Can XR Make Us Stick To Our Workout Routine?

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Can XR Make Us Stick To Our Workout Routine?
Black Box VR Gyms
Black Box VR Gyms offer a virtual game to help you get fit.

 

As technology transforms all aspects of life, use of augmented reality or virtual reality in gyms, fitness studios or at home is gaining momentum. 

 

Immersive fitness, using sound and visuals to make exercisers feel they’re in a different environment, has been popular at spin and yoga studios, reports CNN.

 

“You’re out of reality and you’re in this other little land,” spin student Kriz Cranetold CNN. “The fact that it has the screen makes you forget how hard you’re working.” 

 

Virtual reality shuts out the real world via equipment like headsets, while augmented reality adds digital elements to real life, typically via smartphone cameras, per The Franklin Institute.

 

Black Box, advertised as the world’s first VR gym, recently opened in San Francisco, where owners of the Boise-based company hope to capture the interest of the Millennial tech crowd, cofounder Preston Lewis told SFGate. Exercising is done on a special resistance machine under the guise of a video game-type mission during half-hour sessions. 

 

For women wary of gyms due to leering or receiving unsolicited feedback, Black Box’s private rooms hold a certain appeal, Michelle Robertson writes in SFGate.

 

“With VR and behavioral psychology, we can pull multiple levers at once that get you itching to come back to the gym,” with the idea that users are “thinking about the next epic arena or character you’ll unlock,” Lewis told SFGate.

With many of these alternative reality experiences, users can compete against friends or strangers and unlock prizes as they progress through a workout. Corresponding apps provide workout data in real time, per AR Post, to boost efficiency and keep from overstraining the body.

 

AR game Zombies, Run! simulates the experience of escaping a zombie apocalypse, for example, complete with zombie sounds as users run, per AR Post.

 

Gyms that offer Holodia’s HOLOFIT platform — which pairs VR headsets with games and cardio machines — claim to have a 70 percent member retention rate after six months, AR Post reports. Gyms in Chicago, New Jersey and Seattle are among those in the U.S. offering HOLOFIT.

 

VirZOOM, an at-home biking startup that incorporates VR headsets providing simulations of cycling with a group or horseback riding, per Recode. Hydrow is an at-home rowing machine that via screen provides the scenery and sounds that would come with actual rowing.

 

Orangetheory Fitness is incorporating AR with advertising in mind. The fitness studio recently introduced an AR experience that’s connected to a Wonder Woman Run series in Fargo, North Dakota, Mobile Marketer reports. 

 

When Orangetheory members and prospects aim smartphone cameras at coaches and race signage, they’ll see training tips and videos, logos, holograms and ads appear on their mobile devices, per Mobile Marketer.

 

The opportunity for change that AR and VR bring is promising when it comes to keeping users engaged in workouts, L.A.-based sports psychologist Dr. Sari Fine Shepphird told Recode.

 

“Most of us have complained at one point in time about being bored by the same old exercise. This type of technology allows us to change things up without fundamentally changing anything,” she told Recode. 

 

When it comes to fitness, AR and VR proponents say elements like holographic trainers and “gamification” of workouts make an exercise routine more fun and engaging.

 

But whether the technology really changes the fitness game is speculation at this point, since it’s so new and studies haven’t been done. 

 

“Electronic gizmos of all kinds typically have a ‘novelty’ effect that wears off after a while,” Panteleimon Ekkekakis, an Iowa State University kinesiology professor, told Recode. 

 

Recently updated federal exercise recommendations encourage Americans to move more frequently during the day. Healthy adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, and engage in muscle-strengthening activities two days per week. 

 

More than 93 million adults in the U.S. are considered obese, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer all can stem from obesity. 

 

AR and VR are poised to change everything from travel and shopping to education, healthcare and workplace training. Global spending on AR and VR will exceed $20 billion this year, predicts International Data Corp, a big jump from $12.1 billion expected last year.

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