“Improvements you make digitally in Black Box Fitness directly convert into improvements outside VR, and those improvements will cause ripples into every aspect of your life.” – Graham, Black Box Fitness game dev
Graham didn’t start using Black Box Fitness or join the team because he was out of shape or had a catastrophic health event. The 28-year-old discovered Black Box and developed a passion for the technology, the community, and the company because he saw the effectiveness of VR for fitness.
An avid mountain biker, Graham also enjoys snowboarding, meeting new people, and playing video games. Some of his favorite VR games include Population: One and The Climb, and of course, Black Box Fitness. Continue reading to learn more about Graham, his fascinating journey, and some keen observations about the benefits of Black Box Fitness.
BBVR: Hi Graham! What dramatic change has Black Box Fitness caused in your life?
Graham: In short, I moved across the country to be a part of this and have 2x’d my strength/health since doing so.
For most of my life I had been on competitive tennis teams, with a shared drive that was a primary goal in each team member’s life. After college, the teams and shared drive disappeared as a primary focus in my life, and it left a real hole. For about half a decade, I tried to find a shared drive that I connected with until finally, VR came out, and then I discovered a company that was using that world-changing technology and fitness to make a real impact on people’s everyday health. It just made sense.
Everyone who works for Black Box Fitness is so passionately driven by the technology and purpose of this company that it becomes hard to talk about anything else for long amongst ourselves without the conversation returning to VR and fitness (even outside of work!). A huge part of that shared drive is using the product to improve our own lives. We’re always pushing each other to do better, become better. So 10-months ago I packed up my stuff in North Carolina and moved to Idaho, pulled in by the passion this team here emits.
BBVR: How long have you worked at Black Box Fitness, and what made you want to join the team?
Graham: 1-year and a couple of months. At Oculus Connect 6 in San Jose, I met another developer (Jeff) before he worked for Black Box Fitness. VR was kind of everything at that point in my life. Despite being states apart, we became good friends via hanging out in VR. We kept up with each other’s projects, and eventually, Jeff was hired by Black Box. He was always raving about the job and the company, and naturally, I couldn’t resist applying when the opportunity opened up.
BBVR: Tell us about the first time you put on the VR headset and entered the Black Box Fitness VR world. What was it like for you?
Graham: Oh man. So I have to back up for this one – way back to when I bought the Oculus Rift and got the touch controllers. Those intuitive hand-based inputs made it seem as if a portal opened up, and I could reach my hands in and interact with other worlds. The sensation was like discovering the world was round for the first time and that everyone else still only knew it to be flat.
Years later, I worked as a contractor for Black Box Fitness remotely and tried out the game on a computer outside the gym. I was captivated by that same initial fascination of being able to push my physical hands into a digital reality and change things in that world, interacting with it in a way that changed outcomes (most specifically, winning or losing). The fitness aspect was still just a concept for me as there was no weight resistance. So when I finally made the trip out to Idaho to try out the whole VR fitness experience, it was an absolute rush! Going from being visibly immersed and interacting with a competitive game to being visibly immersed AND exerting yourself to the point that you release massive amounts of endorphins at the same time. Well, at that point, my body completely forgot where it was, and the experience just swallowed me up. It still does to this day.
BBVR: How many workouts have you completed, and what league are you currently in?
Graham: Gold League. 83 workouts, but that’s excluding all the sessions I’ve completed to test new features on my computer without weight resistance, including those probably 400.
BBVR: What are some of your favorite features of the Black Box VR fitness experience?
Graham: First and foremost, the concept that reality and virtual reality intermix.
In my opinion, the real tipping point for VR is when value can be exchanged on a 1:1 basis between virtual reality and reality. When what you do outside VR affects the reality inside VR, and what you do in VR affects the reality outside VR. The improvements you make digitally in Black Box Fitness directly convert into improvements outside VR, and those improvements will cause ripples into every aspect of your life. Not a single second in Black Box Fitness is wasted time compared to blackhole experiences (TV, movies, video games) that can bring momentary happiness but leave you empty-handed, with nothing “real” to show for the fraction of your life you gave away. To that point, Black Box Fitness may well be the only VR experience out there that has a tangible impact on your current reality. You walk away from every VR workout session with something real: a physically (and mentally) improved self. That’s hard currency in the real world.
I could breakdown dozens of features and say what I love about them (especially being involved in how they work), but for the sake of space, I’ll just mention a few:
1) I love the command center type feel of the platform you’re positioned on. It has almost this Star Trek-like command center situation where you’re overlooking the battlefield, and all the decisions you need to make are within your grasp (emphasis on hand-based inputs).
