Gimmick or Game Changer? Virtual Reality is Coming for Your Workout

here’s something to be said about exercise. Very few people actually enjoy it, but we bear the torment so we can reap the benefits. It’s no wonder then, that our workouts come complete with TVs, soundtracks, nightclub lights, and celebrity instructors — anything to distract us from the inevitable muscle burn.

But this smoke-and-mirror technique is nothing new. In 1994, for instance, the Life Cycle exercise bike had a mounted TV and Nintendo console so you could watch TV or play Super Nintendo games while you pedaled away the pounds. And with that, “exertainment” was born.

Next, we tried to “gamercize”, giving rise to Wii Fit, Xbox Kinect Sports, and a host of other gaming-cum-exercise products that flooded the market. Fitness gamification has continued to evolve since then, but the idea of tricking ourselves into exercising remains.

Today, we’re still struggling to make working out more enjoyable, and we’re willing to try almost anything to make it so. But while scientists are still busy trying to perfect that exercise pill, virtual and augmented reality have been quietly transforming the exercise experience by playing with our minds.

The world you’re working out in may not be real, but as long as the results are, it might just be the distraction we’ve all been looking for.


Misha Gajewski