Back

I worked out in a new gym powered by VR and the metaverse; I am convinced that it is the future of fitness

image 50

Goodbye Peloton, hello metaverse training, I ran on the moon on a virtual reality (VR) treadmill, and now I’m convinced it’s the future of the fitness industry. I’ll explain, with a photo gallery:

Roam149 is one of the latest gyms to open in the New York neighborhood of Chelsea

Brittany Chang/Insider

Inside, there’s a wall lined with equipment like free weights, Bosus, and a squat rack.

Brittany Chang/Insider

On the other side are rows of treadmills individually separated by a thin “wall”

Brittany Chang/Insider

And there’s a secret hidden in this team

Brittany Chang/Insider

These are not the typical treadmills available at the gym every day

These are VR powered treadmills. Take your runners to a metaverse of unique trails without the need for headphones, according to the company

Brittany Chang/Insider

Sounds interesting? I agree. And that’s why I decided to visit her

Brittany Chang/Insider

When I first walked in, my “gim-shyness” and I didn’t know what to expect. Training in a metaverse? Do I look like Mark Zuckerberg’s personal trainer to you?

I had my doubts, but now that I’ve tried the technology, I’m hooked

Brittany Chang/Insider

Luckily, variety is built into Roam149’s workouts, which focus on an “immersive” treadmill

Brittany Chang/Insider

I work out at least five days a week and tend to get bored with strict and monotonous routines, so variety is definitely an important factor for me

Sure there are several fitness stores with treadmills in New York

Brittany Chang/Insider

However, none have Roam149’s pièce de résistance, their “versafit pods”

Brittany Chang/Insider

Personally, I have never liked running that way. He used to say, “Run outside,” even though she knew treadmills put less stress on runners’ joints.

But when it’s scorching hot or unbearably cold, running outside can be intolerable for many people.

A normal treadmill will suffice. But many experienced runners will tell you that it’s not the same experience as running outdoors, especially if you’re a trail runner who likes to battle the ups and downs of terrain.

That’s where Roam149 comes in.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Its treadmills work in tandem with the different programmed paths and routes, inclining and descending smoothly and immediately according to the selected environment.

Brittany Chang/Insider

To create a more immersive race, each device is oriented towards a large monitor; it is separated from its neighbor by black barriers to “create an illusion of light flow,” explains Sid Raman, founder of Roam149

Brittany Chang/Insider

Raman, who has a background in robotics, thought of this idea in July 2020

“My goal was to see if I could get the person as close to immersion in the scene [as possible],” Raman said.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Riders can use the rail-mounted touch screen to select a course

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

They can choose between the complete route of the New York marathon, a tropical beach or even the moon.

From there, all controls are handled by arm movements via the wall-mounted camera.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

No need to look down to select a specific button

For example, to start the course or increase speed, raise your right arm to a 90-degree angle

Brittany Chang/Insider

To stop, extend both arms

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

And unlike a traditional treadmill, there’s no need to manually adjust the incline or decline.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

Roam149’s platform automatically tilts to mimic the uphill and downhill gradients you see on your monitor while running.

It’s these changes that make running feel like you’re doing it on the real track.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And because it’s positioned so close to the big screen, racing in the “metaverse” is completely immersive without the need for a VR headset.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

I was amazed at how smoothly the treadmill moved across the terrain

Brittany Chang/Insider

During the moon walk, it felt like I was running in a rocky environment, but without fear of twisting my ankle.

And as I navigated the map and its slopes, I felt the ups and downs change as fast as I could move.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

The company also let me wear the Xero Shoes running sandals while I tried out the gear.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

“The treadmill feels even more alive when you’re wearing minimalist shoes,” Raman said.

Flat sandals kept me on the balls of my feet. And the next morning, I woke up with unusually sore calves.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Outside of this virtual space, running in Manhattan can be tricky

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

We must fight against the packs of slow walkers that occupy the entire sidewalk, the lampposts and, what is worse, the severe harassment

But at Roam149 I didn’t have to deal with any of this…

Brittany Chang/Insider

…yet I was still able to do a dynamic ride that was more entertaining than my typical run around town

Brittany Chang/Insider

Being able to explore new paths—whether underwater or through a Tibetan monastery—made the race engaging, fun, and game-like.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

Don’t get me wrong: I still like to run outside in the morning.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

But Roam149 showed me a side of racing built into VR that I didn’t know existed.

I felt like I was experiencing what could be the future of the fitness industry in the metaverse

Brittany Chang/Insider

The gym turns running into a game with unlimited possibilities

And you’ll never get bored—the team can add trails and rides “by the dozen” on a monthly basis, Raman said.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

Roam149 designers and engineers can create any track your heart desires

Brittany Chang/Insider

The equipment can also reproduce real courses, such as the route of the Boston Marathon, with recorded images

Brittany Chang/Insider

But if you are more interested in fitness multiplayer, Roam149 also has the perfect team building platform for your interests.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Each course has two options: a preset trail or a free run without a path

When you’re in a free run, you can explore the entire map by changing your direction using intuitive gestures (pointing your arm in the direction you want to run)

And if you want to compete with other racers, you can enter the multiplayer mode to see the other racers on your screen

Brittany Chang/Insider

Raman looks to integrate more tasks like jumping to make it more game-like

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

And it’s not just about running. Roam149 also has group “fusion” classes

Brittany Chang/Insider

These classes integrate weight and strength training, yoga and meditation with sound healing and color therapy to create a diverse workout.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

The integration of “sound healing” through Tibetan singing bowls and color therapy through changing LED lights in the ceiling can seem “woo-woo” and counterintuitive for an otherwise very activity-focused workout. virtual reality, robotics and metaverses.

But in this case, the juxtaposition created a complete routine and a perfect meditative ending to the workout.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Gym access for non-members costs $34 per visit, although you can pay $400 per month

Brittany Chang/Insider

If you prefer a more personalized training, you can also book a 60-minute private session for $150

Brittany Chang/Insider

And if you’re treadmill averse, the startup will soon be integrating “ground-following technology” into more platforms.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider

Imagine a cycling platform with real ups and downs. Or a rowing machine with the sensation of fighting against the waves. The startup is creating both.

Also, depending on business in the coming months, Raman could consider opening more locations, expanding its products, or even licensing its technology for use by existing treadmill companies.

At some point, the fitness company might even sell its treadmills directly to consumers. But for now, that is not part of the immediate business plan.

fitness metaverso
Brittany Chang/Insider