VR Workout, Month 2

As of today I’ve been working out in VR for 2 months. So far it’s still going well.

I aim for 4 days/week and I’ve always done at least that many and I think a couple of weeks I hit 5 days. And sometimes I wind up doing what are essentially semi-workouts just by playing certain games for fun (on PSVR2 Beat Saber, RagnaRock, Synth Riders and even Until You Fall can all get the heart pumping pretty good).

The Quest 2 is my ‘workout headset’ still thanks to the Meta Move app that’ll track calories burned and amount of time spent moving. The lack of a cord helps too, as do all the 3rd party accessories I have for it. My Fitbit ~sometimes~ tracks this stuff. If it was a little more reliable I might use PSVR2 for working out though I find the PSVR2 in general is harder to keep clean and I do sweat a LOT doing these workouts.

While weight loss isn’t my primary goal (though lord knows I could stand to lose a LOT of weight) I am losing some. Closing in on 9 lbs which seems like an OK, but not remarkable, weight-loss pace. Friends who are into fitness keep telling me to ignore the scale since muscle weighs more than fat so I might actually gain weight at times.

Lifestyle changes, beyond the actual workouts, are mostly incidental. Old me would get off work, walk the dog, come in and open a beer and fire up a video game until dinner. I’d often have 2-3 beers before dinner (we tend to eat late, around 8 pm). New me gets off work, walks the dog, comes in and does a VR workout and the way the timing works out I’m just about done and recovered by the time dinner is ready. So I just don’t have the ‘free time’ for drinking as much beer as I used to. 🙂 So we’ll call that a healthy side-effect.

But I do catch myself thinking more about what I eat and have thoughts like “Do I really need to eat this or am I just bored?” Instead of potato chips I’ve been snacking on carrot chips, just as one example. Turns out I just like to crunch things. I was also falling into the habit of having a rather stiff nightcap before bed to prevent me from laying there wide awake stressing about work. Now I’ve been turning towards gummies laced with CBD and/or hemp-based THC. (Marijuana is not legal in my state but hemp-based THC is, at least for now…that’s a whole other post though.) Anyway this is an improvement in terms of calories, though I won’t go so far as to call it a healthy choice. I sure sleep like a baby, though.

Earlier this week I took a big step and bought my first actual fitness app, Les Mills Bodycombat. It is a BIG jump from Beat Saber and Audio Trip to Les Mills. I’m a little hesitant about it all because I think the reason I have stuck with working out for 2 months is because they’ve been fairly low impact workouts. After doing Les Mills I am like a wrung-out dish cloth. Fitbit loves it and tells me I’ve been in ‘the zone’ but I’m so tired after doing Les Mills that the rest of the evening is basically spent laying around recovering. I’m afraid that is going to burn me out, so I’m still pondering how to work that in. What I’ve been doing is a little Beat Saber to loosen up, then jump to Les Mills and do a couple of 8-10 minute sessions, then over to Audio Trip to kind of cool now and loosen up some more.

I always feel good the next day in that “sore muscles but for a good reason” way, so that’s a bonus. But I’m starting to feel like my whole life is built around these workouts and I know I won’t keep that up. I’m thinking maybe I do 2 workouts/week that are based on games, and 2 that incorporate Les Mills. Still pondering, though.

Also of all the fitness apps on Quest 2, I picked Les Mills because a) it didn’t have a subscription like a lot of the fitness apps do and b) it was something different. It’s basically all shadow-boxing whereas Beat Saber is slashing at things and Audio Trip is kind of dance/rhythm oriented. It feels pretty good punching stuff in Les Mills even though what you’re punching is virtual.

The Climb has been left behind for now, and I haven’t been fitting in much Pistol Whip but if I do this 2 & 2 idea I’ll probably work that in with Beat Saber and Audio Trip for the ‘gaming workout’ days. It’s a really fun game so if nothing else, I’ll just play it for fun.

So I guess that about sums it up. This is the kind of post that is mostly just written for my future self to look back on and think either “Look how far I’ve come” or “Why did I quit doing this? I was feeling so good about myself!” Hopefully the former.

Because I DO feel good about myself, and in general I just feel good. I feel stronger, I feel more nimble and my mood is generally much better. Both my mom and my grandmother got very sedentary in their later years and I saw what a negative impact that had on them. (All the men in my family tree died way before this became an issue.) With Lola slowing way down I was walking less and less and feeling stiffer and weaker and, y’know, the groan that escapes just from getting up from a chair or something. I was doing all that. I was feeling like an old man. I’m feeling much better now. So I hope I can keep this up.

