By | December 30, 2023
A Meta Quest 3 is used

When I first put on the Meta Quest 3, I didn’t anticipate that the lightweight, futuristic gadget would provide such a powerful workout—or that it would grow to become a staple in my workout routine.

Before this year, I associated virtual reality with immersive gaming, which didn’t appeal to me, and I balked at the prohibitive prices of some of the VR devices on the market. The disadvantages of a VR headset outweighed the advantages.

Then came the $500 Meta Quest 3, which shipped starting on October 10. The headset’s fast processor and quality lens resolution were nice to have, but what I really wanted to know was whether the headset’s slimmer profile could make it a good gaming replacement, at at least for cardio. Could Meta Quest, and apps like the recently updated FitXR, make me stronger and leaner, even on days when I didn’t want to leave the house?

A Meta Quest 3 is used
Mark Zuckerberg shows off Meta Quest 3 at Meta Connect 2023Meta

Over the course of two months, using virtual reality fitness apps almost every day, my perception of VR began to improve. From Zumba dance training to boxing, the virtual world opened up new possibilities for fitness, especially for someone like me who freely admits to being intimidated by the gym. VR created a way to escape the real world but kept me connected to my body. It motivated me in a way that videos on a TV couldn’t.

I first tried FitXR’s Zumba workout on the Meta Quest 3, emptied that library a few more times, and then tried FitXR’s boxing and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts.

A FitXR VR Zumba class running on Meta Quest 3.A FitXR VR Zumba class running on Meta Quest 3.
A FitXR VR Zumba class running on Meta Quest 3FitXR

The exercise noticeably improved my mood and helped me lose a few pounds, but I was most excited about the muscle I noticed in my arms after boxing each day. Even without heavy weights, a full social battery, or a gym membership, I was able to get the workout results I wanted this year.

Visible changes aside, the Quest 3’s workout apps consistently helped guide me into a high-intensity zone, getting my heart pumping and me sweating. Rigorous aerobic activity is important: A group of researchers at the University of Zaragoza in Aragon, Spain looked at data from half a million adults and determined that more than 150 minutes of vigorous cardio per week, combined with 75 minutes of light aerobic activity and strength training twice a week, was the best exercise strategy for longevity.

Meta Quest 3 helped me achieve these goals, and then some. According to the Oura ring, which tracked my heart rate during exercise, my activity levels improved noticeably after I started working out with the Quest 3. It was encouraging to see high-intensity spikes in the Oura app’s activity tab instead of simply medium and low-intensity movement.

Oura activity with Meta Quest 3Oura activity with Meta Quest 3
Oura ring tracking activity with Meta Quest 3Sherin Shibu/The Messenger

I often didn’t realize how hard I was pushing myself in a workout until I took off the headset and felt the after-effects – a benefit of doing cardio in VR. The headset kept me fully engaged in my activity, and I was often surprised when I looked at my heart rate on the Oura app afterwards and found out that I burned hundreds of calories. I took Oura’s active burn estimates with a grain of salt, because it was hard to believe that I burned 449 calories punching the air in my living room. But regardless of exactly how many calories I burned, I felt my heart rate go up, and that was enough for me.

High intensity boxing on Meta Quest 3 recorded by the Oura ringHigh intensity boxing on Meta Quest 3 recorded by the Oura ring
High intensity boxing on Meta Quest 3 recorded by the Oura ringSherin Shibu/The Messenger

The best thing about working out with the Meta Quest 3 has been how easy it is to use, an improvement over the admittedly cheaper Quest 2, which is bulky and can become uncomfortable during a long workout. I have no excuse not to exercise, and if I put Quest 3 in my sights, exercise becomes not an if but a when.

Where I used to have to go out and work out, now I can always come home and dance around — I don’t have to go straight into a crowded environment if I don’t want to. For anyone who works from home, Quest 3 is an easy way to squeeze in a workout during a break. FitXR and other VR fitness apps like Les Mills and Supernatural offer quick workouts designed to get your heart pumping in under 10 minutes.

While I run on the treadmill and occasionally do yoga, the best workout I can stick to — and that, for me, has been Meta Quest 3. Plus, trying out MMA-inspired fighting moves on the FitXR is way more fun than being alone with my thoughts on a treadmill (can Mark Zuckerberg tell you).

I’m not the first to try muscle definition and weight loss with VR. A YouTuber lost 60 pounds in 10 months by playing games like The thrill of battlea room-scale VR boxing match complete with a virtual ring.

Another person lost the same amount of weight with Quest 2, and yet another lost 63 pounds.

Weight loss, of course, is not just a function of activity; it also depends on calorie intake, metabolism and other factors. Meta Quest 3 is not a magic weight loss pill; it takes work, but it’s more fun work than the cardio I associate with the gym.

There are a few drawbacks I saw in the headset that held me back from purchasing it at first.

First, Quest 3 has a steep starting price. While the workouts themselves have a low barrier to entry, with plenty of beginner and intermediate options, the upfront cost is still high with just the headset costing at least $500. If you’re going to exercise, I also recommend getting a silicone face interface so you can easily wipe away the sweat that collects around the headset (the face interface that comes with the headset absorbs sweat). That adds another $40.

The fitness apps also have either monthly fees (FitXR) or one-time payments (Les Mills), which can add up.

I finally justified my purchase with a comparison: if I spread the total cost of a Quest 3, silicone interface and FitXR over a year ($648) and imagined paying for all three on a monthly basis, I would still pay less per month than the average monthly cost of $106.06 for a gym membership in NYC.

Another element to consider is space. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough in my apartment to work with the Quest 3, but it was surprisingly easy to cut out a pocket with standing space and move around in it. I still don’t have enough free space to try room-filling VR training, but maybe one day. In the meantime, it’s easy to dance between the tree and the coffee table. No excuses.

The author trains with FitXR Zumba on Meta Quest 3.The author trains with FitXR Zumba on Meta Quest 3.
FitXR on the Meta Quest 3 makes it easy to exercise in the living roomSherin Shibu/The Messenger

How about the battery life? I didn’t want to lose momentum in the middle of a workout because the Quest 3’s battery couldn’t keep up. This never became a problem. I keep my longest training sessions around 60 minutes. When Quest 3 needs to be reloaded, I do that too.

I know the Apple Vision Pro will be released soon, and I’m excited to see where Apple takes the $3,500 headset in 2024, but Meta ruled the virtual space in 2023 with its comparatively cheaper $500 Quest 3 headset.

The new Apple Vision Pro headset is shown during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5, 2023 in Cupertino, California.  Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the annual WWDC23 developer conference with the announcement of the new Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset.The new Apple Vision Pro headset is shown during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5, 2023 in Cupertino, California.  Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the annual WWDC23 developer conference with the announcement of the new Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset.
Apple Vision ProJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Some honorable mentions for best gadget this year include the Nowatch, the Withings ScanWatch 2, and the Fitbit Charge 6. I look forward to seeing how the Quest 3 stacks up against all the new, similarly priced AR/VR contenders in the new year.

#replaced #gym #Meta #Quest

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