Elevating Home Fitness: VR, Live Streaming & Esports
Home workouts are booming in the pandemic – but lockdowns have also left consumers longing for human connection and escapism. Smart brands are harnessing virtual reality (VR) and real-time content to create more immersive, social exercise offerings. We spotlight some standout new examples.
- The Metaverse Gets Moving: As noted in Five Wellness Trends to Watch, tech and fitness brands are converging in the gaming metaverse. Facebook rolled out fitness-tracking software Oculus Move across its range of Oculus VR headsets last autumn, enabling users to monitor their progress during any virtual reality activity.
- In January 2021, Swiss VR company Holodia released its multi-experience fitness platform, Holofit, on the Oculus e-store. Subscribers can experience virtual cycling, rowing and running in simulated settings, ranging from tropical landscapes to cities. The content can be played on any Bluetooth-enabled exercise equipment, such as a rowing machine or exercise bike; alternatively, users follow equivalent bodyweight exercises.
- Live Streaming Goes Elite: Providing a socially distanced, virtual alternative to water sports, US rowing machine brand Hydrow completed a $25m funding round last June and reported sales had soared 400% since the pandemic began (Bloomberg, 2020). The company’s high-tech ergometers feature touchscreen monitors and front-facing speakers, allowing users to join live-streamed water outings hosted by elite athletes, or enjoy unguided rows along scenic on-screen waterways.
- Esports Goes Up a Gear: Amid a global boom in esports (see Next-Gen Sports Fandom), US start-up Zwift – a multiplayer running and cycling training platform – has seen a 300% year-on-year rise in daily user activity during the pandemic and emerged as a hub for competitive e-racing. Its growing series of e-tours, including the Tour de Zwift, has professionals and amateurs vying for real and virtual prizes. The platform’s success is spawning online spin-offs; the unaffiliated Zwifthub app, developed by a fan, offers user hacks for improving Zwift gameplay to around 40,000 followers.
- For more on pandemic-era exercise trends, see Fuelling Future Fitness.