These VR-enhanced exercise bikes are coming to an arcade near you

A startup called VirZOOM is trying to kickstart the "vSports" movement.

Will Lipman/Engadget

VirZOOM's stationary, VR-friendly exercise bike is a little out there, but I (and my thighs) can confirm it's a fun, seemingly effective way to squeeze in a workout. The best part of the experience is firing up the multiplayer mode and going head-to-head against other fitness buffs careening through a virtual forest on the back of a virtual pegasus, and it won't be long until you can do just that in the comfort of your local arcade. That might sound like a strangely tech-savvy spin class, but it's actually a push to make so-called "vSports" a thing.

According to the startup, the initial batch of vSports centers include: eBash gaming center (IN), Game Haven (CT), Game Republik (TX), Game Tyrant (UT), LAN Mob Gaming Center (NY), Newton Gaming Center (MA), Novastar Gaming Center (KS), Section 9 Cyber Café (ND), Sphere Arcade (OH), UCI eSports Arena (CA), Virtual World Arcade (CA), VR Junkies (Orem/West Valley UT, NM, NY, MN), and Wyandotte Athletic Club (OH). Walk into any one of these places and you'll be able to strap on an HTC Vive and take part in live, competitive multiplayer matches. Full-blown tournaments are in the works too, complete with prizes and at least a few on-lookers: VirZOOM users will apparently be able to spectate from their homes.

We got a taste of how these in-person competitions will work inside a swanky Las Vegas spa -- imagine rows of stationary bikes hooked up to high-end gaming rigs, with optional displays showing others what you're looking at. There's no way I couldn't investigate further, so I strapped a Vive onto my face to see how I stacked up against some of Engadget's fiercest media competitors in series of three events: a straight bike race, the aforementioned pegasus flying and a good old-fashioned tank battle. Long story short: I walked away with shredded thighs instead of medals, but there's a certain kind of thrill in knowing I got in one decent workout in the middle of CES. Who knows: Maybe that sort of "I had fun but did something good for me" high could help vSports become more than just a buzzword.

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