The Meta Quest 3 Helped Me, a Non-Tech Girly, Find Joy in Working Out

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Over the past year, I’ve dealt with long covid — I’ve had a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, a neurologist, the works. I haven’t been as healthy or active thanks to my fatigue and asthma — so naturally, my weight has fluctuated. But I do want to feel healthier. I want to start changing the tide. I’ve always had social anxiety, and now paired with not being active, the idea of working out around other people or trying out a new class is more daunting than ever.

That’s why, when an opportunity came up to review the Meta Quest 3 ($499), a virtual reality headset, I said, why not? I was ready to try something new. Something that could take me to new places without leaving my apartment, that could get me up and moving without me having to sign up for another gym membership. Meta offers a bunch of “wellness” apps you can access from the headset — from meditation to boxing — and I figured those might get me out of my own head for once. And over the past few weeks, I’ve used the Meta Quest to box, dance, and hit thousands of imaginary balls flying at my face.

What I Like About the Meta Quest 3

I know what you’re thinking — VR? And yeah, I was skeptical, too. I’m a far cry from a tech wiz. Up until last year, I still had an iPhone 7. And while it took me a moment to get my bearings in the world of Meta, I have to say, I haven’t had fun being active like this in . . . ever?

When you put the headset on, there are no distractions: you can’t hear the construction outside, or see the dishes in the sink. All you have to focus on is right in front of you. Although I was initially excited to try out the meditation apps, my favorites so far have been apps that are active in a more surprising way — take Oh Shape, for instance.

With this app, like you’re planted into an early 2000s Ninja-style game show where you have to duck and jump away from moving walls, punch things that fly toward you, and fold yourself into (often hilarious) poses so a wall moving towards you won’t “knock” you over. Will anything happen to you if you don’t? Nope, but it feels pretty lifelike, which makes it that much more fun. There’s no time to think about how silly you look. There’s no time to think, period. All you can do is move out of the way, flail your arms, and giggle to yourself while the music plays. And in a blink, 15 minutes pass, and you’ve worked up a sweat.

There’s a saying that fun, or play, is when you get into a flow state, where you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that nothing else matters. I haven’t felt that in a while, but I feel it all the time now. And that, to me, makes the Meta Quest 3 totally worth it.

It’s also worth it to note that a few years ago, I’d walk 15 minutes to the gym, be there for at least an hour, and walk 15 minutes home. Now, I have no idea how I found the time. If I have a spare 20 minutes in between meetings, I can do a quick workout. It’s just enough time to work up a sweat without having to reorganize my entire day.

How to Use the Meta Quest 3

Meta doesn’t tell you how to use the Quest 3. There’s no how-to booklet or manual. I had to play around and look up what all of the different buttons meant. It took me a little while to get comfortable and knowledgeable about the software, but by reading this review, you’re miles ahead of where I was when I started. Here’s what I wish I knew about using the Meta Quest 3:

  • Download the Meta Quest 3 app on your phone.
  • Turn on your Meta Quest 3 by holding down the little white circle button on the left of the headset.
  • Follow the instructions to pair your headset to your phone.
  • On your phone, you can download whatever apps you want. They’ll then download to your Meta Quest 3, and you can play from there.

What to Consider Before Trying the Meta Quest 3

  • Do you have enough room to use it? If you’re in a studio apartment with barely enough space to walk around, this may not be the product for you. While my living room has a good amount of uninterrupted space, my cat or boyfriend can enter my imaginary boundary anytime, making my workout harder. We’ve started saying “Behind!” like we’re chefs on “The Bear” so I don’t accidentally punch my boyfriend during a boxing workout.
  • If you care more about the community you get from working out (or how working out in a gym or studio gets you out of the house), this isn’t for you. Personally, seeing a gym crush while sweaty made me more anxious than excited, so it’s pretty relieving to do it all from my apartment.
  • Are you tech-savvy? And if not, are you willing to try to integrate an advanced piece of tech into your life? I’ll admit, I may have stared at the box the headset came in for a day or two, shoring up the courage to open it. At first, it felt a bit like Pandora’s box. But in a few days, I got used to operating it, and now it feels second nature.

Who the Meta Quest 3 Is Best For

  • Those who want to get back into working out.
  • Those who want to try something new.
  • Those who don’t mind — or prefer — not working out around other people.

Is the Meta Quest 3 Worth the Splurge?

While the headset is nearly $500 and a lot of the workouts are subscription-based, they’re a lot cheaper than in-person classes. Take pilates, for instance: an unlimited pilates membership in New York City would set me back a couple hundred dollars a month at least — with the Meta Quest 3, I have access to a full library of pilates workouts via the Xponential+ app for $29.99 a month. Or take Les Mills Bodycombat: it’s a one-time cost of $29.99, while the local boxing gym has drop-in classes for $35 each.

