The fitness industry has had an explosive year, bringing virtual reality to fit gamers’ living rooms, arcades, and gyms across the world. In 2017, we saw an evolution of VR compatible wearables, large-scale experiences, sports, fitness and mindfulness apps, VR fitness gyms and gaming taken to a whole new level. With millions of headsets sold, the VR fitness movement is shedding its baby fat and gaining muscle at full steam.

VR, AR, and MR Wearables

Credit to: Xenoma

Luckily, the internet is a glorious place where anything we want to buy is at our fingertips. The creation of smartwatches by companies like Samsung, Apple and Fitbit led the way for other tech companies to start the development of VR, AR, and mixed reality (MR) wearables.

Fitness enthusiasts and developers jumped on board with e-skin’s Kickstarter, raising enough to start creating development kits for their VR, AR, and MR compatible compression shirt. The e-skin shirt has huge potential to help its wearer get data about their body, correct posture, and can turn the body into a VR gaming controller.

2017 was a big year for cyclists looking to get on the road and see real-time data from wearing Raptor AR Biking Glasses. Equipped with rain and dust resistant lenses, cyclists could keep more than just the sun out of their eyes. These road warriors could pedal through bike paths and streets with GPS tracking and got extra help with their uphill countdown via Smart Arc.

Credit to: Manus

Gloves with haptics and control capabilities were huge this year as well. Used by NASA, Manus VR Gloves used mixed reality to help train astronauts for life on the International Space Station, helping them prepare for space vertigo and using the expensive technical equipment. The Manus gloves weren’t just used by space cadets, they are currently being developed as a controller fit gamers can use alongside their favorite VR games.

Straight out of the box controllers are standard for VR use, but HaptX Gloves started creating haptic gloves that have huge implications for the entertainment and fitness industries. Their programmable hand and arm tracking gloves turned the wearer’s hands into gaming controllers that could make the user feel the weight and shape of an object in a VR experience.

Large-Scale VR Experiences

Busting out of the room-scale experience — VR gaming has never been bigger! Fit gamers looking to break out of routine VR experiences sought out warehouse sized gaming from Zero Latency that they could play with a group of friends or fit mates. Fit gamers wore tetherless VR computers and headsets while they killed zombies and got some exercise and steps in.

Crawling out of its infancy, VR has landed itself center stage. Entertainment partnerships with AMC and Nickelodeon are a big reason why Dreamscape Immersive, a location-based VR experience, got so much attention this year. Although we don’t know exactly what cinema quality experiences they’ll bring in 2018, the entertainment industries acceptance of VR will, no doubt, create more buzz and high-quality gaming experiences we can all look forward to.

VR Fitness, Mindfulness and Sports Apps

Zombies! Run! Learn how to survive the apocalypse! Credit: Zombies! Run!

Mobile VR and AR gamers got their fitness on with helpful fitness and meditation apps in 2017. AR games like Zombies, Run! had runners building up their stamina and helped make running less tortuous for everyone else. The app was effective for exercise, motivating its users through stories, complete with sound effects of zombies chasing them, inspiring couch potatoes to complete runs and survive another day.

Mobile VR users transported themselves to far away beaches, planets, and other enlightening settings as they used House of Meditation and Guided Meditation VR to soothe overactive minds or overworked bodies. Fit gamers got mindfulness training and used breath meters to chill out and re-energize sore muscles after exercise.

Credit to: Rickie Fowler via PRNewsfoto/Success Co

VR sports apps like Rickie Fowler’s Success Series got golf fans and actual golfers on their A-game. The Success Series app is proof of that 360 videos aren’t only for VR users, with helpful lessons on how to improve golf swings, short and long game tips, and stories about all the hard work it takes to be a PGA pro and how to hold your own as a golfer.

VR Fitness Workouts

This year, commercial gyms embraced the partnership of VirZOOM with Life Cycle stationary bikes and got adults and kids interested in VR as a fitness outlet. Fit gamers played on average 38 minutes per workout, more than 3 times a week, with VR workout machines like VirZOOM, motivating gamers like Will Brierly to shred down 50 pounds!

VR-enabled workouts at gyms like VR Fit are giving fit gamers and fitness buffs the option to get fit and have fun while using VR gear. VR Fit’s Tim Donahey is a long time fitness trainer who uses virtual reality to pump up his clients for a fun and effective workout, and also gives butt kicking VR fitness gaming reviews. Check out his reviews for helpful tips and tricks to train your body while using technology to gain muscle or shed the weight.

Credit to: Black Box VR

The invention of virtual fitness machinery like Black Box VR’s cable resistance machine is the only VR strength training equipment on the market. With the creation of their innovative resistance machine and opening their first VR gym, Black Box VR is going to have a mighty 2018! Redesigning the way gamers, experienced exercisers and professional bodybuilders get their body tight, Black Box VR gear uses hands-free controllers, so there’s no need to worry about dropping expensive standard ones because fitness enthusiasts are free to use all their strength with every virtual interaction. Black Box VR is the CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree and will be accepting the award on January 9-12 in Las Vegas!

VR Fitness Gaming

Credit to: FITCADE

Everyday people like you and me, gamers, and gym pros embraced VR games for the fun meets fitness element. No one likes boring or inactive games — so independent entrepreneurs and major studios heard the input and set out on a journey to flood platforms, most notably Steam VR, with games that were as effective for gaming as they were for fitness.

Sacramento’s own Fitcade opened this year and they’ve seen individuals, groups, and families enjoy their VR gaming experience. Equipped with games the family and friends at any fitness level can enjoy, the Granger’s are using VR games to ignite that reminiscent feeling of an old arcade that’s been beefed up by VR.

Credit to: Survios

A game like Sprint Vector hasn’t even been fully released yet and the public interest for competitive esports gaming is huge. So huge, that Survios has joined Intel, NVIDIA, and Oculus to host the Alienware VR Cup in Las Vegas the same week as the CES 2018 Awards. This VR beta knows gaming mechanics are important to fitness and got our arms burning and faces drenched from sprinting around futuristic tracks against fierce competitors.

VR Fitness Awards 2017

Over the year, we’ve witnessed readers and fit gamers, as well as the fitness industry, embrace forward thinking VR products and gaming with open arms. In 2017, pounds were shed and muscle was gained, but much more came out of VR technology — health and well being to the masses. To acknowledge the virtual reality industry and their life-changing contribution to fitness this year, VR Fitness Insider awarded 11 of the industries top contenders with the VR Fitness Insider’s VR Fitness Awards 2017.

The combination strength training and stamina VR game, BOXVR, took home the gold for Best VR Boxing Fitness Game of the Year. This high-energy, rhythm boxing helped gamers and hardcore gym goers alike get better cardio, strength training, and fat burn with every workout.

VR Fitness Future

With the acceptance of virtual reality as a bonafide tool for fitness in 2017, stereotypes of gamers being lazy and out of shape is so last decade. With years of product creation, technology, and gaming evolution come ushering in a new year, a fresh start! With more VR fitness games, the shipment of wireless HMD’s, and company’s like Black Box VR making fitness a vital part of every day, 2018 is the year that VR and fitness will make its mark on the world. A VR fitness revolution is coming.