Virtual reality fitness: How agile is an online editor?

Virtual reality fitness: How agile is an online editor?

In the VR Fitness long-term test, Josef determines his fitness status at the start of the experiment.

In the first part of my long-term test, I announced it, in the second part I’m in the middle of it: virtual reality fitness. At the turn of the year, I (voluntarily – editor’s note) signed up for a membership to the VR fidget game FitXR.

In a long-term test, I try to attend every single class that is offered to me. You can follow my ordeal progress every week here on MIXED. Let’s start with an inventory of my current fitness level.

Inventory at the start of the VR fitness experiment

To have a comparative value at the end of my test – as we humans love numbers, values, and standards – I took a performance test and measured myself completely. All within the means available to me in my home office, of course.

Equipped with a body fat scale, I march into the bathroom full of energy on the morning of January 19, 2022. I briefly record my key data (male, 183 cm, 36 years old), put my feet on the scale, and after a few seconds it spits out the following results:

  • Weight: 81.4 kg
  • Body fat percentage: 23.8 percent
  • Body water: 55.6 percent
  • BMI: 24.3
  • Muscle percentage: 41.6 percent
  • Bone mass: 12.1 percent
  • BMR (basal metabolic rate): 1,858 kcal daily
  • AMR (activity metabolic rate): 2,601 kcal daily

According to the classification of these values provided by the manufacturer, I am in the body mass index (BMI) just below the threshold to overweight (from 25). Excuse me? My body fat percentage is just about in the medium range – from 24.1 percent, the category “bad” begins. My muscle percentage only just scrapes past the “little” limit (everything under 41 percent). At least the value for body water is pretty much in the middle and is rated as “good”. Whew. Chronic dehydration is averted.

Body shape, dimensions, and weight: V-shaped when standing on your head

Activity Metabolic Rate (AMR) was calculated based on my current activity level: low physical activity, like walking or watching VR movies. So over the next few weeks, the AMR should increase – pizza, here I come.

Measuring the circumference of my body regions reveals potential: I am clearly V-shaped – it just depends on the perspective. In my case, the headstand is ideal for viewers to recognize the coveted body shape.

  • Chest: 95.9 cm
  • Abdomen: 98.7 cm
  • Waist: 104.2 cm
  • Biceps: 26.2 cm
  • Thigh: 62.3 cm

The warm-up: How agile is an online editor?

My wife, who unlike me is very athletic, is currently training for a half-marathon and is an acrobatic dancer, then leads me through a mobility workout. During the various stretching exercises, it becomes clear that I’m pretty tense from sitting in the office every day. My tendons and joints play drums with every movement, and everything just cracks.

Bevor es für mich in die virtuelle Fitness-Arena von FitXR geht, wird erstmal der Ist-Zustand ermittelt.

Before I enter FitXR’s virtual fitness arena, I first have to determine my actual condition. | Image: FitXR

For years, I’ve only known my toes by sight. Touching them from a standing position is completely utopian at the moment. In addition, I always have pain in the shoulders and lumbar area.

The pain always starts when I ignore movement-intensive fitness games on the Meta Quest 2 and focus mainly on sitting and walking – coincidence? Probably not. FitXR does not currently offer stretching classes. But according to the occupational therapist I trust, the additional movement of arms and legs should also have a positive effect on mobility and relieve pressure on the shoulders and back.

Determining fitness levels: Up front, down in the back

To determine my fitness level, I use an online test. It includes a light endurance test, coordination and flexibility exercises, and a determination of my abdominal and leg muscle strength.

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Endurance test to determine resting and stress pulse rate

In the endurance step test, I determine resting and exertion pulse rates while “stepping” on a step for one minute. Surrounded by my two skeptical-looking dogs, I am already noticeably out of breath during this actually easy first exercise. Frightening.

Back of the body and leg muscles

In the next step, I determine the mobility of the back of the body. Armed with a folding rule, I stand upright, bend down and try to touch my toes. There is a whopping 16.5 cm between my fingertips and the floor in the maximally stretched state.

On the test scale, I reach level C, the golden mean. I’m surprised that there are people my age who are even more immobile than I am. In the test of the leg muscles, however, I slip into the worst category.

Abdominal muscles and coordination

To determine abdominal muscle strength, I have to raise my upper body so far that I can see the title of the top book of a 50-centimeter-high stack. So, I raise my breastplate-in-the-making and read “Neil Gaiman: American Gods” while it feels like little prison knives are being continuously jabbed into my flanks.

After 52 seconds, I slump down, whooping. To my surprise, this puts me in the top category. I also manage the coordination in the one-leg stand better than expected. So, it’s not all bad.

Results of the fitness test: Virtual Reality has a long way to go

According to the fitness test, I am an “activity type 2” and in the normal range. This is a good starting point to soon reach “an above-average level with optimal vitality”. Translated, that means something like: Get moving now, lazybones!

  • Endurance Step Test: resting pulse 90 / loading pulse 110
  • Back Mobility: 16.5 cm distance to the floor (level C)
  • Abdominal muscle strength: 52 seconds (best category)
  • Leg muscle strength: 13 repetitions (worst category)
  • Single-leg stand test (coordination): single-leg toe stand with eyes closed for 10 seconds (level E – best category)

The classification as “bon vivant” is not enough for the critical MIXED reader, that’s how well I know our comments section. So, I’m going to go all out and modify the test a little. A few classics among the fitness exercises find their way into the evaluation:

  • Squats: 25 repetitions in 60 seconds
  • Push-ups: 14
  • Wall sit: 38.5 seconds
  • Plank: 67 seconds

The definition for the “enjoyer type” says I should look for activities that I enjoy. How fitting! Let’s bring out the VR goggles.

Next week, you’ll read how it feels when the sweat under Meta Quest 2 drips incessantly into your eyes while you half-blindly hit glowing balls.

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