Meta Quest 3 Apps I Love

Supernatural: Unreal Fitness: Supernatural is known as the best workout app on Meta — for good reason. In it, you’re surrounded by gorgeous scenery from far-flung spots across the universe, from ice-capped mountains in Greenland to untouched beaches in Vanuatu. There are three types of activities: stretching, boxing, and “flow” — a dancing/boxing hybrid where you use imaginary wands to hit orbs coming at you. It also has some of the best music, which makes the workout faster and more fun — you can sing along to Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” while boxing on the Great Wall of China, or listen to Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” while on the moon.

The one drawback is that the coaches are a bit cheesy for my taste. Sometimes I don’t want a life lesson, I just want to work out. You also can’t skip through the warm-up and cool-down exercises that bookend each workout — and when the coaches do most of their life-lessoning.

Cost: $99/year

Les Mills Bodycombat: I’ve been doing this workout nearly every day since I downloaded it. There’s just something so satisfying about boxing — who knew I had so much rage to let out? In just 15 minutes, I feel like I’ve had a full workout. Unlike Supernatural, it takes you to another world entirely, with volcanoes and dragons flying in the distance of the workout space. The one real negative is that they don’t have any popular music — I don’t recognize any of the songs they play.

Cost: A one-time cost of $29.99

Xponential+: Xponential+ is like having a real-world pilates, Pure Barre, or yoga instructor in your home. There are no incredible scenes or fantasy creatures here. So if you’re looking less to escape and more to replace your bi-weekly pilates classes, this is for you. For years, I tried to get into doing pilates and yoga YouTube videos — but I could never fully get into it, and hated that once I was on the ground I couldn’t see the instructor clearly to mimic them. Xponential+ has solved that problem. No matter where you are, you can see the instructor.

Cost: First seven days free, then $29.99/month

TRIPP: TRIPP is known for being, well, trippy. It’s a meditation app that isn’t trying to be realistic, which is actually its greatest strength. While other meditation apps that emulate nature make it all the more obvious that you’re in VR, this takes you to an entirely different world. I appreciate how customizable this app is and how interactive and, quite frankly, cool the graphics are.

You can customize your TRIPP with different voice types, the amount of time they talk, and the colorful, constantly changing backgrounds in front of you, from a glowing underwater coral reef to a lava-lamp-like kaleidoscope. Did it make me want to take an edible? Yes. But it was pretty great without one, too.

Cost: $9.99 per month or a lifetime subscription of $79.99

Oh Shape: Oh Shape feels more like a game than a workout, which is partly why I love it. It doesn’t replace a workout for me, but it is a super fun way to get moving if you’re dreading yet another workout class, and works great as a warm-up to more intense workouts like Les Mills Bodycombat or Xponential+. In it, you’ll need to contort your body to match the cut-outs in the walls moving toward you, and duck as walls come at you. Like the other less expensive apps on this list, there isn’t popular music, which detracts from the experience.

Cost: A one-time cost of $19.99

Meta 3 Quest Apps I Don’t Love

Guided Meditation VR: While it looked beautiful, it didn’t offer that calm, quiet, deep-in-your-soul stillness that you get in real nature — surrounded by mountains and wildflowers. In a way, even though the graphics were good, they weren’t good enough to trick my mind into thinking I was somewhere else.

Cost: A one-time cost of $14.99

Guided Tai Chi: I don’t know much about Tai Chi. So I opted for the tutorial, which told me to follow a ball with my hands — too fast, and a British woman would say, “Oh no, seems like your remote went too far from the ball,” and it would start all over. It was frustrating. I thought there’d be an instructor or someone to explain what Thai Chi is, why we’re doing what we’re doing, and doing moves I could replicate. Instead of losing myself in the movement, I had to put all of my focus on this one ball and try to find it when it moved. I wouldn’t recommend this one — it doesn’t do real Tai Chi justice, and other reviewers agree.

Cost: A one-time cost of $9.99

FitXR: It’s not that I don’t like FitXR, it’s more that there are much better options out there. While there are a number of activities to choose from, like boxing, Zumba, HIIT, and combat, the offerings vary: for example, there are 70 pages of boxing workouts, but only four pages of Zumba. The graphics are nowhere near as good as something like Supernatural, and the instructors show up as avatars, not real people, which made it harder for me to follow.

Cost: $12.99 per month or $107.99 a year

Where Is the Meta Quest 3 Available?

The Meta Quest 3 is available directly from Meta, as well on Amazon and other retailers.

Rating:


Lee Musho is a branded content editor for Vox Media who covers anything from fashion to food. She has worked for publications like Bon Appetit and the Cut, and you can also find her work in publications such as New York Magazine, Eater, Thrillist, Food and Wine, Travel & Leisure, and InStyle.


Image Source: Lee Musho

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