VR Fitness Insider Podcast – Episode 12: HOLODIA

Welcome to the latest episode of the VR Fitness Insider Podcast! Today, we're delighted to have Shahin Lauritzen on the show, who is the CEO of HOLODIA, a pioneering company in the world of virtual reality fitness with their flagship product, HOLOFIT. Shahin and the HOLODIA team have been revolutionizing the way people experience cardio workouts by offering immersive, interactive environments that transform traditional exercise routines. We're eager for Shahin to share his insights, the journey behind HOLODIA, and the future of VR fitness with you.

Welcome to the latest episode of the VR Fitness Insider Podcast!

Today, we’re delighted to have Shahin Lauritzen on the show, who is the CEO of HOLODIA, a pioneering company in the world of virtual reality fitness with their flagship product, HOLOFIT. Shahin and the HOLODIA team have been revolutionizing the way people experience cardio workouts by offering immersive, interactive environments that transform traditional exercise routines. We’re eager for Shahin to share his insights, the journey behind HOLODIA, and the future of VR fitness with you.

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Episode 12 – HOLODIA

Preston Lewis: [00:00:00] Welcome to the VR Fitness Insiders podcast, for the creators who are building the future of the VR and AR sports and fitness industries that will revolutionize the way the world will play sports, work out and get fit with your hosts. Preston Lewis and Ryan DeLuca, the founders of Black Box VR, who are building the world’s first full fitness VR gym and bring decades of experience from creating some of the largest fitness technology companies in the world.

They’re bringing together the best and brightest minds to help you and your company succeed in the VR fitness revolution.

Preston Overdub: Alright. Well, welcome to the VR Fitness Insider podcast. Today we have Shahin Lauritzen on the show who’s the founder and CEO of HOLODIA. Their product, HOLOFIT VR Fitness, brings fun connectivity and competition to your bicycle, rowing machine and elliptical. Shahin, thanks so much for being here .

Shahin Lauritzen: Thank you for having me. It’s a real pleasure.

Preston Lewis: Awesome. Well, why don’t we kick it off with just asking you, how did you first become interested in VR technology and its potential applications in the fitness industry?

Shahin Lauritzen: It is been a while, [00:01:00] actually. I think the first time the founders team came together in HOLODIA, it was actually at the gym. And I think we are back in autumn of 2014, something like that. Our CTO founder was at the gym fiddling, with a computer with cables everywhere, and stumbling in them and walking around with, a tethered headset. And both our chief operating officer and chief product officer, and myself were at the gym.

And we were looking at that thing thinking, “okay, what is exactly going on over there?” So that was actually the first time where we came, together. And picked up on the idea, started talking about it. Would the big answer to retention, to making fitness fun, would that be lying, hidden somewhere in the hardware? And after a while we discussed it and talked a lot about the limitations to the technology. Well, we founded HOLODIA and we got started.[00:02:00]

Preston Lewis: What was the inspiration around HOLODIA and how the idea for the company came about?

Shahin Lauritzen: Some of us had spent a lot of time in the fitness industry. For Bojana, our COO, she came out of the fitness industry having started fitness clubs herself. Exited from, a medium size fitness chain. Had built another fitness company back in time.

I had been a professional user for many years, and I brought in also the experience. My first career was in the military, many years ago. But from training people, from understanding, the motivation that it takes to, you know, stay in shape, get in shape, stay healthy, but also the lack of motivation, the hardship. The pain, the discipline that it takes. And those were really the sort of problem areas that brought us together in this discussion around whether VR, and potentially mixed reality, could [00:03:00] be out there in the future. The answer to the problem. So it was the understanding of the problems in the fitness industry, the churn among customers, and the things that we all know. You know, like you eat a lot around the holiday period, and afterwards you get a bad conscious and in January, it’s like, “hey, I, need to get back to it.” And sure enough, every year on the seventeenth or eighteenth of January, that’s the kind of limitation of what people can make up in terms of their commitment and discipline to fitness. That’s at least where it starts. And then, you know, the churn just goes up and up and up. And that was the problem that we wanted to try and solve. And we had looked at different types of fitness programming to do it. But the idea that if we could bring people into a different reality and play around, making it fun, making them forget about the hardship and the [00:04:00] pain, then that might be the big answer. And we think that it is.

