Gamer Tim Donahey is a certified personal trainer and a former competitive power lifter who rowed on his college crew team. But several months ago, after the birth of his son, and an illness in a family member, his exercise routine forced him to quit. He needed inspiration. He found it in the HTC Vive.
According to Donahey, Redditors have been “talking about how difficult and demanding some of the games are physically.” This got him thinking. “I wanted to strap on a heart rate monitor and see what pushing myself in VR could do.”
“As it turns out, it could do quite a lot.” Donahey burned 866 calories in one hour and five minutes.
Now Donahey has given himself a 50-day fitness challenge: lose 2 pounds per week, from a starting weight of 180.4 pounds, using only the Vive (supplemented only with taking his young son on walks). He plans on working out five to six times a week, in one-hour sessions, including a warm up and cool down.
His routine looks like this:
10 minutes in The Lab’s Longbow (warm up)
20 minutes in Thrill of the Fight
20 minutes in Holopoint
10 minutes in Holoball (cool down)
I’ll be keeping track of Donahey’s progress, checking in with him on Day 25 and Day 50, where he hopes to be down 8 pounds and 16 pounds, respectively. And he’ll have the photos as evidence.
I spoke with Donahey about his fitness experiment and pro tips for future VR exercisers. “Oh, did I say ‘VR?’ I meant the Vive. The HTC Vive is the only VR head-mounted display that’s capable of being used for fitness,” Donahey said.
You’ve only been on your weight-loss journey for four days [at the time of the interview]. What have you learned so far?
I was really surprised [about how hard I was working out], particularly because the perceived exertion when you’re in these these games is very low compared to how much you’re physically exerting yourself.
I would have rated the exertion at maybe a 6 or 7 as far as pushing myself. But going back and looking at the heart rate, it was closer to an 8 or 9. My heart rate was topping out at certain points. But you don’t realize it, because it’s fun and you’re diverted.
Where do you expect to be on Day 25—besides 8 lbs. lighter?
I anticipate it will be even more than [8 lbs.], according to the calorie burn I’ve been making so far. Aerobically, I think I’ll be sweating less, which will be good. And able to go harder, longer, and faster.
Also, I expect to be better at the games that I’m playing. I’m not just doing this for fitness. I’m doing this for fun, and these games, aside from the fitness effect, are very challenging, and I expect to be better at them.
Why did you choose those particular games?
I chose those to target certain intensity levels and target certain muscle groups. Thrill of the Fight is a boxing game. It’s heavy upper body; you’re punching, you’re dodging and rotating your torso and upper body. [With] the Hollow Point game with the bow and arrow, I’ve been [dodging arrows by] doing squats. so I’ve arranged them in such way that it doesn’t over emphasize one muscle group over the others.
Any advice for gamers who want to follow along?
- Setting realistic goals that are measurable and specific. Do it knowing exactly what you want to get out of it and making sure that it’s capable of meeting your expectations.
- I’m doing this for weight loss, but you can’t do [exercise] alone for that. You also have to have a balanced diet.
- You’ve got to manage the sweat and the heat. I wear a bandana over my head and I put a sweatband over that. that absorbs quite a bit of sweat.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. If you’re pushing yourself enough, that’s substantial enough of a training effect that that’s really all you need, especially at the outset.
Featured Image Credit: HTC Vive.
Image Credits: Tim Donahey.