With technology advancing at exponential rates, virtual reality has solidified a solid place among consumers over the past decade. Although virtual reality is not a new concept, its increased accessibility to the public is. Consumers can now get their hands on VR headsets in the blink of an eye and at a fairly reasonable price. The next step up is the rising integration of VR technology and fitness—and how it’s reshaping the workout world.

The Experience
Mustering up the energy to workout is half the battle for many people attempting to get fit. VR is changing the game and augmenting the experience in a multitude of ways. Fitness studios are beginning to integrate virtual reality into their facilities and classes. Hong Kong’s Immersive Fitness, the first indoor gym studio in the world to have a 270-degree virtual reality screen, is breaking barriers in the fitness plateau. It’s there that cyclists can take a class that throws them into virtually simulated terrain, biking through steep mountains and breathtaking landscapes. The experience of working out becomes adventurous and exciting due to the immersive effect of virtual reality technology. Another convenient VR-workout device coming to play is the Goji Play. The product features two straps with buttons and users wrap it around the handlebars of their favorite cardio machine like an elliptical, stepper or stationary bike. The corresponding app includes various VR games to choose from that’ll change up the mundane cardio routine.

The Convenience
Going to the gym isn’t the only option to working out when it comes to virtual technology. These days, all that’s needed is a smartphone and a VR headset to pair with it for a solid sweat session. The variety of games and applications that guide challenging workouts in virtual reality is becoming more and more available to those who want to get fit from the comfort of their own home. Runtastic offers a virtual trainer that guides VR headset users through various exercises while providing notifications if they are doing the exercise correctly. The application thoroughly embraces the concept of form over function for max effectiveness. For more non-traditional workouts, Holopoint players can break a sweat fighting their way through challenges, shooting archery, and indirectly getting the blood flowing with dynamic movements.

The Machines
On top of VR apps, VR exercise can be taken a step further with VR-based fitness machines. Icaros is a full-body system that debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The machine has a gyroscopic design with fitness in mind. Players lie in a plank position while flying through a slew of virtual environments. The technology forces VR exercisers to utilize core strength in order to control movements of the machine as well as the game. Circling back to VR and cycling, Widerun has created an app and product compatible with Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets that pairs with stationary bikes. A steering component and base attach to the stationary bike and users are placed in virtual locations much like the ones in the aforementioned Hong Kong fitness studio.

The Future
The rise of connected technology and virtual reality have sparked further technological advancements that complement the cause. 5G technology is coming to the forefront and will aid any virtual and augmented reality fitness endeavors. People will be able to enjoy virtual workouts that rely on enhanced mobile broadband and improved streaming thanks to the lightning speed technology. As the world becomes more connected and consumers seek new ways to immerse themselves in their daily activities, one major one being working out, virtual reality will continue to advance. The technology is boundless and the current handful of exercise apps and devices that integrate virtual reality are just the start to a new reality of staying technologically fit.