#TechTalk: Should I swap gym for VR?
May 3, 2018
It’s just after 5pm and your workday is finally over. Your mind is clogged as you drag tired feet to the car. You turn the key and think about the night’s plans, and realise you need to make a pitstop. The traffic is bad and, finally, after almost an hour, you arrive at your destination. You enter the gym and – BAM – the scent of sweat fills your nostrils. Ugh. What’s even worse, the crowd of moist, pumped-up bods is flexing, floor-bending and spreading germs all over the fitness centre.
Okay, so maybe it’s not always that bad. You’ve probably made a few pals and the equipment raises the bar, but surely there must be a better way to get those gains in a less boring and conventional manner?
Wake-up and swap your glasses for goggles. You don’t have to stare at dumbbells any more. It’s 2018 and Virtual Reality (VR) is your jog out of the gym and into a world of futuristic cities, robots and other revolutionary figures.
What’s Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a three-dimensional, fictional world that can be accessed using a digital device and a VR headset. The VR headset has screens inside the visor and earphones at the side. The user enters a digital environment that they see through the headset. They can interact with it using hand controllers or sensor-fitted gloves. The sensors pick up any movements you make and the visuals respond accordingly. It’s clever like that!
What’s revolutionary about VR?
Fitness and gaming joined forces when Nintendo’s Wii Fit was launched in 2007. Wii users quickly worked out that they could play tennis while lounging on their comfy couches, controller in one hand, snacks in the other. Today, we’re reaching a new level of gaming with VR innovation.
One of the most advanced tech systems is the Oculus Rift which provides a sensory experience and a fitness element. Users can explore beautiful landscapes, climb virtual mountains, zoom in to anywhere on the planet or find themselves floating around in space. Bet you’re speechless right now.
Are you wondering how fitness and VR combine to create the body you’re working towards? You can buy a kit which consists of a headset and a single, motion-sensing hand controller which operates the virtual hands that appear on the screen when you put on the VR goggles. When you use the hand controller, you see your “hand” move on the VR screen. Movements include punching, shooting, and swiping. Gamers gonna love this…
The visual “experience” plays on a mobile phone which links with the headset and connects to the phone’s camera lenses, which are positioned to create a 360°, 3D field of vision. As you move your head, the screen tracks your movement so you can “look around” the projected environment. In seconds, you can be in a different dimension and explore the things most only see in movies and dreams. Today you visit the moon, tomorrow you take a trip to the Grand Canyon. The planet, no, the galaxy, is your playground, thanks to virtual reality.
VR and the future of fitness
Working out has reached the next level thanks to virtual reality. It smashes routine into millions of tiny pixels. Watch this video to see how VR deletes calories while you score the perfect booty. Gym bunnies and gamers unite (and fly)!
Still not convinced that working out with VR is awesome for your bod? Well, California-based gamer and writer, Job Stauffer, claims to have lost over 20kg in only 5 months playing a VR game called Soundboxing. In the game, competing players punch a suspended object to the rhythm of songs. They earn points and try to win each session.
According to Nick Harding, a GP from Birmingham, playing VR sports like ones where you catch American football involve a range of body movement that raise the resting heart rate from 56 BPM to 72 BPM. This means that VR contributes towards a healthier lifestyle.
Do you think future fitness centres will be filled with machines that work together with VR?
VR fitness at home versus a power workout at the gym – what’s better?
|Workout @ GYM Benefits:|
Monthly payment option
Immediate help available
Wide range of equipment
Entertaining and challenging
Cost: Average R350-700 pm for gym membership
Total: R4200 – R8400 per year
|VR @ home Benefits:|
Avoid sweaty bodies
Bring your personal trainer home
Entertaining and challenging
Cost: R5000 for Oculus headset, Oculus touch and two sensors. Games average R250 each
Total: R5000 – R7000
VR workouts and gym exercise both promote better health. If you are easily bored and you’re not a fan of working out with crowds of strangers, VR is the way to go. If you enjoy socializing with gym buddies, and if pumping iron is your forte, the gym’s your best partner.
For now, the gym will probably remain the most popular choice because it is affordable and allows weight-bearing workouts. VR is pricey at present and still has a long way to go. What’s more, its exercise offerings are limited to aerobic action for now. If you start moving around in virtual space, it’s easy to bump into real-world objects that aren’t mapped and to injure yourself like this guy:
Though there will be a solution to this in time. Most likely, VR will become a popular gateway to improved fitness. People who enjoy gyms and physical pursuits will still exercise in the real world, but the visuals on a treadmill are repetitive, and there are no cool, animated figures around to join the journey you’re on.
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