1. Home
  2. Science
  3. Health
  4. news
  5. I tried 5 virtual-reality workouts. The best ones transported me around the globe and got me to exercise for way longer.

I tried 5 virtual-reality workouts. The best ones transported me around the globe and got me to exercise for way longer.

Lara Walsh   

I tried 5 virtual-reality workouts. The best ones transported me around the globe and got me to exercise for way longer.
  • I exercised using five virtual-reality workouts on my Meta Quest 3 headset.
  • The best workout apps used interesting visuals and competitive elements.

We are officially in the fitness industry's extended-reality era, which means you don't need to leave your house to get a fully immersive workout.

With virtual-reality (VR) technology and devices like a Meta Quest headset, users can participate in classes through mixed-reality platforms.

Though VR feels like the future of working out, I love real-life exercise classes and wondered if technology could really replace them. So, I tested popular apps with VR workouts like Supernatural, Litesport, Xponential+, FitXR, and Les Mills XR Bodycombat.

I did the workouts with my Meta Quest 3 headset, which starts at about $500. However, this equipment was not required for every workout app I tried.

Here's what I thought of each of the VR workouts.

The Supernatural VR app combined beautiful surroundings with full-body workouts

App: Supernatural VR

Payment options: 14-day free trial, then $10 monthly or $100 annually

Description: A full-body workout set in a wanderlust-worthy destination with a personal trainer and popular music

The Supernatural VR app pairs travel and exercise by virtually transporting users to beautiful places.

When I opened the app and started my first boxing workout, my apartment was transformed into Iceland's Blue Lagoon. It was like the VR trainer and I were doing drills while floating above snowy mountains and blue water.

Throughout my exercise routine, I worked up a sweat on Mars, Machu Picchu, and the Great Wall of China. The locations were random, but I liked being surprised by a different place for each workout.

The app's music library set it apart from the other VR workout apps I've tried, many of which didn't have recognizable songs. I also liked that the workouts felt like a video game, and the instructor would tell me when to twist, squat, and hit my controllers.

During one workout, the controllers in my hands became baseball bats, and I was instructed to swing at VR targets approaching me. For a lower-body exercise, I ducked and squatted as triangles of varying widths and sizes moved toward me.

The controllers vibrated every time I destroyed a target, and it was satisfying to see my score, based on a combination of accuracy and power, at the end of each session.

I had a realistic trainer in the Litesport app

App: Litesport

Payment options: Seven-day free trial, then $9 monthly (or $90 annually) for a standard plan or $19 monthly (or $180 annually) for a premium plan

Description: A personal trainer guides users through boxing, strength training, and full-body exercises in a mixed-reality gym

The Litesport app stood out for its hands-on, realistic personal trainers. When I opened Litesport, I was virtually transported to a gym with a personal trainer to guide me through an introductory shadow-boxing routine.

For this exercise, I swung at a virtual punching bag that lit up to demonstrate where to hit with my controllers. I was surprised I found it easier to follow a VR shadow-boxing class than real-life boxing classes I've tried.

I also tried strength-training classes, where the user can hold real weights and record their progress through Meta's hand-tracking feature. This feature allows your headset to track hand movements, even if you aren't holding controllers.

During the full-body classes, I also tried VR equipment like battle ropes. I'm sure actual battle ropes are much heavier than my controllers, but I felt more comfortable mirroring my virtual trainer's techniques than I typically do in classes with real equipment.

It was hard to wear a headset and exercise with the workouts in the Xponential+ app

App: Xponential+

Payment options: Seven-day free trial, then $30 monthly or $120 annually

Description: Realistic versions of classes from fitness brands like Club Pilates, Pure Barre, StretchLab, and CycleBar

Xponential+ was the most realistic app I tried, which wasn't surprising since it has classes developed in partnership with brands like Club Pilates, Pure Barre, StretchLab, and CycleBar. The VR workout spaces looked like they were modeled off real-life studios.

I had mixed feelings about this app. Taking classes in the Metaverse didn't quite compare to classes I enjoy in real life. Xponential+ felt like a slight upgrade to watching online classes on my phone.

I liked that the VR instructor would appear on the floor, ceiling, and different areas around the room, so I didn't have to crane my neck to look at a screen. However, performing certain mat exercises while wearing a headset was tough.

Xponential+ seemed to offer a good value, though. The VR experience comes with a mobile app, and the membership is significantly cheaper than real-life courses from these brands, which can cost as much as $50 for a single class.

I felt competitive and motivated when I tried the FitXR app

App: FitXR

Payment options: Seven-day free trial, then $13 monthly or $108 annually

Description: A gamified app that lets users compete against others in real time with sculpting, boxing, Zumba, combat, dance, and HIIT classes

FitXR appeared to have the most class variety of all the apps I tried. The platform felt very personalized because when I opened the app, I was asked what types of workouts I like, how familiar I am with VR fitness, and even the desired personality of my trainer (such as "tough" or "motivating").

FitXR had a video-game-type setup and a less realistic, almost animated aesthetic. For example, I punched glowing orbs during the boxing and combat classes and was transported to a cartoon stage during a Zumba course.

Unlike the other apps I tried, FitXR had a multiplayer component where users could compete against each other in real time for the highest score. Players can share a room code with Pico or Meta users or invite others to play from their Meta friends list.

I let the app randomly pair me with six other players to compete against, which was surprisingly motivating. When I came in last in a virtual Zumba workout, I tried another class and got a higher score. This score was based on how closely I matched the moves with my controllers.

The Les Mills Bodycombat XR had cool graphics, but the workout was just OK

App: Les Mills Bodycombat XR

Payment options: One-time payment of $30

Description: A VR workout app meant to make users feel like they're inside a video game

Les Mills XR Bodycombat felt like I was playing a video game. The backgrounds and graphics reminded me of the military-science-fiction video-game series Halo.

The workouts felt similar to kickboxing, and there were some moves I hadn't seen in any of the other VR workout classes. For example, I could hit targets with my elbows.

However, I wished the coaches, who were off-screen most of the time, would've demonstrated the exercises more often. I found their voices distracting, especially because they sometimes cracked jokes instead of providing any valuable input. I read online that users can silence them in the settings, but I couldn't figure out how to do so.

The games also seemed a little slow-paced for me, but overall, it was still a fun workout with cool visuals.

VR workout apps are helpful for those who need motivation, but they're not the best for long, strength-based workouts

Working out in the Metaverse was surprisingly fun. I exercised longer than usual because most of the VR visuals were entertaining and immersive.

Many of the workout apps I tried tapped into my competitive drive by creating a video-game-like environment. I think apps with VR workouts are helpful for users who need motivation to exercise, but there are better options for cardio or strength training in the real world.

Some moves and workouts were also hard to do while wearing a bulky headset. I can't imagine doing burpees, a downward dog, or pushups in my Meta Quest 3.

That being said, the VR workouts were some of the most fun, motivating exercise experiences I've had, and it was easy to make it a habit of working out at home. The next time I feel unmotivated to work out, I might try a VR exercise app.

Popular Right Now