Oculus adds subscriptions to fitness apps: Is this its Peloton moment?
A wave of new new multiplayer, subscription-based apps, including FitXR, looks like a trend for where immersive fitness is heading
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
I threw punches alongside a handful of other player-ghosts, all lined up around me. An animated trainer challenged us from the front of the room. I was playing with a bunch of people from FitXR, one of the most popular fitness apps on the Oculus Quest. Trying to keep up with and beat the others kept me motivated. We chatted with each other. I came in second place, and it felt like a mild victory.
I was trying a new mode of FitXR launching today, which adds live multiplayer sessions. But it also introduces a new monthly subscription model that points to where VR fitness, and maybe other VR services, might be heading.
It's one of a number of Oculus apps that are adding subscriptions. A number of them, like FitXR, VZFit and TRIPP, are meditative- and wellness-focused. Rec Room, one of VR's most popular social spaces, is also getting a subscription option with added extras. So is a virtual monitor and work app, vSpatial.
Last year, another groundbreaking fitness app on Oculus Quest, Supernatural, also had a subscription model. A few others have dabbled. But Facebook's more direct Oculus support for subscriptions means FitXR's move to a monthly plan could be where other apps also head. Facebook's Andrew Bosworth acknowledged the interest in subscription models in a conversation with CNET earlier this year.
FitXR's new price at $10 a month is now cheaper than Supernatural, but that could annoy existing customers who bought the game and add-ons. The good news is that add-ons bought before the update can be used without a subscription, according to FitXR. But for future features and workouts, the subscription would still be needed.
FitXR is counting on new music tracks and workouts being enough of an incentive. Similar to subscription fitness services like Peloton, Apple Fitness Plus and Fitbit Premium, the idea is to have a micro gym subscription for your VR headset. I'm not sure how many I'd be comfortable adding -- my budget suggests maybe one at most. Part of me wonders: Will Beat Saber ever move to this model? What about other games?
I've started using VR as a go-to home exercise device, much like a growing number of other people I know. I was also enjoying immersive fitness in games like Nintendo's Ring Fit Adventure, bikes like the Peloton and Apple's watch-connected workouts. A headset that can track your hands feels like another type of connected workout device. Maybe VR will eventually dovetail more with watches and other fitness equipment, too.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.