Anyone that’s in the know about the newest advancements in technology knows about virtual reality. It’s an extremely exciting piece of work, mostly because the versatility of it seems to be almost endless. There seems to be no limit to what can be done with virtual reality and a bit of innovation. But if there’s one place people would think virtual reality has no place, it’s in the gym. After all, how often do we see the physical and the technological mix like that? But virtual reality not only has a soon to be place in workouts, it may even make them better, through coaching, simulation, and motivation.
This is a statement that probably makes a lot of people skeptical, and it should, but there is some very real truth to it. If you’ve lived for more than a few years, it’s practically guaranteed that you’ve heard the saying ‘mind over matter.’ This saying is used all the time in exercise and workouts, though for some reason it’s usually the people that aren’t working out that say it to you.
Ironic as that is, the motto is still very true. Humans can push themselves beyond their limits with willpower, but willpower is affected by many things. Sometimes it’s outside motivation. Sometimes just hearing someone say they believe in you is enough to get through those last twenty pushups. Sometimes it’s the finish line. Being able to see the end can make it easier to reach it.
Needless to say, these are things that don’t really exist in the gym. Unless you have a really supportive partner, you probably don’t have anyone around saying you can do it near the end of your exercise. And on the treadmill, the only signs of progress and a finish line are the digital numbers on the dashboard, which are hardly motivating.
So let’s add virtual reality to the equation, and explore what that could change. To start, you could have a virtual reality coach in your workout, allowing you to follow a regimen in the gym while still receiving support and motivation from them. And for the treadmill: well, would it be nicer to run through a forest or a beach, or do you like staring at the same white wall for thirty minutes? If you could run through an environment that’s actually nice and maybe even relaxing, you are several times more likely to go through with the whole run, and maybe even beyond what you had planned.
In short, can virtual reality make you physically stronger, more fit, faster or grant you more stamina? Maybe! It can certainly amplify that aforementioned willpower. How it does this can be different for everyone because we all draw motivation from different sources, but either way, the fact remains that virtual reality can make workouts more tolerable at the very least, and even enjoyable at best. Doesn’t lifting weights in Tibet or flying through space sound much nicer than the gym? These environments are not far from reach, they are well within grasp of the average consumer in the next 5 years, you'll see virtual reality in gyms within the next 1-2 years and fitness apps available for VR headsets as soon as this year. You'll see full-body haptic feedback suits and apps that measure your heart rate too.
Drop and give me 20 - million! Because there are 20 million ways VR is going to change fitness.