Is Virtual Reality the Fitness Trend for Gyms?
The last year was a difficult year to offer VR in Gym due to the Covid 19 restrictions. Either the Gym had to remain closed or strict hygiene measures had to be applied which caused a reduction in visitors numbers.
Moreover, it makes little sense to offer VR in which the clients put on a VR headset which was used by different people before. Therefore, it would require high hygiene measures. There are devices with UV-C technology like the CleanBox, but the clients would also have to be ready to put one on under the given circumstances.
What about Gym in 2021?
It can’t really be predicted yet, it probably doesn’t look any better. From the year 2022 on, the prospects look better to offer VR in Gym.
Are there any advantages to offer VR in the Gym?
One of the biggest advantages of delighting the clients remains. In fact, that most people have never tried VR for an amazing experience. Even being able to offer the client something new helps a lot.
Are there any new, easier cleaning solutions?
It takes a lot of effort to clean the headsets after a workout, especially if they are used by different users. There are solutions like the CleanBox, but with VR Fitness the application is a lot more sweaty than with normal use.
The normal games like Beat Saber and Co also make you sweat. As far as we know, there are still no VR glasses, specially designed for fitness and sport. There are some accessories such as VR covers which offer better protection and comfort during the training, but the sweat remains through the physical activity.
Oculus Quest the game changer for VR fitness?
We offer VR Fitness in Gym as well as in martial arts studios and were are able to gain experience for VR as an offer. The Woah factor is undoubted, almost 100% of new users are positively surprised and do enjoy a great experience when trying it out. We mainly used the HTC Vive for this. When the Oculus Quest was launched, it quickly became clear that it perfectly fits for fitness and sports because of the freedom of movement.
With the Oculus Quest 2, the quality has been increased again. Due to the relatively low purchase price (from 350$) and the fact that it works without external sensors and without a PC, it is basically the best headset for VR Fitness. The Quest has extended the possibilities and the convenience of training. The freedom of movement and mobility is excellent for use in the fitness area. The Oculus Quest has enriched fitness and enabled access to more interested parties.
What does the Oculus Quest mean for Gym?
We think the Oculus Quest headset has changed a lot. Due to the pandemic, the Gym did not have the chance to offer proper training in the virtual world, it has only started to spread in Gym. Due to the Oculus Quest, the initial costs (from 350$) for virtual reality have decreased by 5-25% and have also become a lot more popular. There are also many Oculus Quest fitness games in the Oculus Store. With Oculus Move there is also an integrated VR Workout tracker. For us, it doesn’t make much sense anymore to offer VR in the fitness center.
We are talking about consumer VR Fitness applications, not special offers like those from Black Box VR, Icaros or others that offer VR Fitness applications in combination with special VR devices. What we mean are e.g. our offers or those of Holodia, Viro Fit and others that can also be used at home.
The VR Fitness Space, the great potential and the chance for a Gym?
But what we see as enormous potential and opportunity for Gym is to offer special VR training space. The Gym have the equipment, they have a wide variety of professional fitness equipment such as cross trainers, bikes, rowing machines, etc. that can be used for VR. At present, Gym in most countries have to ensure that there is enough space between the equipment due to the hygiene measures. There are good prerequisites for VR tracking.
Customers have the possibility to go to the gym by bringing their own Quests to workout in VR. Hence there is no hygiene issue anymore. Customers have raised the added value because they can train with fitness equipment which they don’t have at home. Just like offers from Holodia, Viro Fit which are geared towards sports equipment, can be used in gyms.
The Gym themselves do not have any additional effort, or at least only a small one, such as the guarantee for good tracking.
It also offers advantages when it comes to room layout. Without training in virtual space, it is not comfortable when the cross trainer is directly in front of a wall or in a corner which is then in VR no problem anymore. In this way, unused rooms, walls and corners can be used for using in VR.
The cheapest gym equipment upgrade!
Because of the restrictions due to the pandemic, many customers bought a VR headset as an alternative training. They can now use this through a VR space offer in a fitness studio. It’s an inexpensive fitness equipment upgrade. It does not require any investment to offer a VR training opportunity/space. You only have to place the fitness equipment in positions to make the tracking works well. Distance rules still need to be implemented. This means that there is space for VR and the use of space can be optimized. There is also no need for any additional software and theoretically no additional fees because the customer workout with the apps he has purchased. We say theoretically, we haven’t checked! There are many free VR Fitness games that can be offered to try out. Our XR units, XR FitClasses and Relax Zones are also free to use.
Potential competitive advantage: new customers might choose a gym with VR space. It also offers a new way for workouts. A new technical training application would be offered. For Gym with old equipment and machines, it has the additional advantage that these are not visible in VR and the state of the equipment is thus forgotten. Even the opposite could be, it makes you feel to workout with new high-end equipment.
The hurdle, however, is to convince the customers of VR. The eternal VR problem remains, it can neither be explained, nor shown in videos or photos. It has to be tried out, everything else does not work. Talking about it for 10 hours is useless compared to trying VR for 10 minutes.
How many customers already own a VR headset and are willing to take it with them to the fitness studio, we can only guess and it is probably different. We do not know how many Gyms already offer a VR Fitness space.
We have had good experience with mixed reality offers such as our Mixed Punch Bag. The probability that someone has a punching bag at home is smaller than having a crosstrainer. It is also because a punching bag makes a lot of noise. It has been shown that it is a great fun to use the punching bag in the center with VR headset and Mixed Punch Bag. It shows well how the combination works with your own VR glasses and external devices.
Tips for VR Space in the Gym
- If possible, the device should have good privacy or be placed in separate corners, sealed off places. Those who train in VR do not want to be exhibited (except for the few people who like being flaunted) because the person cannot see what is going on around and therefore prefers a feeling of security for well-being. Walking past the front should also be prevented. Tracking is good, but it can be disruptive.
- Start with a small range of devices and see how it is used. Optimal use for devices would be those using with and without VR.
- WLAN should be available and guarantee a good bandwidth. It is true that customers’ smartphones with hotspots can also be used, but this would lower the battery more quickly.
- Rooms for group lessons could be made available for VR if they are not in use anymore. Sport games like the free Oculus Game Echo VR in particular also require a lot of space. Customers could also play normally in VR in the premises. An unused spinning room is a room full of bikes for VR.
- An Oculus Quest should be available for testing. When customers start training with VR in the center, there are for sure to be other customers who might be interested in it and would also like to try it out.
- Rules for duration of use, if too few machine are available. Those who train in VR tend to forget the time limit. Another good option is to use older devices for VR and not having a time limit.
Do you have a Gym but don’t know VR Fitness?
We recommend that you buy an Oculus Quest 2 and try out the training options in your center. You will very likely become quickly convinced of the potential if offers. Find out more about the various advantages and the fitness potential on the VR Institut of Health website.
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