I’m the Mother Who Misplaced 5 Lbs. (and a Boatload of Stress) Making an attempt Out the Oculus Quest 2
During this pandemic, I tried to exercise exactly twice. The first time we were in the bread-making phase, “I think I’ll be going for a run this morning,” I announced to my husband not because of the awards, but rather as a declaration that he would be a childcare for us busy toddler, when I tried in the prospect of a new self-care routine.
It didn’t stick.
You see, we had skipped town to a place with fewer cases and more outdoor space in the early days of COVID-19 … and sadly no cell phone service. As it turned out, I felt way too vulnerable jogging and masking by myself, no other cars on the road and no way to call for help. Le sighs.
My second attempt was more promising and took the form of a streaming service. Of course, I could fit in 15 minutes a day. I even made a graph to check my progress. On the third day, my toddler stormed through the doors of the tiny house we shared where there was no line between work and family and found it fun to sit on my stomach while I tried to keep up with the ab exercises. (I have signed out.)
By late fall, in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic, I’d basically resigned myself to having time for Zoom calls, childcare, meal planning, and the occasional Netflix seizure (Schitt’s Creek, OMG). Nothing more.
Then I discovered the Oculus Quest 2.
Listen to me: I’ve never thought about virtual reality as a fitness routine. Rather, I wrote it off as just another video game that was a novelty at best. The futuristic headset that serves as a gateway to a virtual world? It was just an opportunity for me to secretly videotape my husband in his most nerdy form and laugh about it with him later. (Sorry, not sorry.)
But one night, at the encouragement of my spouse – and a publicist who had sent me a training plan – I pulled the headset on. As they say, timing is everything. I had just wrestled my “not tired” toddler to bed after reading dozens of books for him, getting him one last glass of water and waiting for him to slowly decide his color preference for the moon and stars from a projector Throwing the ceiling help him get in. I was ready to blow off some steam.
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Could a headset really be the answer? I put on workout clothes and adjusted the settings so the Oculus was tuned to my head and the image came in focus. I also downloaded Oculus Move, a fitness dashboard that allows me to track my progress (calories burned, how long I’ve been active) across all games.
In all honesty, I still had doubts that this experience would last long enough to get my heart rate racing. But the prospect of a virtual escape and the chance to try something new in the midst of a pandemic where I could do anything piqued my interest enough to make me give it a try.
Escape that I made – to a place called Supernatural. This app (which starts with a free trial, followed by a $ 19 monthly fee) was the first I tried and I loved it. Immediately I was taken to the Great Wall of China, the fjords of Iceland and the mountain peaks of Machu Picchu. Was I really still in my living room? (I glanced in front of my headset at my husband in the kitchen, who must be making dinner.)
Before my training began, I had the opportunity to choose different levels that matched my ability. I went for beginners, but also chose a playlist of pieces of music that I would enjoy. (Hello, Peter Gabriel, Lizzo, Queen.) Immediately a very real looking trainer appeared in front of me, explaining to me how to do every move, not overexert myself and get the most out of the workout. It felt incredibly individual.
The next thing I knew was that I had a couple of bats in my hand (a la Beat Saber) and my challenge was before me: I had to rhythmically hit colored balls that were flying towards my body at a very choreographic pace. Light enough? It was. I felt like every single bit of stress that had been trapped in my body since the beginning of the pandemic was released in an outbreak. I also got a near-perfect score and was drenched in sweat by the end of the first song. (You might even want to buy this silicone case that prevents sweat from building up inside the headset. I did, and it was a game changer.)
I continued. I’ve tried other training experiences like The Climb and Eleven Table Tennis, even Beat Saber, but kept coming back to Supernatural.
By the end of the week I’d been training every night – wait for it -. It became a routine I couldn’t wait for. Bedtime for toddlers may be brutal, but on the other hand, the Oculus Quest 2 was waiting for me. It was better than wine. My husband even videotaped me in my glory one night (touché) and even I admit, I look so happy. I also felt empowered. (As mothers especially can understand, it feels so good to do something just for you.)
At the end of the month, my jeans were a little lighter, so I jumped on the scales. I lost five pounds. A win when you consider that I hadn’t done much else. The bigger win, however, is the fact that virtual reality led me to a low-lift fitness routine that I was actually able to implement and successfully perform while having fun along the way.
$ 299 on Amazon
CONNECTED: How to get up and running, according to a trainer, a marathon runner, and an absolute newbie