Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. Between eating poorly and inactivity we are slowly but surely causing many unnecessary illnesses. So the health and fitness industry is always trying to come up with new and exciting classes and exercise programs to get people motivated. For many years I have always thought it would be great if video games would be interactive, and actually put the emphasis on "active". Finally the call has been answered and the games are starting to emerge. Companies like broadcastvision and cat eye fitness have created and put together the best "active" gaming that exists today. All the different games that you saw today are available as home versions as well as commercial units.
One of the newest products is The Cateye Game Bike by cateyefitness.com. The game bike allows an exerciser to get on his/her stationary bike and be transported into a video race game. The faster you pedal, and the better you steer the bikes handle bar. I have found myself getting lost in the competition and not realizing I just did 20 minutes of intense aerobics. The game bike plays many different racing games, not just the one we did on the show.
Dance Exercise Revolution is one of the most entertaining interactive products out now. It combines music with dancing, but you don't have to be a dancer to play the game. The music acts as a cue to what is coming and the arrows give you the pattern follow. Points are scored by tapping the spot the arrow tells you to hit. As the music gets quicker, you end up jumping around so much that you work up quite a sweat. Broadcastvision.com has packaged an entire virtual gym that they are successfully getting into Y.M.C.A. 's and schools around the country. They have taken it upon themselves to get people moving and get this country in better shape within the next few years.
The last of the three games we saw today was Eye Toy. This game is really futuristic, from the set-up to where the game scans you and then puts you on the screen as a character, to the graphics and sounds. Eyetoy plays many different games, not just the one you saw on the show. The game that we played today was called Antigrav. This game is like surfing the skies. The player needs to collect as many rings as possible to score points. Your bodies movements guides the player around the space like city and you have to jump, duck and twist. Kids especially love this game. You can obtain more information by logging on to Broadcastvision.com
My approach to fitness is anything that a person will do consistently to get their heart rate between 60 - 80 percent of their maximum level for at least 20 minutes is "exercising". I have a friend who is a gym teacher that has this virtual gym available at his school and says the kids would rather do those interactive games, then traditional sports that are available. The most stereotypical athletic kids aren't the best at these programs. So other kids are shining in a gym program when they ordinarily wouldn't want to even participate. In my gym in L.A. we have installed these same games. Sometimes the parents are even playing their kids. We are also seeing the same dynamic as the schools. This kind of exercising will be growing over the next few years. I expect this will definitely reach many people that never considered themselves “workout people,” to exercise at home or in gyms and really have fun doing it. If you have any question about what you saw on the show feel free to e-mail me at hotpointfitness.com.
Steve Zim is a personal trainer and fitness expert with ‘A Tighter U,’ in Los Angeles. He is also author of "Hot Point Fitness."