Hit your 2024 exercise goals with these VR fitness apps and games
I'm standing on top of Machu Picchu, listening to Lil Wayne and smashing flying spheres with a bat in each hand. The instructor encourages me to look around and take in the beauty around me. The next song starts and I'm transported to Iceland's Blue Lagoon. This isn't a fever dream or transcendental meditation — it's a VR fitness app called Supernatural — one of many available today in a quickly-growing market.
An estimated 1 to 2 million people work out in virtual reality monthly. If you're like me and find it hard to spend meaningful time in the gym, VR fitness might be for you. You don't need much to get started, but I'd recommend Meta's $40 silicon facial insert to avoid getting your headset sweaty and a yoga mat to help orient yourself in VR. A 20-minute VR workout can burn roughly as many calories as a 20-minute exercise bike routine. Here are my picks from the apps I've tested:
Our top 5 general fitness VR apps
Les Mills BodyCombat: Les Mills BodyCombat is great for beginners as a one-time purchase with a lot to offer—the workouts center around punching, squatting, and knee-striking targets. The trainers are engaged and projected in a Star Wars-esque hologram before the workouts begin, which feels paced just right and strongly emphasizes form. After a 20-minute boxing-style workout, I burned 228 calories, making it one of the most efficient VR workouts I've tried.
While the October update for LM Body Combat added workouts and a new mixed reality mode showing you the room around you, I find myself looking to other apps and games for variety. It also doesn't have a "cool down" after the workouts - so I'll typically switch to another app after my workout to unwind. $30/one time purchase
FitXR: FitXR is a subscription-based app with a diverse line of workouts. A recent update added Zumba and a mixed reality mode called Slam to a roster that includes boxing, combat, high-intensity interval training, sculpt and dance — with new modes added frequently.
I enjoy FitXR quite a bit, but it's not my top recommendation due to the cost, the poor avatar graphics, and some missing mixed-reality options. Despite these issues, I still find myself returning to this app regularly. I love their HIIT workout, where you're smashing orbs to beat your best time and compete with the rest of the users in the class. Working out for 25 minutes doing warmups, HIIT, boxing, and a cooldown, I burned 262 calories, which is comparable to a moderate Peloton cycling workout for me. $9.99/month
Supernatural: Supernatural is one of the most popular VR fitness apps – so popular that Meta bought out its developer, Within, for $430 million in February 2023.
Unsurprisingly, it's a polished experience with beautiful locations from around the world, popular music you'll recognize, and exuberant trainers with two main workout types — Boxing and Flow. In Flow, you'll swipe through orbs with baseball bats. You'll also need to squat to pass through giant triangles, leg lift from side to side, and perform knee strikes. While my heart rate wasn't always as high as with FitXR and Les Mills, Supernatural gave my lower body more of a workout. $9.99/month
Xponential+:Xponential+, the newest offering for Quest platforms, has partnered with established workout studios such as Pure Barre, Stretch Lab, and Club Pilates to bring their workouts to augmented reality. I love how the app brings the workout into your living room by displaying a small version of the trainer on your floor or ceiling when it detects that you're in a plank, pushup, or lying on your back. There's no longer a need to crane your neck during a workout to keep an eye on your trainer's form — a great example of how mixed reality can solve the problems of more traditional fitness classes. $9.99/month - also includes access to workouts via app or web
Vrit: Equal parts game and workout — Vrit has a zany Nintendo feel. As far as I can tell, it's about a competition with robotic spheres in "sports battles" to defend the clouds of Earth. The story is a bit ambiguous, but this $3.00 game is truly entertaining and one of only a few apps that uses hand tracking and has you engaging in floor routines like planks and pushups as well as running in place (I preferred doing "high knees'' instead for those sections). $3.00/one time purchase
VR Fitness on a bike
There are two main options for working out in VR on a stationary bike: Holofit and VZFit.
