Concept of VRee Motion seated cycling sim. Credit to: VRee Motion

The sand in your toes. The wind in your hair. The volleyball in your face.

As summer ends and fall approaches warm weather activities come to a close. Tennis; Ultimate Frisbee; Volleyball; Cheese Rolling; all either move inside or wait until next year. But what do these activities have in common? They’re all games designed to make us focus on playing rather than exercising.

With VR Fitness picking up steam, many companies look to innovate the next generation of sports that will transform gamers into athletes. VReeMotion is one of these companies.

Currently in development, VReeMotion has designed a motion simulator that gives true one to one motion in a deeply immersive world with “none of the nausea issues that plague many VR games” according to the VReeMotion website.

CEO David Ellsey who has over 20 years of experience in creative concept development and effective design says, “People who switch health clubs are looking for a more engaging experience. Compelling games are critical to player experience and we are developing games that are not only visually stunning, but have detailed gameplay that drives players to intense performance.”

Since June, the VReeMotion team has been working at the Actionspot incubator in San Jose.

“We see a future where instead of enduring the tedium of a health club or using a spinning instructor’s ‘motivation’ as a distraction, you use your phone to manage sessions at VReeMotion. These local boutique fitness studios where you lose yourself in other worlds. (At these clubs) Having intense experiences playing deeply immersive games solo or in teams where you race, explore or battle using our platform.”

David says he used to participate in volleyball, surf and play random sports 3 to 4 times a week. The problem with this is how difficult this routine is to maintain.

“We do things all the time without thinking of them,” said David, ”We’re driven by things that control us. When we start gaining too much weight why does our body allow us to get fat? Why haven’t our bodies developed systems that prevent this? The reason we don’t is because storing fat and not moving is a good thing from an evolutionary standpoint”

For this reason, David believes we have to fight against our natural tendencies and playing is the way we do this.

“Play allows us to fight OFT (Optimal Foraging Theory) and pretend to mimic hunting or fighting. Usually when you’re younger you can do this: Play basketball or volleyball. In the real world most people can’t go play volleyball. We have to go to a place to work out. How do we solve that? We have to do play in a controlled environment doing something we actually want to do.”

That’s where VReeMotion comes in…

“You feel the wheels on the ground, the inertia of the bike. You feel the bumps through the steering as well as recoil during combat. When you get shot you feel it. You feel everything. You feel falling and the impact. When you slide you slide. Everything feels right.”

So what kind of games?

“If you’re in a racing game where the environment is trying to kill you, you have a reason to run. Exploring hostile environments. It’s not just a place you can go to, it’s a place that compels you to have an intense workout and not even realize it until afterwards. Doing something you truly enjoy but happens to have a side benefit of becoming fit. It’s about gaming not exercising. You’ll be doing it with a smile of your face (or a look of terror depending on where you are).”

David and his team have developed a prototype and hope to have a product ready to test within the next year

David sees a tremendous upside for VR Fitness but feels as though many companies aren’t taking the correct approach. 

“I think there is a lot of potential for VR fitness but what we are primarily seeing at this point are a lot of companies adding a VR HMD to an existing exercise product. In my opinion this is really just using VR as a gimmick, trying to capitalize on the PR buzz instead of treating it as a whole new approach to fitness. Designing experiences for VR is hard enough, but when you add the intense physical workout, sweat management and high specialized quality content the innovation required is beyond what most people are willing to risk. Regardless, I think it’s just a matter of time before we combine play, escapism and workouts in virtual worlds.”

There’s no doubt VReeMotion is on to something. With other VR Exercise machines like Virtux Omni, VirZOOM Exercise BikeICAROS, and Black Box VR currently on the market or coming soon, what do you think? Can we slap a headset on traditional exercise or will separate machines need to be created specifically for VR? Comment below.

You can stay up to date with VReeMotion by following them on their Facebook Page