Virtual Reality and Tech Enhanced Fitness for Tweens, Teens, and Adults

Virtual Reality Fitness for Tweens, Teens, and Adults

Of course, the fitness-tech with some of the highest media visibility this year is the Peleton exercise bike system.  You exercise while taking on-demand or live classes from the comfort of your home, broadcast on the built in screen and featuring two-way telemetry.  These bikes (and their associated subscription) are probably beyond most budgets, as they cost thousands.  But, you don't have to spend that kind of money to get a hi-tech workout!

As an alternative, let me suggest the VZFit ($99.99 plus optional subscription).  This turns virtually any exercise bike into a virtual reality exercise machine.  If you have an Oculus Quest or Go in the house and an exercise bike, the VZFit might change your life, as it makes exercise less of a chore and more of a game. One part clips onto the pedals to register your movements and the other is a hand controller.  With VZFit you don't just ride, you fly, paddle, and drive in a variety of games that make you want to keep exercising! Beyond the initial investment, there is a monthly subscription that increases the number of games available.

Just a year or so ago, it cost $800 dollars for a VR headset, and even then you'd need a very expensive computer to run it.

This year Oculus makes two models that are under $400 dollars that don't require a computer at all.  The Oculus Quest, the more powerful model (and hence better for gamers) starts at $399. Teens and tweens can get a good workout playing games with these systems without the expense (and all the cables) that are associated with the much more expensive computer VR headsets.  For instance, Beat Saber or  Creed: Rise to Glory (based on the Rocky franchise) will easily get your heart rate to aerobic levels.

Nintendo made a huge splash years ago with its Wii system that really popularized active video gaming.  I make no bones about it, though, I'm skeptical of the Nintendo Switch as an exercise device.  While some of the games involve body movement, it seems to be less a focus of the platform than in the past. I've seen too many kids succumb to digital allure to the exclusion of all other activities. But, if you've got a gamer who is already on the Switch, consider the Ring Fit Adventure from Nintendo ($79.99). Like the Wii before it, this creates an off-the-couch gaming experience that gets gamers using their whole bodies to play.

The new-to-market Activ5 ($119) device is a completely different take on exercise, and unlike a Peleton, you can take it with you wherever you go.  It is about the size of a somewhat distorted hockey puck that is designed to be used through a broad range of app-guided isomorphic exercises.  You can easily take it to work or on a trip; it is so small.  Hundreds of work-outs that activate different muscle groups are available through the app, and as you exercise, your progress is recorded on your phone, so you can see the improvement.