VZFit:I recommend VZFit the most. The app has digital worlds for you to bike through and a Google Street mode where you'll spin through real locations. Stitching Street View photos together leads to wonky visuals, but it held my interest and I appreciate that they're trying something new. While VZFit doesn't offer as many "digital worlds" as Holofit does — I preferred its overall look and feel. $9.99/month
Holofit:Holofit can take you places — from a fictional cyberpunk world to Antarctica, the deep sea, and the streets of Paris. While some graphics seem dated, they teem with life and personality. You can compete in races and games or ride more leisurely while looking for hidden items. Holofit's big advantage is its ability to sync with your bike, elliptical, or rowing machine, but it doesn't feel as good as competing VZFit. $11.99/month
More games that will get you moving
Even better, many VR games crafted for good old-fashioned entertainment are still demanding enough to raise your heart rate. At 40, I'm starting to feel the effects of age, so I welcome the option to play games to stay active.
Beat Saber: It would be a sin not to mention Beat Saber — the go-to VR rhythm game that has you slicing cubes with lightsabers in time to music. Harder difficulty levels can definitely raise your heart rate and I frequently use Beat Saber as a warmup or cooldown before jumping in or out of more intense workout apps. $30, additional music packs cost more
Gorilla Tag: One of the most popular VR games with the younger crowd, you play as a gorilla without legs and will use your arms and hands to bound around a gigantic map. You'll be running, dodging, climbing, and wall-jumping physically around the room. My 11-year-old nephews introduced me to the game while I struggled to keep up, but it's a great time — as much a social experience as it is a physically demanding game. Free
Nock: Nock, a personal favorite, is soccer with bows and arrows on ice — and you can jump incredibly high. It's a competitive sport that gets so intense that I sometimes forget I'm in VR, even as it exhausts me after a few rounds. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose, but it's always exciting! $10/one time purchase
No More Rainbows: Another favorite of mine. You'll get around the levels in a similar way to Gorilla Tag, using your arms and hands as legs to run, jump, and climb. At its heart, it's a platformer with charming characters, levels and a silly story. $20/one time purchase
OhShape: I first saw OhShape's concept of contorting your body to fit into a cutout hole in a YouTube clip from a Japanese game show. In OhShape's version of the game, you'll fit into shapes in time with songs. It's a lighter workout, but its conceit works perfectly in VR. $20/one time purchase
Pistol Whip: Another music/rhythm game, Pistol Whip, has you shoot to the beat of a song while dodging fire from around you. You won't think it's much of a workout at first, but your quads will wonder what happened after a few rounds of ducking and dodging. $30/one time purchase
Racket Club: Racket Club is like pickleball but is made specifically for VR. There's virtual plexiglass around the small court to bounce shots off of and a unique scoring system based on how long you can keep up a rally. You'll need to maneuver around your playspace to return the ball, which will get you moving like nothing else. $25/one time purchase
Synth Riders: This rhythm game turns your hands into orbs to follow tracks to hit other orbs. You'll need to hold your arms in various positions to keep up with the music, and it starts to feel like a workout quickly! $25/one time purchase
Thrill of the Fight: I've never been more out of breath in VR than boxing opponents in Thrill of the Fight, which is easy to recommend at $10. You'll box through 10+ opponents as you attempt to be the king or queen of the ring. Going face-to-face with your opponents is intimidating, as they can easily knock you out. Their new mixed reality mode brings the fighters into your living room, which is both intense and useful in preventing injuries to yourself or innocent passers-by! $10/one time purchase
Until You Fall: Until You Fall will have you slashing and parrying sword attacks as you try to advance through a 1980s neon aesthetic that's hard not to love. The game's mechanics are deceptively simple but quickly ramp up in difficulty. By the time you're on level 4 or 5, you'll be wiping sweat from your headset. $25/one time purchase
The future of VR Fitness
2024 could be a landmark year for mixed reality. The Meta Quest 3 makes it much easier to see the world around you while you work out, and we're already seeing specialized headsets designed for work, like the upcoming Immersed Visor and Apple's upcoming Vision Pro. It's only a matter of time before we see specialized headsets for fitness. In the meantime, if you recently got a VR headset over the holidays or you've been looking for a reason to dust yours off and jump back in, there has never been a better time to break a sweat in virtual reality.
James Perkins Mastromarino contributed to this article. contributed to this story
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