Videogames require lots of different job roles to come together to get them made. There are few developers, though, that have claimed the mantle of Head of Fitness.
But that’s exactly Ianthe Mellors’ job. A professional dancer from Bedford, England, Ianthe joined the FitXR team to help design and choreograph VR workouts for those looking to use the Oculus Quest to keep fit. As you’d probably assume, creating those routines is a fair bit different from an in-person gym class.
So we asked her all about it.
In the Q&A below Mellors talks about what goes into thinking up VR workouts, including the intensity of an exercise, the importance of safety and where she’d like to see the concept go next. Perhaps there’s some hints for the future of FitXR within?
UVR: How does a routine in VR compare to one you’d teach in real life?
IM: In terms of programming, the workouts are similar. I plan my VR and live class structures and playlists in the same way and always have a specific focus.
UVR: Does the intensity you want to achieve with a workout in VR differ?
IM: I wouldn’t say that the intensity of a VR workout differs, as many of the more advanced and longer FitXR classes can offer a quite intense workout. The biggest difference between VR and live workouts is that in a live class I’m physically with the participants so I can adjust the intensity based upon the reactions I’m seeing. This is just not feasible for all pre-recorded workouts, whether they’re based in VR or not.
UVR: What are some of the hurdles you have to keep in mind considering things like the player holding controllers in their hands?
IM: Players keeping the correct form. Many of our users are somewhat new to fitness and are not overly familiar with the workout movements. This is especially true in our new HIIT Studio. I also need to consider the headset and hand placement due to the trackers. For example, in Box, if you were to have your hands in front of your face like in a live class that would cause issues with the trackers.
UVR: When it comes to form, how strict do you want to be with players?
IM: Very strict! I’m all about our players having healthy and functional movement patterns.
UVR: Do you have to take extra caution with safety when designing routines given users will have a VR headset strapped to their face?
IM: Yes, absolutely. I keep in mind that certain movements can cause the user to be disoriented and that jumping can be uncomfortable.
UVR: What is your ideal VR workout?
IM: I’d love to blend all three of our current FitXR Studios – Box, HIIT & Dance. I’d start with a Boxing class that has a big lower body focus. Then I’d move to Dance with an aerobic focused workout that allows me to move my body side-to-side. I’d finish with a lightspeed/ ladder combo speed challenge in HIIT to really push myself.
UVR: What hasn’t been done with VR fitness yet that you’re excited to explore?
IM: Resistance training. I’d like to see the addition of resistance and its related equipment.