For most of us, exercising entails the endorphin rush after a session of sweating it out with cardio, aerobics or climbing the stairs. However, virtual reality is all set to disrupt this conventional model of working out by blending gaming, exercising and technology. With VR gaming becoming mainstream, there has been a stark rise in the VR fitness market as well. This latest trend is also better known as gamified fitness or fitness gamification.
‘VR fitness provides an all-inclusive immersive experience’
Virtual reality fitness isn’t simply about wearing a VR headset and working out. It attempts to create an all-round experience for the user, merging elements like music, visuals, wearables and instructors to offer an exhilarating and wholesome fitness experience. “It is an immersive workout in the broadest sense of the term. You will be completely immersed and transported to an outdoor environment. It feels like a complete adventure, and you also achieve your fitness goals,” shares Pragnesh Sethi, a representative from a Bengaluru-based VR startup.
With such advancements, many leading subscription-based fitness apps offer customisable environment options, transporting you to a well-equipped fitness club, a quiet rainforest, race tracks, or mountains. “The basic workout routines usually include boxing, dancing with virtual instructors or high intensity interval training (HIIT). Although most of them only require the headset, working out on exercise bikes or treadmills can enhance it further,” Sethi adds.
‘Many games provide an equally-intense exercise indirectly’
Aside from dedicated fitness apps, other VR games too provide an indirect workout session, helping you burn calories while breaking the monotony of traditional workouts. Abhinav Rajput, a Delhi-based fitness enthusiast, says VR interactive sessions can be equally fulfilling. “Working out at home can be limiting if you don’t have the equipment. But through VR games, you can do intense aerobics and cardio. Whether it is sword fighting or slashing blocks through laser sabers, you can get full-body exercise,” he says.
Quick body movements and gestures applied in the virtual world allow more body movements than conventional video games, and the complete immersion helps distract people from the workout. “If someone asks you to do cardio for an hour, you might leave it halfway. However, the gamification helps push the limits because an hour of fighting virtual villains through swords seems easier to achieve,” Rajput adds.
‘VR fitness zones at gyms can help enhance the experience further’
In India, although a complete VR fitness zone at gyms isn’t established yet, according to experts, the day isn’t far off with VR/AR advancements in fitness. “VR workouts at home primarily include only the headsets. However, at gyms they can be taken up a notch by using sensors and controllers to better use the equipment around you, control the level of intensity, and track the calories burnt,” shares Virakti Joshi, a gym trainer, adding, “for instance, the dead-lift equipment, resistance bands or battle ropes can be utilised by working in environments like storms or blizzards. The intensity of the environment will lead to more usage of your muscles.”
Talking about incorporating VR zones in conventional gyms, she adds, “Such zones need to be large in size and totally separate from the main gym area, so that light and sound do not interfere with the sessions.”
What makes VR workouts unique?
- Working out in a variety of environment setups like archipelagos, mountains and even the surface of Mars
- Can choose from specially curated workouts and adjust level of difficulty
- Most apps have the option of background music according to mood and choice of workout
- Running, cycling or rowing can be done using stationery equipment at home or gym
- Some apps let you set fitness goals and track performance
- VR yoga and meditation offer peaceful environments to practice in
How to set up a VR zone at home?
- A large, furniture-free area of 2 sq m or more in size to enable free movement
- Check for overhead obstacles like hanging lights or lamps
- A fast network connection, preferably in the room itself
- Avoid reflective surfaces like mirror that interfere with VR tracking
- Light should be minimal and curtains should be tightly shut
- Prefer carpeted floors to avoid injuries
CREDIT: Times Of India