Man Loses More Than 50 Pounds Playing A VR Game

by Joe Durbin • February 21st, 2017

“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.”

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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.”

Have you ever tried to use VR as a form of exercise? How did it work out? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • NooYawker

    One round of Knockout League and I’m completely spent, but I’m old.

    • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

      KO League is a crazy workout haha.

  • Feinseld

    Great job buddy!

  • Jim Rimmer

    what did he do about the sweat?

    • TexRob406

      My Rift gets pretty warm, I can’t imagine an hour with it on being active

      • James Friedman

        Yeah there is no way. Just the lightest activity and I’m already sweating and I can’t take this warm things strapped to my face. Maybe he takes breaks after each song and has purchasing like 10-15 VR covers to swap out.

        • Shan Yu

          Or maybe he’s not afraid to sweat?

    • jai151

      VRCovers makes a bunch of aftermarket foams that are very helpful with that. The Vive also has a really intelligent design where the foam is only held on via velcro, so it’s easy to swap out and dry off

    • Benjamin Orlowski

      For the sweaty types, like me, you can invest in a head band or a skull cap designed for dealing with keeping sweat out of your eyes.

      • Royce Edgar

        yeah i own a thin balaclava which works great. I also feel pretty cool in it and it keeps pressure off my face

        they are cheap AF on amazon

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      yep i wonder….

    • M0rdresh

      I use a cloth mask of times when I used this inside my helmet when riding my motorcycle.
      It absorbs sweat, is washable and your headset (foam) stays clean.

  • jimrp

    VR good for your body.

    • Royce Edgar

      VR-y GOOD

  • Super inspiring story, gamers are the next athletes!

  • elyse

    Wow– that inspires me to try giving VR workouts a chance! Great article.

  • JSM21

    WOW Good job losing and we all know you lose track of time in VR so not eating for hrs helps too lol. I like to play shooter games like D&B, SP and AS for a change in workout to keep things interesting so I don’t get bored w/ my treadmill, recumbent bike and universal gym. Helps to avoid the dreaded plateau too! Keep up the good work!!

  • James Friedman

    He looks a Guido from Jersey shore dancing with his fists.

  • Adrian

    Anyone looking for a good VR workout should also take a look at Climbey. After a longer session of about 2 1/2 hours, my muscles felt more sore the following week than from the real thing (which I do in a gym). Understandably it works out mainly the upper body and arms. If you want to focus on legs, go for Hot Squat.

  • Royce Edgar

    I am going to get this game now that I know you can just download videos or music through youtube. That is awesome! Bruv should really try out Space Pirate Trainer. That game makes me dance jump and run around like crazy. I love the sound track and cant find it on youtube yet. And it looks amazing in the game. Freaking awesome!

  • Xilence

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, VR and AR will really spark people to get moving ESPECIALLY where omni-treadmills become more immersive and robust. People want to live in the world, they want to feel it, and to do that… they have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. They will want to be a part of the world, and all of a sudden exercise doesn’t seem so bad anymore. 🙂

  • Multiplataformgamerz

    fruit ninja also works well

  • Blue Goji

    This is an awesome story! We create VR & 2D games that help people get aerobic exercise by playing. Great to see the fitness applications of VR gaming!

  • Wookie Groomer

    So he found VR more interesting than donuts. Why can’t oculus say that in their marketing material!

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      because he used a vive 😉

      • EQRG_Chevalier

        until now, the only thing you could do in a Rift is sit there… that wouldn’t have helped 😀

  • Leper Messiah

    I love reading stories like this!

  • Hail Kira

    One of the best parts of VR is getting your heart rate up. Could be with a good scare, or and intense gunfight; but the best thing is to get a good workout in. The HTC Vive is an adrenaline, endorphin, and dopamine producing machine! Playing VR is a rush! Thank you UploadVR for featuring one of my videos.

