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Les Mills is jumping into the metaverse with VR boxing

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Popular fitness club Les Mills is punching and kicking its way into the metaverse with a new VR game, BODYCOMBAT VR. The $29.99 game is an extension of an existing workout series that combines shadowboxing with martial arts and is available on the Meta Quest platform.

The game was developed by VR studio Odder Labs and is led by Les Mills BODYCOMBAT directors Rachael Newsham and Dan Cohen. According to Les Mills’ press release, the game incorporates classic boxing moves like jabs, hooks, and uppercuts, as well as squats and slips to dodge walls. Other moves include grabbing targets to slam into a user’s knee. Levels are set against “intergalactic deserts and neo-city skylines” and set to curated playlists. Players earn points for both technique and effort. There are 25 training sessions spanning multiple difficulties, and Newsham and Cohen are there throughout to provide coaching tips.

If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because popular VR fitness app Supernatural did this not too long ago. In October, Supernatural added boxing to its workout repertoire, and the mechanics look awfully similar to the ones shown in the BODYCOMBAT VR trailer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Les Mills and Supernatural each have their own devoted fanbases, and not everyone wants to pay for multiple subscriptions. According to the official Meta Quest Help Twitter, BODYCOMBAT VR is a one-time purchase, with the option for additional subscriptions later down the line.

Les Mills is among one of the more tech-savvy fitness brands out there. It’s got Les Mills Plus (formerly Les Mills OnDemand), a subscription streaming service that’s compatible with a wide variety of platforms, including Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox. The service launched back in 2015, well before the pandemic lockdowns sent many brick-and-mortar gym franchises scrambling to create online content to cater to the burgeoning at-home fitness craze.

Les Mills is showing some of that same forward thinking by embracing the metaverse, as many believe VR is the next frontier for fitness tech. During the Facebook-to-Meta rebranding, CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized fitness as one area where the metaverse had an opportunity to grow. The fact that Meta then scooped up Supernatural developer Within soon after while also offering an “Active Pack” of fitness-focused accessories for the Quest 2 is further proof of Zuckerberg’s bullishness on VR fitness.

But while Les Mills may be among the first big-name fitness brands to venture into VR, it’s not the only one to explore gaming. Before things started to roll downhill, Peloton also announced last year it was working on an in-app cycling video game called Lanebreak.

Again, fitness gaming is not a new phenomenon. Wii Fit, Dance Dance Revolution, Beat Saber, Just Dance, and Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure are just some titles that folks have used to burn calories over the years. There are also several other VR fitness games available on the Meta Quest platform. However, many of these are games that happen to offer a fitness benefit. What we’re starting to see now is fitness brands creating workouts that happen to be games.

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