There are a variety of reasons why our New Year resolution to get fit every year doesn’t work or falls flat quickly. Of course, getting fit is difficult and takes time but the reasons we continue to rubber band between ideal weights goes deeper. How we work out, and what we’re motivated to do, can help or hinder our progress. Having some method of accountability helps, but many don’t make that reach. Which is why so many will join a gym, pay the fees, feel unmotivated and never see the progress.

Tim Donahey, a fitness trainer that runs VR Fit did a 50-day fitness challenge that put him through the ringer. He practiced the same disciplines involved with good fitness: a healthy diet and steady progress in his workouts and saw real results with consistency and proper form. If you want to gain muscle, improve stamina, or lose weight, getting fit using VR is achievable for you too.

This year, go from the couch to fit with virtual reality as your trainer.

Why VR Fitness Works

First, let’s look at why VR works as a tool for fitness. When we workout, we reach a pain point where we want to stop. It’s a struggle to push past that point, but that’s where the progress happens. VR helps break those barriers using goal-oriented game design. Because you want to get to the next level, beat that boss, get that special item or find whatever you need to escape, you are motivated to finish the workout.

These 20-30 minute sessions breeze by, even though you’re getting a full body workout that might leave you exhausted at a gym.

It’s also easier to find time for a VR game or a fitness application than it is to go to the gym. We have a few theories about why (prepping to go and driving being two big obstacles for motivation), but fitness apps, trackers, and games are popular because they work. With VR, you can vary the conditions of your workout using different titles, all under the guise of playing games. Plus, games with co-op allow you and a partner to hit fitness goals together.

Games to Burn Calories

Wondering where to get started? We pulled information from the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise to put together a list of games you can use for a light, medium and heavy workout.


Credit to: SUPERHOT Team

Superhot: a fun warm-up that encourages lots of twists, turns, and the occasional squat. Equivalent to a decent walk.

Credit to: Survios

Raw Data: immersive and stylish, another warmup that can get as intense as you want. Also allows for co-op play.


Credit to: Halfbrick Studios Pty Ltd

Fruit Ninja VR: a modern classic and equivalent to some time on the elliptical.

Credit to: DigitalBadger Design

Goalkeep VR: simple way to get the body moving and introduce some light cardio into your workout.


Credit to: Touch Art Technology Co., Ltd

Fastest Fist: your stepping stone to get into Thrill of the Fight, where the real challenge is.

Credit to: Alzan Studios, LLC

Holopoint: archery game that pits you against ninjas. Be prepared to feel this one.

Credit to: Ian Fitz

Thrill of the Fight: pretty darn close to real boxing, and a significant challenge. The good news is that scaling difficulty allows everyone to feel the burn.

Improving Your Fitness Results

Credit to:

There are practical steps you can take with VR to improve the results you get. For example, we listed games that fit the criteria for a light, medium and heavy workout. Search for others within these categories and vary your routine. Having a pool of games to choose from will keep things interesting and motivate you to come back for more.

Protecting your wrists and ankles is important when you’re a hero on a fitness journey, just ask Achilles. VR fitness trainers like Tim Donahey recommend using weights like gloves and vests to improve resistance and level up your fitness game. Natural resistance like the lifting and holding of bodyweight is one of the pillars of yoga stretches and is present in VR. Holopoint simulates the hold and pulls of a bow and arrow, so your arms are always up and at the ready to aim and shoot, while the legs are shifting body weight and stabilizing as you play the game.

The best trainers know that fitness trackers add value and data to your workout. Trackers can help monitor your heart rate, and give you some data to compare with your real-world efforts. This can a little complicated for newbies, but Tim’s got your back and has a great explanation on how to dial in on your optimal heart rate and intensity level while using VR to work out. Hitting those targets helps you hit your fitness goals, improve your resting heart rate and your overall health.

Get out and see the world and make goals outside of VR, so you can really see the results of the work you’ve done. Try to climb a mountain, finish an arduous hike or do a 5K. Ever try a mud race? Setting a real-world goal helps inspire you to finish what you start and then some.

Challenges to Stay Motivated

The Oculus is quickly becoming a tool for fitness. Credit: Oculus

Here are a few challenges to try and keep you motivated. You can consider these your achievements for the year.

  1. Complete a 30-minute VR workout session every day for 30 days
  2. Complete a 60-minute VR session every day for 30 days
  3. Finish every opponent in Thrill of the Fight, including The Trainer, in 1 20 minute session
  4. Pass Level 14 in Holopoint
  5. Complete a week of workout sessions with a 5-pound weighted vest

With proper motivation, you can accomplish your fitness goals. Check this post in a week, month, or year to see how well you did. Good luck!