Nothing makes me feel like a badass more than when I'm in a gym pounding away at a punching bag. I end up having so much fun when I'm boxing that I forget that I can hardly breathe and my arms feel like heavy noodles. I love it so much I even taught aerobic kickboxing one summer in college.
I thought I'd explored all of my boxing options, but then I came across Supernatural VR—a virtual reality game that allows you to box in some pretty epic places, like the pyramids of Giza and outer space.
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To play Supernatural VR, you need two things: the Meta Quest 2 ($299+) and the Supernatural subscription. The Quest 2 is a virtual reality headset you use to play the game. For the membership, you can either do a monthly subscription ($19 plus tax) or an annual one ($180 plus tax). Once you've got the necessary hardware and software, you get to dive into a whole new (and sweaty) world.
Why I love to play Supernatural VR
I first started playing Supernatural VR in late 2021. The pandemic was still raging, and here in New York City, going into a gym or a group fitness class wasn't all that appealing to me. So I was excited to try something new. I went to an event with Supernatural where I put on the headset and played in a hotel room with about six Supernatural employees watching. If that sounds like nightmare fuel, that's because it is. However, the game was so fun and engaging I almost forgot about my captive audience.
It was my first time trying virtual reality anything, and my jaw was on the floor. You start the game with an introductory session that teaches you what the different symbols mean and how to punch, duck, and slip the right way. Even this was mind-blowing—I could look up, down, and around and was in a totally different world. Plus, the graphics were killer: instantly reactive, and crystal clear. I was no longer in a hotel room in Manhattan. I was atop a mountain and then floating above a river. The realism alone is enough to want to play.
Once the instructions were over, the real fun began. I was able to select a class according to the level of difficulty, the length of time, and the playlist. That last bit is what really sold me. I live and breathe music and a crappy playlist can totally turn me off a workout. So being able to know exactly what songs I'll be sweating to is a major bonus.
Then, it's go-time: Start playing and hang out in different environments while you hit and dodge the targets, changing the type of punch and the direction of your slips according to symbols on the screen—think of it like Guitar Hero but for your entire body. After just one 15-minute session I was drenched in sweat and completely sold.
I love it so much that I've continued playing it for the past two years. New playlists and instructors regularly pop up so you always have something new to try out (hence the membership—you're paying for regular access to new content). And because you literally enter a virtual game to play, it truly feels like you're getting out of the house.
The benefits of boxing
Yes, Supernatural is a game but it's a real, full-body boxing workout. Your arms are constantly up and moving, your core gets a workout through side-to-side slips, and your legs get in on the action too since you have to duck below targets that are so low you're sent into a squat. That's why it's the favorite workout for heart health for leading cardiologist Lance LaMotte, MD, FACC.
Boxing "engages the core. The footwork required enhances agility and lower body strength. It is absolutely demanding on the arms and shoulders, and builds muscle and definition," Dr. LaMotte who is also the owner of a boxing club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, previously told Well+Good. “The best thing is that no experience is necessary. Even the novice gets a great workout starting day one. Those with experience continue to reap these benefits and further refine skills for even better workout quality.”
Plus, boxing can act as a form of moving meditation. I find that I'm so focused while boxing, it gives my brain a break from the never-ending to-do list that runs in the background.
“While some people may have the impression from movies and TV that boxing is chaotic, the sport is actually very meditative due to the high level of focus it requires,” says FightCamp trainer Aaron Swenson. “By fully concentrating on the task at hand, you are forced to switch off the outside world and avert these daily stressors. The workout leaves no room for daydreaming or creating a mental to-do list.”
Why Supernatural is the best VR fitness game
Because I love Supernatural so much, I tried a handful of other VR workout apps, hoping to add more to my routine. But none of them were as good as Supernatural. The interfaces weren't nearly as cool and the playlists were boring.
Luckily, if I have a day when I'm not in the mood to box, Supernatural also offers three additional modalities: flow, meditate, and stretch. Flow is similar to boxing, except instead of punching targets you rhythmically hit them with what looks like a chic, futuristic bat. Meditate and stretch are exactly what they sound like—you're guided through by an instructor and are able to totally bliss out in your own little world.
If you're looking to get more movement in a way that feels super fun and gamified, I'd say that Supernatural VR is absolutely the way to go.
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