New Virtual Reality Headset Lets Indoor Runners Pretend They're in Nicer Gym

A new product promises relief for cash-strapped runners forced indoors during harsh weather, transporting them—virtually—from their cheap gym to a much nicer one.

Sorny's GymBOOST VR Headset uses virtual reality technology to "change" what a gymgoer sees, turning even the most poorly maintained and outfitted gym into a gleaming facility filled with top-tier equipment.

Does your gym have harsh fluorescent lighting and water-stained ceilings? With GymBoost VR, look up and you'll see warm-white recessed spotlights and pristine eggshell plaster. Windows looking out on a litter-strewn parking lot or traffic-choked city street? Instead you'll see rain falling, gently, on a traditional Japanese garden. TVs tuned to Fox News? GymBoost "changes the channel" for you—to reruns of The Joy of Painting, with Bob Ross.

"Wow, what a difference," said Tress MacNeille, a local runner using her GymBOOST headset for the first time at Strip Mall Fitness, a $12-a-month gym off an airport access road.

It even makes the other people here more attractive.
— Tress MacNeille, gym user

"It even makes the other people here more attractive," she added, turning her attention to a nearby personal trainer, a man with bulging biceps, heavily gelled hair, and a gold necklace over a short-sleeved compression shirt.

The visual trickery, Sorny said in a news release, isn't limited to the gym floor—even the locker room gets a virtual makeover.

"Dank, mildewed showers become freshly scrubbed stalls worthy of the fanciest spa," it said. "Moldy, drab shower curtains are replaced by spotless, whimsical ones." 

"And on every tiled surface, little curly hairs disappear, as if by magic."

At $199, the GymBOOST isn't cheap. But it's a relative bargain, said Sorny's news release, when you consider the alternative—i.e., leaving your current, shabby gym for a significantly nicer one.

"Membership at an exclusive fitness facility can easily cost an additional 20, 40, or 50 dollars a month," it said. "Given that, your GymBOOST will pay for itself in as little as a year."

Sorny would not confirm rumors that it's working on an olfactory attachment for the GymBOOST that would replace the smells of stale sweat and Axe Body Spray with peppermint and eucalyptus scent.