LAS VEGAS — I typically associate working out with crowded gyms and intimidating bodybuilders — not fantasy arenas that let me toss fireballs at dragons. But thanks to Black Box VR, you can get an intense workout while enjoying virtual reality gaming.
I took Black Box for a spin at CES 2018, using a weight machine that was hooked up to a VR rig. Once I put my headset on and donned a set of motion-tracking wristbands, I was thrust in a fantasy-themed sporting arena. The machine’s physical handlebars were tracked in VR: once I grabbed them, I could shoot a big, flaming boulder at my enemies by simply thrusting my arms forward.
Things started out pretty simple in the game, with a horde of enemies charging toward me that I could easily take down. However, they were quickly followed by a series of dragons, which required multiple shots to defeat. This encouraged me to rapidly push forward — I was so focused on the in-game action that I almost forgot I was giving myself an intense physical workout.
The machine’s weight resistance increased as I played, as an in-game announcer encouraged me to keep firing until I had nothing left. I stopped after a few minutes, breathless but satisfied.
As a gamer looking to take their fitness more seriously, Black Box felt tailor-made for me. The machine is meant to be used for 30 minutes at a time, three to five days a week, which is a small, inviting time commitment for folks that think they don’t have the time to work out.
Black Box plans to open a series of boutique gyms that feature its technology, starting with a location in San Francisco in early 2018. The company also plans to eventually develop a home version of the workout.
While Black Box isn’t the first experience I’ve had breaking a sweat in VR (Survios’ Sprint Vector had my blood pumping last year), it was the first time I’ve genuinely enjoyed using traditional workout equipment. If the service manages to spread widely enough, it could do the same for a whole lot more people who are typically terrified to step foot in a gym.