Price: $10 per month
System requirements: Oculus Quest VR headset
The FitXR Oculus app invites you to spend your next cardio class in cyberspace, offering a unique mix of bite-size features the whole family can enjoy at the drop of a hat. Available exclusively for Oculus Quest headsets, FitXR seems custom-tailored for heart-healthy folk who are easily bored — such as myself.
Gamifying your workout is the latest fitness trend, and FitXR combines dancing and boxing movements with cutting-edge VR goggles to create a futureproof library of HIIT-friendly classes for a few bucks per month. In short, it’s way more motivational than anything my pet lizard has to offer.
Disclaimer: Until now, I’ve never used any VR-based fitness apps, and was excited to take this platform for a test drive, since I’m a giant child who lives in the future (ie, FitXR’s target demographic). Is it worth the monthly subscription to flail about your living room in 15-minute intervals? Read on to find out.
FitXR pricing and availability
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so why should liquidating that lunch be free? Like many fitness programs you’ll find these days, FitXR requires a $10 monthly subscription after the free trial. This unlocks brand-spanking-new classes every day, transporting you from your living room into a virtual gym loaded with a variety of synapse-snapping activities.
As a semi-similar basis of comparison, the webcam-powered Kemtai Adaptive Home Exercise Platform costs $19 per month; Kemtai is partnered with a growing team of personal trainers who each have their individual style. Freeletics is accompanied by a whole ecosystem of training equipment, e-books, and tailored meal plans; subscriptions start at $2.69 per week, billed every three months. FitnessAI (starting at $2.21 per week) is another AI-powered training app, as the name implies.
Working out is a sweaty business, and FitXR isn’t pulling any punches in the perspiration department. In fact, they embrace this inevitability; if you swing over to the FitXR website, you’ll find branded Dri-Fit headbands ($17), in addition to t-shirts ($34) and towels ($21).
FitXR user interface
Setting up FitXR is easy as pie — err, saying no to pie. Once you’ve downloaded the app to your Oculus headset, you just create a new user profile and you’re ready to rock. When you next open the app, you’ll find a colorful carousel of cardio workouts front-and-center and a notification letting you know what’s new (ex, “Today’s new HIIT workout: Rock your body 360”). Below the carousel are three activity types to choose from: Box, Dance, and HIIT. There’s also a multiplayer option for working out with your friends. (More on that below.)
A good VR experience is all about customizing your surroundings, and FitXR has you covered with four different home environments: Arena, Locker Room, and Loft (Night/Day). I went with the nighttime loft option, which really felt like a comfy (albeit digital) dojo as I turned my body to look all the way around. The larger your play area, the more expansive it feels.
As of this writing, there are more than 250 classes/games to choose from, created in collaboration with FitXR’s eclectic team of trainers; new classes are added daily. (Note: for the purposes of this review, the words “class” and “game” are essentially interchangeable.) You can filter these class-games by type, music genre, difficulty level, and duration.
If you don’t mind an audience — or would like to take turns competing with other players in your home, you can cast the action right to your smart TV. Then, at least local onlookers have some context for your sporadic shadowboxing. (I tried out this feature on my 42-inch smart TV, and my pet lizard was very impressed. Make sure you’ve got a strong WiFi connection, though.)
Needless to say, a good cardio workout isn’t complete without collecting a few stats, and FitXR keeps track of points earned (for the leaderboards, baby!), calories burned, total minutes of workout time, and highest streak; you can toggle between daily, weekly, monthly, and overall stats at will.
All right, enough pitter-patter. The only way to train my traps on this fitness app is to strap on my Oculus Quest goggles and dive right into the mindful Matrix of calorie-cutting VR. Here are my knee-jerk impressions for FitXR’s Box, Dance, and HIIT classes.
Box — Full disclosure: This was my favorite section of the app, hands-down — err, up? There are roughly 150 different boxing classes, but they all take place in three basic environments: Box Studio, Elevated Park (Day), or Elevated Park (Night).
Here’s how it works. As you switch back and forth between right- and left-handed boxing stances, your objective is to jab, cross, hook, and uppercut your way through each session, swinging your fists of fury at the floating, flickering orbs flying faster and faster at your face. Don’t worry about not getting full-body engagement; you also have to duck-and-weave to dodge floating obstacles in between punches. You get higher points for more accurate, powerful strikes, which are timed to the beat of the background music; your score is tallied in real time and reflected on a giant leaderboard. You’re also flanked by the floating avatars of previous participants, which adds a cool layer of competition to the experience.
