Immersive fitness can help you forget about the fitness plateau, focusing on the experience around you, in order to stimulate your senses and push you harder. Discipline is one of the hardest aspects of a workout, and the lifestyle that being fit entails. Immersive fitness could provide a unique and compelling experience that makes you want to return again and again.
That’s the philosophy behind The Trip, a new kind of fitness class from Le Mills. Dabbling in the virtual reality space, even if it’s just a dip of the toe, Le Mills has encapsulated the unique experience of uncovering new locations territory 30 minutes at a time.
Your First Trip
The Trip is a tour through virtual worlds that are currently confined to some of America’s largest cities (New York, Chicago, and Santa Monica, with plans to roll out elsewhere). It’s designed to bring the explorative feel of a long bike ride to a specially designed interior space of a gym. Those of us who live under snow or rainy winter conditions spend a lot of time there during the winter, and those who live in hot and dry conditions flock to gyms during the summer. For all the convenience of climate control, the modern spin class fails at truly capturing the essence of being outside. It sounds weird to say, but this is something we miss in between burning calories and admiring the results.
Gyms have tried getting creative with better soundtracks and lively trainers backed by intricate lighting. There are high tech bikes that output your RPMs in pretty LEDs, and wheels that spin and flash as you pedal. There is no shortage of creativity in this space, but we still feel stationary when we do these exercises.
The Trip flips the concept of a stationary cycle on its head by creating the illusion of movement.
Users mount the bike in the same kind of spin class setting most of us are used to, but rather than face a mirror you face a wall-sized screen with a slight curve. The room goes dark, and then the lights come up on one of several computer-generated locations.
Immersive Spin Class
A ride is composed of several up and downhill sections that last a maximum of around 60 seconds, but the cycling is made more intense on your cue. You have full control over the tension of the ride with a lever by your finger and are encouraged by the instructor to push yourself as hard as you can go. Normal bikes utilize a dial, which can sometimes be tricky if you want to give yourself a variable experience. These low-tech bikes make it hard to keep the pace up in your workout if you have to stop and adjust tension every few minutes. The Trip’s lever feels much more intuitive, making the shift far easier and less thought intensive.
That thought intensive part is important because everything in The Trip is built around immersion and thinking too hard about the mechanics would break that sense. Every ride features a full soundtrack, with track lists available on The Trip’s website. Because the track list isn’t random, the developers can play with effects timed to the beat of the music.
While this isn’t 4k triple-A gaming-level visuals, the narrative makes the ride compelling.
In “The Rabbit Hole” users are whisked through a dream state version of San Francisco that morphs into a wonderland right out of Alice, with tall mushrooms and fantastic forests looming in the distance.
Would your workout feel more rewarding if you achieved a goal every time you ran? What if cycling helped you finish first in a race on a Tron-like walkway, or if your journey took you from the real world and forced you to find your way home? What motivates each of us is different, but immersive fitness can toy with our senses and present us with some goals and the thrilling sense of accomplishment that comes with them.
These juicy narrative questions are the concepts driving the future of fitness, and applications like The Trip.
If you’re excited to try The Trip for yourself and don’t live in one of the major cities hosting it, you can talk to your local gym and get them to apply for a consultation. The Trip is currently looking for new places to deploy their setup, and the classes offer an intriguing take on fitness.