5 Forms of VR Workout routines to Up Your At-home Health Recreation in 2021

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COVID-19 saw an increased demand for home exercise equipment as gym-goers across the US found ways to continue their fitness regimes from the comfort of their own homes.

The NPD Group, for example, reported that fitness equipment sales rose by 130% in March 2020 compared with the previous year. Exercise bike sales increased by 170% and benches by 259%.

According to eBay sales data, weigh plate sales increased by 1.355% in March and April 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. Americans have purchased treadmills, dumbbells, turbo trainers, trampolines, and cross trainers in a bid to keep active while staying safe.

But, as anyone who’s regularly worked out in their kitchen will tell you, the novelty of a home workout soon wears off. It’s cramped, it’s lonely, it’s uninspiring, and it’s utterly repetitive.

Virtual Reality (VR) exercise, which has been steadily growing in popularity, promises to alleviate some of these issues. If you’re tired of staring blankly at your wall while you’re working out, there’s a whole range of VR exercise options on the market.

First, you’ll need to invest in a VR headset which can range in price from $30 (Google Cardboard) to $800 (HTC Vive).

1. Boxing

If you want to get fit at home without investing in bulky and expensive gym equipment, VR boxing is an ideal solution. These fun and fast-paced workouts are mostly pretty affordable and there is a wide range of games available, including:

  • box: boxing – In this budget boxing workout you’ll fight against artificial intelligence (AI) opponents or your friends. The game is available for just $0.99 via Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift.
  • BoxVR – BoxVR is one of the most popular VR boxing games, offering a range of fast-paced workouts including multiplayer classes. The game is available for $29.99 via Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, and PlayStation VR.
  • The Thrill of the Fight – The Thrill of the Fight is your best bet if you really want to fine-tune your boxing technique. The game is available for $9.99 via Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, and Oculus Quest.

2. Cycling

VR cycling can instantly transport you and your bike to the French Alps, your childhood village, or the busy streets of New York.

VZfit, an accessory developed by VR fitness company VirZoom, connects your stationary bike to an Oculus Quest or Oculus Go headset. Once connected, you have the option to compete in well-known cycling competitions, including the Tour de France, or download any map from Google and cycle a route of your own creation. Cyclists can also choose to ride alongside other users, which adds a more social element to your workout. A subscription for VZfit costs $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year.

Other VR cycling tools include HOLOFIT and BigRingVR.

3. Rowing

Bruce Smith, a former US national rowing coach, founded Hydrow, a VR rower that promises to bring the river into your living room.

Users can work out alongside fellow athletes, enjoy unguided rows through scenic waterways around the world, or choose from a range of classes — including everything from heart-pumping rows to meditative and restorative sessions.

The Hydrow Rower costs upwards of $2,000 but a Digital Basic membership is available for those interested in using the app without purchasing the machine.

4. Dancing

Dance Central has become an immensely popular VR game, available via Oculus Quest for $29.99. Users are immersed in an invigorating dance club environment where they learn the choreography, at varying degrees of difficulty, to a range of chart-toppers and compete against other players.

Holodance and Dance Collider provide similar experiences.

5. Supernatural full body workouts

Launched in September 2020, Supernatural is the world’s first VR fitness membership designed for the Oculus Quest headset. Users can choose from a range of one-to-one personalized workouts and guided meditations and then immerse themselves in beautiful VR locations around the world. Subscription for the app starts at $19 per month.

Is VR Exercise a Good Workout?

VR games can be fun and exhilarating, but can they be classified as a real workout? It all depends on which game you choose to play.

The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise works alongside San Francisco State University’s kinesiology department to assign exercise ratings for games by checking players’ oxygen consumption. VR apps and games are rated based on the number of calories a player burns for every minute of activity and compared to real-life exercises, such as boxing or cycling. The institute has even developed the VR Health Exercise Tracker, which is the only app designed to accurately track calories burned through VR exercise.

Editor’s note: Prices are correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.

Image Credit: Jirus Malawong / Shutterstock.com

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