ó Maybe the Man of Steel has abs of steel because of all
that soaring and leaping tall buildings at a single bound. At
least thatís the promise of a new piece of exercise
equipment that combines a core workout with the virtual
reality experience of flying through the air like Superman. It
will be offered by the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.
it? The $9,000 machine, a German invention called Icaros, will
be the first of its kind available for public use in the
country when itís installed in the new YMCA at Gaviidae in
downtown Minneapolis next year.
it work? Users put on virtual reality goggles with a
smartphone insert, then lie in a plank-like position on a
sleek metal frame that pitches forward and back and rolls from
side to side depending on how you shift your weight. That
tilting and rolling control your flight in virtual reality.
"Flight" mode of the machine, youíre swooshing
over a landscape of mountains, glaciers and narrow ravines.
Tilt down on the platform, and you virtually dive nose first
toward the ground. Roll to the right, and youíre banking
around a bend in a ravine.
experience modes are available. In "Deep," youíre
underwater, scuba diving past shipwrecks while chasing sea
creatures. In "Gravity," you sky-dive from outer
space and land on an aircraft carrier while falling past
helicopters and drones, which you have to shoot down.
it like? Nathan Maehren, senior vice president of digital for
the Y, has used the machine about 100 times. When heís going
fast on the machine, he grunts like a weightlifter as he
quickly shifts his body, slaloming around virtual obstacles
without crashing. A video display of what heís seeing as he
flies through a narrow ravine looks a little like the view
Luke Skywalker had hurtling down the trench on the Death Star.
almost donít realize Iím working out," he said.
"Youíre having fun."
run: At first, it was hard to control where I was going in the
virtual space, but it quickly became more intuitive. You
adjust your speed with a handheld button, although itís hard
to tell how fast youíre moving unless you look down at the
speedometer display. I found myself bracing for impact
whenever I seemed to be flying headfirst into a cliff.
more of a workout for my arms and shoulders than I expected.
It may seem like a lot of technological bother just to get a
good core workout, but everyone knows planks are deadly
I didnít feel any queasiness. That may be because what you
see in the goggles reflects what your body is doing on the
platform. (When your head is tilted down on the platform, youíre
going into a dive in the virtual display.)
I try it? The new Y is scheduled to open in early 2018. The
machine will be used by members in short sessions guided by Y
staff as part of a longer workout session.
be the only exercise experience at the new 105,000-square-foot
Y that will combine working out with graphic digital displays.
A studio for group stationary bike workouts at the downtown
branch will feature a full-wall projection that will simulate
cycling course scenery from anywhere in the world.