Introducing ‘Supernatural,’ a Fun New Way to Stay Fit in VR
Building on the beloved mechanics of VR rhythm games, Supernatural is the first app that offers the full fitness package for VR. Designed specifically for fitness, Supernatural serves up daily personalized full-body workouts and expert coaching from real-world trainers.
Supernatural is a subscription service that offers new workouts published daily.
What was the inspiration behind Supernatural?
Neither one of us was fond of or good at sticking with exercise. We wanted the benefits of exercising regularly, but we didn’t enjoy the short-term activity necessary to get those long-term results.
We would watch people come out of the interactive VR music videos we were making, laughing and dripping in sweat—we thought maybe there was a solution here in VR. We thought it could solve the main problem we have with exercise; the long-term results don’t outweigh our struggle to do it in the here and now. We started playing our favorite VR rhythm and boxing games as our morning exercise routines. We strapped weights and heart rate monitors to ourselves, trying to hack the perfect cardio routine, but none of them were really designed for this purpose. They lacked the sort of health-focused features and metrics you want in a daily exercise platform—things like calibrated range of motion, movements designed for effort expenditure, professional coaching and guidance, heart rate sensor integration, and fitness progress tracking.
How long was Supernatural in development?
We wanted to come out with a fully formed exercise platform. That meant committing to a broad pipeline of new workouts, the creation of new workouts with new songs in new worlds, and making them available on a daily basis. It takes time, resources, a great team, and a lot of infrastructure to produce daily content, but we knew it was worth the investment.
We wanted people to have that feeling of surprise and delight when a song comes on that they love. The movement maps are essentially gamified dance, and—let’s be honest—you wouldn’t want to go to a club and only dance to songs you’ve never heard before. All these pieces take a lot of time and work, but they were all required to provide a service that was alive, visceral, and continuously updating to give you something new to discover every time you work out.
What sets Supernatural apart from other health and fitness apps?
I’ve never taken great joy in that kind of exercise, to be honest. I was a competitive ski racer when I was 15, and skiing is incredible exercise, but I never felt like I was doing “an exercise.” It filled me with exhilaration and joy, and the by-product was exercise and being healthy and in shape. So we set out to make something that felt more like that, only in the footprint of the floor in your bedroom.
Virtual reality offers the unique ability to create an experience like that because it can transport people anywhere. That’s the emotion we were chasing—something that gives you the physical exercise you’re after, but in a fun, joyous, exhilarating way, and most importantly, you can do it in your home.
How do you think VR and AR will continue to change the realms of health and fitness moving forward?
CM: I fit into the category of “had gym membership, did not use gym membership.” That’s because I wanted the results of doing exercise but disliked the actual act of going to the gym and doing it. But exercise doesn’t have to be something painful, laborious, or something you dread—it’s just the methods we use to achieve it that are a bit uninspired.
The exercise modalities achievable in VR are also things we could never achieve in the real world as we don’t need to worry about pesky things like the laws of physics.
Why did you make Supernatural a subscription fitness service?
We built an entire ecosystem that gives people an extraordinary workout experience that gets them excited to come back every day. That includes coaching, a mobile companion app, leaderboards, and Bluetooth heart rate integration. The companion app can also set reminders in your calendar and lets you connect with and challenge your friends.
Second, every day, our platform generates new content and new value for members, including new workouts, new premium songs, new landscapes and environments from around the world, and ongoing tracking of your progress.
Who did you work with to choreograph the workouts? How did you ensure a compelling experience?
Our head movement mapper is also a choreographer, and his maps are just incredibly fun to move your body to. Not surprisingly, choreographers are naturally good at finding fun ways to move the human body to music.
In addition, we engaged trainers who are featured in Supernatural’s individual workouts, as well as a team of experts in kinesthesiology, biomechanics, and healthy human movement. These experts helped us identify more effective ways to open up and move the body, to achieve smooth, healthy motions. We also utilize a really fun triangle tunnel system that gets you to use your lower body doing squats and lunges.
Apr 11, 2020 at 02:09