VR Workouts 1 Month In

As of this coming Thursday I will have been doing my VR workouts for a month. So far, so good.

I have lost a little weight (about 5 lbs) but a friend who is into fitness tells me not to worry about the scale but to worry about how I feel and how my clothes fit. I don’t know that my clothes feel any different but I definitely feel better. There’s more pep in my step, basically. And when work isn’t doing everything it can to destroy me, my mood has been better too.

The workouts themselves continue to be fun, and VR in general has been bringing me a lot of enjoyment.

I’ve also learned that VR workouts are a real thing and I don’t have to put ‘workout’ in quotes. In fact there are a bunch of fitness aps for the Meta Quest and PCVR platforms.

I started with Beat Saber and The Climb. I’ve added Pistol Whip and just recently, Audio Trip. I’ve so far avoided the actual fitness apps because I don’t really need them yet and I don’t want this to become a chore.

Beat Saber is starting to fail me as workout material because I’ve gotten too good at it. Let me explain. I can now do most of the original songs that came with the game in Hard mode. I can get S rank and sometimes not miss a single note. The problem is that Expert, the next logical step, gets so fast that you don’t really have time to swing your arms to cut the blocks and you have to start relying on a lot of wrist movement. As a game, this is still plenty of fun, but it’s less of a workout than taking big swings with your arms. That’s when I added Audio Trip and that game kicks my ass. As is so often the case with VR, it sounds very simple. You just have to touch incoming icons with a ‘ball’ you hold in each hand. Simple enough, but the game makes you stretch and bend and twist and it really gets my heart rate up.

Here’s an official trailer for Audio Trip. You can see it’s kind of a mix between aerobics and dance. I’m REALLY glad I don’t have to see myself playing this game because I’m sure it is a horrifying sight to behold, but like I said, it does get my heartrate up and the sweat flowing.

Oh and I learned the that Quest Move app will track you while playing Rift games through Air Link. I haven’t tested it with Steam VR via Air Link though. Tonight was supposed to be a ‘rest day’ but I was playing a Rift game that involved some fairly vigorous sword swinging and a decent amount of climbing and suddenly Move popped up to tell me I was half-way to my calorie goal. Accidental workout! By the time I was done I was near my goals so I ran through half a dozen Beat Saber songs just to hit them.

All in all, I’m really happy with my progress and that I’ve found a way to exercise that is fun and convenient. I’m gonna keep going. Let’s see if I can make it to 2 months!

By the way, the screenshot at the top of the post is from Drum Rock on Playstation VR2 and has very little to do with workouts, though it can get you a little sweaty. It’s like having the drum kit from Rock Band, only in VR so you don’t have the storage hassles. Drum Rock is pretty fun but you don’t get licensed music, only covers. I get why…it’s a $20 indie title and I’m sure they couldn’t afford licensed songs. But I can dream, right?

VR “Workouts”

So now I’m into VR again.

I’m honestly not sure how it happened. But something got a bug up my [redacted] and I updated the Quest 2 and controllers, cleared a space in the living room and fired up, what else? Beat Saber. And had fun!

And I discovered the Meta Move app, which is like a fitness tracker. I set calories burnt and ‘minutes moving’ goals and off I went.

The games I play would probably not count as a workout for a marginally fit middle-aged person, but for my old self who spends most of his time at a keyboard, I’m able to work up a decent sweat playing.

The only two games I’ve been playing are Beat Saber (which is all about cutting blocks to a beat using totally not light sabers because copyright) and The Climb, which is about mountain climbing. I don’t get why The Climb feels like exercise. You pull yourself up a rock face by your hands, but of course you’re just standing there. You’re not really carrying weight UP anywhere. And yet I get tired. Maybe just because of all the time waving my hands around over my head? But hey, it’s fun and gets my heart pumping….I’m not going to question it.

There’s a table tennis game I want to add into the rotation but since I just bought The Climb I’m waiting a bit and hoping for a sale.

After just a couple of days, the process of clearing space and getting the visor on has become routine. I’m really glad I sprang for prescription lenses for the headset as not having to fit it over glasses helps with ease of use.

I dunno if I’ll stick with it, but for now it is working and I actually tend to feel pretty good after playing. I’ve never bought into the, y’know ‘endorphins’ effect of exercise. Every time in the past I’ve decided to exercise I was left feeling like crap after. But this must be hitting the sweet spot because it is improving my mood and, dare I say it? My energy levels.

So who knows? Maybe I’ll stick with it for a while.

No screenshots cuz VR. Sorry!