Many have taken note that fitness and virtual reality seem like a match made in heaven. One of the biggest challenges people tend to face in fitness is boredom; a workout can be more monotonous than it is physically challenging, and this, as much as anything else, can cause people to lose focus, top exercising, and ultimately start skipping out on a whole routine. In a variety of ways, virtual reality can fix all of this simply by keeping someone engaged during a workout.
Because of the potential for this to come to fruition, we’re likely to see a whole lot of innovation in this category (and some has started already – make no mistake). But what shapes will this innovation take? And what will be the most natural ways for fitness and VR to complement one another? A few avenues and connections make particular sense.
App-based fitness now comprises a busy category. There are dozens of different apps that are designed to help people stay fit without needing anything more than a phone or tablet. In many cases these apps are basically instructional programs, both outlining training programs and motivating users to go through them and recognize results.
Given that some of the more affordable, available VR headsets already work with mobile apps, as well as that there’s simply so much going on in this category, this is likely to be the busiest intersection. In other words, we’ll simply see VR-based workouts added to this existing category, such that the technology is used to enhance and improve mobile workout programs.
Simple Games, Adapted
VR gets the most attention when it leads to big, bold games we’ve never seen before. However, some of its most interesting innovations from a development standpoint are the simple adaptations of existing games. For instance, we’ve seen VR start to bring about something of a minor rebirth of board games, projected into virtual space and brought to life.
We’ve also seen some of the popular casino titles from the new and leading sites in the category transition into VR to become all the more immersive and realistic. The reason games as simple as these – board games and casino slots – are so interesting in VR is that they show the potential for fairly minor adjustments to make existing games more enjoyable.
Similarly, simple adaptations may be able to turn fairly ordinary games into interactive and entertaining fitness experiences, adding workout components to the games. Simply because it involves less of a creative process and presumably less on the development end, this, too could be a busy point of intersection between fitness and VR.
Maybe the most exciting potential in virtual reality fitness comes from new workout machines. It will be a delicate and expensive process for these to be brought to life, and customers will have to trust that the machines and accompanying VR programs are presenting safe, healthy, reliable exercises.
Provided all of that however, it is a thrilling category to consider. Imagine for starters a treadmill that’s able to hold you stable while you strap on VR and simply go for a run, with a game round you. Maybe you’re blasting aliens with your hands as you run, or maybe you’re simply running a race.
Imagine a multi-function weight-lifting machine coupled with VR such that each successful lift advances you through a game to a certain degree. Now, think of these general ideas – workout machines melded with VR – brought to entirely new machines, for brand new workouts. It may take some time, but this is likely to happen.
Some of what’s been discussed above, as well as the general need for space while using virtual reality, makes the workouts better suited for gyms than home use. So, naturally, VR gyms are starting to emerge, and some are calling them a revolution. It’s hard to offer many specifics at such an early stage, but we should certainly expect that there will be full, popular, and effective VR gyms within a matter of years.