Including a greater variety of movements is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for people like me, a technician who tends to spend a lot of time behind a computer or stationary, interacting with the latest application on my telephone.
VR is already good at inviting more movement, especially when playing fast-paced games. Having experienced this with games like beat the saber and Until you fallthat involve a large amount of arm movement, I was intrigued by the prospect of exercising with an app specifically designed for fitness, like the new app, Supernatural.
I tried a month of fitness and was amazed at how quickly it went. I loved it so much that I found myself hitting the subscribe button after my free trial expired.
Supernatural looks like a game
Supernatural felt like playing a game. That’s something I noticed the very first time after I put on my Quest Pro and installed the new app – because in many ways it is. At each lesson, in a beautiful nature scene or other stunning 360 degree environment, targets were flying towards me, appearing from portals from all directions. My goal was to hit with a truncheon or hit with boxing gloves and I earned points and received rewards as I progressed.
Points are based on a combination of accuracy and speed. If I hit a target, that’s good, and if I swing faster, that’s even better. In truth, I was so caught up in the experience, which involves so many more elements, that I rarely noticed the dots until after a practice segment was complete.
Music makes the difference
Getting around is easy and natural when there is music. It’s almost hard not to tap or swing when my favorite jams play. Working to a beat is always better and also adds a lot to the game. Supernatural has borrowed a page from rhythm games, flowing targets towards you, timing the choreography so you strike in time to the music. Finding the music that best suits your practice will inspire you to move from low intensity to medium and high intensity.
Supernatural includes a large library of songs, thanks to a partnership with Spotify, and it’s easy to find a workout that includes a particular artist or songs from your favorite genre. With the music rolling, swinging your arms, dodging and walking in time to the beat is like dancing.
Twenty minutes or even an hour can pass without realizing that you have already completed a full workout. The sweat, rapid pulse, and heavy breathing could be the best clues that you’re not just having fun.
Coaching took me further
The great thing about having a fitness coach is the added incentive to push a little harder, along with tips to help you stay safe in targeting your training for the greatest effectiveness. A VR app can’t compete with a personal trainer, allowing you to tailor specific workouts to individual needs.
Supernatural does a great job, however, of providing a variety of enthusiastic trainers and real fitness experts who gave me the extra motivation to finish strong, alerting me not to hold anything back since it was the last song and the Last 30 seconds.
A coach appeared on the screen, helping me through the setup process from the start. The coaches also asked me to do a warm-up before entering a set and ended each class with cool-down stretches to relieve muscle tension. Throughout the workout, the trainers shared boxing tips, personal stories, their love of the set’s particular songs, and advice on what was to come.
I had help with challenges, like 45 minutes of exercise ending with a “Molten Rock” boxing workout at what Supernatural calls a medium intensity level.
The coaches are also pretty active in the official Supernatural Facebook group, responding to comments and posting their own Supernatural at-home streams along with motivational tips and extras.
Find the right space
For any indoor exercise, a suitable room with enough space is needed to allow movement. This is also true for Supernatural’s VR workouts. Since I don’t wear shoes inside, a rubber mat keeps me from slipping. My wife and I practice yoga and these mats have served me well for my exercise. Supernatural sells round rubber mats specifically for this purpose.
I’m 6 feet tall, with long arms and legs, which meant I needed a fair amount of room to swing my arms, lunge, and punch while spinning in a circle. It turns out that your height and arm span are generally about the same. This meant a room with at least 6 feet by 6 feet clear on the floor for my feet and no objects at hand or waist height – for the new knee strike option.
Additional equipment for heart rate data
Supernatural creates an iPhone and Android app to help you stay on top of your fitness, sending alerts when it’s time to workout and keeping track of your favorite workouts, providing community features and monitoring your course as you progress to better physical condition.
If you have a compatible smartwatch or fitness tracker, your heart rate data will be recorded and displayed after each segment of a workout with details of how it increases and decreases during the class. The Apple Watch works great with Supernatural, but finding a compatible smartwatch for Android can be a bit tricky.
I use an iPhone and Apple Watch and connecting to the Supernatural app and viewing data in VR on the iPhone and Apple Watch was easy and intuitive. My wife uses a Google Pixel and couldn’t find a smartwatch or tracker she liked that would work. Armbands or armbands seem to be a more reliable solution for heart rate tracking when using an Android phone with Supernatural.
The month has passed
After a month of using Supernatural, I found the time was ticking and I was really disappointed the few times I didn’t find the time to take a few minutes to practice. Beautiful scenery and a wide variety of great music, from oldies to latest hits, along with cheering from fitness experts, added all the elements needed for fun, rhythmic exercise gamification.
It made it much easier to engage in cardio exercises, something I wanted to do regularly. I do a daily yoga practice and stay in pretty good shape, but I’ve always felt I needed to bring more movement into my life, especially during the winter months when the weather makes the outdoors less inviting.
I really enjoyed training and playing with Supernatural for a month without feeling like I had to work while training. My wife and I liked it so much we subscribed. Supernatural offers a seven-day free trial, and if you know someone who is already a subscriber, they may be able to send you an invite for a 30-day trial. At around $20 a month, it’s cheaper than a gym membership, and I found it to be well worth the money.
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