“I was unhealthy. At my worst I was over 300 pounds. It came to the point where my doctor finally said you need to get the heck in shape. I was at that lowest low point where he was basically saying you need to do something or you’re gonna die.”
This was the situation that Job Stauffer found himself in at the end of last summer. He had always been a bit big for his frame, but once he crossed the 300 pound mark he began experiencing regular headaches and other health concerns. Visiting his doctor he got the response he was expecting: “it’s time to lose some weight.”
Stauffer was prepared mentally to diet and exercise, but he didn’t relish the idea of joining a gym or starting every day with a run.
“People always want to tell you ‘just exercise’ but it’s not that simple,” Stauffer said. “I have an extra hundred or so pounds on me. That’s an entire extra person to run with or lift with. I couldn’t just hit the sidewalk and start jogging. My knees would break.”
Stauffer works in the video game business and decided that perhaps the industry he loved could provide an answer to his weight loss dilemma. Throughout the course of his career, Stauffer says that he watched many VR fitness fads “come and go” including fitness-themed games for the PlayStation Move, Microsoft Kinect and the Nintendo Wii. None of these programs had paid off, but a new platform caught Stauffer’s eye that gave him hope.
“I knew that virtual reality could give the body a chance to engage content fully,” Stauffer explains. “It also had an immediacy and simplicity that the other gaming weight loss platforms lacked. There was also this added layer of immersion that I thought could help me shut out the rest of the world and focus on just myself and the movements.”
Stauffer owns an HTC Vive and says he tried a few different experiences to get his heart rate up in VR including Holopoint, but he found the perfect fit in a rhythm game called Soundboxing.
In Soundboxing, you can upload any music you want via YouTube. The video appears on a large, movie theater like screen in front of you. Targets will begin to fly at you at different heights and you need to punch them to the beat. You can also create your own routines for other users to try out by loading up a new song and punching a sort of digital punching bag in front of you in time with the music. The bag maps your impacts and will convert that into targets for other players to punch through later on.
The idea sounds fun enough but, according to Stauffer, it is also the best workout you can get in VR. He found an instant physical connection with Soundboxing and began to build a workout routine around the experience.
“When I first started out I spent like 20 minutes in the headset. 20 then became 25 and 25 became 45 and 45 became an hour and sometimes an hour would become 90 minutes,” he said. “I even bought a set of one pound weighted gloves which may not sound like much but really engages your upper body a lot more than you’d think.”
All of that consistency and effort is paying off. Stauffer reports that he lost around 50 pounds through Soundboxing alone. The progress he’s made has also given him the confidence and physical freedom to start doing more traditional workouts such as a rowing machine and weight lifting. It’s a great start and Stauffer says he has “no plans of stopping.”
— Job J Stauffer (@jobjstauffer) February 15, 2017
Have you ever tried to use VR as a form of exercise? How did it work out? Let us know in the comments below!