Virtual reality has become a big part of many people’s lives over the last decade. More companies are going in on it every day, creating even more hype and opportunities. Some of the most successful video games are on VR platforms. Business meetings in virtual settings have grown rapidly in recent months. Even social media giant Facebook evolved into Meta by the end of 2021, signifying that this isn’t just a trend that will go away quickly it’s here to stay.
Ryan DeLuca was someone who saw the potential of VR early on and went all-in. The founder of Bodybuilding.com left that company in 2015, joined forces, and laid the foundation for Black Box VR, a VR fitness platform that challenges the user’s skill and strength levels. The result is leveling up in the game and life.
“The big picture question was ‘how do we get people to stick to their fitness programs?’ We know that most people don’t stick to their fitness programs. In January, everyone will join the gym, but in two weeks it will be empty again,” DeLuca said. “We think the fitness industry has failed many people in that way.”
With VR platforms, beginners can participate in a fitness program that allows them to be a part of a supportive gaming community. This proved to be even more beneficial at the onset of the pandemic because gyms were among the first to be shut down in many places, and they were among the last to be allowed to re-open. Having access to a VR-based fitness program or game can be a game changer for high school and college students that follow e-sports and are already active in the metaverse. As DeLuca shared, there’s plenty of room for more people to get involved.
“E-sports has grown tremendously, as evidenced by these huge competitions that have millions of dollars in prize money. Some people still think that it’s this small thing that has a few kids playing. The fact is it’s the biggest media platform by far,” DeLuca explained. He also feels it could be an opportunity for people that want to get into the business side of this movement.
“Studies show that two-thirds of Americans are gamers that play very regularly, whether it’s a game on the phone or games on systems or the PC. It’s pretty evenly split between male and female as well, especially with casual gaming.”
More Than Playing a Game
VR may be simply available to be another workout option, but DeLuca revealed that the benefits can go far beyond simply having another choice –it can decrease the side effects of training that you may experience in a weight room.
“Studies have shown that working out in VR can cause you to feel less pain. For example, if you’re doing squats, you pay attention to the fact that it hurts and the burn that comes with it so that you may stop, you know. With VR, scientific published studies have shown that you can do more reps because you’re not paying attention to that.”
Taking part in a VR workout session can be more productive than a traditional workout from a time perspective.
“You’re in this flow state, so it also makes time go by a lot faster,” DeLuca revealed. “People that took part in studies were asked how long they felt they were in there. They thought they were in there for 5 minutes, and it was 15.”
Aside from the physical aspects, VR experiences can help provide mental health benefits, combat loneliness, and make you feel more involved in a community than playing on a traditional game network.
“When you’re with someone, it’s such a different experience. It can reduce depression. There are also meditation apps that can be used. What’s great about VR is that you’re totally immersed and normal distractions are gone. You can go through guided meditation apps. It’s been proven to help with anxiety and depression.”
Getting Involved and Active
DeLuca advocates for people who have access to a Black Box VR location to pay them a visit to see and feel the experience first-hand. People that don’t have access to a Black Box VR location can use other fitness based games that can be played at home on VR systems.
“VR can be the gym for people that don’t understand much about working out, but really enjoy games,” DeLuca said. “I would recommend buying an Oculus Quest 2, which is the latest headset. Then, just start downloading all of the games that they have on there. Just try them to see which you like. There are some direct fitness games, and there are others that are like boxing. Those games are going to provide the cardio effect because you’re literally ducking, and you literally have to knock the crap out of the guy you’re fighting.”
While the resistance training side of fitness will be more challenging to focus on for now, VR games can help make cardio more exciting because it will be an interactive and competitive experience instead of simply walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike.
“It’s so simple – walk over, put on the headset, grab the controller, and choose one of the apps. It will even track data inside the Oculus Quest. It will track calories burned and other metrics,” DeLuca shared. “Just look at it as a better way to do cardio because the other ways can’t keep up.”
While those options are solid and valid, DeLuca and his team plans on expanding Black Box VR to more locations so more people have access to what he feels is the best format of all – one that provides strength training benefits, many metrics that show progress, and most importantly, an enjoyable gaming experience.
“The whole idea is that you forget that you’re doing strength training, or you forget you’re working out. We’re saying to completely forget about the fact you’re working out. You’re playing a game for the purpose of playing the game, That’s how you know you have a fun game. With Black Box VR, you can play the game to enjoy it, and you’ll get in great shape too.”
For more information about Black Box VR, go to www.blackbox-vr.com.