Workouts can get boring if you're just doing the same routines over and over. Plus, while you might love the high-energy music and instructor's motivation from your favorite HIIT or indoor cycling classes, the cost adds up. One solution is to shake things up by gamifying your workout
There are several games, apps, gadgets and systems out there made for more than just your average video gamer. You can run, box and do HIIT and other workouts based on your favorite movies, all in a cool, game-like atmosphere that gets your heart rate up and keeps boredom way low.
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Check out these six new gaming-based workouts to try something new and exciting in your living room.
Read more: Fitness Apps to Fuel Your Competitive Side
1. Ring Fit Adventure by Nintendo
Nintendo took a Pilates ring and gave it a digital twist. You'll hold the device (it's kind of like a steering wheel) as you follow the game (err, workout) on your TV.
One of the most useful features of this fitness game is the fact that you can check your pulse and track your heart-rate zone. "Measuring your heart-rate zone is one of the most effective ways to gauge and improve your personal fitness levels for optimal health," says Caleb Backe, CPT, health expert for Maple Holistics.
"When using Ring Fit Adventure, you ensure that you make the most of the cooldowns that are included at the end of each level."
The fact that there are different levels to work through also means that it's an ideal at-home workout for both beginners and more advanced athletes, too. And it checks in with how you're feeling about the intensity level and gives you motivational prompts throughout your workout.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $69.88
2. Stealth Core Trainer
Imagine putting a kickboard on an unstable surface and holding a plank on it. That's the basic idea behind the Stealth Core Trainer. The feeling is not unlike balancing on a BOSU ball. The game leads you through a workout, sculpting your back and core when you're sick of just doing regular planks, push-ups and crunches.
"While balancing on the board, you need to move around in order to hit targets and dodge obstacles," Backe says. "And one of the best parts of the Stealth Core Trainer is that it's a suitable workout for anyone who wants to strengthen their core, regardless of their current fitness levels." The workouts are a short, fun way to stay active.
"By using the free app, interactive media tracks your progress and ranks you among other Stealth plays on a global leaderboard," Backe says. "This is a great feature to improve personal accountability and motivation."
There are a few drawbacks, though. "You need a good phone signal for the app to work, which can be a nuisance at times," he says. And it's the most expensive item on this list.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $199
3. Beat Saber
Love to dance? Wish you could dance in virtual reality? This is a perfect workout game for you. It's a VR game that requires you to swing your lightsaber to the beat of high-energy music as objects fly toward you.
"This dance game with lightsabers encourages maximum body movement in each workout," Backe says. The more dramatic, deep and forceful your moves are, the higher your score, so it's great for those who are competitive with themselves and like to go based on points.
"A unique feature of this fitness game is the fact that it offers a 'practice mode' to help you master a new pattern, too," he says. "With this feature, instead of just aimlessly repeating a routine, you feel like you're learning to master your dance moves so that on your final try, you're able to give the workout your all, therefore scoring more points."
Buy it: BeatSaber.com; Price: $29.99
4. Zombies, Run!
This game was tailor-made for anyone who's ever thought, "I'd run a whole lot faster if zombies were chasing me." The Zombies, Run! app features more than 200 "missions" that prompts you to run faster when the zombies in the story you're listening to are chasing you.
"The game is interspersed with your own music to create an immersive experience while you run," Backe says. It helps you work on running endurance and speed, so it's a fun way to improve your trail runs and sprints on the treadmill.
"The game is similar to other running apps in the sense that it tracks your pace and stride length, as well as distance," he says. It also gives you feedback and motivational tips. But it's unlike other running apps because, well, zombies.
Buy it: ZombiesRunGame.com; Price: free (for Android and iOS)
5. Fitness Boxing by Nintendo
When you can't make it to your local boxing studio, do boxing at home with Nintendo's Fitness Boxing game. You can do solo shadow-boxing workouts or play a game with another person. Plus, you can take it with you, so it's great for traveling.
Each session pumps up your heart rate with boxing techniques, and the game-like experience makes it fun and keeps you engaged when you can't rely on outside stimulation and instructor motivation from a class. You can also personalize workouts based on fitness level and goals — and you can rock out to your favorite songs!
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $49.99
6. Star Wars: Jedi Challenges
Embrace your love for Star Wars and channel your inner Jedi for your next workout. This augmented reality game from Lenovo gives you a really good workout only you can see (with the help of a VR headset).
You get your own lightsaber (how cool is that?) and some googles, so you can feel just like Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi with a weapon in hand, while torching major calories with this gaming experience.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $97.99