The future of exercising is fun…and digital!

By Teen Blogger: Nina
Social Media Link: @Carolinaatani

After a year spent locked in our homes, we had to find new ways to stay active and to exercise, to keep ourselves healthy and not fall into that terrible quarantine depression. To do so, many started to watch YouTube tutorial videos, me included - and follow the example of trainers many kilometers away. Whilst effective, this wasn’t fun at all. Doing sports alone in your room, staring at the same wall for hours, doesn’t give much incentive for motivation. However, we didn’t have a better option. Well, now we do! A new player has been introduced to the ‘stay at home and still do sport’ market and it will flip the situation completely: VR technology.

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Basically, instead of seeing a normal screen, you are brought into an interactive 3D world full of beautiful sceneries, activities and even animals and people. To achieve this companies produce a specific headset that covers ears and eyes, and can simulate as many senses as possible like vision, hearing, touch and even smell. The result is a totally immersive experience straight out of sci-fi movies. But how can it help with exercising?

With VR you are transported to a virtual outside world where everything is possible, most of all sports! Hundreds of games are available designed to simulate real sports and activities such as boxing, running, cycling, dancing and more. All you must do is get on your treadmill, put the headset on, and suddenly you are running through the beautiful hills of Tuscany, Italy or even zooming through space. Louise Green, an award-winning trainer, writes about her favourite games that offer boxing and dance programmes - ranging from beginner to advanced workouts.

‘As a personal trainer, I was really surprised by not only how much I’ve been loving these workouts, but also how effective they are for me. I’ve realized they have the potential to be a fitness game changer for lots of people, especially those who want to start working out, who may be bored and burned out with the kinds of workouts they’ve been doing, or who want to rebuild their damaged relationships with fitness, to focus more on fun.’

She emphasizes how fun the experience has been as many games are made to entertain as well as train. For instance, Beat Saber is a highly popular game in which you get equipped with light sabers used to slice through moving targets following the beat of your favorite song: fun and exhausting!

If you are a competitive soul, like Louise, you don’t need to worry since in VR you can compete with yourself and others! Virtual reality being an online platform can accommodate hundreds of participants at the same time, playing the same game - something which isn’t available in traditional workouts.

Something to keep in mind is the price. Virtual reality fitness does require equipment that can vary in prices. The main thing, a VR headset, can range from £300 on Amazon (for the best quality ones) to around £40 (for the older models); in addition you will need the fitness games, which are sold separately. I believe that it is something of an investment; at the moment it might seem expensive, but remember that it is something that you can use every day, from anywhere, and that gives you access to a high quality and fun workout.

While now it might be rare to see someone working out every day with a VR set, and we wouldn’t expect to see one in the gym, I believe it will be part of our everyday life soon. The pandemic changed the way we approach studying, work and our personal lives and we have seen how almost anything can be done from home, including sports.

Spatial, for instance, which creates a tool that is a VR version of Zoom, reported a 1,000% increase in the use of its platform since March 2020. In total, the value of the market for VR business equipment is estimated to grow from $829 million in 2018 to $4.26 billion by 2023, according to research by ARtillery Intelligence. It’s safe to say VR technology, with its many uses, is bound to become more commonplace in our everyday lives – and perhaps transform the way we keep fit.

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