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Over the last couple of months, tons of peeps have been hitting up their old fave fitness studios and gyms to get their sweat on. But as the Delta variant continues to spread in the U.S., some people might be thinking about dusting off their home workout gear and WOFH.
But let’s be real here: the sound of going back to the same stationary bike workouts and burpee routines doesn’t sound fun at all. So WTF do we do if we’re trying to avoid exercising in public but don’t want to lose the motivation we just FINALLY got back?
Enter: Virtual reality fitness. VR fitness is a ~new age~ way to get fit at home. It’s similar to the experience you get taking a Peloton or iFit class, but goes a step further by immersing you in a whole other world. And while some games are a little more “traditional” — with trainers and coaches guiding a certain type of workout — others don’t feel like a typical fitness class at all.
I tried a bunch of these VR fitness games and it was a total game changer (pun intended). Here are the games that ended up being my fitness faves.
Best VR fitness games
- Best overall: Supernatural
- Best for HIIT: FitXR
- Best nonfitness game: BeatSaber
- Best for meditation: Tripp
- Best for indoor bikes: VZFit
- Best for climbing: The Climb & The Climb 2
There are lots of VR fitness options out there, but all the games you’ll see below are specifically for the Oculus Quest 2 headset — because that’s what I had available to test. BUT the Oculus Question 2 is also pretty rad. The standalone unit is wire-free and legit made me gasp out loud the first time I used it. (Seriously, I now understand the appeal of a Ready Player One-style life.)
Outside of being for Oculus Question 2, here are some other things I considered when picking the best games:
- Actually makes you sweat. First things first. This game absolutely needs to give you a real workout. If it doesn’t, then you might as well be sitting at your computer playing The Sims. Some of the games on this list aren’t even marketed as fitness games, but they still made the list because they require some serious sweat-inducing movement to play.
- User friendly. That means it’s easy to get the hang of the game with some practice and no major bugs that get in the way of gameplay.
- No motion sickness. I didn’t include any games that gave me motion sickness. Because working out shouldn’t make you vom.
- Fun. An obvi one, but if you’re going to be dropping some dough on a VR headset and potentially a monthly membership for a fitness game, it should def be an entertaining way to get your workout on.
Best overall VR fitness game
- Price: $18.99/month or $179.99/year, 30-day free trial available
This rhythm-based game is hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t tried VR because it’s so different from anything IRL. If I told you to try a game where you stand on a platform in the middle of beautiful landscapes around the world while you try to smash orbs, squat, and lunge inside triangles on beat to awesome music (Oh, and also, you hit the orbs with big glowing bats??), you’d probably look at me funny.
It sounds weird AF, but it’s also oddly addictive. The magic of Supernatural is the combination of catchy tunes and A+ coaches who guide you through each workout. Unlike other fitness platform narrators, Supernatural’s fab coaches have never uttered a single word about shredding, toning, or blasting calories. So far, what I’ve experienced is a diet culture-free zone. YASSSS!!!
Supernatural puts out a new workout every day. Each with a specific difficulty level — from relaxed, chill, low intensity sessions to heart-pumping workouts with complex choreography. In terms of music, it’s also got the best soundtracks compared to other rhythm games I tried.
Sooo what are the downsides? My biggest complaint about Supernatural is its lack of on-screen stats during workouts. You can view your accuracy, power, etc., after each song, but there’s no way to track how you’re doing during your workout. IMO, adding mid-workout stats would give it a more competitive feel similar to Peloton’s class model. Right now, even if you miss every orb or stop moving altogether, you breeze right on by to the next song in the session. It hasn’t stopped me from killing it, though. 🔥
Best HIIT VR fitness game
- Price: $9.99/month, 7-day free trial
FitXR is the second game to become a regular part of my cross-training routine. It has dance, boxing, and HIIT workouts. Naturally, I avoid the dancing mode because… well… I tried it once, and it did not go well. I’m regularly hitting up the boxing and HIIT modes, though. A new workout releases every day, and there’s a huge library of workouts to choose from.
Newsflash: punching virtual reality targets is the ultimate stress-reliever. 🥊 Hello? Am I an MMA fighter now?
The game tracks your speed and power in real-time, which is a great motivator to hit harder and faster. The boxing workout is pretty straightforward — just hit the targets and rack up points. No coordination required. PHEW!
HIIT is a new mode introduced just in the last couple of months. You move through rounds of high intensity movements like ladder drills, sumo squats, and side punches to get your heart pounding. The workouts can feel a bit same-same, but they’re still enjoyable. And way more fun than doing HIIT without VR!
