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Can Virtual Personal Trainers make you look like a God?

Would you like vir­tu­al per­son­al train­ers help­ing you out? Could your work­out rou­tine use a non-judg­men­tal, yet crit­i­cal observ­er to your rou­tines and tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it for your max­i­mum ben­e­fit? The gam­i­fi­ca­tion of exer­cise might not be a nov­el­ty, but vir­tu­al real­i­ty use in per­son­al fit­ness is still in its ear­ly devel­op­ment stage. Fit­ness will now take new mean­ing as VR and AR con­nect to the fit­ness busi­ness. Get ready, vir­tu­al real­i­ty will cre­ate the world’s first immer­sive exer­cise class.

Here’s a quick look at some com­pa­nies that are jump­ing in, Pure Fit­ness from Pure Group has launched an ‘Immer­sive Fit­ness’ spin­ning class in its Hong Kong stu­dio. The pro­gram fea­tures videos of cin­e­mat­ic qual­i­ty which are pro­ject­ed onto the screens that are placed on three walls of the stu­dio. An instruc­tor gives sig­nals which are syn­chro­nized with the music and graph­ics. The vir­tu­al real­i­ty fit­ness spin­ning class imi­tates cycling through dif­fer­ent land­scapes which includes a futur­is­tic space city and a steep glacier.

Daniel Mestre, senior researcher at the French Nation­al Cen­ter for Sci­en­tif­ic Research said “Cou­pling exer­cise to vir­tu­al real­i­ty results in a more enjoy­able expe­ri­ence by con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing the exer­cise. It notably dis­tracts the par­tic­i­pant from exer­cise-induced pain.” With the devel­op­ment of vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­sets like the Sam­sung Gear VR, Ocu­lus Rift (jobs at Ocu­lus), Project Mor­pheus and more, the fit­ness indus­try which had sat­u­rat­ed, is now get­ting some new opportunities.

Run­tas­tic (jobs at Run­tas­tic), a fit­ness track­ing app unveiled its soft­ware for Ocu­lus Rift. Run­tas­tic for the Ocu­lus Rift is in its ear­ly demo ver­sion. Widerun has devel­oped a cycling kit that will work with Sam­sung Gear VR.  The users will be able to cycle along a cus­tomized track in the con­fines of their room, yet feel as if they are out­doors. Widerun is rais­ing funds on Kick­starter right now.

Here’s a great sto­ry about one of the founders of Y‑Combinator backed com­pa­ny called Smartspot, which has just raised $1.85 mil­lion from Khosla Ven­tures and Sig­nal­fire. Moaw­ia Eldeeb and his co-founder Joshua Augustin have their Smartspot sys­tem in 10 gyms already and are try­ing to build out a new per­son­al train­er program.

Moaw­ia Eldeeb grew up with his fam­i­ly on a vil­lage farm bor­der­ing the Nile, his father, who had been apply­ing every year for a green card for the past 15 years, for­tu­nate­ly had won one in the lot­tery. They left every­thing they had ever known behind and moved to New York. In the begin­ning, Eldeeb went to school for a few weeks. But the fam­i­ly need­ed mon­ey, so he start­ed work­ing 12-hour shifts at a piz­za shop to earn about $20 a day in Asto­ria, Queens.

The work shifts kept Eldeeb from attend­ing mid­dle school reg­u­lar­ly. Dur­ing high school, bad luck hit again. The house his fam­i­ly was liv­ing in burned down. They end­ed up in a Red Cross shel­ter. But there were ben­e­fits from being in a shel­ter, for the first time in a long time, the fam­i­ly didn’t have to wor­ry about rent. Food stamps were pay­ing for things to eat. Eldeeb could start to think about oth­er things like school.

He was a scrawny kid from Queens, but start­ed going to a free gym in Harlem. He start­ed to catch up on school by watch­ing Khan Acad­e­my videos. He fin­ished 11th and 12th grade in a sin­gle year, then went to Queens Col­lege and got an applied math degree in 2 1/2 years. He heard about a trans­fer pro­gram to Colum­bia and made the switch to study com­put­er sci­ence. Through­out his entire time in col­lege, Eldeeb would work as a per­son­al train­er, using the skills he learned in that Harlem gym to coach oth­ers and make extra money.

In Columbia’s com­put­er sci­ence pro­gram, Eldeeb would also end up meet­ing his co-founder Joshua Augustin, who was study­ing com­put­er vision. Because per­son­al train­ing had been so trans­for­ma­tive for Eldeeb, he want­ed to fig­ure out a way to make it more acces­si­ble to every­one else. In big cities like New York and San Fran­cis­co, train­ers can cost $100 or more an hour. It’s pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive. They built a set-up that mix­es a Kinect (jobs at Xbox Kinect) cam­era and a large flatscreen TV. It records your work out and can point out when your angles are off or if your pos­ture is mis­aligned. It also has timers so you can track and con­trol how long you rest between reps.

“When I was a per­son­al train­er, I could see how almost every­one else in the gym was doing the exer­cis­es wrong. They couldn’t afford a train­er, and the whole dream here is to make train­ing more afford­able to the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion… This is the first time where per­son­al train­ing is not with a per­son stand­ing next to you,” Eldeeb said.

More impor­tant­ly, Smartspot keeps video logs so that if you want a per­son­al train­er to review your progress, you can do it more afford­ably. With Smartspot’s sys­tems, Eldeeb and Augustin think that this would make it eas­i­er for peo­ple to rely on train­ers from oth­er parts of the coun­try or even the world to review their progress, cor­rect their tech­nique and moti­vate them. They sell the equip­ment for $2,500 to gyms. Gym mem­bers can use it for free, but if they want addi­tion­al per­son­al train­ing, they can pay a frac­tion of the cost of a nor­mal per­son­al train­er to have one review their work­outs and coach them on technique.

Wow, now I want to go run out and get a good work­out going, I think this is just the begin­ning, Vir­tu­al Fit­ness will prob­a­bly because so com­mon­place and with the com­put­er aid­ed per­for­mance guides, you’ll be in amaz­ing shape in no time, just stop eat­ing like a pig. As for the tech­nol­o­gy, the media indus­try, adver­tis­ers have a whole new way of get­ting in front their customers.

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