The technology landscape of today makes it more appealing than ever to retract into our homes, never draw the curtains and live a happy life feeling content with our own company.
We can work from home, we can play games from home, we can watch just about anything we want from home, and soon, you may be able to get a kickass workout from the comfort of your own bedroom without feeling like a recluse.
Sure, you can work out at home already—and we here at Spot Me Girl have even given you the tools to do so ourselves—but virtual reality is ready to change the game entirely.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, you’ll have heard of virtual reality (or VR) and the gigantic advancements it has made in recent years. However, those advancements have thus far been limited largely to the video game industry.
But that’s all set to change.
Going to the gym is fun. If you’re reading this, the likelihood is that you also believe that and are a fitness fan of your own—but what if it could be better? Not to mention easier.
Thanks to the simplicity of systems like Oculus—owned by Facebook since the company purchased it for $2 billion back in 2014—Samsung Gear VR, Playstation VR and HTC Vive VR to name a few, virtual reality workouts will soon be a thing of the present.
Imagine living deep in the arctic cold of somewhere like Antarctica or Aberdeen and wanting to go for a mountain cycle. Or perhaps you simply want a change of scenery while you work out instead of having to gaze upon that dank gym you attend downtown.
Virtual reality is steadily making all these concepts just that—a reality. The initial outlay to take part may be expensive for some—VR headsets and other systems vary in price, from as little as $70 into the thousands of dollars—but the investment could be the best one you make this century.
So, what’s the current state of virtual reality fitness ,and where is it going next?
Where Are We Now?
As aforementioned, virtual reality’s impact has so far been restricted largely to the gaming world, but the seeds are gradually being sown for bigger moves in the fitness universe.
What’s most exciting about the technology’s evolution is how companies outside the industry are building concepts and innovations of their own to around VR.
Take Everysight, for example, a company that usually specialises in cycling glasses but has now come up with the slickly named Raptor technology that implements augmented reality (AR) as a tool to enhance the experience.
These ‘smart glasses’ can measure speed, heart rate, forge maps for the user and take high-resolution pictures without obstructing the users view in the slightest.
However, that still requires leaving the house in order to get your exercise, so those looking for a more ‘homely’ experience may consider investing in an Icaros VR fitness machine.
Granted, it may not be able to replicate the feeling of having 400lbs straddled across one’s back (yet), but the resistance applied by the machine itself will still provide its user with their daily exercise fix.
Per the company’s official website, Icaros—which can be yours for a princely sum of $8,000—is described as such:
The Icaros is your fitness device and gaming controller in one gadget. With it you can train your muscles and stimulate the capability of reaction and balance. Simply with your movements on the ICAROS you control and determine the flight path or diving path in the game. It sounds quite easy and so it is – but it needs a little exercise not to crash. Once you have it, you’ll never want to walk again.
We’re not so sure about never wanting to walk again, as that can sometimes be good, but you get the point.
Where Is VR Fitness Going?
It’s difficult to project exactly where virtual reality fitness is heading, largely due to the fact that if it were not, I myself would most likely be putting the next big thing into production.
However, changes are afoot that we CAN see ahead of us.
VR Fitness Insider reported in November that the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) were both joining the craze with a view to bringing viewers “onto the field” from the comfort of their own sofas.
By the same logic, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to imagine taking part in a pilates or Zumba class through a headset and speakers, watching and listening to an instructor while you copy their movements naked in your living room.
Then, there’s the possibility a company similar to Icaros could evolve enough to the point where machines constructed to exert force upon the body are sophisticated enough to actually replicate a gym workout.
Virtual reality has also taken firm steps into the porn industry—and by extension, the fitness industry—by introducing virtual smells. We just hope “sweaty gym frag” appears in their catalogue of odours soon.
It was once the case that upmarket VR headsets also required mass amounts of wiring to operate, but swift moves in the industry mean we’ve already moved to much more mobile means.
Sure, you might have to settle for scrambling around your house playing VR Fruit Ninja for the time being, but VR fitness is making moves fast, and it’s only a matter of time until communities sprout up promoting mainstream use.