HOLOFIT’s been available for about a year in gyms, but it's now received a proper Oculus Quest home release as well. It’s unique in that it can connect to real-world equipment, so if you have a bike, elliptical, or rowing machine at home (even a dusty one), you can sync HOLOFIT and bike through San Francisco, row around the Arctic, and more—or just use your Touch controllers to simulate the same movements, if you’re looking for something lower-impact.
We sat down with Holodia COO and Founder Bojana Knezevic to discuss the development of HOLOFIT, moving from gym-gyms to home-gyms, and tips for managing sweat while biking through virtual Paris.
How did the idea for HOLOFIT come about?
Bojana Knezevic: I always hated cardio. Whether it was on my home elliptical, my partner’s rowing machine, or when I was a gym member and the coach would tell me, “Now you need to do 30 minutes on the bicycle,” I found it the most challenging and most boring part of my fitness routine.
But I also knew that if I wanted to be fit and healthy, I had to get a minimum of three cardio workouts per week. It was a must.
One of my good friends, Olivier, is a VR pro. He’s done tons of gaming and created multiple VR applications—and he also struggled with fitness. One day he said to me, “The only thing that would make me work out is if I could play a game at the same time.” And some time later, HOLOFIT was born.
HOLOFIT lets you use your existing exercise equipment, like a bike or rowing machine, as part of your VR workout. How did you make that happen? And how does HOLOFIT work if you don’t have additional equipment?
BK: HOLOFIT connects to rowing machines, bikes, and ellipticals via Bluetooth, which transfers all of your workout data into virtual reality for perfect synchronization. However, HOLOFIT can be used without the machine. We call it HOLOFIT Freestyle.
In HOLOFIT Freestyle, you simulate running, rowing, and cycling though our amazing VR worlds using only your bodyweight and controllers for a series of arm, shoulder, back, core, ab, and leg exercises. We’ll be adding more sports to HOLOFIT Freestyle and offering programs that tackle all the fitness challenges: weight loss, endurance, and performance improvement.
And you can work out on your own or with others in the HOLOFIT Online Multiplayer. Start a race, choose a distance, and see if you can get to the finish line first!
For a long time, HOLOFIT was targeted mostly at gyms. What work needed to be done (if any) to make HOLOFIT viable for people to use in their own homes?
BK: Initially, HOLOFIT was targeted mainly at gyms only because VR equipment used to be a very big investment for a very niche market. With high-quality standalone headsets like Quest breaking through into the mainstream though, the story changed completely.
As far as HOLOFIT itself, only some minor user experience details changed. Everything else is just the regular improvements, content updates, and feature upgrades that we release on a monthly basis.
How has HOLOFIT grown and expanded since its initial release? What lessons have you learned along the way?
BK: HOLOFIT has only been out for a year, and our community has been growing exponentially. We’ve seen first-hand how VR fitness helps people stay motivated and stick with their workouts, and that’s been one of the most rewarding aspects of our journey. We’ve also collected some success stories from our brand ambassadors.
In fact, our community is one of the biggest values we bring to our users. It’s incredible to see how our members interact, support, and motivate each other. What we’ve learned is the value we bring to different people in this community and how we can develop further to support both those that have otherwise not been very active and have finally started moving with HOLOFIT and those that are active fitness people that need the extra push and variety in their workouts.
We’ve also been surprised by the learnings and the member profiles that we see in our communities. We’ve learned how to use gamification in a smart way to make people forget they’re working out and help them increase their effort and workout time.
HOLOFIT features real-world exercise (like a bike tour of San Francisco) alongside more fantastical adventures under the sea and into space. Which type do you prefer, and do you see a lot of variation among users?
BK: I think that balance is key. Our community is divided. Those who lean toward fitness tend to prefer the more realistic adventures, while those who lean toward games tend to prefer the fantasy. Even our team is divided—our developers love creating the fantasy environments, while our marketing team loves the world based on Paris.
That’s why we will try to balance out our new releases and do content that offers enough variety for all. I personally like to do my HOLOFIT 15-minute HIIT workouts in Tropical, and do the more relaxed Explore workouts in Antarctica. It puts me in an almost meditative state, and I just enjoy rowing with the polar bear running next to me.
What’s your personal favorite exercise in HOLOFIT?
BK: For a regular workout, I always go for Explore mode in Babylon, Antarctica, or Paris. I simply choose one of the music playlists, set my own pace, and go around exploring and collecting hidden trophies.
If I’m in the mood for a tough workout, and this is usually when I’m under stress and need a relief, I go for the guided HIIT or Fat Burn training. It’s only 15 minutes long, but set it at “Difficult” level and you’ll have a killer workout. And it burns up to 400 calories, so it’s a double win.
Any tips for managing sweat when working out with the headset on? Headset hygiene tips?
BK: We always recommend getting washable VR covers. You can use wet wipes to simply wipe the cover after using, and you can wash them in the washing machine every so often. You can also get a thin headband to wear under the headset to soak up all the sweat.
I understand how sweat can seem like an issue, but it really isn’t that big of a deal. We even have members who do half-marathons with HOLOFIT on a regular basis.
What’s next for you? Any updates in the works?
BK: We have so many things planned! We constantly ask for feedback from our members that we plug into our feedback tracker, and every two weeks the team sits down, goes through the ideas submitted by our members, and places them into our roadmap.
Some of the things we have planned for 2021 are wider compatibility for heart rate monitors, new and improved gamification across HOLOFIT, new and improved companion app for tracking workout data, effort-based HOLOFIT levels, and a lot more.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BK: We are finally at the moment when VR goes mainstream, and that’s thanks to Quest 2.
Connecting with friends and family around the world and seeing each other in VR is amazing. Having a run with your pals or a challenging workout with your cousins on the other side of the country is great—and something you would never otherwise be able to do.
VR has changed the lives of so many of our members, and we are thankful to be able to make that positive impact. I’d like to ask you to join us, and discover how fitness can be both fun and effective.
Ready to break a sweat in VR? Check out HOLOFIT on the Quest Platform today—and be sure to take a selfie after your workout and tag @Oculus with #MoveForReal to share that post-workout high with the Oculus community.