The process of getting into shape is very fulfilling, but many find it challenging thanks to burn out. Two major factors influence burnout: pushing ourselves too hard and motivation. We push ourselves too hard because we crave results.
Gyms and repetitive workouts can make losing weight and getting in shape harder than it has to be. A personal trainer offers help with motivation, but one must still have the discipline for an instructor to pay off. Even the most dedicated gym-goer occasionally falls back on inspiration and advice from outside him or herself.
We offer some inspiration for those in VR who want to set new goals, experienced players who find motivation waning, and newbies looking to dive in head first.
Everyone has different goals, and VR fitness fits into your life in different ways. We think each of these stories highlights an essential takeaway to VR fitness.
Do it to Stay Active
Karen Cusimano told VRFI about how her Oculus Rift helped her stay engaged. New experiences give her exciting possibilities to look forward to, and active games make her hour-long workout session feel meaningful.
She describes herself as someone with near-zero motivation to exercise, but she found that rhythm games rekindled the same sense of fun she felt with the Wii in 2011. Today, she works various muscle groups to play rhythm games and hopes for Zumba to make its debut in VR.
Do it for Health
Kevin Brook works for the NHS in the UK but had a bout with Lymphatic cancer early in life. The treatment left his lungs with fibrous scarring, which affected his breathing capacity and gave him a higher than average resting heart rate.
For Kevin, VR is an enjoyable way to make a significant impact on his health. He gets his boxing fix while he ups his cardio and improves his fitness. BoxVR’s scoring system helps him stay engaged, while Thrill of the Fight gives him that in-ring sensation he craves. VR has even helped him gain the strength and endurance to add real-life workouts like chin ups and push ups to his routine.
Do it to Lose Weight
Sonya Haskins turned a VR hobby into a 40-lb weight loss quest. She suffers from chronic pain, which can make the average low-impact workout feel quite taxing. In VR, Sonya feels distracted by the gaming environment and stays active. She barely feels the workout, and the weight loss has impacted her life in other ways.
Echo Arena is where she finds distraction and pain management. She plays 5-8 hours each day as her sole hobby, proving that VR can become an incredible and engaging world with real world implications.
Do it to Be Creative
David Scott found that creativity and fitness are linked concepts. Using Soundboxing, Scott creates beat maps and experiences his favorite music in a whole new way. Punching through his playlist keeps his workout consistent and enjoyable, but creating beatmaps allows him to customize his challenge.
He says not much about his diet or lifestyle has changed, he just found a creative outlet to engage his body.
Develop Your Mantra
Your mantra drives your workout and shapes your lifestyle. Take VR fitness seriously by committing to something greater than yourself.
“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Our lives demand the most of our bodies and mind. Staying active in VR is an outlet for that pent-up aggression. Once you begin working out, all of those negative feelings you have about your job or stressors around you start to dissipate. Those things still bother you, but you handle them better because your body has had its outlet.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” —Aristotle
Exercise is repetition and excellence is demanding. VR helps conquer these challenges with progressive routines relying on your drive to get better. Choose games that challenge and interest you and you will never feel the time passage.
“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” Muhammad Ali
Ali’s quote taps into some powerful motivation. It’s tempting to put fitness off and tell ourselves we will eventually get to it. Fitness isn’t some switch you flip to get where you want to be; it’s a lifestyle change. When you change your life, you never think “I’ll just follow X routine for Y days and get Z result.” You prepare for the long haul because you understand what you’re working toward is bigger than yourself.
Set Personal Challenges
VR fitness provides variety in experience, but self-imposed challenges add depth. Pushing yourself hard is where the gains happen, so challenges help you get there.
Fit more squats into your gaming routine with every potential opportunity. If your favorite genre is boxing, focus on opportunities to squat while you dodge, or hit the dummy and practice a particular punch/dodge combination to engage your legs. Play squat-heavy games, like cover-based shooters or Hot Squat.
Cardio is the best tool you have to keep your heart rate up. You want to try and hover between 90 and 100 at a minimum to burn fat, so the more active you can get the better. We recommend checking the VR Health Institute for some suggestions, but any boxing or archery title is an excellent place to start for cardio.
VR gaming offers a simulation for anything you want to be. Budgeting for a few new titles, or waiting for sales, helps add variety to your workout. You will engage different muscle groups and find some experiences better for light, medium or heavy days. This way, you’re never feeling burnt out on an intense workout, nor are you forced to stick to the same five games for a physical benefit.
Fitness is most rewarding when it has an impact on your real world. We think those real-world results should translate to goals outside VR, like finally completing that 7-mile hike you’ve always wanted to do or getting into mountain climbing.
Games to Play
No matter your goals, these games will help you get there:
- Beat Saber
- Creed: Rise to Glory
- Audioshield and Soundboxing
- Superhot VR
- Sprint Vector
- The Thrill of the Fight
Each of these titles offers something different in VR while engaging the body. You’re not only more active, but there is also ample opportunity to fitness hack each experience to improve your gains.