Whether it’s been part of a dramatic football refereeing decision, or is navigating your new car into a tight space as you anxiously hover over the steering wheel, virtual technology is all around us. For many years it had been a figure of futuristic imagination, but following a splurge of technological advancement, it has now edged itself into everyday living – so much so, that we can get fit using it.
For many, the thought of joining a throng of confident, seasoned group exercisers at the local gym may be all too daunting – but virtual fitness is challenging traditional gym routines; through wearables, streamed fitness classes and digital home workout programmes. Getting fit is no longer limited to exercise between those dreaded four walls – the latest technology means you can workout in immersive studios, test your limits and achieve amazing results, often without leaving your home.
Gyms and health clubs across the North East have added virtual programmes to their facilities, and digital home workout products have taken the fitness market by storm – virtually transforming you in no time.
What it is? Starting out in a gym in Auckland, Les Mills has grown into a global fitness emporium and is now one of the industry’s leading virtual class providers, partnering with over 20,000 clubs worldwide. Recorded in an avant-garde fitness studio complete with moving lights (and a crowd of participants), each workout is played on a cinematic big screen through a pumping sound system and features Les Mills’ leading edge choreography and hit music. But you won’t sit back and relax at this theatre – world leading instructors will push you to your limits, with classes ranging from calorie-killing cardio and free weight HIIT workouts helping to thrust you into next level fitness.
What it works? Whether you want to build your strength, shift some weight or just simply get moving, there’s over 800 classes ranging in intensity, type and length – each employing cutting-edge technology to make the workout as fulfilling as possible. Heart rate monitors and live statistics will track your calorie burn, whilst motivational virtual coaches will ensure you’re working all parts of your body. As long as you turn up and work to your maximum (which isn’t difficult when there’s a chiselled kiwi trainer instructing you to do so), these workouts will yield results quicker than your usual gym class.
Where to try it? Les Mills virtual classes are being rolled out at 31 gyms across the North East, as well as home workouts available through an On Demand subscription. Find a class near you or sign up to Les Mills On Demand at www.lesmills.com.
What it is? US company Team ICG (Indoor Cycling Group) have developed a virtual cycling programme called MyRide, which features a fleet of spinning bikes in front of a large simulation screen. Ride along to the music as the screen takes you through real-life locations all over the world – experience the tricky terrain of the French and Austrian Alps before hugging the waterfront of New Jersey, whilst a motivational voice-over coach will get your pulse racing and those calories burning. Unlike Les Mills, users can select, play and control the video on the big screen themselves (providing there’s more than one person participating), meaning you can make workouts fit around your busy schedule instead of a gym timetable.
What it works? Focusing on lower body mobilisation, these virtual cycling classes isolate your leg muscles through a combination of gruelling hill climbs and speedy sprints, helping to shape and tone the legs as well as build your aerobic fitness. While the classes are built to test, each spinning bike has a self-controlled resistance toggle allowing you to work at your own pace, which gets rid of that pressure you can feel from a pushy coach breathing down your neck.
Where to try it? There are MyRide Studios in; Cramlington (Active Northumberland leisure centre), Gateshead (Vision Health and Fitness), Durham (Ramside Hall) and in The Gym Group gyms across the region. Find your nearest at www.thegymgroup.com.
What is is? Video games have long been considered an unhealthy pursuit, but with the rise of virtual reality headsets, there are a variety of fun games which get users off the couch and into an active lifestyle. One of which is Sprint Vector – a fast-paced VR fitness game which combines the thrill of gaming with the physical benefits of extreme sports.
What it works? Using a system called ‘fluid locomotion’, Sprint Vector allows player avatars to move, which involves holding the motion controllers and swinging your arms as if you were running – a great workout option for your upper body and core. You’ll be transported to an intergalactic universe where you’re required to run, jump and glide through different worlds, whilst dodging obstacles, firing projectiles at your opponent and catching different speed boosts with sharp turns of pace – testing your reactions and improving flexibility.
Where to try it? Because the game can be played anywhere as long as you’ve got a compatible VR headset, it’s a great option for those who are time-short or don’t have access to a virtual class. Sprint Vector is compatible with Oculus Rift and Quest, Playstation VR and HTC Vive headsets, and can be downloaded from the Steam store at www.store.steampowered.com