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Where business news starts in Boise.

Update: virtual reality gym now open in Boise

Can working out be made more interesting if it exists with a video game component? That’s the idea behind Boise-based Black Box VR’s new gyms.

After an initial launch in San Francisco across the street from Twitter HQ, the company opened a second location in Boise this week.

BoiseDev first reported on the concept earlier this summer – and the Black Box VR inside The Gym at 8th & Main is now open. Current gym members can upgrade to include VR in their membership – and non-members can sign up for a 30-day trial that includes access to showers and locker rooms.

Each session lasts about 30 minutes – and the technology helps step you up in workout intensity as you progress.

Earlier story: Gym in a gym

Black Box VR Boise
Fitness model Erna Palic demonstrates the Black Box VR equipment. Photo via Black Box VR

“We want to try a box-in-a-box-style gym,” Black Box co-founder Ryan DeLuca told BoiseDev. “It’s kind of like a Starbucks inside a Barnes and Noble. Instead of building out a full gym, there’s a trend toward putting a location inside of another gym.”

DeLuca said he found during his days at BodyBuilding.com the number of people who stick with a fitness regimen long-term drops into the single digits after five years. He looked at ways to make the experience more addictive to help keep people on track. Video games and esports provided a natural path.

“Video games are fun but they don’t give you any physical benefit. If we can put you inside the video game, and use this brand new video game technology – that could be a big opportunity,” he said. “(If you take the) magic of esports and video games and put it together with a fitness program, you might have something.”

Crews will install the seven private VR booths – which are 10 feet by 9 feet in size. They include VR headsets and weight resistance equipment that can provide up to 140 pounds of resistance per arm, depending on game scenarios and participant ability.

[Boise Olympian’s fitness center plans not one but four locations]

Participants don a VR helmet and play games in what DeLuca calls a “League of Legends-type experience.”

“Hopefully it’s something you will look forward to and stick to – and that’s what we find from our users.”

First San Francisco, now Boise

Along with co-founder Preston Lewis, DeLuca and Black Box launched its first full location in San Francisco earlier this year – across the street from Twitter’s headquarters.

“We really wanted to make a splash and learn from the local area and meet investors and potential partners,” DeLuca said. “Being in Silicon Valley has been really good for us. In Boise, we have some awareness and it is closer than San Francisco so we can iterate faster.”

The new Black Box VR Boise facility inside The Gym should open this summer. DeLuca said it could be ready to go in July or August. Existing Gym members can upgrade to access to the Black Box facility – or non-members can get a Black Box-only membership.

“Having a project like this is a moonshot and it could potentially be world-changing,” DeLuca said.

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