I subscribed to FitXR for a year - is it worth it?
FitXR offers arguably the most comprehensive fitness program in virtual reality, but requires a paid subscription – is it worth it?
Mobile VR headsets have made virtual reality much more accessible. The removal of cables and feed devices such as PCs or game consoles makes it easier to get started and allows much greater freedom of movement. This has helped one genre of VR games in particular to grow in popularity: VR fitness.
The spearhead of the VR fitness industry is the FitXR subscription service for Meta Quest 2 and Pico 4. For a monthly fee, users get access to a variety of fitness classes, are guided by virtual trainers, and receive new content on an ongoing basis.
However, as popular as FitXR is, many potential users are put off by the ongoing subscription fees. I've been a FitXR subscriber for over a year, and in this article I explain what's behind the subscription barrier, who the virtual gym is for, and what alternatives there are.
FitXR: How does the subscription model work?
FitXR grew out of the fitness app BoxVR, which underwent a major upgrade in 2020 to transform it from a VR boxing game to a virtual gym. The developers also introduced a paid subscription model and promised to deliver new content regularly.
Those who want to try FitXR can try the app for seven days in a free demo version. This gives you access to selected courses that represent a good cross-section of the overall offering.
One thing up front: If you don't like the game mechanics in the demo, you won't be happy with the full version. Nevertheless, you should take full advantage of the seven days and try each course several times. Sometimes it takes a few rounds before it "clicks" and you start to enjoy the training.
Pricing & Subscription terms
Due to increasing development costs, FitXR recently decided to raise the prices for the fitness app. Those who choose to subscribe can currently expect to pay the following costs:
- Monthly subscription: $12.99 per month – can be canceled monthly.
- Annual subscription: $107.99 per year – can be canceled annually
With the annual subscription, you save 30 percent over the monthly payment. However, I would advise beginners to use the monthly subscription. If you lose motivation after a few weeks, you can cancel immediately and have no further costs. With the annual subscription, you pay the annual price immediately upon signing the contract and can only cancel at the end of the term (which is often forgotten – I speak from experience).
A little tip: At the turn of the year, FitXR, like every gym, likes to entice you with special offers.
FitXR: What content does the VR fitness app provide?
Since I first subscribed to FitXR in January 2022 for my VR fitness experiment, things have changed quite a bit in terms of scope. Back then, FitXR offered boxing, dance, and HIIT classes. Now, Sculpt and Combat have been added to the list. There is currently no other VR fitness app with more variety. There is also a companion app for your smartphone that lets you track your progress outside the VR headset.
Range of courses
All courses are set up in different levels of difficulty, from beginner to expert, and are regularly updated. Seven new courses are added to the app each week. The length varies from short five-minute workouts to over 30-minute workouts. Each course is accompanied by different songs from pop, electro, hip-hop or rock, including some well-known hits and classics.
In addition, there are always new themed programs based on the seasons or Pride Month, for example. "Find Your Fit" allows you to try different classes of varying intensity for about a week to find the workout that works best for you.
Virtual trainers and environments
The range of virtual environments and trainers is also increasing. Five new trainers have been added since the beginning of 2022, and one more is already waiting in the wings.
Especially commendable: FitXR also offers classes for the physically challenged, accompanied by Zion Clark, who was born without legs. Workouts can take place right by the virtual ocean, on a rooftop, in the backyard, or in a luxurious gym.
Warm up & cool down
A very important innovation in FitXR is the optional warm-ups and cool-downs that can be completed before each class. When immersed in a virtual environment, it is easy to misjudge yourself and overexert yourself before your muscles are warm.
The light pre-workout exercises and stretches can help prevent injury. The cool-downs bring the body back down to earth after the workout.
FitXR: What do the classes and virtual trainers offer?
During the workout, trainers provide visual and verbal assistance. The latter is much more precise today than it was in the early days of FitXR, but it can sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle. Demonstrating the exercises is more effective.
FitXR uses the immersive power of VR with its virtual trainers better than many other VR fitness apps, which sometimes only offer flat "holograms" of real people or one-off tutorials at the start of the game. VR character models spatially show how movements should be performed. This is especially helpful for more complex sculpting and dancing exercises.
Sculpt, HIIT, Dancing
Sculpt focuses primarily on the abdomen, legs, buttocks, and core. This allows you to build a solid foundation. The process is simple: The virtual instructors demonstrate the exercises and you jump in. The more accurate you are, the more points you earn.
Choreography in dance classes is similar. In HIIT classes, the instructors stand in front of you, explain the exercise, demonstrate it, and then fade out.
Important: If you're interested in FitXR primarily for the HIIT, Dance and Sculpt classes, you'll need a lot more space than for the martial arts classes. It should be an area of 2 × 3 meters.
Boxing and Combat
Unlike the other workouts, boxing only verbally guides you as you hit or dodge the flying colored balls. Boxing has always lacked proper hit feedback in FitXR. No matter how hard you hit the balls, it always feels like you're popping a balloon. The tinny-sounding sound effects make it even worse.
Things don't get much better in that regard in the martial arts training-based Combat courses. At least they sensibly expand the offer, especially for advanced VR boxers. The classic boxing techniques (jab, cross, uppercut, hook) are joined by elbow strikes, hammer blows, double punches and new defensive actions in two new postures.
Even if the feedback and hit accuracy are not perfect, the training is intense and has a decisive advantage over the competition: the virtual trainers.
Professional boxer teaches you techniques
Since May of this year, a boxing professional trains you at FitXR. In a special multi-part course, Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams introduces you to the most important basic boxing techniques. The virtual trainer shows you each exercise in detail, and you reinforce what you have learned through repetitions and different combinations. Be sure to complete this program before you start vr boxing.
So, who is FitXR for?
FitXR and VR fitness in general is great for a quick workout in between, to build up your general fitness or to lose a few pounds. For example, if you sit in front of a computer all day at your home office, you should treat your body to a regular round of VR fitness. Here at MIXED, some editors have already been able to alleviate the inevitable back and shoulder pain caused by too much screen time.
Tip: Listen to our Mixedcast episode 355 (if you speak German) where Christian and Ben discuss the pros and cons of VR fitness or read my VR fitness self-test.
Whether you need the expensive subscription model depends on how varied you want your VR fitness training to be. If you want to have a lot of different fitness exercises in one app and constantly new content, you can't avoid FitXR at the moment.
With Boxing, Combat, Sculpt, HIIT and Dance, it covers more training areas than any other fitness app. In addition, the app is regularly expanded and optimized, and there is also a companion app for your smartphone. The developers are keeping their promise to continually expand FitXR.
Cheaper alternatives to FitXR
If you don't need all the bells and whistles and don't want to sign up for a subscription, you can put together your own personalized VR fitness workout using a variety of apps.
For example, cardio through dance and HIIT can also be covered with SynthRiders, Beat Saber or Audio Trip. By far the best fitness app for VR martial arts is Les Mills Bodycombat. It also offers personal trainer support and regular course updates, but to a much lesser extent than FitXR.
Tip: For more alternatives, check out our roundup of the best VR fitness apps for Meta Quest 2. Most of the VR games featured there are also available for other VR headsets.