After loosening up on a few of the shorter workouts — some are only a few minutes long — it was time to kick things up a notch. I fired up the intermediate-level Metal 137 class, a 10-minute workout featuring…well, heavy metal music to accompany your boxing strikes. I had a kickass time coordinating my punches with the frantic drum beats and guitar riffs blasting into my ear holes. More powerful punches got me bigger scores and explosions, which upped the ante as I attempted to climb the leaderboard. By the time those 10 minutes were up, I was sweating like a pig in a wig, and my shoulders were surprisingly sore.
Dance — As fellow editor Kimberly Gedeon mentioned in her FitXR vs. Supernatural piece, the dance workouts are a little hokey, since you’re essentially just dancing along with a 3D avatar, and not an actual trainer. (The whole experience is reminiscent of Dance Central, Just Dance, and other similar videogames of yesteryear.)
I do my best dancing at wedding receptions and pretty much nowhere else, so I didn’t spend as much time in this studio as the other two. For the sake of science, however, I did give these dance classes the old college try, and I’m exactly as skilled a dancer as I expected. (Read: not very.) Luckily, FitXR has other activities to keep me busy.
HIIT — These classes take place in the app’s Clifftop studio, which feels like a tropical island getaway; it’s my favorite workout environment overall. HIIT classes incorporate full-body movements into each workout, and the instructor’s avatar appears at the beginning to explain your objectives. In short, your job is to smash the glowing orbs that appear in front of you, which forces you to engage your shoulders/arms, legs, obliques…so yeah, pretty much your entire body. (Which is the whole point of HIIT workouts, by the way.) I’d be willing to bet that your neck muscles get a mini-workout, too, since the Oculus Quest headset itself weighs just over a pound.
It took me a few rounds to get the hang of smashing stationary orbs instead of moving ones, but once I understood the basic body movements, it got easier to increase my speed and rack up more points.
FitXR multiplayer mode
Once I’d built up my confidence a bit, it was time for a real challenge. As mentioned above, I’m not the only Laptop Mag editor with a pair of Oculus Quest goggles and a penchant for pacing my apartment, so I challenged Kim to a friendly best-of-three competition; she’d been using the app since April, so I knew I’d have my work(out) cut out for me.
You can turn any Box, Dance, or HIIT class into a multiplayer game simply by choosing “Start multiplayer class” instead of “Start class” at the selection screen. FitXR creates a unique room code for you to share with friends. Once Kim plugged in the code, we could hear each other via our headsets’ built-in mic and speakers, because it wouldn’t be multiplayer gaming without the ability to trash talk.
I got to pick the first challenge, and since I was already familiar with the Metal 137 class, I figured that was a safe bet. Kimberly’s avatar popped up beside me as we entered the studio together; the glowing orbs started flying, and it was go time.
Round #1 Winner: TeejMachine
My punches weren’t always pretty, but I attribute my lanky orangutan arms to whatever gave me the edge here.
Kimberly chose the next challenge, and she went with the This Beat Is HIIT class. (Not exactly my forte, I must admit.) By the time I figured out what sequence I was supposed to be punching in, she was lightyears ahead of me, and I just couldn’t make up the point deficit in time. My colleague clearly had some practice under her belt, and it showed.
Round #2 Winner: Kim
Practice makes perfect, and Kimberly’s form was way smoother than mine. And the smoother the movements, the faster the smashing. Quite frankly, I didn’t stand a chance.
And just like that, we were neck-and-neck. For the tie-breaking game, I’d preselected a three-minute Box class called The Winner, which I felt was appropriate since whoever had the most points at the end of that game would be that thing.
Round #3 Winner: Kim
Maybe I got cocky. Maybe my boxing form was a little off. Maybe the Oculus Quest eyehole lenses got smudged from sweat. But no matter my excuses, Kimberly pulled ahead at the end for a dramatic victory, and you can hear my squeals of
disdain good sportsmanship as the final score is tallied up.
I must admit, the grumpy old man who lives inside me is reluctant to outsource my cardio hustle to the Matrix, but progress is progress, and sweaty brows don’t lie. The FitXR Oculus app was designed to make cardio workouts more fun, and I’d say it hit the mark in that regard.
FitXR isn’t the only VR fitness app you’ll find in the Oculus store, of course. Supernatural, another app we highly recommend, features live-action coaches instead of uncanny-valley avatars, though it lacks a multiplayer mode. The Thrill of the Fight aims to recreate a more authentic boxing experience that pits you against virtual challengers. Rush lets you dive headfirst into the heart-pumping world of wingsuit flying (ie, squirrel-suit skydiving).
If you’re looking for a sans-VR workout experience more akin to personal training, however, the Kemtai Adaptive Home Exercise Platform uses your laptop webcam to track your body movements and provide real-time feedback with every rep.
Is FitXR worth the monthly subscription? That all depends on your fitness goals, but if gamifying your workouts is something you’ve been meaning to dip your toes into, this is a fun way to do it.
FitXR was played using the Oculus Quest 2