FitXR is stepping into new territory today with the addition of Zumba Studio to its virtual reality fitness game.
FitXR is launching Zumba Studio as an update for its VR workout platform on the Meta Quest platform, including the just-launched Meta Quest 3. The creators of Zumba in Colombia and the architects of FitXR in London hope to create a sensation with the Latin dance fitness routines.
By merging the lively world of Zumba with the immersive capabilities of VR and MR (Mixed Reality), FitXR is set to revolutionize dance fitness in part because it will appeal to people who are too shy to go to Zumba classes and dance in front of strangers in person. Now they can do it in their own homes, either in single-player mode or in multiplayer sessions guided by virtual Zumba teachers.
The app goes live today on the Meta Quest platform for existing customers who subscribe to FitXR.
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This new offering aims to bring a whole new dimension to Zumba, combining the excitement of dancing with the cutting-edge technology of virtual reality. FitXR’s commitment to community and inclusivity is at the forefront of this new venture, said Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We had a pre-existing Dance Studio in the market before coming to this, and that enabled us to really learn a huge amount about what was working and what wasn’t working,” said Cole. “One of the things that were was amazing in terms of coming together with with Alberto on the team at Zumba was that Zumba really knows about how to teach dance classes to people who aren’t dancers. And, and that’s really like a core part of the secret sauce, which makes them one of the world’s most recognizable fitness brands over such a long period of time. And that’s critical to bring into any dance experience, like what we’re trying to do.”
The Zumba Studio caters to dancers of all experience levels, offering four distinct categories – Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert. Users can enjoy a fitness experience tailored to their skill level, thanks to a team of instructors who exude energy, empowerment, and positivity.
Zumba was created n the 1990s by dancer and choreographer Beto Perez, an aerobics instructor in Colombia. He partnered with Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion to launch a series of fitness videos sold through informercials in 2001. In time, it turned into a worldwide sensation enjoyed in 185 countries taught under the trademark Zumba Fitness. The DVDs have sold more than 25 million copies and there are 15 million people taking Zumba summer classes.
Perlman said that Zumba became a movement.
“What we were able to tap into is getting rid of the frustration around dance. We made it easy, made it simple but also made it cool because that’s the magic that Zumba has,” he said. “We didn’t know we were creating a movement. We thought we were selling fitness classes at the very beginning. And then we realized that people wanted to do it with other people. We realized that people wanted to learn more, we realized that we had an infinite number of rhythms that we could add.”
Perlman believes the VR Zumba classes will appeal to both men and women.
“I don’t dance in front of people. I get embarrassed, but I do it with my kids with the Nintendo game. Now I can’t wait to do it with my kids with the VR headsets,” Perlman said. “I can’t wait to see the the stories about people who build up the confidence to dance. Now I’m going down to my local Zumba class every week. And I love it.”
Instructors in the Zumba Studio harness the unique capabilities of VR and MR to provide visual and voice guidance that fosters a supportive environment. A movement preview system displays animated sequences, empowering users to anticipate and conquer each step with confidence.
FitXR’s team of Zumba instructors brings their unique flair and expertise to the virtual dance floor with teachers like Dahrio Wonder. With over a decade of experience as a Zumba artist and international presenter, Wonder is a seasoned pro in the dance world. He has shared the stage with legends like Britney Spears and Celia Cruz, and his sessions promise unparalleled energy and experience.
Another teacher is Jeimy Bueno, a licensed physical therapist who has added a holistic approach to her Zumba classes. Her focus on empowerment, inclusivity, and kindness ensures a workout experience that helps you shine.
Then there is Sarah Eika Burke, a hip-hop instructor with over 12 years of experience. She can get hearts racing with her high-energy FitXR dance classes. Her infectious energy and dynamic moves promise a workout that’s both fun and effective.
Zumba sold more than 14 million copies on the Nintendo Wii. That was a special game console because the Wii controller made it accessible to many people and the whole focus was to get people into motion, Perlman said. Zumba also made its way onto the Xbox in the Kinect era, and it is also available on the Nintendo Switch. Perlman said the focus has been on platforms that emphasize motion, and so Zumba has been very selective about choosing new platforms for games.
“I think we’re going to go crazy,” Cole said. “We foresee a lot of fun connections between people.”
“So we saw many different experiences in VR. When we saw fit XR, we knew that they already had a platform for what we wanted to do,” Perlman said. “We saw that they had already tried a dance program. We understood what could make it more appealing because of where we come from. But they had done a terrific job of creating a really good environment. And they worked on the avatars, they had worked on the scenes. They know what they’re doing, when it comes to technology. They know what they’re doing, when it comes to VR, they already have an installed base.”
Cole said that the mixed reality mode is unique to platforms like the Meta Quest 3, which has a color passthrough mode where you can see the area around you. In this mode, you can take a class and still see the real world around you.
“It’s a tangible and powerful use case of what the technology enables,” Cole said. “A lot of our customers say that when they are consuming our products, they may be looking after kids and need to be aware of their surroundings.”
Perlman said the team chose a lot of the most popular music. Since Zumba creates a lot of the music used in its classes, it doesn’t have to pay as much money to license music. That also made it very appealing to FitXR, as it can provide a lot of Zumba music in the app without incurring huge licensing fees.
“We’re working with great music and they’re amazing instructors. We’re combining that with a lot of the things that we saw were missing in dance products. We’re really, really thrilled with where the experience ended up,” Cole said. “Everything comes together. That’s what makes it unique.”
FitXR’s Zumba Studio will offer a total of 32 classes throughout the year, with quarterly drops, starting with eight classes available on November 2. This approach allows users to progress from beginners building their skills to seasoned dancers perfecting their scores.
“One of the things we’ve seen with Zumba is a tremendous mental health benefit,” Perlman said. “Zumba really has transformed lives and we hear stories about how people say the mental health element is very powerful. And I really hope that if there are any consumers out there that have have a headset or want a headset, they can take advantage not only for the fitness side, but also for the mental health side.”
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