Karen Cusimano Stays In Form With Oculus And Rhythm VR Video games
Karen Cusimano is a Zumba instructor who stays in shape with active VR rhythm games like BoxVR and Audioshield. As an Oculus Rift owner, she has helpful tips for new VR users and shares her thoughts on games that are good for lower-body training. Read on to learn more about how VR motivates you to stay fit!
VRFI: Tell us about yourself.
KC: First of all, I hate to exercise. Exercise does NOT have to feel like exercise or it will be really easy for me not to do it. Started video game training in 2011 after gaining a lot of weight after major surgery.
I pulled out the Wii and worked my way through every fitness game I could find: Walk It Out, Wii Sports, Fit, EA Sports Active, and Exerbeat. Then the games that changed everything: Zumba Core and Zumba World Party. I did a couple of Zumba DVD sets, eventually went to live classes, and was licensed as a Zumba Instructor and Zumba Step Instructor four months later.
VRFI: How long have you been an Oculus Rift owner?
KC: Since August last year when Amazon had this really great sale Oculus Rift / Touch combo. I got a Gear VR earlier this year to find out how I liked VR without spending too much on it if I didn’t. Needless to say, I did. 🙂
VRFI: How did you start your fitness journey with VR?
KC: I’ve been doing Zumba as a morning workout (45-60 minutes a day) for a few years now, and after realizing I was wearing the carpet in the living room upstairs, I moved the workout downstairs to the basement. Then I found there was so much Zumba to do on a concrete floor even after adding padded floor tiles, which put a strain on the joints and the like, and looked for something that had little or no impact that I could alternate with the Zumba to reduce wear and tear a bit.
I once read an online article about how some VR games made for a good workout, which I could vouch for after crouching and leaning for 45 minutes, being sliced and diced while playing The tower really had worn me out a bit. When I put two and two together, I specifically look for good training games that give me a good excuse to spend more time with the VR toys.
VRFI: Do you use VR to be active or get in shape, lose weight, build stamina, etc.? Have you had success / problems with your goals?
KC: Mainly for weight loss. I like to eat (my motto has always been “Eat the most important meal of the day”) and when I’m not exercising, I have a tendency to balloon. I’d lost more than 30 pounds while training the various games for the Wii and tracking my calories with My Fitness Pal, but it was way too easy to put them back on.
So, like everyone else, I have the New Year celebration “I’m going to lose weight!” The determination to get back into the game this year to lose what I won again. Mix the Zumba with the VR workouts helped – I’ve lost 5 pounds in about a month and a half since late January. I just have to keep a close eye on the calories in relation to the calories burned so they don’t drop off.
VRFI: What are your favorite casual and active games? Why?
KC: I really don’t have much time to play other than an hour of practice in the morning. Having only had the Rift since August I am still working on which games are my favorites, but I got interested in the roller coasters the first time I got them, along with some of the quirky / cute shorter games like Mountain goat mountain, Esper Collection, and Crazy dojo.
I really like the underwater or space games that really show what VR can do. the ones that really make you feel like you are in the ocean or floating around in space (watch those accidental spins. 🤢) I want to try the FPS / Spooky Dungeon games, I have a few that I bought, but the feeling of “You are right behind me, aren’t you?” tends to crawl me out.
VRFI: Post information about training with BOXVR and Holodance VR on Facebook. Why do you like to train with these games? What makes them effective for fitness?
Hit those balls and torch calories! Photo credit: BoxVR
KC: The only thing that surprised me when I started using the VR games as a workout was the different muscles I was working with. I always thought with you Zumba, that was a pretty good full body workout, and it is. But the first time I boxed with me BoxVRI couldn’t move my arms for 3 days. Same after 50 minutes Sprint Vector. After my first session with Holopoint, it was a few more days before I stopped getting up from my chair like a 90-year-old man. My legs hurt so much!
Different games train different muscles and when I combine that with Zumba I really feel like I’m getting a great all-round workout. I also like games that let me import my own music. When I import my Zumba music, I get the best of both worlds at the same time.
VRFI: It looks like you really enjoy activities and VR games with music and rhythm. Have you tried soundboxing?
KC: I’ve tried Sound boxing based on several recommendations. I can see how some people would like it. I just found it too busy on screen and it really felt like I was just spinning around and trying to connect to the goals instead of doing something particularly musical with it.
I’m more with the people who prefer Audio shieldeven though I’ve found now Holodance I probably won’t play that much Audioshield either. In addition to the straight boxing moves, Holodance gives you the option to use it a bit more musically, like painting or conducting in the air, which is what I love and it does a better job of following the beats and it has those cool dragons in the story- Mode.
VRFI: What motivates VR to play?
KC: For me it’s fun, it’s a great workout and I can play with high tech toys at the same time. It’s a win-win-win situation! Just buy a cover for your headset so you don’t Sweat internally too much. Because if you get it right, you probably will.
VRFI: Who would you recommend playing hot squat? Are there any VR games that you would recommend our readers to try out that are suitable for lower body training?
Did you know Holopoint is a great lower body game? Photo credit to: Alzan Studios, LLC
KC: Hot squat is probably fine if you have good knees as you will spend most of your time walking up and down in this squatting position. My knees have been hit pretty well for years, so prolonged squats that are repetitive often hurt.
There are other games like Holopoint this gives your lower body a workout. I didn’t think I would mind, I mean, how exciting could it be to shoot arrows at clear smurf blue boxes that are just sitting there? But when they do things like explode if you don’t shoot them in time (and you can hear them spinning just before they explode, so turn around and look for them) and when you do, shoot back suddenly accelerating it’s the gameplay. When you add this electronic soundtrack, you have an incredibly exciting game!
in the BoxVRThey mixed a lot of squats into some of their preprogrammed workout routines so this one gives you both upper and lower body workouts in one game. But other good games that I will take turns playing as my training are Sprint vector, Audioshield (which is still fun), Racket: NX, Sparc (if I’m brave enough to try online multiplayer) and Fruit ninja.
VRFI: If you had any advice you could give to new Oculus owners, what would you share?
KC: Wait for the sale, never buy any of the games at full price unless you really really want to because once you buy it you get it for half the price you paid for it. And buy it through that Save Oculus When you can, when you can get them direct from Oculus, things usually start faster and without the hassle of buying the games from other services.
VRFI: What do you hope to see more for the virtual reality and fitness industry in 2018?
KC: Just keep releasing these high quality games for the Rift. Even those not specifically made for fitness can easily become a training game with enough exercise. And who knows, maybe Zumba in VR? 😉
VRFI: Thank you, Karen!
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