My first foray with fitness via gaming was on the XBOX 360 with Kinect, where it would use the cameras in front to track you in order to be able to play games as in their tagline ‘You are the controller’. This was ground-breaking, you need not hold any controllers in your hand, and you could jump around, and special titles like fitness evolved, follow a regime of exercises to have a good workout.
Now with VR in the picture we have fitness games start to appear on this new platform. With VR the immersion is quite substantial and being a game, the fun aspect keeps you at it for hours. Only when you stop would you feel the exertion. How many of us would raise our hands to not wanting to go to the gym, as getting to one is the pain point, and not the gym workout itself.
Here’s where VR solves this problem, the virtual gym is in your house, and is accessible whenever you have a need for it. So, one problem solved, and this cuts out one excuse. Many of us including myself are into sedentary jobs with an early check in into office and late check outs. The only time we would move is when we need to have lunch or dinner. As per reports from leading health statistics, less than 20% of adults are meeting the required exercise requirements, which still sounds high looking around my office.
To prevent the advent of, heart disease, stroke, hypertension etc exercise is not a cure all but a preventive measure to maybe delay or reverse some of the effects.
Without any more delay, we list out our choices for games you should play in VR to get a great workout.
- Beat Saber:
We had reviewed Beat Saber earlier, and it is one of the most popular VR games available, still topping the charts on Steam. The premise is simple, boxes come at you in tune to the music and you need to slash them with your virtual light sabers in the corresponding colour. What looks simple initially, gets fast and furious as the difficulty increases. You need to slash, across yourself when colours appear on opposite sides and squat when barricades appear. These movements help burn some calories and also build muscle tone as you really need to move to dodge and slash through the levels. Beat Saber is not as rigorous as other VR fitness games, but still would make you sore and sweat. So would recommend it as a good beginner title in fitness.
This is a title which is designed specifically as a fitness game. Here you don virtual boxing gloves and you would need to punch your way through the levels, levelling up trying to get you name up to the top on the leader boards. You need to punch, block, and dodge on coming spheres and blockades. The gameplay is similar to other rhythm games, but the intensity and duration is what would get your blood pumping and make you sweat much harder. You can play with the existing tracks available in the game or select tracks you have on your system. Intensity of the workouts ranges from beginner where things are casual, and as the name suggests for the absolute beginner. Levels would last for 5 minutes, and at a doable pace. In beast mode the workouts get quite rigorous and can last durations from 20-30 minutes. These are the workouts you need to challenge your body and build endurance. BoxVR is defiantly high on our choice if youre looking for fitness VR titles.
- Hot Squat :
This is one game which is both free and gives you an amazing leg workout. Start it up and it gives you a false sense of security that this is going to be easy, but as the level progresses the game will make you sweat and work for each and every point that would take you up the leaderboard. The basic goal of the game is to manage to fit yourself within the holes in the virtual walls that keep moving towards you, which keep getting smaller and smaller, making you squat more to the level of almost touching the floor with your hands. Being free the game is low frills, with low polygon graphics and music that would remind you of the 8-Bit era of games. But that was not what the game targeted, the developers wanted a game that would make your pulse rise, and keep you entertained with every squat you manage to dole out. 15 minutes of gameplay would turn your legs to jelly, making standing a chore. This surprisingly simple game makes you burn calories and most importantly get you off the couch. With simple graphics and not much music to workout to, the replayability is a little low, but what else would we expect at the low price of ‘Free’.
If you would like to get your hands on archery-based combat, Holopoint is the game to try. Pick up a virtual bow and prepare for a fast paced and the most physically demanding VR title. The cardio workout in this game is incredible. In the game we are presented cubes that appear around you, the more you destroy, more cubes keep appearing. Pull on you virtual bowstring and take down enemies, as you progress the cubes turn into blue or orange ninjas and they start attacking you. You basically have 3 hits before you die in the game, so the goal is to survive as long as you can. 10 minutes play is a good warmup, and 30-60 minutes is a full workout. The repetitive motion of loading your arrows onto your bow and also the dodging and squatting ensures you get a nice steady burn. The bow can also be switched between hands to ensure you work out both arms equally. One important requirement is that the game needs a bit more space than other VR games which generally are good to play in one location. The extra space gives you the freedom to jump, turn in all directions to take down your enemies. The full body workout that you get from this game is unlike any other, but the space requirement is the only reason that might keep you away from this title.
The list is not exhaustive, with many more newer titles available, but these being titles I have played personally have listed them here. These are not in any way the best of the best but are a good introduction into the world of Fitness in VR.
You can mix titles as you work out, for example warmup using BeatSaber and then get into an intensive workout via BOXVR or Holopoint. This makes sure you give all your muscles the right amount of movement to help your body get a balanced workout.
As with any workout regime care should be taken to not hurt yourself by over-exertion, make sure to adequately warm up, if you feel pain stop, and most importantly have fun and happy exercising.