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Get yourself in-shape for room-scale VR with these exercises

One of the big selling points of the HTC Vive headset is that it is “room scale,” which means you can walk around your room, interacting with different elements with the motion controllers – all of it tracked within the VR space. But that means physically moving around and in fast paced games, that can mean a lot more action than your average button and mouse clicking.

This isn’t Wii tennis either. The tracking is accurate, the games and experiences immersive. You’ll want to play games like Hover Junkers, Raw Data and Space Pirate trainer for potentially hours at a time; but to do that you’ll want at least a basic level of fitness.

In the build up to VR, we reached out to the developer of Hover Junkers, Stress Level Zero, to ask how strenuous they felt the game was. It said that average games at 8-10 minutes were ok, but once you started going beyond 12 minute sessions, things started to feel more gruelling.

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So if you have a VR headset coming soon and want to get yourself ready for when it arrives, you’ll want to start doing some simple exercises. To see just what kind would be best for VR, we asked personal trainer @KatyHemfit to see just what she recommends we do to get ready for room-scale VR.

After analysing a number of videos of people competing in high-octane VR action, Katy recommended that we all start doing a few more of the following:

Beginners

If your exercise regime consists of getting up in the morning and making your way to your desk job, before taking the laborious step of sitting down in-front of your PC or TV at the end of the day, starting from scratch would be your best bet. For that Katy recommends a combination of the following:

  • Boxing drills – Whether it’s shadow boxing in the mirror, hitting a heavy bag or having someone hold mitts for you, throwing a few punches can get your heart rate up and it’s a good stress reliever too. Just make sure you don’t lock your elbows as you throw, keep your thumbs tucked outside of your fingers and keep the punches quick and light – don’t throw bombs without good technique.
  • Leg get ups – These might seem simple, but if you’re not used to it, it’s surprising how tiring they can be. Kneel down on one knee, then the other and then stand back up, one leg at a time. This should do a good job of simulating some of the dodging, dipping, ducking, diving (and dodging) you’re likely to do in VR.
  • Squats – Otherwise known as ‘nobody’s favourite exercise’ Squats will do wonders for your legs, lower back and glutes (ass muscle). This will all help posture, which is very important if you’re planning to spend a few hours flailing around in VR. Place your feet shoulder width apart and then act as if you’re going to sit down. Lower your posterior as low as it can go while retaining balance and keeping your back straight. Then use your legs to drive yourself back to standing again, exhaling as you go.

Since this is designed as a real introduction to basic level fitness, we’re not going to worry about number of repetitions, sets or time, just try to do a few of each, gauge your own fitness levels and make sure you get your heart rate up and a bit of a sweat on.

Intermediate

If the above seems a little simple for you and you have a pair of dumbbells lying around, Katy has something a little more advanced for you to try out. These exercises target more specific parts of the body and should improve your strength and stamina enough that you’ll be able to wave around those wand controllers for hours without feeling like you’re going to faint.

Get yourself warmed up and take a stab at some of these and see how you fare:

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  • Dumbbell shoulder press – Pick a weight that you can lift easily enough and hoist it above your shoulder so it’s sitting comfortably, with your palms facing forward. Press it above your head until your arm is almost (but not quite) extended, while exhaling, hold for a second and then slowly lower it back down. Repeat for each side, or complete simultaneously if you prefer. See if you can do 6-12 reps to start with and if you can, complete another set or two and see how you fare.

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  • Dumbbell bicep curl – Pick a weight that you can hold comfortably and er on the side of lower weight if you’re unsure. Hold it at waist level, palms facing inwards. Keep your upper arm stationary while you bend your elbow and pull the weight upwards, turning your palms inwards as you go and exhaling on the way up. Then slowly lower the weight down again, being careful not to over extend your elbow. Repeat for 6-12 reps and if you feel up to it, run through a couple of sets.

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  • Dumbbell lateral raises – Pick a weight that you know works for you and hold it by your side, standing up straight. Keep that pose and lift the weights up at your sides, with your arms almost completely extended, with just a slight bend in the elbow. Raise them to shoulder height, hold for a second and then slowly lower them again. Try and a complete a set of 6-12 repetitions and repeat as needed to push yourself.

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  • Lunges – This can be performed with or without dumbbells. Keep your upper body straight, with relaxed shoulders, step forward with one leg and drop your hips until both your knees are bent at a near 90 degree angle, making sure they don’t ever go in-front of your lead toes. Then, exhaling, push yourself back to your starting position and repeat. Make sure to do both legs and stop if you feel your form start to falter.
  • Squat pulses – Like squats, only meaner, complete your squat as mentioned in the beginning section, but instead of giving yourself the sweet relief of standing back up again, these will see you bounce gently at the bottom. Hang out there as long as you can before returning to a standing position and repeat as many times as you can before feeling like you’re going to fall over.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to get yourself ready for room-scale VR, or if you just think you should be a more active gamer, performing these exercises even once will put you on a good path, but if you really want to make an impact, you’ll need to commit to performing these at least a couple of times a week. It might suck to start with, but before you know it you’ll have kickstarted your body’s fitness levels to new heights.

Do let us know how you get on though, we’d love to hear about it, and of course if you have any questions, we’re sure Katy would be happy to answer them. You can get in touch with her on Instagram @KatyHemfit where she also offers online one-to-one training and weight loss plans.

Image source: Wikimedia/Everkinetic

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