What it's like to box in the Metaverse

After a full hour of jabs and uppercuts on top of a volcano in Iceland, I took off my Oculus headset and indulged in extra-long savasana on the living room floor. I was covered in sweat. As I lay there catching my breath and readjusting to my non-VR environment, my dog ​​came over and licked my salty arms while the sounds of "Below Deck" drifted from the TV in front of me.

I've been testing boxing workouts on the virtual reality fitness app Supernatural. Basically, I was working out in a virtual universe this vast, connected world based on virtual reality that was about to become a big thing. As at-home workouts become the norm, working out in a virtual universe is likely to be the way to go for living room sweat sessions. Like, sooner than you think — Metaverse has become a space where you can date, trade cryptocurrencies, and shop.

Supernatural launched cardio-based workouts, guided meditation and recovery classes about a year ago, and added boxing to its fitness offerings in October. Boxing is actually the perfect exercise to do in a virtual reality environment: just like Mortal Kombat, Primal Fury and other classic video games based on one-on-one combat, punching a moving target (located far away) e.g. Set against the backdrop of the Sahara Desert and Mount Everest - it feels a lot like...a video game. Only this time, it's like a high-tech version of the Nintendo Wii.

Whether the thought of a virtual universe makes you sweat with anxiety or you're ready to embrace the world of VR, you have to admit: it's fun. Read on to learn about my boxing experience on Supernatural, which might inspire you to buy an Oculus headset and continue your YouTube workout routine from the past year.

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Like everything else in Metaverse, you'll need a VR device to access Supernatural's workouts—an Oculus Quest 2, to be exact, which retails for $299 (or $399 if you want more storage) . The headset and its accessories are included, along with two controllers. Once you've got a game and are in VR, you can download Supernatural from the MetaQuest App Store. After the free trial, membership costs $18.99 per month or $179.99 per year.

Supernatural's boxing, stretching, meditation, and so-called "flow" workouts, aka high-intensity rhythmic movements, illuminate every part of the body, All classes take place in scenic hotspots around the world and are led by one of the app's instructors, with new classes added every week. For boxing, you can choose from three different difficulty levels: low, medium, and high intensity. Once you select a level, hit start to instantly teleport to one of 100 3D random destinations (these are shot live in 360 degrees, so they're about as realistic as you can get without actually being there). This is a key feature that makes Metaverse really cool.

Let me give you a rundown of places to exercise in Supernatural, for reference: Machu Picchu, the Rongbuk Glacier in Tibet, the surface of the moon, the pyramids of Egypt. If my eight-year-old Super Nintendo lover knew about this technology, her head would explode.

Supernatural also has the added benefit of providing a great playlist for your workout sessions, so you don't have to endure listening to the licensable background music from some fitness apps and YouTube workouts. While you work up a sweat, you'll hear pop music from top musicians and bands like Billie Eilish, Lizzo, James Brown, and Fleetwood Mac.

What boxing is like on Supernatural

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Let me start by saying this is my first foray into VR. As soon as my Oculus opened and took me to the Supernatural app, I was already blown away: when you enter the main menu, you're in some beautiful mountainous terrain, with orange-peach skies and vibrant green grass. The Smack-dab in the middle is a widget where you can use your controller to browse workout offerings, which you can filter by playlist, length, and intensity level.

I started with the boxing tutorial (which I highly recommend even if you are a boxing pro). A coach named Coach Leanne (real life person) Suddenly appearing in front of me - standing on a mat in a glacial lake with mountains in the background - he started talking to me about the basics of boxing before I did some practice. Basically, bubble-shaped targets fly towards you, and the direction they're facing indicates what kind of punch you should use to hit it. There are also long strips that look like lightsabers that you have to dodge by dodging or weaving (punching defensive moves). After the six-minute tutorial, I felt like I had the speed down.

Then came my first real boxing workout. I started my 14-minute session and was greeted by a trainer named Coach Doc in front of an ancient temple in Egypt, and before I knew it, bubbles and wands were coming at me pretty fast. Bubbles explode every time you hit a target, which is incredibly satisfying. Throughout the training, Coach Doc's voice motivated me to keep going and constantly reminded me to pay attention to form. Fast forward to the end of the class and I was surprisingly sweaty and out of breath. When you complete a workout, a screen pops up showing statistics like your accuracy and score, so for those of you who are competitive or like to track your activity, you can keep tabs on your progress.

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Despite being in the 5 x 7 foot diameter area of ​​a small New York City kitchen, all I could see (360 degrees around me) were the stunning lake or desert scenes that any given workout took me to. This is a huge difference from what I typically see when I'm sweating around the house (e.g. sink full of dishes, my husband watching TV, my dog ​​jumping around).

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Supernatural fitness director Leanne Pedante said the platform's scenic locations do more than just allow you to (virtually) travel around the world. "Paranormal and virtual reality are completely immersive, so you're completely immersed in what you're doing," she tells Bustle, noting that it might be the only time in your day when you're not multitasking. This also allows you to exercise without any judgment from others and yourself. "Without a mirror, you don't have to worry about looking stupid or comparing yourself to the people around you," Pedante said.

Another benefit? Compared to real boxing, swiping at a target with an Oculus controller is completely safe. "You never have to worry about getting hit in the face," Pedante noted. But despite being an imaginary target, you still feel like you're hitting something. "We use something called haptic feedback, so even if you don't actually hit an object, every time you connect with your fist, there's this perfectly timed vibration in your controller that feels like you hit The same satisfying crack you get when punching a bag.”

Overall, Supernatural's gamified take on boxing is what really sets it apart. Every time I exercise on the platform, I don't feel like I'm exercising: it feels like I'm playing a game. If you're not in the mood for a fitness class or have trouble sticking to a workout routine, this form of exercise may appeal to you. You'll get a dose of cardio (and the resulting feel-good endorphins), exercise your entire body, and practice your boxing skills—all while having real fun. While you're not hitting the bag, you're still working the same muscles as you would in a more traditional boxing class... which means I still feel that familiar soreness in my arms and abs.

If digital fitness is making its way into VR, I'd personally like to incorporate it into my weekly workout routine. As a person holding a BlackBerry 2007 protests The iPhone's new touchscreen technology says a lot.