ASICS Invests in VR Fitness Startup Valkyrie Industries


ASICS is investing in the future of VR fitness.

What’s happening: The venture arm of the Japanese sportswear company injected an undisclosed sum into London-based VR fitness company Valkyrie Industries.

Maker of both hardware and software, Valkyrie’s EIR Armbands utilise muscle-based haptics, a form of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), to deliver targeted activation to the biceps and triceps during VR HIIT and strength training classes.

As part of the partnership, ASICS will develop its own fitness content for the EIR platform, as well as outfitting all of its trainers.

Between the lines: To date, VR fitness has had an efficiency problem, with classes more effective for entertainment than exercise. As EMS finds validation on the international stage, syncing up muscle-activating technology with highly produced ASICS content levels up the experience.

Metaverse Momentum

After an initial fervor around fitness in virtual reality—with Meta (fka Facebook) acquiring Supernatural and Les Mills entering the metaverse with an adaptation of its BODYCOMBAT class—the category stagnated on a lack of significant development.

In 2023, new applications, new tech, and new players have revived the hype and given global exercisers a taste of the future of fitness.

  • After transitioning from connected hardware to VR content, Liteboxer rebranded to Litesport and introduced a strength training mode incorporating real dumbbells.
  • Broadening its service to the UK, EU, and Asia, VR fitness pioneer FitXR recently expanded to PICO headsets and signed on British Olympic boxer Nicola Adams to lead its first training programme.
  • In the sporting realm, the NFL licensed a VR quarterback game, Gym Class VR partnered with the NBA, and BeFootball is working out kicking mechanics with footballers Memo Ochoa and Marco Asensio.

TBD. Apple recently unveiled its pricey VR headset, but with the need to stay plugged in, for now, the Vision Pro will focus on immersive mental health apps. And, outside the goggles, exergaming startups Quell and Fittar are scaling up immersive gameplay with your body as the controller.

Punchline: To some, VR fitness is a fad. But with investment from tech giants and international sports brands alike, consumer adoption of the category is a far greater reality.

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