Ryan DeLuca: It’s so true. We talk about that all the time. It’s such an amazing thing, the fitness industry. It’s, like, one of those things that everybody wants to do more. Almost like reading books. Everybody’s like, “I wanna read more books.” Nobody’s like, “I’m reading too many books. I’d like to stop.” You know? It’s like they wanna read more, but they wanna do it tomorrow. Because right now they want to, you know, watch a movie or something. But they’re gonna get back to it. And there’s so many things like that in life that are like that. And the fitness industry has not helped. We spend billions of dollars, you know, on fitness devices and food plans and content, and the stats are only getting worse.

And so it’s so amazing to see a company like yours that’s looking at it at a completely different way with this brand new technology. Like the technology allows what you’re talking about to be created for the first time ever. On that note, tell us exactly how the product works. We’re very familiar with it. But for our audience, what is the HOLODIA product? What can consumers do in that product? How can you get it?

Shahin Lauritzen: So, HOLODIA’s product is called HOLOFIT.[00:05:00] It’s a software product that you can download from the Meta store, or the PICO store or just directly from our platform.

Consists of two parts, really. You can use it to train, as Preston said in the beginning, on fitness machines, right? So it’s hardware agnostic. It works with any type of fitness machine even the old stuff that you bought in Walmart like twenty years ago. You drag it out of a closet again, HOLOFIT is gonna work on that. That’s the machine part.

The other part is what we call freestyle. That’s when you use it only with a headset and your controllers. And that enables you to do fitness programming, enter the universe, enter the content, the HOLOWORLDS, take part in the different fitness events, tournaments and competitions. And then also access the online multiplayer. That’s our game engine, which then enables you to game through your fitness workouts with others.

Ryan DeLuca: You mentioned the [00:06:00] bike that’s probably in the closet. It’s so true, so many of these bikes, and ellipticals and random things that people bought on TV infomercials are, you know, gathering dust, sitting in a garage, sitting in the closet. The joke is that that’s where you hang your laundry, you know? It’s the one that’s sitting.

Shahin Lauritzen: And many people buy the fitness machines, right? And then we know that they use them for a while. And then for many people, again, it gets too hard. Maybe they’re too busy and there’s simply not enough power, in what the fitness machines offers today, to sort of pull them back and motivate them for the longer sustainable workout sessions that is required to maintain good health. And to increase your performance.

So it’s on fitness machines, but it’s also in the freestyle version of our product, just with the headset and the controllers.

Preston Lewis: I think that’s the key. I mean, that’s one of the coolest things about what y’all are doing. The awesome part about VR, obviously, is it’s been initially a distribution problem, right? As far as getting people to do [00:07:00] VR fitness. Because most people at the beginning, like when we started Black Box VR six, seven years ago, people didn’t even have headsets. Right? They for sure had the dusty treadmills. They for sure had the dusty, like, fitness equipment you’re talking about, but they didn’t have the headsets and stuff. And so it’s really cool to see what y’all have done with HOLOFIT to be able to basically have a larger ecosystem, because you’re essentially resurrecting all these old tools and adding a ton of value to, like you said, these just kind of old, whether it’s a Walmart, old treadmill or whatever. Just adding that I’m sure doubles the value of that piece of equipment.

Shahin Lauritzen: It does. And it’s like, you know, I’m so impressed what you guys have built and you can say that on the machine part, we are really the cardio vertical of what you do in the strength part, right?

We are very familiar kind of like with your approach. I think, together and with other companies in the space. I think that’s the point, Preston. That we bring value whether, you know, either there wasn’t value before or it was just too painful to [00:08:00] exploit the value of the fitness machines. You know, when things become too repetitive, then the interest drops.

Preston Lewis: Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, we always say with treadmills, it’s the opposite of the time dilation that you get with VR, right? Time dilation and VR, the specific value prop we all know is that it compresses the time and it makes it much less painful and much more enjoyable. Whereas treadmills, and I don’t know the last time I’ve been on a rowing machine, but I remember I felt like it was probably a two hour workout that was actually ten minutes, right? Probably thirty seconds actually.

Ryan DeLuca: Felt like it.

