There have been a number of major changes over the course of the last year. The pandemic and its effects demanded we do things differently. Today, we don’t think twice about working remotely, taking Zoom calls, or calling UberEATS or Door Dash for a meal. We have even come to expect all of our online purchases to arrive on our doorstep by the following day. But one of the most profound changes we’ve experienced this year involves physical fitness. With gyms, spas, and yoga studios shutting down, new alternatives were needed. Virtual reality workouts represent one of these alternatives.
Virtual reality fitness didn’t develop in response to the pandemic. In fact, many virtual reality workouts have been in existence for a while. But COVID did serve to accelerate their popularity, and thousands are now actively engaged in these fitness routines. Several virtual reality fitness platforms now exist, and each has their own unique features. But are virtual reality workouts right for you? Beyond subtle nuances that each fitness app provides, is this something that has the potential to replace traditional exercise? By exploring the pros and cons of virtual reality fitness in more detail, we can begin to answer these questions.
What Is Virtual Reality Fitness?
Perhaps, the best way to think of virtual reality fitness is merging a virtual reality game with exercise. Actually, this is how virtual reality workouts began. The initial interest in these types of workouts started with the release of PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest, and others. Platforms like Nerd Fitness began releasing games like Beat Saber attempting to get gamers off the couch. Before long, non-gamers were becoming interested in these virtual reality fitness apps as an alternative to the gym. Thus, even before 2020, its rise in popularity was already occurring.
Like other VR programs, virtual reality workouts immerse users in a digital world. In order to accomplish this, users must wear a VR headset that transports them to their virtual setting. At this point, different virtual reality fitness apps offer different types of games designed to get you moving. From boxing, to squats, to lunges, these programs require participants to actively engage. And with workouts ranging from light to intense, users can choose the precise type of exercise for which they’re looking. All it takes is some key pieces of equipment, some open space, and the desire to get fit.
The Appeal of Virtual Reality Workouts
Notably, there are a number of benefits that virtual reality fitness offers. One of the most important is its ability to provide an engaging environment. Rather than the monotony of a gym or studio, virtual reality workouts offer solo travel to exotic locales. You might be transported to snow-covered Alps or on some remote world in another galaxy while exercising. Likewise, VR exercise routines involve games that are not only physically challenging but also fun. Users can become so immersed in the game they sometimes forget how intense their virtual reality workouts are.
Naturally, virtual reality fitness programs offer something novel and innovative to an exercise regimen. But they also provide flexibility, allowing users to dial into a fitness routine whenever they like. They can also do so in the comfort of their own home without dealing with other common hassles. No drive to the gym, trying to find parking, or waiting for someone to finish a weight machine. And VR exercise platforms are ideal for those who are self-conscious about working out. As a VR avatar, they can go incognito, even if you are engaged with other virtual reality fitness users. All of these features appeal to many who find VR systems ideal as their exercise platform of choice.
Virtual Reality Fitness Also Has Some Downsides
Perhaps, the most notable downside of virtual reality fitness is its cost. Most VR platforms are fairly reasonable when it comes to exercise programs. For example, Supernatural VR fitness platform costs users $19 a month after initial sign-up. But the kicker is the VR headset equipment required. Depending on the headset you purchase, costs can range from $200 to over $600. Plus, not everyone loves wearing a headset when they workout. Like other types of exercise, virtual reality workouts cause participants to sweat…sometimes a lot! Thus, if you’re someone who sweats profusely, doing so within a VR headset may not be your cup of tea.
Other downsides of virtual reality fitness programs are more practical in nature. First, these systems do require some degree of open space. If you live in a cramped studio apartment, you might have to find some space outdoors for your workouts. Of course, the neighbors may find your fitness routine a little bizarre if not embarrassing in the process. In addition, virtual reality workouts demand a great deal of computing power. Whether using your own system or streaming, sizable data is consumed by these programs. Not every system or Internet connection bandwidth can support these platforms well.
Virtual Reality Fitness – A Personal Choice
Virtual reality fitness may not be for everyone, but for some, it may be ideal. One thing is clear, however. You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy virtual reality workouts. Thousands of non-gamers actively engage in these physical fitness platforms on a regular basis. In addition, these apps allow tremendous opportunities for health fitness data tracking beyond a Garmin or Fitbit. Equipped with a variety of sensors, these systems could easily evolve as part of a health monitoring system. These are some of the additional advantages virtual reality fitness systems may offer in the future.
For most people, virtual reality workouts will provide a nice addition to their normal exercise routines. Certainly, they have served a more important role amidst a global pandemic. But as the pandemic resolves, virtual reality exercise will likely be just one of many fitness options available. But given how far these systems have advanced, it’s clear that this is not some temporary fad. Instead, virtual reality fitness definitely has staying power that will continue to appeal to many.
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