When it comes to deciding whether VR would be a good option in your personal fitness journey, it’s beneficial to weigh the pros and cons of VR against more traditional fitness programs. Since different people have varying goals and resources, we’ll take a look at several key factors that you might want to consider.
VR: One of the most commonly cited obstacles to VR is cost. The initial investment for VR is what turns many away and your expenditure is going to depend greatly on whether or not you already have a high-end computer that will power it. If you already have a good computer, then an initial investment of a few hundred dollars for VR equipment ($399 for an Oculus Rift or $599 for an HTC Vive, for example) could last several years before you might want or need an upgrade. If you need a computer, you’re looking at an additional cost of $1200 or more.
Gym Membership: When you add average gym membership monthly costs of $40 to $50, plus initiation fees, yearly maintenance fees, travel expenses to and from the gym, etc., you’re often looking at an investment of well above $1000 for the first year alone.
Martial Arts: Martial arts classes could cost you even more. In addition to the initial registration fees, you’ll likely have to pay testing fees several times per year as well as additional fees for tournaments, uniforms, and special classes. This doesn’t even take into consideration the monthly fees that average around $103 per member.
Home Fitness Programs: Obviously there are options that require very little investment other than perhaps a yoga mat (starting at around $20) or a good pair of running shoes.
VR: One of the best things about VR is that the virtual world is always there. You can play in your pajamas in your basement in the middle of the night if you want!
Gym Membership: Some gyms are open 24 hours and even those that aren’t usually have extended hours, but you’ll still need to make the commute from your home to the gym.
Martial Arts: In addition to a commute, since martial arts classes have set schedules, accessibility is also limited to the days and times for particular classes.
Home Fitness Programs: Despite minor inconveniences, fitness options you can do on your own have the advantage of providing a great amount of flexibility. If you walk in your neighborhood, do yoga at home or workout with fitness videos, for example, you set your own schedule.
VR: You’ll need a space large enough to play games and exercise without causing injury to yourself or others. In addition to a safe play space, you’ll need an area for your equipment – computer, headset, sensors, etc.
Gym Membership: One of the advantages of a gym membership is that you don’t have to worry about having equipment in your own home. Some people find this particularly appealing. Another benefit of a gym membership is that they usually have a greater variety of equipment and even perks like massage tables, large indoor tracks, swimming pools, etc.
Martial Arts: With martial arts programs, you’ll typically have a uniform (such as a dobok or a gi) that you’ll need to keep clean and carry back and forth to the academy. Most of the time you’ll also have extra, sometimes bulky equipment such as sparring gear, a breaking board, etc.
Home Fitness Programs: You could get by with very little equipment or you might opt to have a room full of weights, medicine balls, a stationary bike or elliptical, and so on.
When we talk about the pros and cons of fitness programs, it’s important to keep in mind that enjoyment is subjective.
VR: Advances in VR technology have made it possible for developers to create the sensation that you are actually in the environment so there is literally something for everyone in regards to VR fitness. You might enjoy burning calories competing against an AI or you can get fit and have fun in one of the many multiplayer environments.
Gym Membership / Martial Arts: The same feelings of fellowship we experience in VR multiplayer games are well known to members of local gyms, martial arts studios and dance schools. It’s one of the reasons these places can feel like a second home and why these fitness options will remain popular.
Home Fitness Programs: You can easily choose a fitness activity that provides the most enjoyment for YOU!
VR: Games encourage users to rank up, unlock achievements, win a match, etc. Sometimes the most difficult part is remembering to take the headset off and give others a turn.
Gym Membership: People are frequently motivated in January, but most of them are gone by March. Even with friends, it’s sometimes a challenge to maintain focus.
Martial Arts: One of the greatest advantages is the fact that you might keep going back just to reach that next belt level. There are clearly defined goals and it’s easy to maintain focus.
Home Fitness Programs: Unless someone is incredibly self-motivated and persistent, they might have difficulty with fitness options that lack a goal or some sort of accomplishment.
Looking ahead, ground-breaking companies like Black Box VR are combining the best of these options so that we’ll have the motivation of VR while using the best fitness equipment in a gym type environment where we can fellowship with others.
Different people will always have varying priorities in regards to their personal fitness training so there will always be a place for martial arts training, yoga, home gyms, etc. With that said, it’s exciting to see how we are using advances in technology like VR to push us to our limits. People can choose what works for them. We are driven to achieve and for those of us who strive for improved fitness, it’s awesome that we have so many options.