Virtual reality fitness is a brand new category for the fitness world. It’s unlike anything that has come before and will change the commercial and home fitness equipment market in revolutionary ways. Best of all, it will help people to adhere to their fitness programs and get better results than ever before.
I’m a big believer so I try to track down and study any and all advancements into the category, as well as new entrants into the market. Along with Google alerts and countless mailing lists and subscriptions, I love finding something new.
Unfortunately, many times I click on an intriguing link and I’m disappointed. Why? Many products or news articles about VR fitness actually aren’t.
What is virtual reality? The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and other fully immersive, 360 degree, 6DoF hardware devices that you put on and enter a completely new world. It’s like reality, but virtual. You look around, interact, and move within an experience and the outside world is completely shut off to you.
So what is it not? Here are three examples:
Exercise Bikes with a Video Game Screen
An exercise bike where you pedal and the bike rider on the screen goes faster is not virtual reality. It is a video game that you control with your feet and by steering.
Spin Classes in a Movie Theater
This is just a spin class with a big screen in front of you. Usually it’s in a group experience and the screen doesn’t change at all based on what you are doing or how you are performing. It’s possibly way more fun and interesting than traditional spin classes, but it’s not virtual reality.
Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect Games
The Wii and Kinect both brought motion into video games in new ways that allowed you to use your body as the controller. This innovation got people up off the couch and exercising as they played sports, danced, and controlled their favorite video game characters.
But no, that’s not virtual reality. You are still in your luxurious, sunny, spacious, spotless living room (or at least that’s what the living rooms always look like in the ads).
Live Group Spin Classes on Video
Can’t make it to a spin class and prefer to do your workout at home? You can pretend you are at a class by watching it live on a screen that’s attached to your home spin bike. Introducing Peloton, a relatively new entrant into the fitness landscape that has taken the industry by storm.
But no, that’s not virtual reality. You are watching a live broadcast on a 2D screen. The media need to stop calling it VR in articles about the company.
Real Virtual Reality Fitness is Coming
A lot of these are great innovations that help to make exercise more interesting, more fun, and possibly more effective. They are worth a try if you are looking for something new! But… these are not virtual reality experiences and by calling them that, you are confusing the customer and making it more difficult for actual VR fitness devices and experiences to really take off.
Real, immersive VR fitness will change the industry in ways that will benefit consumers that have tried and failed in the past to begin and adhere to a workout program. No more dusty, unused treadmills being used as a clothes hanger in the back corner of the master bedroom, forever shaming you as you try to ignore it. Finally!
See you in the meta-verse!