Shahin Lauritzen: We usually take the Concept Two machine as the, kind of, the test example and we say to people, “why don’t you do five hundred meters on the Concept Two, then do it with HOLOFIT and another five hundred meters, and then go back and do it without HOLOFIT and see if you’re gonna do that one more time without HOLOFIT.”

For most people, you know, there’s just this realization that, “whoa, can it be like this to workout?” And that’s cool. We think it’s fun.

Ryan DeLuca: It’s something that people couldn’t even imagine. Like, it is like this magical [00:09:00] technology that, like, no one asks for it, you know? But it’s like, once you do it, you’re right. Now you’re like, “why would we ever go back?” Like, when we look at the fitness industry now, we always talk about, like, you go into a normal gym and it’s like there’s all these, like, torture devices. Like, it almost looks like what a prison or a medieval torture device, kind of, would look like. And once you look at it that way, it’s hard to go back and go like, “wait a minute, years from now we’re gonna look back and, like, people really just sat there on a rower and just looked at the wall or maybe used music and just had to motivate themselves or use these torture devices, you know, for strength training? Instead of being in these magical worlds and have tournaments and had the social environments and all this crazy stuff that you can do.”

Looking back, and very soon, people are gonna look at the old ways of doing it and say, “what in the world were people thinking?”

Preston Lewis: Yeah. Uh, we have a picture in our pitch deck, I think it’s the Woodway Treadmill R&D center or something like that? But it’s literally a guy running in a mouse wheel. Right? And that’s kind of been, for years and years, that’s been the innovation in the fitness industry. So it’s really cool to see what you all are doing.

Shahin Lauritzen: In the fitness machine space. You [00:10:00] know, it’s not that anyone has done anything wrong. They’ve created, you know, machines that are better and better and better. It’s just that, add VR onto the machine part, right? Like you do as well. And it changes the game. The big challenge is to get it out to people. And that’s the stage where we are right now, right? That’s the phase we are in right now. Getting it out there, giving them the opportunity to actually try it out and see how different, and how cool and fun it is.

Ryan DeLuca: Such a good point. Distribution is definitely a difficult part for our industry today, and we know that’ll change in the future. On that note, we talked about all these great things. Tell me what some of the feedback has been from some of your customers. Like, obviously, it’s more fun, it’s better, but like what other type of things do people say when they use your product?

Shahin Lauritzen: They get surprised. There’s the initial sort of “wow” reaction, which is, to some shocking. One thing is to, see it and experience the awesomeness of it. Then comes to the next question, “but does [00:11:00] it work?” Apart from the entertaining part, is that strong enough to help motivate me?” And most people that subscribe to HOLOFIT, they actually get more and more hooked as time passes.

The feedback on the product is excellent. We have, you know, a lot of different people that enjoy the worlds that we build. It can be for the beauty, it can be for the mystery, it can be for the gamification part, and so on and so forth. People generally love very much the variation, right? The fact that they come back and even after months when they have been in a particular HOLOWORLD, we change some of the assets. Some of it is automatic. Some of it we do as per request or as per release. And that means that, like three months after they were starting in a HOLOWORLD, it looks completely different. Or the gameplay has changed. Or the assets are in different places. Or there are more people in the multiplayer player and so on, so [00:12:00] forth. That means that, they come back and it’s never boring.

Then of course, let’s be fair and realistic. There are also feedback, which comes with constructive criticism, right? Especially in the beginning. You know, the difficulty that people have in the beginning. “How does this work? How do I actually use it? How do I download this from Meta? How does it work with the subscription model?” And so on and so forth. So there are these different types of friction points that I think that we all are facing, again, as we go through this phase. Improving the distribution of our products and trying to minimize the friction in the onboarding of the product.

Ryan DeLuca: The exciting part about it is so new. But the worst part about it, it’s so new. Because people just can’t understand it, they don’t know what to do. And so sometimes when there’s that type of friction, people just say, “oh, I don’t know what to do and so I’m not gonna try it.” So getting people past that, you know, and getting people to understand it, then having an easy onboarding. It’s such a critical part of the product development.

