In a world where we work from home, meet friends on Zoom, and where even your mum has an actual mobile phone with a working phone number, it’s clear that the human experience is changing and evolving before our eyes through connectivity and technology.
Generally speaking, all this tech use (and your office suddenly being twelve steps from your bed) is not ideal for your health, but wait! Technology is here set right what it has done wrong! Let me introduce you to FitXR; a virtual reality fitness class that will sit on your head and tell you what to do. It’s a bit like a buff, gym-obsessed sorting hat.
FitXR’s younger sibling, BoxVR, did a very good job of making you sweat into the expensive piece of tech you’re wearing by punching at thin air. FitXR – a free upgrade is available for BoxVR owners – wants you to carry on doing that, just with other people able to see it. In their desire to get the oxygen flowing around your body even faster, the folks over at eponymous studio FitXR have decided that the spirit of competition is what pushes you to the limit of human stamina. Having experienced it for myself, I really think it’s true.
You’ll begin by filling in your membership form in the voluminous entranceway of a decidedly swish virtual gym, selecting your gender, weight and age, before it starts trying to shuffle you off into your first class. Here you’ll learn about the correct stance and the different types of punches and obstacles that are going to be heading your way at an increasingly worrying rate.
The overarching method of getting your heartrate up is unchanged from BoxVR. It will put you in either left or right stance, and you’ll find different icons heading for you that you have to punch out of digital existence. The most common are straights, but there’s plenty of hooks and uppercuts before you’re also leaning or ducking out of the way. Oh, and you have to block as well.
So far, so BoxVR, but the experience has clearly been tightened up. The way you throw punches is less telegraphed, and it now captures the speed of those movements too, giving you the first marker to rate yourself against in an effort to spur you on to try just a little bit harder.
The presence of other people is also now key to the experience. We’ve known since Space Invaders that chasing a spot on a leaderboard is a heady thrill, and FitXR builds that into the experience with a massive leaderboard just in front of you. A quick glance will let you know where you are, and if you’re not at the top you’re going to throw those punches like a desperate Rocky Balboa. If you are at the top, then you’ll probably try even harder being the Apollo Creed of this virtual contest. After all, who knows when Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago are going to show up?
If you need a touch more motivation, FitXR has an array of virtual trainers to egg you on. This is one of the weaker aspect of FitXR’s fitness class schtick, with the voice samples overlaying the music tracks in a fairly amateurish style. What they’re saying is fine – it’s worth knowing that you’ve levelled up or that you’re throwing punches faster – but the implementation is a little off.
There’s a decent amount of content to be found as standard, with a healthy number of training sessions stretching from a modest three minutes up to a soul – and arm – destroying sixty-one. There’s dance, pop and rock music options, though this is the Imagine Dragons end of the rock spectrum, so don’t expect anything like Avenged Sevenfold.
There’s also a daily workout to give you a clear reason to return every day, and regular workouts being added all the time. If you somehow burn through all of this, there’s a storefront containing more specific sets of workouts, with the current line-up including Essentials, Extreme, Rock and Total Body Pack.