2) The complexity behind the Fitness SDK is astounding. It collects so much about your work metrics and automates it for you. Someone in a previous interview said that you never have to pick up a weight again and determine it’s the wrong amount. So cool that you don’t even have to think about those things. Allows you to get swallowed by the game and just compete.
3) The music. The composer who produces the soundtrack is a pure genius. It’s so much easier to be conscious of what we see, but what we hear is so critical, especially to motivation and keeping the user engaged. It absolutely knocks it out of the park.
BBVR: You’ve done some different types of fitness training in the past. How does Black Box Fitness compare with other workout programs you have done?
Graham: Most of my experience was conventional weight lifting for mostly endurance purposes to support my tennis training. Also, a lot of footwork-based exercises, whether it was mid-court sprints or sand sprints. Lots of sprints. Black Box Fitness gives you the strength training workout of traditional weight lifting, and it delivers an intense cardio HIIT style workout at the same time. And it’s all in a 30-minutes session. It’s brilliant!
BBVR: Do you currently do any other physical activities to boost your fitness results?
Graham: Mountain biking – but honestly, I mostly strength train to enhance my physical activities. So that I can go longer distances, faster, or with greater ease, Black Box Fitness has immensely helped me improve in those categories. I just did an 18-mile mountain bike up to the ski resort Bogus Basin with some local bikers here in Boise. I could never have done that 2 years ago.
BBVR: What kind of results have you had since you started going to Black Box Fitness?
Graham: About 10 months ago, when I started working out at Black Box Fitness, I put up around ~20,000 pounds of weight volume when I defeated Rezzar, the final bad guy in the onboarding training sessions. Now I max out at a little above 40,000 pounds per workout. So doubling my strength, I’d say, is a solid result. Gaining weight has been a struggle for me over the years. As I mountain bike and am generally active, I can burn up to 4,000 calories a day, and it’s hard for me to maintain consuming greater than that on a daily basis. But I’ve gained about 5 pounds since starting my workouts. I’m currently in a self-driven micro study to see how much weight I can gain by the end of the year, so I’ll know more then.
BBVR: What are your favorite exercises and why?
Graham: Chest Press for sure. I have always had an easy time with that muscle group. It’s my go-to against the enemies air champions, but I have been using lat pulldowns a lot lately. The damage it does in the game has a higher range, so the impact is greater and can affect multiple enemy champions at once.
BBVR: What are your favorite champions in the game, and how do you use them?
Graham: Hammer Time FOR SURE! One on one with any other opponent out there, he’ll win. His attack stuns, so unless there are more enemies on the field or there is nothing protecting him from the enemy direct exercise damage, he’ll crush it. I usually use him to cancel out a big enemy Tank that I don’t want to distract me.
BBVR: What types of game strategies do you use when it comes to the Black Box Fitness gameplay?
Graham: One of my favorite strategies is building up a lighting and flame tower and using them at the same time. Once they are out on the field, I’ll build and deploy a Skadi champion and use the Berserk power-up on her so she attacks faster. I can only use this combination once in a game (sometimes twice), but it’s an effective way to bust down the enemy’s gate and destroy their crystal.
We just released some new power-ups, so I’m excited to see what other combinations users employ. The new Hypnosis power-up is especially powerful as it’ll turn the tide of almost any battle if you let the enemy build up enough champions on the field.
BBVR: What are the Black Box Fitness achievements you are most proud of and why?
Graham: I’m particularly proud of achieving the Quest items. The achievements remind me I’m significantly improving. Still, when I complete a monthly quest, it’s an immediate goal I’ve been specifically aiming for, and the payout in-game and out is excellent. I was so close to deploying 200 Tidal champions last month and only made it to 111. 111 Tidal is a lot of Tidals! A lot of elixir! That was nearly averaging 8 Tidals a game for me!
BBVR: The Black Box Fitness app tracks all fitness performance, battle logs, quests and has a fantastic community helping to cheer you on. What’s your favorite feature of the app, and why?
Graham: I love the News Feed. When you do something big like defeat a boss or level up, the community really goes out of its way to pat you on the back. They know how hard those are to achieve themselves. Also, being able to schedule your workouts before you get to the gym is very handy. You just know that there will be a booth open for you.
BBVR: Do you have any comments for people on the fence about trying Black Box Fitness?
Graham: There is a free trial! Schedule your workout with no risk. You will be blown away. You get an amazing VR experience, you get a workout that improves your health, it’s an epically fun game, and it’s only 30-minutes.
BBVR: Thank you, Graham, for taking the time to share your VR fitness journey with us. We are fortunate to have you on the team. You bring passion and dedication to Black Box Fitness.
If you’re interested in trying Black Box Fitness for FREE, find a location near you, and unlock fast fitness results!
We’ll see you in the arena soon!