Shahin Lauritzen: It is. And for us, what we have done [00:13:00] and I’m really proud of our team is to also work a lot with the customer relationship management, right? The customer journey. You know, one thing is that people might, not be comfortable with how it works in the beginning. We understand that it can be an obstacle to start it off, right? Generally speaking, I think VR products at this stage, we’re probably doing more in customer relationship management. Probably need to do a lot more still than other industries, comparatively speaking.

Preston Lewis: Yeah and just to, kind of, piggyback on some of the results stuff we’ve done a couple research studies with UCLA. And we’ve all seen a lot of the medical studies coming out with VR efficacy for reducing pain and things like that. But we full on shipped a Black Box machine, to the UCLA Fit Lab. So it was twelve weeks, about three workouts per week. And they compared it against the control, which was a traditional cable resistance machine. And honestly, as far as efficacy, it basically beat every metric, right?

Greater decreased body fat, increased lean body mass, lower resting heart rate, [00:14:00] lower systolic diastolic blood pressure, increased flexibility. So basically like every single metric you would want as an average person looking to get fit, it was better. That’s just something to put a little, cherry on top of the novelty of this fun immersive, it’s-not-boring experience. But it actually works in an extremely effective way.

Shahin Lauritzen: You know, that’s where we started out also. The thesis was that, this would actually work, right? Apart from being fun, apart from being addictive in the positive sense of the word. You know, we did those studies as well. University of Kent has been very involved at the early stages in, sort of, researching the impact of VR. Other universities with it. And it is very interesting to see the feedback. It’s also the use of feedback, right? You know, we talked about it. It’s like when people are writing or posting, Facebook or blogs and they talk about how their health has improved. Obviously we are very much [00:15:00] focused on cardio. It’s real stuff. It’s like people coming out saying, “listen, after three months my blood sugar came down.” As an example, right? The blood sugar comes down, because people all of a sudden are motivated to do repetitive fitness and it just improves health over time. That’s probably the most important point for us. You know, it needs to be meaningful. It’s not just a fun game. It works. That’s what we love about it.

Ryan DeLuca: If you’re just gonna play a game, you probably just wanna play a game, you know? Because they, like, sit on the couch and relax. So there’s gotta be the results, like, when it comes to fitness. Most people know that they shouldn’t be playing games as much as they do. If they’re playing, it’s like, that’s not probably the best thing for them. But now you can actually play games and get fit, which is the dream for a lot of people.

We talked a little bit about the challenges of developing a product like this, so I’d love to learn a little bit more about what type of challenges you’ve seen. Because, like, we always talk about, it’s not just getting people to understand it, it’s not just getting people to play the game in the right way. But there’s a [00:16:00] fitness component. Everyone comes with their different mindsets around fitness and understanding. Some very beginners, some experts, so it creates a more difficult challenge than a typical gaming or other type of app. What type of challenges have you guys seen and how have you overcome those?

Shahin Lauritzen: You need to create a product, that creates value and returns value to the user as fast as possible. And that’s a challenge, because in order to see those results, they’re not gonna come, let’s be honest, in a week. Right? It’s not gonna happen in a week that you really see that, kind of like, change. We need to get people to stay with it for a while, until they see the results. They see that in their own results, they recognize that it’s really working. And there inlies a challenge, because you need to retain your members for a long enough time. So that’s perhaps point number one.

Point number two is that once you have,[00:17:00] given people the belief that this is really working, right? They want more and they want it fast. All the time. Another challenge for us, because we need to produce faster. So you need to find smart ways of producing low cost, high quality. How do you do that? It’s not a problem to create high quality and high cost, but how do you do it at low cost? So you can also keep, you know, subscriptions, how do you keep that down?

So there are some challenges, challenges around enough content. How do you produce that? How do you scale the content that you have, or the experiences that you have or the way that users can perhaps generate their own content? There has been a lot of thought process going into the way that we build HOLOFIT. And that’s continuous, right? It’s the never ending process. Where we take a lot of feedback from the market. Listen to what works for the [00:18:00] user. But also means that we need to find smart ways and do shortcuts, right?

And we need to think big and we need to think long term. We’ve been at it for quite a while. Some companies have been up and they have gone down. So while you’re building a fantastic product or trying to, at least, you also have to think about your company’s resilience, because we aim for the long game. It takes time, because we need to get the headset technology to come to the optimal stage, right? Now we are seeing the release of mixed reality headsets. But do we know whether that’s gonna work better than VR? No, we don’t.

