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Q&A: Why virtual reality could be the future of fitness (Includes interview)

The survey by FitXR found that 43 percent of virtual reality headset owners use their device for their workouts. Furthermore, the survey found that almost 50 percent of users are using the headset to experience adventure activities, like rock climbing or mountain biking, that they might not do in real life.

To understand more about this blending of technology and fitness, Digital Journal spoke with FitXR’s Head of Fitness, Ianthe Mellor.

Digital Journal: How important is fitness for U.S. citizens?

Ianthe Mellor: There’s been an ever-increasing demand for fitness among Americans. Collectively they spend $19 billion on gym memberships and 50% of Americans spend over $150 monthly on fitness.

FitXR’s recent survey revealed that 69% of consumers prefer to work out individually, yet more than half (56%) said the social aspects of fitness are important to their progress. And 43% said that social fitness motivates them to do their best.

DJ: How can virtual reality aid fitness?

Mellor: Virtual reality has revolutionized the fitness world. It has proven to be an efficient, effective and fun way to work out. Many BoxVR users report that, while they had never worked out prior, BoxVR was easy to integrate and, with consistent use, led to amazing results.

In a gym or group fitness setting, there are so many external factors that can distract you or impact your workout. With virtual reality fitness, you are completely immersed in your workout with no opportunity for external factors to distract.

DJ: To what extent is virtual reality being taken up as a fitness option?

Mellor:It’s still in its early stages, however, we are seeing a very active, loyal user base who are working out with it on a regular basis. And this user base is growing. As the VR market as a whole grows, we expect to see significant growth in its use for fitness.

The release of the new Oculus Quest headset has really changed the game. My favorite things about it are how easy it is to turn on, play and transport. If I have an early flight but want to work out beforehand, I play boxVR so I don’t need to worry about rushing home from the gym or waiting in line for the shower. I often take it with me when I travel so I don’t have to worry about finding a gym.

DJ: Does VR suit solo or group sessions best?

Mellor:Both! It’s for the person that gets self conscious at the gym or distracted in a group fitness class. Or, if you prefer interacting with other people for healthy competition, you can have the best of both worlds. BoxVR has multiplayer function that allows for this.

DJ: What is special about the FitXR option?

Mellor:BoxVR is the only VR fitness game that has workouts created by professional fitness instructors. Our goal with BoxVR was to create a product that was a fitness product first and foremost, and then find ways to gamify it and make it as engaging and fun as possible. And that’s exactly what we’ve done!

DJ: How often are new fitness routines produced?

Mellor:At the moment, BoxVR offers 50 workouts that range from 7 minutes to 60 minutes long. We are currently working with our instructors to create new workouts and have plans to roll out more before the end of the year. And, beginning in January, we will be releasing new workouts on a more regular basis.

DJ: Does VR appeal to a particular demographic?

Mellor:Right now it is very popular among the gaming community, But, with the recent launch and popularity of Oculus Quest, we expect to see that market broaden significantly.

DJ: Does VR interact well with social media?

Mellor:It’s fairly limited at the moment, but you can expect a lot more to come in this space considering Oculus is owned by Facebook.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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