Fitting in fitness is easier said than done a lot of the time – but what if virtual fitness could be a thing? To figure out what it actually is, we asked the director of women’s strategy at Zwift, Kate Veronneau, for the lowdown.
Capsule: What exactly IS virtual reality fitness?
Kate: Virtual reality fitness is technology that allows you to exercise in somewhat of a simulation. Zwift is a running and cycling platform that allows users to train, exercise or race in a virtual, video-game world.
The smart technology allows the platform to accurately track your real life pace and effort and creates an immersive, social fitness experience. As you ride and run through the virtual world, you can actually feel yourself on up or down hills, or go over cobblestones or dirt roads, adding to the reality.
Can you tell us about what trends you’re seeing in fitness as a whole for 2023?
Shorter and more targeted workouts will be a key trend in the fitness sector in 2023. More than 60% of New Zealanders now work from home at least once per week, and this flexibility has given us more opportunity to squeeze in a quick workout during the workday. At Zwift, we have seen a huge increase in demand on shorter rides, and have doubled the number of 30 minute structured workouts on the platform going into 2023. Being able to smash out a 30 minute block of fitness then hit the showers before heading back to the desk is also a really positive outcome for often sedentary office workers.
We saw online classes increase in popularity when nationwide lockdowns began in 2020, but only a few fitness organisations have stuck to offering both virtual and in-person classes once these restrictions were lifted. As more people continue to be able to work from anywhere, they will also want to be able to workout from anywhere. I think we will continue to see an increase in traditional fitness providers offering hybrid style memberships heading into 2023.
The benefits of exercising in nature were super front of mind over the last couple of years, but as we settle back into our new normal, people will be looking for new ways to reap those benefits. Bringing the outdoors in, to feel like you’re exercising in nature, will become a bigger health trend in 2023. An easy way that I like to do this is to bring more houseplants into my workout space, to improve the air quality in the room.
Why try virtual fitness? After all, you can just head outside, right?
Absolutely! Exercising outdoors has so many benefits, as we saw during lockdowns when more people were getting outside for fresh air and for a change of scenery. However, working out outdoors also has a number of variables, like weather, location, and even the number of people around, which all can be another reason why you may put off your workout. Working out in virtual reality, like Zwift, allows you to control those additional variables, whilst still getting variety in your day, and staying consistent with your fitness goals.
What are some of the benefits?
Working out from the comfort and convenience of your home allows you to workout with exactly what you need when you need it, whether that be a certain length of workout, a certain type of workout, and rain of shine you can find exactly what you need.
Many women carry a heavier domestic load once becoming mothers, so virtual fitness is a great way to fit exercise in around your schedule, when you’re at home with the kids or the baby is sleeping.
Two big benefits that women appreciate about Zwift are safety and community. Not everyone lives in a place that they feel comfortable riding or running on the roads. Zwift offers a safe space and a supportive, global community for added motivation. As many may already know, training together is better!
Why is it that only 80% of people stick to their fitness goals, do you think?
Some people find it hard to stick to their fitness goals in the new year as it can be hard to track progress. When you can’t see the changes happening it can be easy to get discouraged and not keep up with your goals. The beauty of fitness technology, like Zwift or smart watches, is that it helps keep track of those smaller changes and progress that you may not notice otherwise. This data is super beneficial to both tracking and meeting your goals.
Find something you love doing and stick with it! So often when it comes to fitness, people jump into trends, what everyone else is doing, or what they think they should be doing to keep fit. Exercise should be fun and something you do to feel good, so find a type of movement or exercise that feels more like a hobby and you will be more likely to stick with it.