Gamified fitness: The immersive workouts bringing exercise into the 21st Century


Fancy burning calories on the moon? Or practicing yoga in Hawaii? Well, now you can — without ever leaving your living room. Thanks to the evolution of gamified fitness, the latest trend taking the wellbeing industry by storm, anything is possible and it’s tempting even the most gym shy of us to get sweaty. 

It might sound like a new concept, but you’ve probably already tried gamified fitness. Wii Fit, the exergaming video console that enabled your Mii to run around an idyllic town on the imaginary Wuhu Island with the flick of a remote, was released in 2007 and sold millions of units in just a couple of months. You’re probably familiar with Just Dance too: the dancing video game that hit shelves in 2009 and encouraged players to let loose in their lounges with its specially-choreographed routines to the Spice Girls, MC Hammer and The Beach Boys. 

So, what’s new? Quite a lot, actually. The gamified fitness industry has only become more innovative and immersive in the past decade, now offering gamers and exercise enthusiasts the best of both worlds thanks to the optional use of a virtual reality (VR) headset. If Wii users were astonished by the graphics of Wuhu Island, they better strap themselves in for what 2023’s gamified fitness apps have in store. Jog along the shores of the Isle of Wight or the Maldives thanks to the integration of Google Street View, or enjoy a boxing session in the mountains with the help of high-quality CGI backgrounds that wouldn’t look out of place in Avatar. 

gamified fitness

Image: Shutterstock

“Gamified fitness can be a lot of things, but it’s fundamentally a way to add motivation and interest to fitness by applying techniques and experiences from the gaming world,” explains Betina Evancha, Peloton’s vice president of product strategy. The fitness giant had been building momentum for years before it exploded onto the at-home workout scene during the pandemic, providing users with high-quality training in the form of bike, cardio and strength sessions. Its Scenic Rides, which were added to the Peloton portfolio in 2021, transported users to breathtaking locations across the world, from the winding roads of Hawaii to the desert terrain of the African Savanna — a welcome escape for many during the height of lockdown. 

“Peloton has been interested in gamified fitness for a long time,” says Evancha. “Some of the earliest features on the Peloton Bike were the in-class leaderboard, which allows you to compete with other people in the class in real-time, and achievements and personal records, which challenge you to collect new experiences and improve your performance over time.”.

Peloton’s Lanebreak is a stellar example of gamified fitness. Here, users are encouraged to match and sustain their resistance and cadence according to on-screen cues in order to get the highest score possible, all while training in an outer-space-like environment.

“We also saw a gap in the market,” explains Evancha of its creation. “While we had seen games on exercise machines before, we were seeing either high-quality motivating games that didn’t translate to high-quality workouts, or workout-focused games that were only leveraging gaming in a shallow way. Lanebreak was created to combine the expertly-designed interval structure of a great workout with immersion in beautiful graphics, top-notch playlists, and game mechanics that help you push yourself. It manages to inspire you to work hard, and be very fun at the same time.” 

gamified fitness

Image: Shutterstock

So, what are the benefits of choosing something like Lanebreak over your usual HIIT or weights session? “We often hear Peloton members say that our instructors motivate them to workout harder than they would on their own,” says Evancha. “We think the same thing is true of gamified fitness: it can keep you engaged when your attention might flag at the gym, and the natural urge to win the game can help you push yourself harder at crucial moments than you otherwise would.”

Peloton isn’t the only fitness app incorporating elements of gaming into its workouts. Here’s our guide to the best gamified fitness and VR exercise apps to try now. 


A surefire way to work up a sweat, FitXR is a specialised fitness platform that hosts five immersive studios accessed with or without a VR headset. With controllers in each hand, choose from a boxing, sculpt, HIIT, dance or combat class led by experienced instructors who will motivate you on-screen. Players can choose their workout environments, from seafront studios to urban gyms, as well as playing alongside friends and family thanks to the shareable multiplayer workout link. 



If you really are interested in boxing on the moon, VR-orientated fitness brand Supernatural is the platform to sign up to. Its range of breathtaking destinations, ranging from the ruins of Machu Picchu to the surface of Mars, isn’t just what makes it popular. You can practically meet your instructor face-to-face thanks to your VR headset, and there’s plenty of classes to choose from, including boxing, full-body cardio, guided and non-guided meditations and stretching sessions. 



VZFit allows you to experience the planet’s beauty through Google Street View, so you can workout in your hometown, favourite holiday spot or a new destination such as the snow-capped Italian Alps or the sun-kissed beaches of Oahu. There are two types of workout on offer: Bike or Board, with the latter involving full-body workouts on a virtual balance board. What could be better than getting fit while exploring the globe? 



Named one of the best inventions of 2022 by Time magazine, Tripp focuses on exercising the mind rather than the body with its range of guided mindfulness sessions set against a backdrop of stunning landscapes. Put on the VR headset and relax with the help of images and videos which aim to slow down your thoughts and encourage focused self-contemplation. 


The Climb

Perfect for those who love rock climbing, The Climb takes your favourite sport to new heights as you experience stunning environments while enjoying a challenging climb. Try to beat the clock as you ascend each route or mountain, before ziplining through cities, clambering up ladders, swinging on ropes, and finding your way to the top of towering skyscrapers in an urban jungle. The unique gaming gloves and watches track your movements as you imitate a climb at home, allowing you to decide where to put your foot or hand next to reach the top. 


Read more: The best pregnancy-safe fitness classes in London

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