The future of fitness could be virtual thanks to companies such as YUR.
YUR, short for “why you are,” wants to make fitness more entertaining and accessible, starting with their first product — the YURfit Plug-in, which will track the calories you burn while playing in VR.
The product uses tracking data to monitor the movement of the motion controllers and headset to understand roughly how many calories players burn while playing VR games, similar to how FitBit devices track your steps and estimate the calories burnt throughout the day.
The YURfit Plug-in would be a provisional app, meaning game developers need simply implement YUR’s proprietary system into their own VR games in order to introduce calorie tracking. It would also have a mobile app to sync user’s data to their Apple Health app on iOS, so they can add their VR workout to the rest of their recorded activity for the day.
Image Credit: YUR’s calorie tracker plugin running on Beat Games’ ‘Beat Saber’.
The unofficial first game supported is the smash-hit rhythm game Beat Saber, which has already proven a valuable tool for cardio and weight-loss.
According to The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, Beat Saber features a level of physical movement equivalent to that of playing tennis; players are constantly active throughout their performances, which can serve as an excellent cardiovascular workout in which you barely need to move your feet.
Users have also said the game has been instrumental in their weight loss journey. Over the course of two months, Robert Long, lost over 100 pounds due to a combination of proper dieting and an intense 30-minutes of Beat Saber daily.
“I managed to make a great 30 minute per day routine,” said Long. “So if you had a normal day of walking and moving around you would just do one 30 minute session of songs. Or two 30 minute sessions per day, if you have had a slow day and not done much walking around or sat most of the day.”
YUR was started because the co-founders, Cix Liv and Dilan Shah, saw the success players like Long were having and recognized that many of the top games, like Beat Saber, were so entertaining that players were not even aware they were working out.
Considering the fact that currently around 45 percent of U.S. adults are not receiving enough daily physical activity, there is clearly a demand for fun and passive exercise experiences.
Image Credit: VR Institute of Health & Exercise
“Gaming and fitness have always been my biggest passions,” says Liv. “This allows our users to combine these two passions.”
Liv’s two passions are also two of the fastest growing sectors of VR. Gaming has been the go-to when thinking of VR, but fitness has been growing steadily in popularity thanks to VR apps designed for biking, boxing, and even yoga.
One meta-analysis found that game-based health interventions helped obese children lower their BMI. Liv and Shah hope their start-up can allow VR to be an even more effective and accessible tool for fitness.