So we are testing, we are piloting, and one of the things that I think is great about the industry as it is evolving right now, is actually the partnership, perhaps. Or at least the kind of, like, camaraderie that we have between our different VR companies. Because we [00:19:00] know each other. They’re not that many companies. We know each other. We know, you know, who’s doing what. And I like the fact that we have communication, like, with you guys, you know, with FitXR, you know, we talk to them on a regular basis. You know, Meta, of course we all talk to them. And it’s clear that everyone is challenged, right? We can’t just sit back and think about our own company and sort of expect, for instance, that Meta as a platform, that they have everything under control and everything is running smooth. Because it’s not. They have their challenges at their levels. We need to still look very holistically at this, and I actually see, I’d say especially over the last sort of maybe six to twelve months, we get the feeling from our desk that things are really coming nicely together.

Ryan DeLuca: We feel the same way. Everything you said resonates very much. Like you said, it’s like being able to work together, that’s a big goal. We try to, you know, promote everybody in here, because we believe that [00:20:00] this whole industry is gonna be successful together. And the companies that have been around for a long time.

I mean, everything you said there is just such a great roadmap for understanding how to develop a product. And we always say that creating a startup is one of the hardest things to do in business. Creating a startup when there’s a hardware component makes it even harder. And creating a startup in something brand new is, like, expert mode. You know? And it’s gonna take a lot of people working together over a long time to do it. Kind of switching gears just a little bit, how do you look at the fitness metrics that you are measuring? What would you say makes it successful?

Like, when you look at a member, obviously it’s adherence, you know that they’re continuing to come back, but what type of things are you looking for from a fitness metrics standpoint?

Shahin Lauritzen: That’s a very good question. When we think about our own company, we think about our own company as a fitness company first and foremost. We are not a VR company in that sense. We also don’t think of ourselves as a gaming company first. We are a fitness company. That’s where we came from. We were born [00:21:00] fitness people before we were born VR people.

Our own experience is that the sort of generic fitness metrics that you use in the industry to measure, you know, results, performance, improvement can be used when you use a VR product like HOLOFIT, or any other product really.

So calorie burn, we look at improvements over time. We look at improvements metrics around the various difficulty levels. And then we use also metrics, in what you could call more gaming than it’s fitness, how you climb up a leaderboard. Not one big leaderboard, but several different leaderboards depending on the sport that you are performing.

So those metrics are, kind of, like, generic. People will use the Apple watch sensors to monitor their body. So what we have tried to do was to look at how do the people that are using different types of machines, [00:22:00] how do they actually measure their performance? Then what we are doing is, kind of, like mirroring that.

A lot of our Concept 2 rowers, they love to see that the computer on the Concept 2 is actually calibrated with HOLOFIT. So users, they’re our members that are using rowers, they’ve been, you know, super helpful here in the beginning to sort of give us feedback and say, “guys, mine is not really totally synchronized; the cadence of the rowing is not synchronized.” So that has helped us improve the HOLOFIT product over time. So that’s the fitness side of things.

Then there’s the gaming side of things, right? Which is not really a fitness metric, but that’s where the fun kicks in, right? How many trophies are you catching? Are you getting them in the right sequence? Are you solving the riddle while you are rowing ten kilometers in HOLOFIT and you go into the neon HOLOWORLD, because riddles are hidden in our [00:23:00] fantasy worlds. And it’s not just about getting from point A to point B in the fastest possible way. You also have to do it right and better than the others.

So, you know, those types of metrics are all over in the gaming space, and we use all of them.

Ryan DeLuca: You know, it’s funny, people love to see the fitness metrics of course, because, you know, people are used to those things. They wanna see, like you said, that they’re improving on these different aspects and the calorie burn. Solving mysteries, like, engaging your brain in that way that gets you out of thinking about the time and thinking about just the pain that you’re feeling maybe in your legs after a while. Like solving riddles, like, I never would’ve imagined, like “someday I’m gonna use this treadmill and I’m gonna be solving riddles in this mystery world.” It’s like a dream. It’s almost like if somebody told you this years ago, I’d be like, “uh, this person needs to go to the Loony bin, because what the heck, they’re solving riddles while they doing this?” How awesome is that?

