Saturday 2 January 2021

FitXR But You Know It

When lockdown started I picked up BoxVR for the Oculus Quest to try and boost my physical activity. It never really grabbed me though, the hit detection was a bit flaky and the music selection wasn’t terribly inspiring so I’d invariably return to good old Beat Saber for virtual flailing instead. As summer came around and restrictions eased a bit I got out and about more often and the need for indoor exercise lessened, but with the short days of winter and Lockdown 2: The Enlockening I thought I should try for a bit more of a workout.

Browsing my library BoxVR wasn’t there; it seems to have retreated into a chrysalis, and emerged as the beautiful butterfly of FitXR. The core of it remains a punch-tastic workout of jabs, hooks and uppercuts but everything’s had a spruce-up and looks and feels much better; there’s also a whole additional dance workout mode that I haven’t delved into deeply but looks to be a good way of mixing things up.

On firing up my first class I’d just clicked that I was ready when I noticed an empty “Play Solo” checkbox. Oh dear, I didn’t want to be cavorting with complete strangers! Still, too late to change it, I emerged into a virtual room with six other floating sets of gloves; I’m not sure if they’re live or pre-recorded, either way it’s fun (and a little odd) to have the virtual company and (thanks to the scoreboard) competition. The high score table is such a primal gaming motivator, even if there’s someone way out ahead nailing every punch for ludicrous combos there’ll be someone else closer to your score pushing you on so you don’t slack. There’s no communication (thank goodness, unless you’re really into heavy breathing), but it’s a really powerful feature. The fact that punch power translates to points gets you to really throw yourself into a workout, I think I’m burning through a good number of calories. I’m not sure if the music has been updated as well, it powers the workouts nicely, though I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out to listen to it outside the game.

Major kudos to the developers for upgrading BoxVR for existing users, FitXR is a significant improvement. I’ve slacked off the workouts over Christmas, and with a significant increase in chocolate consumption I think I’m going to have to hit it pretty heavily in January now!

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