VR fitness app for Meta Quest 2 introduces martial arts training
FitXR expands workout classes and introduces martial arts-based cardio workouts. I tried the new studio. Who are the VR fitness classes for?
In a major update, the FitXR VR fitness app for Meta Quest 2 (review) and Quest Pro (review) introduces a new type of workout: combat training. In it, you perform punching and defensive movements from martial arts such as karate, muay thai, taekwondo, or classic boxing.
At launch, seven courses of varying difficulty and length are available. In addition, there is a new training environment that resembles an urban backyard. I tested the first available Combat training sessions and tell you at the end of the article how well they work and for whom they are suitable.
Here's what the martial arts-based fitness workouts in VR have to offer
At the heart of FitXR's new Combat classes, which use Artificial Intelligence to make its VR fitness classes more efficient, is a martial arts-based cardio workout. This brings FitXR closer to rival Les Mills Body Combat (review), which has so far offered significantly more striking techniques in its VR workouts.
Combat consists of two basic techniques based in different postures: the "Front Stance" and the "Split Stance." In the course of a training session, both techniques are combined alternately.
Front Stance: Martial Arts
In the "Front Stance", you stand with your legs spread apart in a squat position facing the action. Hold your hands at your sides, hip level, the palms of your hands pointing upward. This basic posture results in three new punching and defense techniques:
- Double Punch: Both hands go up and perform frontal punches on two balls approaching parallel to each other. The palms of your hands rotate downward as you do this.
- Elbow Strike: You strike alternately with the elbows, left or right, on half-open balls.
- Hammer Fist: Bullets fly at you from the side. Your right fist makes a half circle up to the left and comes down on a target - and vice versa with your left.
- High Block: You deflect beams flying above with fists crossing over your head.
Split Stance: Boxing
The second basic stance is the Split Stance, where you stand at an angle to the action. The legs are slightly bent and the heel of the back foot is lifted. From this position, you perform the following techniques familiar from FitXR boxing classes (review):
- Boxing punches: Strike at the onrushing balls with jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.
- Defensive moves: Duck and slip, dodging large beams. Either crouch or turn to the side.
Also new: If objects start flashing, you have to perform a power strike rewarded with bonus points. Any standard strike can be performed as a power strike.
Combat Studio tested: How well the new workout works in FitXR
I tested the introductory rounds of the new Combat Studio and am still not completely convinced after the first training session. Although there are class levels ranging from beginner to pro, I don't see the martial arts techniques as suitable for newbies.
The basic stance requires a fairly low squat, which will be difficult for some to sustain even in the supposedly easy rounds. In addition, there are the new punches from the inside to the outside. Here I can definitely see the potential for shoulder injuries.
Caution: New punching techniques are not without danger
Hammer fists, elbow strikes, and high blocks sometimes have to be executed with a lot of momentum. With untrained or cold shoulders, this is a recipe for a tear. Always warm up thoroughly - regardless of whether you are a novice or advanced.
Before you try the Combat Studio, invest a few weeks of time in the other FitXR studios. HIIT and Sculpt workouts will increase your fitness, leg strength, and flexibility, preparing you well for the Combat classes. As you can read in my VR Fitness self-test, you can make good progress with just four weeks of regular training.
Fun with sacrifices for advanced users
For advanced users, the Combat courses are a welcome change and can be a useful addition to the VR training plan. Only the elbow strikes do not always work as intended. The collision only registers when the VR controller touches the object's hitbox. I tried hitting the target with my elbow, but the hit only counts if I pull the controller far enough out. The result is more of an outward pull than a hit.