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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Technology: Virtual Reality fitness innovations

Making exercise enjoyable has long been a goal of the fitness industry. With virtual reality (VR) technology providing users with an escape from reality, Kath Hudson looks at the innovative ways VR and fitness are coming together

Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 10

VIRTUAL WORLDS
Virtual reality software platform, Holofit, from Holodia, transports gym goers into numerous exciting VR worlds: they can row down the rivers of Babylon, cycle through mountains on their own or in a virtual race. Launched this summer, it is already in use in a number of fitness clubs in Europe and Asia, including CMG Sports Club’s Saint-Lazare site, and Holofit is looking to expand further in coming months.

”Virtual reality is set to transform many industries and fitness is one of them,” predicts Bojana Knezevic, co-founder of Holodia. “Holofit is aimed at a fast growing younger generation who want effortless fun. It offers an immersive and fun experience, plunging users into amazing environments. Because the brain is diverted towards appealing aspects, such as gaming or competition, less hardship is felt around the training effort and boredom is avoided.”

Eight fully immersive environments, Holoworlds, have been created, and range from fantasy worlds to historical sites and famous landmarks. Each environment can be used in explorer or cardio training mode, and as single user or multiplayer, competing with one or more users.

A virtual coaching programme, CardioGoals, is also on offer. It provides real-time data to guide the user through the training session and encourage and reward results, while gathering data that helps the user to stay on track with their plan.

A companion app enables personalisation of training data.

“Users are reporting that they love it. We have people who have quit their gyms because they were bored, but they love our approach and want to use it regularly,” says Knezevic

GAMIFICATION
As a piece of kit that makes people feel like they are flying, Icaros offers a more enjoyable core workout than planking exercises: a virtual reality headset is coupled with a movement-sensing device that users lie on.

“Our dream was to make people fly,” says co-founder, Michael Schmidt. “We've introduced gamification, and combined fun and sports in a device. Users are positioned in a flying position and navigate through a virtual world by leaning and shifting their body weight. This movement activates muscles, especially around the core.”

A variety of gaming options are on offer, from challenging friends on the same wifi to a race, to shooting at drones or racing sharks. Games can be adjusted for different abilities, from strenuous to relaxing yoga-style sessions. The team is working on the functionality to integrate it with any online game.

Although it began with the frivolous dream of making people fly, there is also a serious side to Icaros. Sports scientists have been recruited to work on making it the most effective workout possible and adapt it for therapeutic use.

Interestingly, its first UK adopter is the orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Phil Heaton, who has added Icaros to his gym to help people get fit in preparation for their operations. Other physiotherapists are using the device to see if it can mobilise people after strokes, or brain tissue damage, as well as those with back problems and balance issues related to inner ear trouble.

“We're working on research with universities in Munich and Cologne to assess its impact and research has shown that Icaros leads to 30 per cent more energy expenditure than other core exercises,” says Schmidt. “It acts as a good warm up before a cardio programme. The exertion depends on the game, but generally the impact is the same as slow jogging.”

Although the device could work well as an addition to the gym floor, the team is promoting an Icaros studio concept that consists of 10 devices which can be synced to each other. “We'd like to turn it into a sociable class format within the next six months,” says Schmidt.

THE BODYBIKE
Stuttgart-based start-up MXO Media was founded just over three years ago. While the company markets itself as a 360 digital studio and virtual reality (VR) solutions provider, a key goal is making cardio more fun by bringing gaming into it via VR.

It’s this goal that makes the fitness industry its primary target.

“We've partnered with Bodybike to create a multi-player, online cycling simulation,” says MXO Media co-founder, Maximilian Schmierer. Many of Bodybike’s clients said they love the bikes and have great studios, but unless a class is going on it’s not being used, so they wanted something to bring it into use at all times.”

By creating a VR-experience that allows users to ride the bike through virtual, gamified settings, MXO tackles the boredom and repetition that can deter people from sticking to exercise regimes. Indeed, the MXO and Bodybike collaboration presents users with a number of different options: users can challenge friends to a race, whether they are in the same studio or another country. They can chase down a ghost rider – the rider with the fastest score – and if they succeed in overtaking, they become the ghost rider, which others chase. Alternatively, there is the endless cyclist option that lets users ride through constantly changing landscapes. All the while, it measures heart rate, cadence, which zone you are working in, how long you have been cycling and, if relevant, your place in the race.

Schmierer says it’s a truly immersive experience: “At a trade show, the guys in suits said they would only do 30 seconds as they didn’t want to get sweaty, but once they started they had to complete the whole experience. A big screen is the most practical and cheap way of offering the experience, but this isn’t as immersive as with goggles.”

Still a prototype, MXO Media is fine tuning the experience and getting the content right with a view to rolling out next year. Schmierer says they hope that by this time someone will have produced smaller VR goggles. “One issue that is holding us back are the VR goggles. They feel big and clumsy, and get uncomfortable after about 20 minutes,” he says. “But there are so many big companies working on them, it won’t be long until we’ll see more usable versions. Oculus have been given $3.5m by Facebook to design some.”