What needs improvement? The music could be better — but to each their own, amirite? The coach narration isn’t bad, but the words of encouragement could def be more varied. It’s also a bummer that FitXR coaches aren’t actually doing the workout as they record the narration — which isn’t the case with Supernatural.
Best nonfitness VR game that’s still a workout
- Price: $29.99, additional music packs vary in price
This isn’t technically a fitness game, but you can make it one with the right mindset. When I don’t feel like cross-training, but I still want to move, I play Beatsaber.
What is it? Lightsabers. That’s basically all you need to know.
The rhythm game is similar in execution to Supernatural (though it doesn’t emphasize fitness) with freaking lightsabers instead of bats. Gameplay involves slicing through colored blocks to the beat of the music. There’s also some haptic feedback in the hand controllers when you slice them through the air. It sounds easy, but getting a perfect score takes some practice and requires you to work up a sweat.
Unfortunately, the music library is kinda light. If you want more tracks, you have to pay for each pack. Yes, I absolutely shelled out for the BTS music pack. Playing to the beat of Dynamite provides a nice hit of dopamine.
TBH, though, the snazzy visuals and fun gameplay make the game worthwhile regardless of the limited music options.
Best meditation VR fitness game
- Price: $14.99/year or $4.99/month, demo session is free
This isn’t a fitness game, but it’s one I think deserves a mention. The super soothing meditation app is great for clearing your mind and bringing down your heart rate after an intense workout session.
I hate meditation. Sure, I love yoga, but anytime I’m asked to close my eyes and chill, I simply cannot. TRIPP utilizes the VR environment to get your undivided attention with out-of-this-world visuals and cleverly designed breathing exercises.
The app provides personalized meditation experiences and also has a companion app for tracking your mood. If you don’t like meditation (or even if you do), this is an A+ way to get out of your mind and into another world.
While these games haven’t made it into my regular rotation, I can absolutely see their appeal. These are my honorable mentions.
Best VR fitness game for indoor bikes
- Price: $9.99/month with a 7-day free trial
I already have a NordicTrack indoor bike, so this app was a hat on a hat for me. But for those who work out on a bike trainer or no-frills indoor bike, VZfit instantly upgrades your ride. Using Google maps, the app allows you to ride pretty much anywhere. You’ll just need to add a cadence sensor to your bike for full functionality. You can also use the app without a bike, but I found that mode tedious and kinda dull.
Best climbing VR fitness game
The Climb and The Climb 2
- Price: $29.99
Since you’re not actually climbing a mountain, this is less of a physical workout and more of a mental one. It’s really well made and a cool intro to the sport. If you’re too scared to head to your local climbing gym, give this game a shot.
Word of caution: Make sure you’re prepared for a fall in the game. You will feel like you’re falling to your death.
VR is hella fun, but there are a few things you should know before you invest in a unit:
- Motion sickness. VR is sick, but it can also make you feel ill. Some people are more likely to experience motion sickness — and some games are worse culprits than others. If you’re prone to a little nausea, then you’ll be delighted that the games I tested gave me zero trouble in this department.
- Headaches. Staring at any screen can cause eye strain and subsequent headaches. A too-tight head strap can also trigger head pain.
- Space is required. This is especially true for fitness games. You need room to wave your arms around, baby! While some games allow you to play in a seated position, having lots of space allows you to get the most of a workout. Pro tip: Don’t just check for floor-level obstacles. Look above, too. I almost smashed a light fixture two days ago while trying to finish a session with intensity. Oops.
- You get what you put in. Most fitness games allow you to adjust the level of difficulty. Ultimately, though, the intensity of your sweat session is up to you.
- Multiplayer. Many VR games (but def not all of them) have multiplayer options where you can play with friends. I didn’t test these modes extensively because I have very few friends with VR sets. And, for online play with strangers, the waiting between sessions slows down your HR.
- Pricing. Many fitness apps these days run on a subscription model. You’ll need to ask yourself whether a recurring fee is worth it. But TBH, compared to the price of a traditional membership, these games are a steal.
- 🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪. Yes. You’ll look like a total fool playing any kind of VR game. But I promise you will FEEL badass. I recommend asking your friends and family to sign a contract guaranteeing they won’t film you playing VR.
f you feel like you’re constantly on the hunt for a fun, challenging workout, VR fitness might be the move. Not only is a VR fitness headset cheaper (and more versatile) than buying a single standalone piece of workout equipment, but it’s also a way to leave your house without ever leaving your house.
The first step to enjoying these games is getting your headset. It’s certainly an investment, but if you’ve been looking for a reason to get into the world of VR, getting fit AF is a pretty good reason to finally hit “add to cart.”
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard she’s either digging in the garden, sautéing in the kitchen, or nose-deep in a good book.