Virtual reality fitness: the soreness is real
In his long-term test, Josef knocks colorful balls in FitXR. How does the first week of virtual reality fitness feel?
I had planned on at least three sessions a week, each with an hour’s workout, to boost my lack of fitness. That should be doable. It’s only VR fitness, after all. How hard can it be? I can still hear the virtual trainers laughing at me today.
FitXR basically offers three different workouts: a boxing workout, dance-based aerobics classes, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Smart as I am, I pack one class from each workout type into my daily sessions. Best. Idea. Ever. It takes me exactly two days to stop moving. But in order.
Boxing in FitXR: The classic
Monday morning. Motivated to the hilt, I pick a boxing class first thing. Since its major update, FitXR regularly introduces new trainers and offers weekly challenges under the name “Find your fit.
The boxing course “Champ Status” with trainer Adam Rosante has just started. Sixteen minutes of boxing to pop music while burning about 83 kcal (calculated in gingerbread: 0.8). Sounds good, I’ll take it.
Before my workout starts, I have a choice of five environments: a park, the boxing studio, or a Christmas skating rink with day and night variations. I’ll try the classic boxing gym first.
Rhythm, colorful balls, hit it – everything as usual
After a short loading break, the over-motivated Adam greets me from the off. I’m instructed to position my legs sideways, with my left foot forward. Five rounds are scheduled, during which I’m supposed to loosen my shoulders, tighten my abs (haha!), and keep my chin up.
While shallow funfair techno roars in my ears, the familiar colored balls fly toward me in rhythm with the beat. Blue for the left fist, yellow for the right. Occasionally I have to hold both fists in front of my face as if for cover and avoid blue barriers with a knee bend – similarities with Beat Saber are surely rather coincidental.
Some bullets want to be hit with a swing from the left or right, others with an uppercut. Since my last visit a few months ago, two new variations have been added: low rushing balls that I have to hit from a crouch and some with a diagonally lowered strike direction. That makes the whole thing more exciting right away.
Virtual motivational coaches with a certain cringe effect
Coach Adam keeps giving me instructions in between and tries to keep me happy. After a short series of quick hits, he suddenly yells a long, drawn-out “YEEEAAAAH” at my eardrums. I flinch in embarrassment and miss a target. Digital Adam still has to work on his motivation.
At the end of the course, he thanks me for the great training and advises me to “think strong, be strong” at the end. I wonder what fortune cookie he got that from. After the training, however, I first have to take a deep breath.
I can clearly feel the 1,219 strokes, my arms are like jello. With 538,949 points and 79.5 calories burned, I’m in a meager fourth place. There is still more to do.
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Shut up and dance with me
Next stop: Pop Dance. With slightly battered arms, I’m drawn into a dance workout. Here I’m safely able to relax a bit before the HIIT final. For dancing, I have three environments to choose from: the dance floor and again, the two festive rinks. Of course, I go to the classic fidget rink first.
A short tutorial video shows me the basics. I’m not really any smarter after that. I am supposed to copy the moves of the trainer. Ah, yes. Sarah also took a deep sip of the motivation potion this morning and seems completely over-excited. She briefly describes the upcoming moves to me, I don’t understand what she’s talking about, and off we go.
The virtual trainer stands on her feet and I have to figure out the moves myself. Occasionally a “good” appears above her, but mostly I just move “ok” or manage the dance step “almost”.
And it goes one step after the other – without the next step being explained. What luck that nobody sees me floundering here. I’m a complete wreck and occupy the far distant last place in the high score table. After eight minutes, the course is over. I should try out the movements again in the shower … very funny, Sarah.
HIIT in FitXr: Run over by the fitness bus
The HIIT classes in FitXR are clearly the supreme discipline and make it abundantly clear that I take the role of the court jester in the VR fitness hierarchy. The mix of different exercises that challenge the entire body and have to be performed as quickly as possible brings me to my knees.
In a small window of time between exercises, trainer Dylan explains and demonstrates the movements. This time, there’s no excuse. In the first round, I hit two balls each on the top right and bottom left in a flowing motion. As fast as possible, of course. Then I run from right to left and back again while boxing two balls at each position.
During the 15-minute workout, more exercises start, some of which are recurring. The worst is the exercise in which a net of possible target points spreads out in front of me and balls keep appearing in different places. I chase after the balls and try to hit as many as possible. After the workout, I lie on the floor drenched in sweat, all fours stretched out from me, praying that someone will find me and catch me.
I underestimated you big time, FitXR
I didn’t expect such a nasty muscle ache. Chapeau, FitXR, I underestimated you. After the first two days of training, I have to take a break. Neck and shoulders are on strike. I’m not even sure anymore if it’s still a sore muscle or already a strain.
One thing’s for sure: I’ll set up a warm-up and stretching program with a cool-down phase for the next few training sessions. It’s not a good idea to just jump into virtual reality, go full throttle and leave again.