allows you to lose track of time and that 30-minute exercise you planned on doing turns into 2 hours and it’s time to go to bed. When you are exercising in the “real world” everything seems to be going slower, it’s boring and there isn’t anything to take your attention away from the pain your body is feeling.
VRFI: Do you eat healthily or add protein shakes or bars for pre-workout or post-workout fuel?
KW: Nope, I just eat the normal foods I have eaten before just a slightly less amount. Whatever I eat extra I make sure to burn off later in the day. I don’t personally believe in protein powder and do believe going hard enough to make you sweat while not making it so you can’t sleep because your body hurts so bad (have done that once) is the way to go.
VRFI: You mentioned that you protect your VR headset with a sweat solution like a leather face pad. Do you use a VR cover? If so, how do you like it?
KW: The leather cover I bought from Amazon was great at first with having the capability of just wiping it off and giving the headset to the next person, I learned the hard way when you sweat and the headset moves around the face pad still absorbs the sweat and it involves throwing it in the washer or handwashing it every day.
I’m not sure if there are small vent holes or if the leather breathes a little too well but the positive part is it keeps any and all sweat out of my eyes which also means the sweat isn’t building up in the headset itself. If there is a very minimal amount of condensation buildup it can easily be wiped off.
VRFI: You have a 3D printer you said you’re going to use to print prosthetics for people. How did you gain an interest in 3D printing prosthetics?
KW: I have been 3D printing for quite a while now and I admin one of Facebook’s largest Creality CR10 groups. I have been pushing myself to learn to model and design things that are useful and not so much wasting my time (you know because I have VR to do).
I have designed functional parts for my car using the lost PLA casting method where you print PLA and melt it down in a forge, making the part out of aluminum. This got me thinking after seeing one of my friends, Juston Brawley, on the news regarding making prosthetics for people for little to no cost — everything from simple prosthetics to motorized hands and fingers controlled by muscles on the upper arm.
A couple of the admins in the group were also talking about trying to get something setup to start a group effort on printing prosthetics. I have a 3D scanner and the means to do it but my modeling skills are not yet up to par with what it takes to make something worthy of giving to someone in need.
I don’t want to produce something that doesn’t look semi-professional or non-functional, I’d prefer to give them something they would be proud of, so until then I am going to continue to hone my skills and keep collecting 3D printers. Right now I have the CR10, Tevo Tornado and recently the Geetech A30, all large enough printers to print full arms, hands and possibly legs.
I also 3D print things for the Vive that make things more realistic in-game like gun rails that allow the connect and disconnect of controllers to throw virtual grenades and interact with objects and then back on to grab ahold of the weapon, charging docks, TPCast mount to hold onto the wireless battery on the back of your head. I also offer a website that people can use to find people local to them to 3D print things for their Vive.
VRFI: What are some gaming ideas that the VR industry hasn’t tackled yet as far as fitness and activity is concerned? Are there any unreleased or early access VR fitness games that you’ve got your eye on?
KW: I think they need to work on more games that incorporate fuller body experiences that use more trackers so it involves more lower body workouts. As for upcoming games I haven’t really kept up with that and I stick with Soundboxing and Beat Saber, but once I start getting tired of those I will start looking around.
A giant sub, surround sound and the capability of feeling what you are playing (of course without irritating neighbors) makes games so much more intense. The vibration of the controllers is cool but vibrating your whole body when you smack that saber against a block is beyond awesome.
VRFI: Thanks for talking VR and fitness with us, Kevin!