Starting out on a fitness journey doesn’t need to be all no-pain-no-gain. New research highlights how you can leverage audio-visual technology to propel your body to improved fitness while enjoying yourself along the way.

If you want to get fitter faster, with less discomfort, then embracing immersive fitness technology could be the way to go.

Thanks to the team at the Les Mills Lab we now know that combining audio-visual effects with a structured workout can be a great way to foster long-term fitness success – news that’s particularly good for those who struggle to maintain a regular exercise regime.

The research, published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, shows how using technology to create an “immersive” fitness experience increases satisfaction and decreases the rate of perceived exertion for new exercisers.

Led by Dr Jinger Gottschall at Penn State University, the study compared exercise intensity, satisfaction and perceived exertion between an audio-only cycle class and Les Mills’ immersive cycling experience THE TRIP™.

THE TRIP combines cinema-quality video with a dynamic soundtrack to create virtual unique audio-visual worlds, giving riders the sensation of ascending steep glaciers, sprinting around digital velodromes, diving underwater and even speeding through ancient Greece. You can get a sense of this amazing experience here:

The study involved newbie exercisers completing eight audio-only cycle classes and eight sessions of THE TRIP. The researchers measured time spent in the two maximum heart rate zones (80-90 percent and 90-100 percent) and measured the rate of perceived exertion, satisfaction and enjoyment immediately after each class.

While the intensity of the workout was consistent across both formats, the rate of perceived exertion was significantly lower for the THE TRIP workout. Basically, the exercisers found the immersive cycling easier – even though it wasn’t. What’s more, they found THE TRIP a more satisfying exercise experience overall.

Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, believes the immersive nature of THE TRIP offers the perfect combination of engaging distractions, helping exercisers reach vigorous intensities without the perceived effort.

“THE TRIP is the perfect way to hit heart rate zones and get fitter faster without the discomfort of intensity.” Bryce Hastings

“The convergence of technology, exercise science and creativity creates a workout experience like no other,” says Hastings. “In a 40-minute multi-peak cycling workout you become lost in a journey through digitally-created worlds – it takes your motivation and energy output to the next level and you’ll burn serious calories.”

“There’s no chance of clock watching,” says one rider “I can sustain efforts much longer when I’m chasing an avatar or following a visual cue. All of a sudden, I’m pushing my body to maximum intensity, but barely noticing. And, I want to come back and do it again.”

“I got so lost in the visuals that I had no idea how hard I was working until I saw the pool of sweat below my bike when the lights were turned on – super cool!” Daniel, THE TRIP rider

Keen to learn more?

Discover the inspiration behind THE TRIP and how its creators turned an idea into the cutting edge of exercise.


If you want more tried, tested and true news from the leading edge of health and fitness sign up to get Fit Planet insights and advice straight to your inbox.

Also in Fit Planet