Meta (formerly Facebook) is doubling down on VR fitness with the acquisition of the Quest-exclusive Supernatural fitness service.
Chris Milk’s startup Within is the team behind Supernatural, which launched exclusively on Oculus Quest in 2020. While on the surface Supernatural appears to be just another rhythm game like Beat Saber, the startup leaned into Quest’s wireless features with a wider library of music which supported moving in 360 degrees to songs. Sweat-soaked workouts are available on a subscription basis and driven partially by supportive coaches who offer commentary in your ears. The service’s coaches are led by Head of Fitness Leanne Pedante and she’s become a bit of a VR celebrity to the rapidly growing Supernatural Facebook group where people share their fitness journeys and share support.
Pedante recently joined me in our virtual studio for a discussion about VR fitness and discussed how the technology might help people achieve their exercise or fitness goals without leaving the house.
“I think if you had asked me in 2019 my answer would be so different than what I think now,” Pedante said. ” I think we are just probably only seeing the beginning because things like accessibility to Wi-Fi, price points of the hardware dropping, and really there’s so many people who don’t want to go into a gym, they don’t want to have to drive somewhere to do their workout. There’s just so many reasons to bring it inside. So yeah, I think we’re probably only kind of seeing the beginning of this.”
Supernatural recently added boxing to the service and Meta VP Jason Rubin wrote in a blog post “Supernatural will continue to be operated independently as part of Reality Labs, and will continue to create fitness, wellness and social experiences in VR.” Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in the announcement and the transaction is subject “to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.”
“I think VR is opening the door to everybody who doesn’t want to go to a gym because they’re afraid of being judged, there’s mirrors, they don’t want to see what their body looks like working out in the mirror,” Supernatural superfan Chesney Mariani recently told us. “There’s nobody around. The only person that’s around is you, maybe a partner, your animals. And it makes it a lot easier to exercise when you’re in there. You can’t see anybody when you’ve got the headset on. So you’re in there, you’re quote ‘alone.’ Nobody’s judging you now.”