Losing Weight In VR With This VIVE Workout

This gamer has his own personal workout routine in VR and he’s already lost 12 lbs.

For those of you who’ve tried games like Audioshield on the HTC VIVE, you know how physically demanding it can be sometimes. It’s pretty easy to break a sweat within a few minutes of dancing your butt off while your hand-controllers flail in the air. Which raises the question — has anyone ever used VR as their daily workout routine?

Well now we have the answer — and his name is Tim Donahey.

A certified personal trainer and former competitive power lifter, Donahey was looking for alternative exercise routines to stay in shape after the birth of his son. The father turned gamer, who also rowed on his college crew team, decided to strap on a heart rate monitor and see what pushing himself in VR could do.

In his initial hour long test that included four different VR games as part of the workout, he burned an estimated 866 calories. Woah.

That’s when Donahey decided to challenge himself and kickoff a 50-day VR fitness challenge. The goal — lose 2 pounds a week, from a starting weight of 180.4 pounds, using only the VIVE in one-hour sessions.

We were able to checkin with Donahey who started his fitness challenge 40 days ago and he has already lost 12 pounds — exceeding his weekly weight loss goal of 2 pounds a week by 0.4 pounds. With an average calorie burn of around 700 per workout session, Donahey is right on track to hitting his goal of losing 14.3 pounds in 50 days.


The best thing about this workout is that anyone with a VIVE can do it from home too, with no coach or personal trainer required. Granted Donahey has been slowly ramping up the difficulty of workouts over the past 40 days by adding small weights to a vest, he does take a couple rest days during the week.

What does a VIVE workout routine look like?

Yeah, those are some pretty fun games, and that’s the point. Your perceived exertion will be much lower than your actual physical exertion — all because you’re having a good time.

Donahey’s VR workout game selection isn’t random either, chosen based on certain intensity levels and to help target specific muscle groups. Aside from the warmup and cool down, a boxing game like Thrill of the Fight was picked based on heavy upper body work. Holopoint, which has you dodging arrows, helps target his lower body while he squats to avoid being shot.


We’ll be keeping track of Donahey’s progress, checking in after he completes his 50 day challenge and share any key takeaways he may have. Either way, his experiment has shown results. Results that he has shared with the community and will hopefully inspire others to explore, showing that VR can be much more than a form of entertainment but can also be transformative.

“Best of all, every time I suit up my Vive, I actually feel like I’m accomplishing something.” said Donahey. “Gaming has never held a purpose for me before (other than fun) and this experience has really changed my perspective on what the possibilities of virtual reality can be. It’s actually helping me live a healthier lifestyle. Amazing.”

Now let’s be clear, weight loss is not completely a function of VR alone. As Donahey puts it, “Any weight loss requires a calorie deficit derived from some combination of calorie restriction and calorie burns.” So you can’t expect similar results with a VR workout routine unless you’re also watching what you eat.

So when you have that craving for a nice juicy fast food burger, you might want to get your fix in a game like Job Simulator instead.

Let us know if you’ve embarked on any VIVE workout routines yourself, we’d love to hear about it.

UPDATE (9/26/2016): Tim Donahey is now complete with his 50-day challenge and it was a success. He sent over some pics of his physical change along with the final results. Ton of hard work Tim, congratulations!




Starting Weight: 180.4
Current Weight: 166.0 lbs
Waist: Down 3.75 inches
Total Weight Loss: 14.4 lbs (Down 2.2 lbs for the week)
% of Goal Weight Completed (of 14.3lbs): 100.7%

Image Credit: Tim Donahey

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder of VRScout.

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