  • Johnny Virgil

    If you want to change things up a bit, give Audioshield a try too. Similar concept, loads of fun. Good job, Job!

  • Marie Manual

    I’d like to try this too, but I’m no spring chick, think I will give it a swirl thou, what have I got to lose, except weight?….smh

  • KSE1977

    I applaud anybody who finds their way to fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. Not sure VR would work for everybody, but if it works for you, then it will probably work for others. Congrats!!!

  • krazykain

    I often work out a sweat on punchbomb, haven’t weighed myself, but it’s good fun

  • DougP

    Re: Diet vs gaming?
    I’ve read a few of these articles on VR & weight loss recently. Not certain if it’s the case with this guy, but most I’ve seen …once you delve into the details, it comes down to EATING LESS/BETTER.
    It’s really not complicated – if you take in less calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight.

    Anecdotal… but for myself the headline would be the OPPOSITE – “Many GAINS weight playing VR!”.
    Got my Vive last April & played WAY MORE games than I have the 1st 6mos than the last few.
    Had gained weight as 2016 came to a close.
    Then…miraculously, must be the NON-VR games!… decided to start skipping meals (just protein powder & no massive dinners M,T & TH)… and imagine this – LOST WEIGHT!
    Conclusion:
    Obviously playing LESS VR games led to my weight loss! 😉
    Joking aside – people just need to eat less to lose weight. No mystery & no “magic bullets” on game types.
    Sure, active VR is better for *health*, but VR alone ain’t gonna do much if your calorie intake stays too high. Simple.

    • Brian Brown

      This is simply false. If you have enough exercise, you can virtually eat anything, and as much as you want. Dieting is a lot LESS healthy than exercise, and that’s a fact.

      • bogd

        Actually, that’s not true. If you eat 6000 calories per day (amazingly easy to do in this day and age), what do you think happens to all those extra calories? They magically disappear just because you exercise?
        To put things in perspective, one hour of running consumes maybe 400-600 calories.

        Yes, it’s true that both diet and exercising are important in weight loss (and exercise is arguably the more important one). But that does not mean that if you exercise “you can virtually eat anything” – because you cannot and will not exercise for 8 hours a day, every day…

        • M0rdresh

          In the end its pure mathematics. If you take in 6000 calories a day but burn 5000 you are not going to gain weight.
          Now this may not be healthy, as in eating burgers three times a day and then four hours at the gym, but in terms of weight loss or gain it is simply a matter of take-in vs burn.

      • DougP

        What you’ve written is false…and misleading.
        As I mentioned, I *gained* weight playing VR the 1st ~7mos+…then during the last few months I changed my diet & took in less calories & lost weight.

        Also, we’re talking about *weight* not fitness/healthy – that was the
        point, “losing weight”. I specifically pointed out that activity/working
        out is healthier. But if you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll not be losing weight (re-read my last sentence).

      • mikowilson

        Unfortunately wrong. Losing weight is Calories in < Calories out.
        The guy in the article absolutely changed his diet, or played this game 12 hours a day. I don't know why anyone would lie about losing weight, but here we are.

  • Martin355

    That’s quite a lot of money!

  • Chris Orris

    Literally bought wrist weights because of this article, and tried a morning workout before work. Didn’t try long enough to work up a sweat, but it had the effect of getting me woken up well w/o coffee, and getting me to actually roll out of bed!

  • Jenny

    Activity is great and all, but what was his meal plan? You can’t lose weight by movement alone.

  • Xilence

    Is that so? Because AxonVR is taking it to a whole new level.

    • mikowilson

      Try using one.

  • Andy Freeman

    I play Audioshield for hours at a time on Rift, the lighter headset really helps. I enjoy the game so much, that’s why I’m getting fit. Usually getting fit is immensely boring.

  • Ted Joseph

    I have lost almost 10 pounds playing VR sports by Oculus. The hockey game with the fighting option at every chance gives me an excellent workout.