9 Reasons Why I Will Still Be Dancing In VR After The Pandemic
While cooped up at home during 2020, I’ve fallen in love with my Oculus Quest and have been using it to dance in several VR dance games. My favorite is definitely Audio Trip, a self-care entertainment game produced by my pals at Andromeda Entertainment and Kinemotik Studios. Far from a covid-only relationship of convenience or necessity, this love affair will continue even after the vaccine rolls out and we are able to return to in-person forms of physical practice. Here are 9 reasons why I’ll still be dancing in VR after covid.
Reason #1: Dancing in VR Increases Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is the capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to learning and new experiences. Stimulating the brain through dynamic physical exercise, paying attention and learning new things helps us to continue to learn new things and create long-term memories as we age. It also helps us recover from injuries or strokes. The choreography in Audio Trip makes both my body and my brain move in ways it wouldn’t otherwise. The brain is a muscle meant to be flexed and stretched and strengthened in dynamic ways. Use it or lose it.
Reason #2: It Encourages Me To Use My Non-Dominant Side
I’m an active right-handed homo sapien. That means I was taught or developed movement patterns where I reach for things, open things, carry things, and generally go about my daily life depending on my right-side to initiate movements or do the heavy lifting. The repetition of those patterns over and over again over years starts to add up and put wear and tear on our bodies. Everything we can do to bring some balanced movement to our physical ‘machine’ or initiate with the other non-dominant side helps keep the wear and tear distributed and lessens the likelihood of repetitive movement injuries.
Kinomotik comes from a history of choreography and dance training, and has infused that into the movements in Audio Trip so you get a balanced body workout. Now if only they could teach me how to effectively brush my teeth with the other hand?
Reason #3: I Don’t Love Most Cardiovascular Workouts
I’m not a runner. Not even if something big, ugly and hairy is chasing me. I spent the 90s exercising on a treadmill and stair climber, and I have zero interest in getting back on them ever again. I’m not getting my dreadlocks wet to go swimming, and the San Francisco Bay is fr-fr-fr-freezing cold anyway.
Audio Trip gives me a quick, efficient and fun way to get my heart rate up for 30–45 minutes a few times a week. For the record I’m not even close to maxing out the game play. I’m getting a sweet workout, without becoming a drippy sweaty mess, just by running through short versions of a handful of songs on the Beginner Level. If I feel like I need more challenge, I’ll switch to the full length versions and/or bump it up to Regular Level which is a solid butt kicking. I’m pretty physically fit and I haven’t needed or wanted to take it to Expert Level, but there is plenty there for those who want it.
Reason #4: I Spend Too Much Time Sitting
And you probably do too. The good news is that working from home, either before or because of covid has many advantages and conveniences. The bad news is that it has also resulted in us being glued to our desks even more, sitting, for long hours on end. The health effects of this year could be staggering as it has long been known that “Sitting is the new smoking” in terms of long term health risks. Unlike some VR experiences, this is a standing full body activity which helps get your blood flowing and counteracts all that sitting.
Reason #5: Two Half Days Are Better Than One Long Day
Taking a 30 minute dance break during lunch has been a game changer. It gets me out of my chair or away from my standing desk (where, admittedly, I often end up perched on a stool — which is slightly better, but not that much better than sitting.) It also breaks the day up into what feels like two ‘half days’ versus a long haul marathon of video meetings and emails. I find it helps my productivity, and my attitude, to have a mini dance party and palette cleanser for lunch. Just make sure you give yourself an extra few minutes so you don’t still have VR headset marks on your face when you plug back in for your next video meeting.
Reason #6: It’s An Affordable Way To Workout Several Times A Week
I pre-ordered my first edition quest for $399, they are now available for $299. Audio Trip is $19.99 on all the major VR platforms. You can spend $10-$20 for a yoga class or up to $80 or more for private pilates class. If you did three lower priced yoga classes a week all year, you’d spend over $1500. I’m certainly not suggesting you abandon all other exercise options, I happen to love yoga and pilates, but dancing in VR is a great option to add to the mix and to stretch your entertainment and exercise dollars farther.
Reason #7: I Love Dance Music
With options for short or longer versions of tracks from artists like Skrillex, Lady Gaga, Benny Benassi and Deadmau5, it feels more like I am going to a party than to exercise. New songs are being added all the time and there is even a DIY tool that lets you create and upload your own choreography and music.
Reason #8: Dancing In VR Is Super Fun!
I have a blast grooving and flowing to the beats while standing in the middle of what looks like the bridge on a science fiction spaceship as it explores a constantly changing landscape and alien worlds. I feel like a Tron superhero each time I play. Every single person I’ve introduced to the game or seen do a demo of it, emerges with a huge grin on their face. This isn’t a ‘workout routine’ which must be done in the name of exercise, it is self-care entertainment. You are having a great time, and oh, it happens to be really good for you too. The best care you can give to your body and spirit isn’t motivated by a fitness watch or a calorie counter, it’s finding something you love and doing it just because.
Reason #9: It Satisfies My Need For Sparkles!
One of my favorite effects in the game is when you groove your paddles along the streaming swirling ribbons that are coming towards you. As you do this, they emit sparkles and the paddles vibrate. It’s really satisfying, especially for a spectacle and sparkle loving aesthetic junkie like myself. It feels like you are making sci-fi magic stream out of your hands. And besides, who doesn’t love sparkles, really?
I’m not a hugely competitive person, so it’s great that dancing in VR can be done just for the fun of it. You win just by playing. That doesn’t mean I don’t get a little thrill seeing my CameraGirlSF player name showing up near the top, or at the top, of some of the scoreboards. Catch me if you can!