The Oculus Quest 2 hoodwinked me into doing side lunges as I dodged whizzing bullets from evil alien robots in Space Pirates Trainer VR. I was bamboozled into exercising my noodle arms as I frantically chucked ninja stars at rifle-wielding, red silhouettes in Superhot VR.
Whew! After each Quest 2 session, I often found myself slumped over with my hands on my knees as sweat cascaded down my forehead. VR took my breath away — literally.
Who knew VR games were this physically demanding? I thought the Quest 2 would continue to indulge my couch potato tendencies, allowing me to lazily kick my feet up and immerse myself in stunning simulated realities, but the Oculus headset said, “Oh, you thought I was a joke?”
I did, honestly. I underestimated the level of exertion needed to slice incoming floating cubes (à la Fruit Ninja) in Beat Saber. I didn’t expect to feel so winded after stepping into the shoes of Adonis in Creed: Rise to Glory. For both games, I thought I’d have to employ a few low-effort swings here and there, and boom, I’ve mastered the game.
Boy was I wrong!
The Quest 2 headset tricked me into a daily exercise routine (an activity I’ve shamefully been avoiding throughout this pandemic-ravaged year) by disguising fitness apps as VR games. And you know what? I ain’t even mad. I’ve never felt healthier and more alive than I do now — all thanks to the devious, conniving Quest 2 headset.
Getting gains through games
Barbells, ellipticals and other torturous gym equipment have never been my jam. Instead, I inadvertently stayed in shape by playing high-intensity video games. As a kid, for example, I often played Dance Dance Revolution Konamix on my PlayStation. I didn’t give a single noodle of spaghetti about maintaining my weight or lowering my BMI — I just wanted to nail my fancy footwork on my DDR mat, ensuring that I saw the word “Perfect!” each time I landed on the right arrows, at the right time.
Despite the tacky, eye-sore graphics and ear-bleeding music, the fun I had was indescribable. As an added bonus, DDR helped burn off my Lunchables and PB&J sandwiches.
When I got the Nintendo Wii, I ditched DDR for Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise. Again, not to lose weight, but to escape into a world where I could pretend to be a professional dancer, entertaining thousands during concert intermissions. While getting my groove on to top 40 pop songs, I was unintentionally maintaining a consistent workout routine.
Unfortunately, I eventually lost interest in DDR and the Just Dance series. During the early, pre-quarantine months of 2020, I pledged to join a gym, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of taking a train to hell on earth three times a week. Sure, I have a dust-filled treadmill somewhere in my house, but running while going absolutely nowhere is a tortuous activity for masochists — not myself. With an array of snacks at my side as I worked from home, I devoured buffalo chicken wings, Uber Eats-delivered Chipotle and zeppoles from a local pizzeria.
With a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, I was headed down an unhealthy road — the same path that plagued my family members with hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease. I knew I had to change my bad habits and find a way to have fun while exercising, but I didn’t know how.
But then, I got the Oculus Quest 2 headset — the clouds parted and the heavenly choirs sang. I finally (and accidentally) found a solution to my workout apathy.
Oculus Quest 2: The best fitness apps disguised as VR games
Gyms are torture chambers filled with machines that are reminiscent of guillotines and pillories. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a simulated paradise where you can throw frisbees in space, strike tennis balls in a massive stadium, and shoot down floating targets while riding roller coasters. Much better!
The best workout apps on Oculus Quest 2 are VR games that aren’t marketed as fitness platforms — they’re the games that require a surprising level of physical exertion. These games include Beat Saber, Space Pirates Trainer VR, Superhot VR and Echo VR.
Beat Saber features more than just neon boxes you strike with your lightsaber. There are also massive incoming electrified platforms to avoid by ducking, impelling you to frequently employ squats to dodge them.
Vertical walls are another obstacle you must dodge, prompting you to leap to the side to escape a head-on collision. With the combination of incoming neon boxes and electrified walls, Beat Saber works out your arms, glutes and legs.
Space Pirates Trainer and Superhot
Space Pirates Trainer and Superhot are VR first-person shooters that surprised me with their high level of physician intensity. What makes players sweat in Space Pirates Trainer and Superhot is that you’ll need to evade enemy fire, which requires frequent side steps, squatting, ducking — and hell — even “the Matrix” if you’re limber like Keanu Reeves.
Superhot is slightly more intense; you have the option to take down your enemies by grabbing nearby ninja stars, glass bottles and other weapons to chuck at the menacing red silhouettes. The constant grab-and-throw technique will definitely wear you out, but your health will greatly benefit from the game.
Echo VR is arguably the best game on Oculus Quest 2 and it’s free. It’s a multiplayer game that’s a perfect mix of frisbee tossing, soccer and Quidditch.
You’ll get to fly in the air in a zero-gravity arena as you play on a team of four. You win by getting the most frisbees thrown into the opponent’s goal. On top of disc throwing, Echo VR requires a lot of gripping — you’ll need to frequently grab on to objects in the arena to keep yourself from floating off. There’s also a punching element in Echo VR — you can deck your opponents in the head to temporarily stun them. Your arms will definitely get a workout in Echo VR.
There are other more obvious VR games that are geared toward fitness, including Dance Central and Supernatural. Dance Central is an absolute blast, plopping you right in the middle of the dance floor to groove to chart-topping music while club attendees gawk in awe.
Supernatural isn’t my cup of tea. Although the game whisks you away to breathtaking, exotic locations (e.g. an active volcano in Ethiopia), its workout sessions are marred with corny coach commentary and repetitive exercise routines. But hey, you might enjoy it.
If you, like me, have an aversion to working out and you’ve had trouble finding a fitness outlet that obliterates your couch-potato lifestyle, try the Oculus Quest 2. We reported in early November that Facebook-owned Oculus released a new update that embeds a fitness tracker called Oculus Move in all Quest headsets. Oculus Move is a built-in feature that tracks the calories you burn and how long you’ve been physically active across all VR apps. You can even set goals for yourself and track your progress over time.
See? Even Facebook recognizes the Quest’s potential for being a workout avenue for gamers. If you’ve been struggling with fitness motivation, give the Quest 2 a try — you won’t regret it.
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Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!