Shahin Lauritzen: You’re completely right. And, you know, we love it because it also creates some challenges for us, right? We can’t do a gameplay where if you have to catch a trophy or you have to, you know, solve a riddle, as I said just as an [00:24:00] example. If the thought process or the movement, if it slows you down. You know, if it means that you have to stop and think about something, then it becomes a little bit counterproductive at that moment in time. So it forces us to think in a new way around how we build our gameplays, and that’s fun. We like the challenge.

Ryan DeLuca: That’s amazing.

Preston Lewis: So can you talk a little bit about HOLODIA’s approach to user experience design and how it factors into the company’s products? I know you, you mentioned earlier the user journey. I think it’s also important to, kind of, maybe double click on the aspect of people wanting results quickly. Right? And how you, kind of, deal with that holistically, because one of the things we say is, you know, the good thing about VR and fitness is the fact that we’re using all these advanced game mechanics and game elements, and we think that game designers are some of the best behavioral psychologists in the world, right? Because they know how to shorten those dopamine feedback loops to get people [00:25:00] addicted to these things in a healthy way. So can you talk a little bit about your guys’ approach to the UX design?

Shahin Lauritzen: When people initially start up in VR, they need to get used to it. The risk of that is that it does slow down a little bit the utility of a fitness machine or a workout. Challenges are to try and reduce the time that people need to select something. You know, select your fitness programs, select the, in our case, the HOLOWORLD that you want to workout in.

Select maybe some skins or the type of vehicle that you want to use for your workout. And that puts up some very, very high demands for how we build the user experience and the user journey. Around, kind of, like in VR, coming into the lobby, you know, getting yourself ready and then starting up. Whether you are on a fitness machine or you are not on a fitness [00:26:00] machine.

Things like in, in our case, are if you want to do, you know, VR fitness on a rower one day, but then the next day, whether you are at home or you are in the gym or in a hotel, you know, you want a bicycle. You know, that switch to a new machine. That sets the bar really high, because we have to compress, if you will, the user journey before you actually start your workout. Once you’re in your workout, no sweat. Or, well, actually a lot of sweat. Right? But once you’re in the workout the head of display takes care of everything. The design of that has also been something that we’ve worked a lot on, because you need to create a heads up display inside HOLOFIT, which is clear enough so that you have all your data, a little bit like a fighter pilot in an F-35, right?

You need to have all of it there, but it can’t take your attention away from what you’re actually doing. So that means that you have to design in a different way. You [00:27:00] have to actually design, like our user is a fighter pilot. That’s how we think about it. If you ever looked into a cockpit, right? Especially of an advanced fighter jet. You’ll see that they have hundreds if not thousands of different buttons, screens and so on and so forth.

We have to design in a way so that it becomes super intuitive for our users. I’m not gonna say and claim that we are there yet, but we are certainly getting there. Right? We are getting there. That’s on my mind, you know, how do we do that? How do we continue to make sure that this is easy for the user, because it’s not about navigation inside a headset. It is about working out and getting more fit.

Preston Overdub: A hundred percent. One of the things just that’s important for our listeners to kinda understand is you guys have done a lot of research, a lot of testing around some of these interaction patterns, around onboarding, around what you just mentioned the cockpit experience with the heads up display. The cool thing [00:28:00] about VR is you can borrow from things in the real world. Whereas we, kind of, had this moment in mobile design where the whole skeuomorphism thing, right?

You imagine the first iPhone, it was like the Notes app looked like a yellow piece of notepad because people were like, “oh, I don’t know.” So it’s to familiarize that, kind of, crossing the chasm. The really interesting thing with user experience design with VR is you want a one-for-one reality, for the most part. At least as far as, like, interaction that you would expect. Our takeaway as designers and creators is just really diving into products like yours . Because there’s probably a ton of gold in there for any creator looking to, not necessarily do that exact experience you guys have created, but actually to be able to use some of those patterns to say, “oh wow, this makes a lot of sense to add to my game or my experience.”

