I’ve been doing the VR thing for a while.
I’ve been playing VR games for a long time now. I got my first headset several years ago in a Craigslist deal (I traded!). I’ve played lots of games and watched lots of 3D videos but the thing I have done more than anything else with it is work out.
It didn’t start that way. I started playing Beat Saber for fun and realized I was working up a really intense sweat. I then moved on to Pistol Whip and even threw in a little Space Pirate Trainer. Every VR session had me moving and sweating (even if it was just a little bit).
While I’m still going the gym, this winter I’ve “officially” added VR to my workout schedule. It’s a fun, low impact workout in between gym sessions with a heavy emphasis on fun. Seriously. I’m kinda tired of distance running and I’m looking for something I can enjoy and not just suffer through.
Here’s the tech rundown.
I’ve got an Oculus Quest 2 64gig (their first edition). I’m using the stand-alone “Supernatural” app which is an $18 per month subscription service. There are plenty of things you can buy that are a one-time fee but I love Supernatural and have every intention on keeping it (for at least a while). I’m using Logitech G333 earbuds that are specifically designed for the Oculus Quest 2 (it just means the cables are shorter). They’re the one piece of tech I’m not sure about. The headset has a built-in sound system that is pretty good. Oh and let’s be perfectly clear: I paid for all this stuff myself. This is not some #ad or whatever. It’s just me sharing my experience with you.
It doesn’t feel real.
If most of your VR experience comes from seeing it in sitcoms or movies let’s be clear up front: it doesn’t feel “real”. At no point do I think I’m ACTUALLY working out on top of a mountain. I’ve used every iteration of the Oculus headsets and this is by far my favorite but you won’t lose contact with reality (even if you want to).
Having a trainer is cool.
Seriously. The during-workout up-beat direction of someone talking to you seems like it would be cheesy or annoying. Not at all. I find myself genuinely enjoying the trainers and their encouragement. Many times I have subconsciously pushed myself harder because of the things they’ve said. Love it.
Sweat is a problem.
Who wants a stinky VR headset? No one. My solution was to get a removable lining for where the Oculus meets my face. I even opted for a small sweatband though I felt that may have made things worse than better. The real key to keeping the lenses from fogging up is room around your nose for the air to get out. Lots of after-market accessories try to close that off so you don’t see any light from the room you are in. Maybe that’s great for other games, but its a no-go for exercise.
I also make sure I wipe it down after every workout and let it air out.
You look ridiculous.
…or do you? I refuse to find out. I have ZERO interest in knowing what I look like while working out in VR. One of the great things about virtual reality is that, while it doesn’t feel “real”, it IS an immersive experience. I want to flail my arms like I’ve lost touch with reality (because I kinda have). If I wanted to impress people I’d buy better workout clothes and go to the gym. This is for me to enjoy and I plan on dancing like nobody’s watching.
Did I mention this already? I have SO MUCH FUN doing these workouts in VR. Do I get tired? Yes. Am I ready to quit? Yes. It doesn’t matter. They’ve managed to nail the elusive “make exercise fun” thing that gym teachers, coaches, and concerned parents have been searching for forever. (Remember them putting Dance Dance Revolution in schools?)
Bonus: I don’t know if this works.
I interviewed an author of a workout book and he told me that the best exercise program is the one that someone will actually do and this checks that box. I have no idea if I’m going to lose weight, get ripped, or finally show the world my abs. Probably not. In fairness, I won’t be doing that at the gym either. I’m exercising for my mental and physical health not because I think I’m going to become a fitness influencer on Instagram (I like food way too much for that).
So, will I lose weight? I don’t know. I guess we’ll see.
Will I get sore? Yes. Definitely yes.