You’ve booted up your new Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, played with a couple of apps, and now you’re looking for some tips to give this VR fitness thing a shot. But you’re unsure where to start.
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been in shape. Or you’re trying to figure out if VR fits into your existing routine. Or, if you’re like me, you’re scouring the Internet for tips to get started in the right direction. No matter who you are, you’re interested in VR fitness- and that’s great.
In this article, you’re going to receive a handful of tips that you can refer back to whenever you’re feeling off-track. Once you hit your stride, I’m confident that you’ll be as blown away by VR fitness as I was at the beginning of my journey. So without further ado, here you go:
#1: Choose Your Apps Wisely
Sitting down or standing still while shooting a wave of robots with your controller will never get you the same fitness results as doing 1,000 jabs and 100 squats in under 15 minutes. But in VR, you might be asked to complete both actions- even at the same time, in the same game. The only constant is that, in VR, you are always present in your own physical space.
This is why it’s important to choose the right VR fitness games for the type of workout you’d like. It’s also why you should choose games that you can easily play in your playspace. Fortunately, I’ve already created a complete workout plan that you can use, and a separate guide to choosing the right type of exercise. Check both of those guides to get specific, in-depth tips on the right games.
#2: Know Your Limits
You need to take breaks, eat, and drink water. Like with any other type of recreational activity, VR uses up energy- and there’s only so much you can give. Many VR titles come with a warning, and if you’re anything like me you’ll ignore them and skip to the fun bits. But take it from the guy who died falling into a glass table, or the guy who had a seizure in his VR headset- you’re better off keeping your limits in check.
#3: Don’t Take Days Off
This might seem contrary to my previous advice, but it isn’t. If you’re going to take VR fitness seriously, then you can’t take days off. Just like with any other type of fitness regimen: Use it or lose it. You don’t necessarily have to go crazy with the HIIT routines every day. Some days you should play lower intensity games for light exercise. But preferably, you’re going to run (any) VR routine at least once per day. Play an hour of Rec Room, and you’ll still burn something like 150-200 calories during that hour.
The trick is to ramping your routines up over time so that you don’t overextend yourself. Example: You can start with 20-minute HIIT sessions every other day and work your way up to hour-long sessions every day. Whatever you do, don’t give up and don’t let yourself fall back into old habits.
#4: Set Goals
As in a traditional fitness routine, everything you do in VR should be intentional. So, why not set a goal to keep yourself on track? Each time you go in, you’ll be moving your fitness ticker forward. After all, you will get to move that ticker forward each day by playing video games. What’s not to like? Set some goals and make each day count.
#5: Track Your Progress
If you own a scale, weigh yourself each day and record the results. Put them anywhere: On a sticky note, on a whiteboard, or in a document on your computer. You can even slap them on the fridge. If you own a wearable device that counts steps, calories, heartbeat and workout duration- like an Apple Watch or a Fitbit– record each session and keep each recording.
Why am I suggesting this? Because as long as you follow my other advice, you’ll be facing yourself with quantifiable evidence that you’re winning. Every. Single. Day. Motivation is your best friend in life. And also in VR fitness.
#6: Wear a VR Cover (or a Sweatband, or Both!)
When you work out in VR, you’re going to get sweaty. Don’t worry! Your sweat won’t damage your headset. But if you don’t take care of your stuff, your sweat will make your headset filthy and unpleasant to use. Especially for the next person who gets to try it on. Instead of letting your sweat get all over your headset’s facial surface, you can use a replaceable VR cover that will soak it up. You can machine wash it, and VR covers often come in packs of two or more.
Also, you can mitigate more sweat by wearing a sweatband. It’s old-school, but it works!
#7: Eat Healthy
This one is tough for me. I really want to keep eating the pizza, sugar and fast food that I love. But it’s holding me back. I know that I could lose more weight, get more fit, and see way more results if I were to adopt a healthy eating plan. Granted, this is advice that I’m writing for myself, but I know that you could probably benefit from it too. Check out Juanita Leatham’s guide to healthy eating for in-depth tips.
#8: Don’t Neglect Your Friends and Family
As misinformed as I believe those people might be, they have a point. When you’re immersed in a good game, even when you’re sweating calories like crazy, it can be easy to lose track of time. You probably won’t wind up spending days in your headset. But if your friends, family, pet(s) and boss don’t hear from you for a while- don’t let them assume the worst.
#9: Find a Workout Buddy
On the same note, you can use VR as a chance to bond with people. Know somebody else who wants to get in shape and has a VR setup? Get them into a BOXVR group workout or a Beat Saber party. You’ll be glad you bought the VR covers. And not only will you get fit, but you’ll have a chance to bond with someone in your life. Social VR at its finest.
#10: Get Outside and Enjoy Your New Health
Why get fit in VR if you don’t take the opportunity to go out and do things that you weren’t feeling well enough to do before? Remember when you were too embarrassed to go to the gym, or to the clubs, or to the beach? No more. Ever since I started VR, all the physical activity has gotten me craving more real experiences. That’s the special part about VR fitness that nobody talks about. It makes real reality more enjoyable. VR prepares you to go out and face life. All that physical movement accustoms you to be in your body instead of feeling like you need to escape your body from the comfort of a couch seat.
At long last, you have some tips to get you started with your VR fitness routine. You have some ideas on how to choose the right VR fitness games. And you understand the importance of knowing your limits.
If you do VR fitness each day, you can nail your goals and see improvement each time you track your progress. You can also buy VR covers and sweatbands to keep your headset clean. Eating healthy might feel like a chore, but your improved fitness will be worth the diet. And instead of ignoring your friends and family, you can invite them to enjoy VR with you. But most importantly, the point of getting fit in VR will always be to enjoy yourself and juice the most out of your own life. Get fit in VR, then get out there and enjoy your newfound health!
What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.