Virtual Reality Gym That Makes Exercise A Video Game Seen At CES 2018, But Is It Safe?

The creators claim their technology makes you forget you're exercising

A woman in VR goggles on a tradmill
PRImageFactory / Thinkstock

The creators claim their technology makes you forget you're exercising

Virtual reality and exercise typically don’t sound like two things that would go together, but a company out of Boise, Idaho, is taking VR to the gym. Black Box has created modified gym equipment that turns working out into a video game when they’re paired with VR goggles. The company’s goal is to turn exercise into a fun, immersive experience that doesn’t get boring even when you have to do a ton of reps.

As the BBC reports, when you use Black Box’s VR gym equipment and goggles, you enter a virtual arena where you have to continue to lift weights in order to defeat an enemy. The team behind Black Box are the same guys who built the Bodybuilding.com fitness empire. They plan to open boutique gym experiences across the U.S. where patrons will be able to enter their own specialized Black Box where the game-like workout routine will take place.

Black Box general manager Jim Bradbury said that they were inspired to create the technology by people who give up on their workout regimen because it gets boring. They’re trying to solve that problem by making exercise as fun as a video game.

“Most people stop going [to the gym] after a couple of weeks so adherence is something that’s a critical factor of what we’re trying to solve,” he said to the BBC.

The team wants to make versions of the equipment that can be used in the home, but one expert thinks that there are some safety concerns. The headset, for example, may not be appropriate for repeated use during exercise. They will need to be “stress-tested’ to make sure that they’ll be safe, said VR consultant, J. P. Gownder.

Black Box is already reaping rewards from their virtual gym equipment. As 7KTVB.com reports the company won Best Startup at CES 2018. Team members said that their booth was consistently busy at the consumer electronics showcase. According to 7KTVB, Black Box’s booth was the most popular fitness tech booth among attendees and the sixth best overall.

A rep for Black Box said that they intend to open their first gym in San Francisco within the next six months. The plan to outfit the space with VR versions of traditional gym equipment like cardio machines, stationary bikes, and treadmills. They also want to host group classes in their physical space as well.