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

Technology: Virtual Reality fitness innovations

Making exercise enjoyable has long been a goal of the fitness industry. With virtual reality (VR) technology providing users with an escape from reality, Kath Hudson looks at the innovative ways VR and fitness are coming together

Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 10

VIRTUAL WORLDS
Virtual reality software platform, Holofit, from Holodia, transports gym goers into numerous exciting VR worlds: they can row down the rivers of Babylon, cycle through mountains on their own or in a virtual race. Launched this summer, it is already in use in a number of fitness clubs in Europe and Asia, including CMG Sports Club’s Saint-Lazare site, and Holofit is looking to expand further in coming months.

”Virtual reality is set to transform many industries and fitness is one of them,” predicts Bojana Knezevic, co-founder of Holodia. “Holofit is aimed at a fast growing younger generation who want effortless fun. It offers an immersive and fun experience, plunging users into amazing environments. Because the brain is diverted towards appealing aspects, such as gaming or competition, less hardship is felt around the training effort and boredom is avoided.”

Eight fully immersive environments, Holoworlds, have been created, and range from fantasy worlds to historical sites and famous landmarks. Each environment can be used in explorer or cardio training mode, and as single user or multiplayer, competing with one or more users.

A virtual coaching programme, CardioGoals, is also on offer. It provides real-time data to guide the user through the training session and encourage and reward results, while gathering data that helps the user to stay on track with their plan.

A companion app enables personalisation of training data.

“Users are reporting that they love it. We have people who have quit their gyms because they were bored, but they love our approach and want to use it regularly,” says Knezevic

GAMIFICATION
As a piece of kit that makes people feel like they are flying, Icaros offers a more enjoyable core workout than planking exercises: a virtual reality headset is coupled with a movement-sensing device that users lie on.

“Our dream was to make people fly,” says co-founder, Michael Schmidt. “We've introduced gamification, and combined fun and sports in a device. Users are positioned in a flying position and navigate through a virtual world by leaning and shifting their body weight. This movement activates muscles, especially around the core.”

A variety of gaming options are on offer, from challenging friends on the same wifi to a race, to shooting at drones or racing sharks. Games can be adjusted for different abilities, from strenuous to relaxing yoga-style sessions. The team is working on the functionality to integrate it with any online game.

Although it began with the frivolous dream of making people fly, there is also a serious side to Icaros. Sports scientists have been recruited to work on making it the most effective workout possible and adapt it for therapeutic use.

Interestingly, its first UK adopter is the orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Phil Heaton, who has added Icaros to his gym to help people get fit in preparation for their operations. Other physiotherapists are using the device to see if it can mobilise people after strokes, or brain tissue damage, as well as those with back problems and balance issues related to inner ear trouble.

“We're working on research with universities in Munich and Cologne to assess its impact and research has shown that Icaros leads to 30 per cent more energy expenditure than other core exercises,” says Schmidt. “It acts as a good warm up before a cardio programme. The exertion depends on the game, but generally the impact is the same as slow jogging.”

Although the device could work well as an addition to the gym floor, the team is promoting an Icaros studio concept that consists of 10 devices which can be synced to each other. “We'd like to turn it into a sociable class format within the next six months,” says Schmidt.

THE BODYBIKE
Stuttgart-based start-up MXO Media was founded just over three years ago. While the company markets itself as a 360 digital studio and virtual reality (VR) solutions provider, a key goal is making cardio more fun by bringing gaming into it via VR.

It’s this goal that makes the fitness industry its primary target.

“We've partnered with Bodybike to create a multi-player, online cycling simulation,” says MXO Media co-founder, Maximilian Schmierer. Many of Bodybike’s clients said they love the bikes and have great studios, but unless a class is going on it’s not being used, so they wanted something to bring it into use at all times.”

By creating a VR-experience that allows users to ride the bike through virtual, gamified settings, MXO tackles the boredom and repetition that can deter people from sticking to exercise regimes. Indeed, the MXO and Bodybike collaboration presents users with a number of different options: users can challenge friends to a race, whether they are in the same studio or another country. They can chase down a ghost rider – the rider with the fastest score – and if they succeed in overtaking, they become the ghost rider, which others chase. Alternatively, there is the endless cyclist option that lets users ride through constantly changing landscapes. All the while, it measures heart rate, cadence, which zone you are working in, how long you have been cycling and, if relevant, your place in the race.

Schmierer says it’s a truly immersive experience: “At a trade show, the guys in suits said they would only do 30 seconds as they didn’t want to get sweaty, but once they started they had to complete the whole experience. A big screen is the most practical and cheap way of offering the experience, but this isn’t as immersive as with goggles.”

Still a prototype, MXO Media is fine tuning the experience and getting the content right with a view to rolling out next year. Schmierer says they hope that by this time someone will have produced smaller VR goggles. “One issue that is holding us back are the VR goggles. They feel big and clumsy, and get uncomfortable after about 20 minutes,” he says. “But there are so many big companies working on them, it won’t be long until we’ll see more usable versions. Oculus have been given $3.5m by Facebook to design some.”

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Alexa can help you book classes, check trainers’ bios and schedules, find out opening times, and a host of other information
Opinion

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Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

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Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

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Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

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We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features