No doubt about it: Central Oregon's outdoor playground offers a wealth of fun and fitness all year 'round. From shusshing down the slopes or skate skiing in the Cascade snow in winter, to cruising the hundreds of miles of trails on foot or by bike in summer, to ascending a route in the birthplace of sport climbing in the U.S. at Smith Rock, locals and visitors alike have no shortage of opportunities for heart-pounding fun.
Only, in winter, when the sky is grey and the wind is howling, one might not exactly feel like embracing all things outdoors in Central Oregon. Same goes for those unfortunate days, weeks or even months when smoke fills the skies – seemingly every late summer these days. So what's a fitness-minded Bendite bent on outdoing, outskiing and out-everything-ing their friends on Strava to do? Well, maybe the metaverse will help. When the real world becomes too dystopian, just go more dystopian by cutting yourself off, donning a mask and entering, well, nearly any environment you might want to encounter.
Workouts employing a virtual reality headset are already out there, and buying workout games will set you back a lot less than some of the more shoot-em-up types (though according to VR headset maker Oculus, many of its non-fitness games, including Phantom: Covert Ops or PistolWhip will let you track calories and set fitness goals). The dedicated fitness app Supernatural has more than 500 workouts, including boxing and meditation sessions. FitXR has boxing features too – but also includes something more up my alley: Dance fitness workouts, as well as high-intensity interval training and a social component to let you work out "alongside" your friends. These are just two I checked out, but there are many more.
In our research for this Health and Fitness issue, we didn't find any IRL gyms in Central Oregon that are yet offering VR-type workouts in their facilities, but by this time next year, we predict there will be. In the meantime, consider this a major level-up in the at-home workout game.