VR Making Its Way into Real-​Life Gyms

BY Courtney Huckabay
Featured image for “VR Making Its Way into Real-​Life Gyms”

The Wall Street Journal reports a new generation of virtual-​reality games for the gym aims to get users’ heart rates up with tennis and boxing, but also scuba diving and swordplay.

"Virtual reality is starting to tiptoe into the $27.6 billion health-​club industry. Though it is costly, some clubs are carving out floor space for playing VR games, while others are bringing in new fitness machines that support the technology," Sarah Needleman writes.

Indeed, the new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 4.1% of U.S. adults have tried a virtual reality or augmented reality experience in the past six months.

"With headsets on, users only see the digital world. In “Fruit Ninja VR,” users swing their arms to slice flying fruit, and may need to squat or reach up to succeed. Users throw chairs and darts—or duck to avoid getting hit—in “Drunkn Bar Fight.” And when a headset is synced to a resistance machine being developed by Black Box VR, users defend a base from attackers while playing the Idaho startup’s battle game “VR Fitness Revolution.”

Gyms can appeal to a whole new clientele by investing in VR options. Gamers and tech geeks just might join gyms! 52% of Augmented Reality Users set personal goals to exercise more in the coming year, according to new AudienceSCAN data. Another 37% set goals to lose weight.

"The results can be as effective “as running up a hill,” says Marialice Kern, an exercise physiologist at San Francisco State University who has analyzed people’s oxygen consumption and heart rate from playing VR games in comparison with traditional exercise."

Appealing to Augmented Reality Users' love of gaming could get them in the door. The new AudienceSCAN study showed 51% of Augmented Reality Users enjoy playing video games.

"At the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, fitness staffers have been testing a full-​body virtual-​reality machine for a new downtown Minneapolis location the Y is moving to in January. Users step into footholds and lie flat on their stomachs with their arms outstretched as they play simple games that mimic flying and scuba diving."

Health clubs can try talking about their new VR options through social media. The AudienceSCAN research revealed 52% of Augmented Reality Users took action after seeing ads on social networks in the past month.

"Another startup, VirZoom in Cambridge, Mass., sells $99 sensors that make stationary bikes compatible with VR headsets and can track users’ pedal speed while they play fitness games it developed. The company is testing it at 10 health clubs."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.