Shahin Lauritzen: I think that’s very true. You know, when you said like, “there’s a lot you can use from what already exists in the world.” That’s also why I use the cockpit analogy. Because, in some areas we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But we have to think in a way, kind of like a state of mind, constantly on what makes this [00:29:00] easy for the user, what makes it simple. And again, as I said, I’m not gonna say we have solved, you know ultimately the riddle or that challenge. But we are certainly getting there and it’s on our mind all the time. When you look at some of the differences between our companies, right? What we have done with HOLOFIT is that we are building something on patented technology. It took some years to get the patents, but we got there. And that means that, you know, when you look at the way that we let the user workout, it’s actually opposite of some of the companies in the industry, because we are not stationary. We move, right? That means that when you go on a rower, you go on a bike, you go on an elliptical, again, you know, it almost doesn’t matter which fitness machine you are using, we are putting you on a journey. And you are going from point A to point B. And then with a lot of different paths that you can choose between.

And that is a challenge in itself because it means [00:30:00] that, unlike the companies where you are standing and you are stationary, where perhaps things come at you, HOLOFIT is the opposite. You are moving, we are taking you on a journey. And that also gives us the opportunity to make this very interactive for people. It means that they can actually interact with the environment, with the gameplay as they go. And that’s something that is challenging in the way that we build as well.

Preston Lewis: Now to, kind of, zoom out a little bit. How do you see VR technology transforming the fitness industry in the next five to ten years? And maybe combine that with the question of, you know, what’s next for HOLODIA?

Shahin Lauritzen: Good question. It’s not a secret that I’m a very strong believer, right? And I think I’m with friends. One of the reasons why I’m a n even stronger believer today is that, you know, back in time we were talking about 2014, right? That’s when at the conceptual stage we started, obviously the commercial launch was quite a lot later than that. But we’ve been thinking about this for a long time. [00:31:00] Back at that time, you know, most people said, “you guys are crazy, this is never gonna happen.” Because you have to see beyond all the friction. You have to see beyond the innovation cycles in the technology. You have to believe, as a thesis, that others will invest enough in this. Headset producers are as an example, so that we actually make this accessible for people. From headsets coming down to a price point where a consumer can and will actually buy it, to the operating system. When we started out HOLOFIT, that was with a strong vision and it still is that we wanted to place HOLOFIT as a, kind of, go-to platform in this cardio fitness space. But there were so many problems and there are still many problems that [00:32:00] we can’t solve. Our company is not set up to solve all these problems. 5g, right? Delivering this from the cloud. So there’s so many things that requires, you know, that all the actors in the industry actually act together. And I think, you know, at this stage at least I see these components coming together. That’s also why I said, in sort of the last maybe twelve to six months, I know it’s horrible when we see Meta letting off wave after wave of ten thousand employees, but there’s a reason why they do it at this stage.

We all, kind of, like mobilize what is needed to make this really big. To facilitate mass market adoption. Is that gonna happen next year? Probably not, it’s still gonna take a while. Now on top of VR, we come out with mixed reality headsets. Right?

Now we have to, kind of, prepare and be ready to [00:33:00] deliver that also. I think it is a super promising market and I think that if we can solve platform problems, the delivery or distribution, as you say, Ryan. Those issues together, all playing the part that we are best at. I think we can make this a smashing success globally speaking over time. I have no doubt whatsoever, and it’s not just my hopes, but I have no doubt whatsoever that we will see VR big in the fitness space as a pillar of the global fitness space in years to come. Is that gonna be two years?

It’s gonna be four years? Is it five? When we, kind of, hit that mass market adoption? I don’t know. Not that it’s not super important for me, but you know, we have managed to build a company which is today is resilient, right? But I’m happy, you know, that we stayed the course and I’m super happy to see other companies, as I say, you [00:34:00] know, the friends in the industry, stay the course and work together. And I love the fact that you guys are doing this podcast, because that’s also part of us working together. Get the message out there, share some success stories, but also some of the challenges. And behold, right? Many of the challenges that we face, they’re the same for all of us with a little bit of variation here and there. So the more we can speak with each other, respecting of course, you know, each other’s secrets and all these kind of things, I think that we can reach great successes in the industry. I have no doubt about that.

