Azren Azimuddin Danced His Technique to Higher Health and 26 lbs Weight Loss in Digital Actuality
Azren Azimuddin is a lively guy with a passion for music, dance, technology and virtual reality. I spoke to him about his success in combining his interests for all of this into a fun and successful weight loss and exercise program, and playing the most popular VR rhythm games with the Oculus Quest.
VRFI – Hi Azren, thank you for talking to VRFI. Let’s start with a little about yourself. What is your background and how did you first discover VR?
Azren – Hi there! My name is Azren Azimuddin or people just call me Azren. I would describe myself as a creative professional and have produced / strategized B2C and B2B content for a variety of industries including events, television, tourism, international trade, medicine and financial technology. I’ve always had a great passion for science, technology and creative applications. I also have a great passion for playing / teaching musical instruments. I mainly play guitar and ukulele with an emphasis on tapping techniques, playing rhythms / melodies and drum beats at the same time. I have been featured on national television a number of times for my musical activities.
I discovered VR for the first time as part of my work that involves writing / designing digital content. As part of various marketing campaigns, I started experimenting with VR / 360 and AR content. Then, to fuel the creative exploration process, I went for my first VR headset, a simple Google cardboard box that you strap your phone to your face with.
VRFI – Then not the most powerful VR headset! Were you immediately aware of the potential of VR for fitness and exercise, or has the potential of VR grown over time?
Azren – Initially, my main purpose in using the Google Cardboard VR headset was to test the VR / 360 digital visual content that I had created for work. However, I remember once playing one of those animated 360 EDM music videos on Youtube and started dancing. Impressive! What an experience! By the end of the 360 music video, I was sweating like hell! This was one of those Eureka moments when I found a wearable health and fitness solution that was so much fun! I saw the potential of VR to make training more effortless. This was very important to me as I have a desk job in front of a computer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and beyond most days and needed a way to motivate myself to get more exercise.
Dancing to the VR 360 videos wasn’t enough, however. I wanted more … something a little more exciting and after doing some more research, I decided to update my VR setup and chose the Oculus Quest because of its amazing potential as a portable exercise device.
VRFI – One thing that is interesting about you is that not only do you play the fitness games, but you also enjoy dancing while you play them. This also has to increase calorie consumption and requires a lot more coordination than me. Did you like to dance in front of VR and is that something that came naturally or did you develop it over time?
Azren – When I got the quest, I started playing sports and fitness-specific games and doing reasonable amounts of exercise. However, what really got me going was when I tried rhythm games like Beat Saber. Impressive! It felt like a new musical instrument from beyond! It was with these rhythm games that I noticed that I would be doing much longer VR workouts and naturally felt drawn to them as the rhythm games had similarities to playing musical instruments, which I am very familiar with.
Of course I started to dance / move my body in VR as dance feels like an “extension” of my musical performance and forms of expression. I love to dance! I have also danced in clubs and festivals in England, where I lived for 15 years. The dance music scene there is considered to be one of the best in the world. Anyway, as part of my VR dance routine, I started incorporating some ‘shuffle’ dance moves that I did in my clubbing days. In this way I can “relive” my clubbing days in virtual reality. Obviously, during this COVID-19 embargo, with clubs and social facilities closing, VR dancing is a great alternative for staying home safe and having fun while staying fit and healthy.
Yes, it does require extra coordination to play rhythm games and do the extra dance moves. I assume that coordination is a matter of course for me, as I can play the piano and drums in addition to the guitar and ukulele, which requires a lot of coordination. Do not get me wrong. In time anyone can learn to do it, they say practice makes perfect. I’m still learning. I am still going through some Shuffle Dance specific tutorials on Youtube / Facebook to improve my dance skills. In fact, I plan to explore other dance genres such as Zumba, hip hop, swing dance, etc. in the future to include them in my VR dance fitness routine.
I think it is worth trying to learn to dance more in your VR rhythm game as you can exercise and strengthen your legs more and learn to express yourself with your whole body. Of course, you will sweat more, burn more calories, since dancing is one of the most intense forms of cardio exercise because it forces you to move and use almost all of the muscles in your body. If you are comfortable with dancing, sometimes you can just take off your VR headset and just dance in the real world! In this way, a health and fitness mechanism is embedded directly in your own body.
VRFI – So what are your favorite games?
Azren – On the Oculus Quest, I mainly focus on rhythm games that I can dance to, like Beat Saber, Audio Trip, Audioshield, Synth Riders, Song Beater, Audica, Oh Shape, Dance Central, etc.
Sometimes I also experiment, create some of my own MP3s and start dancing while drawing in Tilt Brush, dancing while designing in Gravity Sketch, dancing while surfing / researching in front of the Oculus Browser or Firefox. I know it sounds very crazy, but I dance and sweat! Who cares! Who knows, one day I might start dancing on Spatial while I have a work meeting / conference call haha 🙂
VRFI – How did VR training help you? Have you lost weight and measurably improved your general fitness?
Azren – Yeah, I lost a ton of weight. Well, not a ton, but 12 kg to be exact, haha. I’d say that’s a pretty big weight loss over a couple of months, and I had a lot of fun doing it.
More importantly, my overall cardiovascular health has improved. I am more energetic and generally have better stamina in doing general everyday tasks. I also feel better mentally because I seem to be more stress-resistant, sharper and more focused. In general, after a long day at work, since I started using VR, I feel far less sluggish and tired.
One interesting thing I found was that I was forced to take vacation from work due to the flu and this was when I stopped doing VR for 2 weeks and not enough time for because of the increased workload at my workplace Had VR sessions. In fact, I’ve never been sick and kept on my VR dance fitness plan the entire time I wasn’t on a medical vacation from work. This might have been a coincidence, but I really believe that VR fitness boosts our immune systems and because of its potential as an intense cardio exercise activity, it can make you more resistant to disease. Scientific and medical studies have mentioned many health and medical benefits of cardio exercise. So I see VR headsets as a great piece of medical technology. This technology area is an interesting area as some other VR / AR software / hardware go all the way up to FDA / CE certifications.
VRFI – Do you have a structured exercise routine, or are you just casually playing and have lost weight as a by-product of the fun?
Azren – I do about an hour 4-6 days a week. Maybe I can extend the session to 2 hours on the weekend (or more if I’m really enjoying myself). Of course, this is a very rough routine, as if I put too much discipline into it, I’ll start to lag a bit as it gets too tiresome. I have to keep the fun element to keep going.
VRFI – What advice or suggestions would you give to someone new to VR?
First of all, I think a lot of absolute fun. Then be free, experiment, be creative and go beyond what the game / app tells you. Next, find your niche and work on it. My niche is a passion for rhythm games, and I’ve focused on it, leveraging my passion for music and expanding and combining it with dance. Maybe your passion is boxing games? Work on it. Go beyond boxing. Get inspiration / motivation from other games, not just boxing games. Or try something similar, e.g. B. Street fights or ninja games? Also, go outside of VR and take boxing lessons on YouTube or an instructor. Maybe go further, expand and learn kickboxing. Or check out other martial arts too, which are sure to be boxing moves and punches. For example, Bruce Lee’s martial art Jeet Kune Do was famous for its “One Inch Punch”. Work your own way, only you know your own way in virtual reality. Find out what makes you happiest.
VRFI – Some great advice! Anything else you would like to add or say to our readers?
Azren – It’s amazing to me how the virtual world can reflect positive changes in the real world. The time I’ve spent in virtual reality has enabled me to gain better physical and mental health in my own reality. And I really enjoy doing it.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. And a lot of fun!
VRFI – Thanks for talking to us Azren!
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