New to VR fitness? Looking for the best VR fitness games? With dozens of fitness games available for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality headsets I thought it would be best to break down my 3 favorite titles.
As simple as this may seem, the choices are not obvious. So far I’ve personally reviewed 11 fitness titles and played probably 40. These games range from high intensity survival workouts to low impact cardio you can do for hours. Some are built to focus on specific muscle groups while others force you to use every muscle in your body to just not die.
Those who are familiar with virtual reality may have already noticed that VR is a physically engaging gaming experience. While the previous generation of gamers is often stereotyped as strong thumbed basement dwellers the next generation of eSports VR athletes may actually resemble athletes. It’s worth noting that the proven science of VR workouts are documented by the VR Health Institute with some games being comparable to biking, swimming and sprinting.
I picked my list based on what games I found to be the most effective for me personally. This does not mean they are the best VR fitness games rather the exercises that I enjoy the most, get the most results from and that I play the most consistently.
Skyrim VR (VR Fit Score 9.5/10)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Skyrim VR is not only a great VR workout but it’s the best game available for VR to date, and if you disagree with me I’ll fight you with my broadsword.
Anyone who has followed this blog probably knows I write extensively about Skyrim VR. After burning 1200+ calories my first weekend playing I wrote a beginner’s guide to modding and showed how anyone can burn 1000+ calories by jogging in place. Now I’m gearing up for my next challenge: To take 100,000 steps in Skyrim in one weekend which would equal around 50 miles. Stay tuned.
Skyrim ranks high for a number of reasons. The beautiful terrain, the expansive landscape and the ability to get completely lost in a virtual world. Skyrim was the first time I truly thought to myself, it’s going to be hard to ever play a game on a flat screen again. To give some perspective, In 2011 I bought the largest TV I could afford and sat 10 millimeters from the screen to get a glimpse of what I can experience today in VR. Nothing speaks to the awe of VR like Skyrim and with some life hacking we can transform it into a low impact cardio workout.
Back then, I sat hunched over for long periods of time trying to fulfill my destiny as Dovahkiin in two dimensions. Now, I can replay my adventures not only inside the game but on my feet. Since this is a low impact workout it makes it easy to do for an hour at a time. On top of that you don’t get the nasty lens fog that some complain about with prolonged high intensity VR workouts.
Skyrim VR is easily my favorite VR workout game but it’s also my favorite VR game period (besides Morrowind VR which will never exist.) If you haven’t had a chance to check it out or if you’ve been waiting to buy a VR headset because the myth “there is no good content” then this is the time. Go forth, young Dragonborn. Click the Steam link and fulfill your destiny.
Hot Squat (VR Fit Score 9/10)
Anyone privy to the VR Fitness world must know about Hot Squat. This is the most specialized VR Fitness game I’ve ever played. It’s also likely the most punishing. It’s estimated that Hot Squat burns 6-8 calories per minute which is the equivalent cardio exercise to playing tennis. This means if you could keep it up for 30 minutes you would burn 180 to 240 calories while also ensuring you won’t be able to walk the next day.
Hot Squat is a simple game with cartoony graphics that boils down to this: You’re in a gym where everyone can bench press 500,000 reps and the walls are coming toward you. Every time a wall approaches there’s a keyhole cut into the size of your body that you must squat down to fit through. If you don’t squat at the right time and right height then you’ll hit the wall and restart the game.
I typically do this for 5-10 minutes at a time as a warm up for my VR workout. It’s one of the few games that can get my heartrate into the 150s or 160s within that time frame. From there, the rest of my workout is about maintaining that consistency. During a 30 minute workout I’ll usually do two sets of Hot Squat. One at the beginning and one in the middle to keep it going. I haven’t tracked how many squats I do but my guess is somewhere between 70-100 each day I train. This is not pushing myself. Someone who wants to get crazy could easily use Hot Squat to train themselves to 1000 squats a day.
The gamification element is real. Hot Squat is much more about survival than it is about squats. And because of that, you do more squats. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Hot Squat it’s free to play on Steam. If you’d like a more detailed review here you are.
Soundboxing (VR Fit Score: 8.5/10)
Yeah. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Beat Saber. And while I understand that slashing blocks with a lightsaber is really awesome Soundboxing has a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s all the custom content created by users or maybe I just like punch dancing with a bunch of little robot avatars but Soundboxing is my favorite beat boxing game for VR.
The basic gist of Soundboxing is much like Audioshield, Box VR and Beat Saber. Lots of things come toward you and you hit them to the beat of a song, much like Guitar Hero. Where Soundboxing separates itself, in my opinion, is that rather than just making contact with the beats you actually have to punch these notes. In fact, it measures you on how hard you punch them. So if you want the high score, it’s not enough to simply go with the beat…you have to punch with the beat.
Being a huge fan of Tony Horton’s P90X, back when DVDs were a thing, my favorite workout was the hour long shadow boxing course that burned calories and gave me a core and arm workout. Soundboxing is the VR version of this. Since each song is created by users the beats seem much more creative and in tune with the music. It’s also one of the only games that I think about regularly throughout my week. If you haven’t tried Soundboxing all you need to know is that Job Stauffer lost 50 lbs in 5 months with this as his primary workout. If you need more convincing check out this review. Otherwise, head over to steam and pick it up for 8 bucks.
I had a difficult time breaking this down into just three games. If you’re interested in VR fitness games and would like some further suggestions check out my list of the 10 Best VR Fitness Games or 10 Uncommon VR Fitness Games.