Fitness gaming has always been a fad that never reached its full potential. But VR seems to genuinely be transforming lives by getting players active and keeping them coming back for more. PSVR user Geoff Bowman, for example, managed to lose 30lbs in the past six months with the help of Beat Saber and a few others.
Bowman recently shared his progress on Reddit before speaking to UploadVR about his achievements. He went on, as he describes, a “six-month fitness journey” following Beat Saber’s launch on PSVR in November 2018. For five nights a week, Bowman would spend between 45 to 60 minutes playing active VR games. At first this just meant Beat Saber, but he added in boxing games Creed: Rise to Glory and Knockout League later on.
“Truth is… I got a PSVR to game on and create on, I hadn’t thought about fitness much at all beforehand,” Bowman told me over email. “I wasn’t super unhealthy, but I admit I wasn’t totally happy with how I looked either.”
Bowman had already tried VR before picking up a headset, but it was Beat Saber’s arrival that trigged his experiment. “Starting on the release date, for 6 months I would stick to a routine of mostly VR cardio and make no other alterations to my life (no changes in diet, general activity level outside VR, alcohol consumption, etc.) to see what effect just pure VR would have on my body.”
I think from the picture Bowman shared it’s clear that had a big impact. “I mostly just expected to not gain as much over the winter as I usually do, maybe I’d get an increase in stamina with little to no aesthetic change to my body but the results were actually much more drastic! I’m fully convinced now that VR cardio is absolutely viable exercise especially if you’re tall like me or lazy and unmotivated to work out… also like me.”
So what tips does Bowman have for anyone else looking to VR as a weight loss tool? Quite a few, actually. “Form is everything,” he said. “Beat Saber, if you play purely as a video game, isn’t really valuable exercise… it’s flipping your wrists around to the beat. Just like a weight-lifter has to commit to proper technique, you have to commit to a style of play that makes the game more physically demanding.”
That involves using the full range of arm motion and properly leaning to avoid danger zones. But he also says to bring this mentality to other games. He even imitated proper rowing techniques in an otherwise-quiet fishing game, Catch & Release.
Warming up and then maintaining is also crucial. Bowman says to go for less intense exercise first than move onto harder stuff second. Also, don’t spend too much time in menus between levels.
Perhaps Bowman’s most important point, though is to look for the right games for you. “If you hate Star Wars, EDM, and rhythm games… Beat Saber probably won’t be your thing and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. There’s so many other titles available on all platforms and that’s why it’s so important to explore how to change your form in games to maximize movement. For example: I had SO many people in the PSVR subreddit and facebook groups recommend Sprint Vector for fitness.”
Sage advice all-round, we say. Personally, we’ve been working out in Vader Immortal’s lightsaber dojo of late. Keeping fit never felt so good.