The home gym’s transformation into an arcade had been gradual. First, treadmills adopted LCD displays and started scoring our workouts like pinball machines. Then the success of Nintendo’s Wii Fit Balance Board gamely demonstrated the demand for adding escapism to our exercise routines. Now, growing fitness sensation Zwift is ready to take the immersive workout to a whole new level.
Essentially a video game that interfaces with your turbo trainer–mounted bike, Zwift’s platform transports you from your basement onto the simulated streets of real-world destinations like London, adjusting resistance to reflect the pixellated terrain you’re virtually riding through. If you’re someone with a weakness for Mario Kart and spin classes, you’ll probably love it. Key to its appeal is the friendly competition that its million-plus users provide in the 200 daily races: after 10 minutes of cycling, it’s easy to feel yourself pedalling harder than you would be without the virtual motivation. That is, provided you can get over the Black Mirror parallels.
WHAT IT EXERCISES:
As with all cycling workouts, expect a steady calorie burn plus strengthened core and quad muscles — which is more than we can say we got from Call of Duty.
HIGH-TECH HOME FITNESS
If creating a workout avatar feels like one step too far into the future, other options are coming. These three (currently U.S.-only) systems pair interactive workout equipment with videos of real-life fitness classes. (It turns out Peloton was just the beginning.)
Sensor-equipped gloves and a punching bag interface with an app that leads you through the full Michael B. Jordan training routine.
Coached lessons help you work your way through a weights system that automatically adjusts resistance to your strength level using electromagnetism.
A digital panel that broadcasts yoga, barre, and Pilates classes — and doubles as a mirror when not in use. Perfect for admiring your gains.