One way to look ahead to a near future packed with VR workout options - something that will almost certainly come to fruition - would be to examine the technologies involved. However, we can also just say broadly that headsets are improving, prices are likely to drop marginally, and equipment from VR-integrated exercise bikes to original machines is already being developed. So instead of diving into the tech specs, we’re going to take a slightly more outside the box look at the potential of the VR-fitness link and look at some existing VR programs and games that demonstrate - directly or indirectly - where we could be heading.
This is basically a whole VR workout system that’s already been designed and demo’d to fairly extraordinary effect. It’s a full-body system with a gyroscopic design that basically challenges you to use your entire core to control movements - all while you’re in a sort of flight simulator via virtual reality. ICAROS itself figures to be a very popular machine if and when it’s widely released, or even installed in gyms. But it also demonstrates more clearly than anything else on the market the potential for VR to spawn entirely new workout systems.
Gladius is actually just one of several sword fighting VR games that have come out, and at first glance it looks like a glorified mobile game. Perhaps that’s more or less what it is at this point, at least from a visual standpoint. However, this app and others like it - ones that can involve quick physical movements and combat simulation - have the potential to be twisted into effective workout routines. Anyone who has ever practiced a martial art or to some degree even yoga or high-intensity interval training recognizes the benefit of quick sharp movements in getting the heart rate up and even toning muscle. Games in the vein of Gladius can get players to go about these movements without it feeling like a workout.
Gonzo’s Quest is a game best known for being among the latest titles to headline casino arcade sites and free slot sections. And in its simplest form it’s simply an online slot reel that happens to have very sharp graphics and an engaging story. The game has been put into VR however and while it’s hard to imagine workout out with it in its current form, it introduces an interesting possibility. The game works such that slot wins more or less propel an explorer through a journey, and one can easily imagine a spun version in which solving a puzzle or completing any kind of gaming element unlocks a physical obstacle course. It would require a stabilized treadmill or some other motion-assisting contraption, but in this way a game as simple as this one can even be used for workouts through VR.
We’ll close this list with another concept that, like ICAROS, is a little more developed than our more conceptual takes on Gladius and Gonzo’s Quest. CycleVR was made by a single digital games developer and - as you can guess from the title - combines VR with a home cycling machine. Through this simulation (and already some others like it) you can feel as if you’re cycling anywhere in the world when in fact you’re on a bike in your own home. In all likelihood a certain program or system will emerge as the face of this particular style of VR workout, and we have yet to see what that is. But more than any other concept or development so far, this one seems as if it will inevitably be part of the gym life.