Ryan DeLuca: So motivating, everything you’re saying. I’m so glad we’re recording this. I’m like, “I gotta write this down.” I’m like, “wait, I have a video.” You know? It’s almost really similar, the same things, you know? Everything’s coming together. It’s taking longer than we want, of course, like everybody would say. But it’s all coming together. The technology, it’s being built. And I think to add on to it, which obviously you’re implying, it’s like, it’s not only that this is gonna help us to be successful and be able to grow companies and provide opportunities. But it’s also going to severely [00:35:00] change the fitness world in such a positive way that’s desperately needed. We’re missionaries in a way. You know? It’s like we’re building a company and we wanna be successful in those ways, but like we have a mission of, like, not only do we hope this happens and we want it to happen for ourselves, but like the world truly needs it. And I think the last thing I would say is, you know, some of the words I was writing down as you’re talking is just how amazing it is that like what you guys have done has turned the most boring thing possible from a treadmill to an elliptical to, you know, like we talked about these machines that are stuck in closets. And adding things like, tournaments and exploring worlds and, you know, mentioning the word “beauty” and “mystery”, and riddles and all that stuff. And what’s so amazing about this thing that you guys have made is, not only does it make that much more enjoyable and bring such an exciting thing to your life, but also your fitness improves. It is the ultimate life hack, magic pill, improvement system. And it’s just the beginning and that’s what’s so exciting about it.

Shahin Lauritzen: You are so right. I couldn’t agree more. And [00:36:00] I think, to the last point you made there, right? The, kind of, like that life pill? You know, at the end of the day, fitness, it makes us feel better and it makes us look better. Right? It creates the companionship, and friendships and experiences. At the end of the day, you know, it also actually increases your life expectancy, right? We all want it, we all wanna stay a little bit longer.

Preston Lewis: We are on the cusp of a VR revolution, a VR fitness revolution, as we’re saying. I mean, as you’ve mentioned, you know, the VR headsets six to seven years ago, those were okay. They’re getting lighter, they’re getting more performant. They’re getting cheaper.

You have VR hand tracking on the horizon. We have this Metaverse tech that, as you mentioned, we don’t really have our first blue link of the interoperability of it. Right? To connect it all together, but that’s coming soon. You have form tracking that’s getting better. And then just to reinforce the market, some of the stuff we’ve put in some of our presentations is the Metaverse, it’s projected to be a five trillion dollar market by 2030. [00:37:00] Right? Fitness is already seen to be the killer app of the Metaverse, with the study that McKenzie and Company did with over seventy six percent of people preferring to exercise in VR. You know, of course Meta acquiring Supernatural for four hundred million and stuff like that. So for any creators listening, obviously we know it on this podcast, but for any creators listening, there’s a huge opportunity here still. Even with, as you’re mentioning, the XR, some of these new technologies coming out. Reinforcing that we’re on the cusp of something gigantic, so.

Thanks so much, Shahin, for joining us and sharing your team’s story, insights and passion for creating the future of VR Fitness with our audience. So for any of you in the audience, if you’d like to get in contact with their team, we’ll put all the info in the show notes. So be sure to check those out. Thanks again.

Thanks for listening to the VR Fitness Insider podcast. Do you know of anyone that should be on our show or have feedback? Don’t forget to email us at podcast vr fitness insider.com and follow us at VR Fitness Insider on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also join our Discord channel. [00:38:00] Until next time, keep creating and dreaming up the next big thing that will revolutionize the world of fitness.

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Preston Lewis
Preston is the Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Black Box VR. Preston is a fitness fanatic, UXUI junkie, product design ninja and product visionary. Preston has provided creative direction and product management to some of the largest brands in the world. His passion for amazing products and solving difficult design problems has earned him numerous awards for projects ranging from traditional print campaigns and packaging design, to chart-topping mobile applications with complex information architectures. After helping grow multi-million dollar brands, Preston decided to leap back into the world of entrepreneurship with a mission to combine his passions for technology, games, fitness, and changing lives, to create the future of fitness; with this vision, Black Box VR was born. When he's not creating new digital products and growing brands, he can be found enjoying paleo treats with his wife that she posts on her blog, AmazingPaleo.com, playing the guitar, singing, working out in VR and dreaming up the next tech innovation.