Saturday, January 16

Exergames are Basketballs

Factors in Exergaming effectiveness

The buzz surrounding exergaming, also known as active gaming, is undeniable this year. There doesn't seem to be a day going by that products make the news and blogs. I've been involved in exergaming since 2004, so I have been fortunate to see the products come in (and most go out) to give me a wide view on the subject.

Most exergames have something in common, they are all basketballs. Here's a picture of the latest and newest exergame to make the the headlines... cool huh?

Ok, so it might not really be an exergame, but it shares a lot of features with the active gaming products.
  • It can be used to improve health and fitness
  • It has the potential for weight management
  • It can be fun and engaging
  • It has potential for competition
  • It could be used socially
  • It can develop physical skills

However, the basketball, and the exergaming product, while having all this potential, actually do none of the above. Look at the picture below. Now this is achieving all of the above. Do you see how small the basketball actually is in the picture? It's the game that's achieving all of the above, not the ball. The same is true for active gaming products.

Sat on it's own the basketball does nothing. Picked up and used in a game it suddenly becomes the enabler for all the fitness, weight loss, competition, social and skill development objectives. Some exergames are better at providing a start down this path than others, but in essence, it's the implementation of how you use an active gaming product that is the key between successes and failures

Most exergames benefit from programming. That is a set of objectives and a plan on how to meet those objectives by using the equipment. It is about setting tasks to achieve goals. PE teachers regularly write lesson plans to reach the objectives of a curriculum. Each lesson takes one or more aspects to develop and work on.

Some exergames take it upon themselves to implement "programming", but this often fails. An exergame needs to be adaptable to start with to be successful. See below as an example of how a rigid exergame can't tick the boxes of one that allows programming and professional instruction.

What have we learned? We have learned that exergame products are tools, and the effectiveness in using them obviously depends on their basic attributes, but more so on the way the exergame is being used.

We have learned that the games and enjoyment are a great route to reach goals, and that planning is an important aspect in this. I think 2010 will be the year people will be the focus in exergaming, the implementers will make the headlines, and the products seen in the supporting role.

Get Your Bike On! ExerGaming Bike Bonanza Round-Up

Exergaming Bikes

Do you realise there's 15 implementations of exercise cycles that connect to a console, PC or the internet? There's some pretty poor implementations, but quailty aside, this is a post of quantity!

Fitness cycles are found in the gym, traditional cycling is used in government health promotion and is never questioned as a cardio workout. There's distinct categories within the 16 products.

1. Speed Mediated Gaming - The faster you pedal the faster your car/cycle/monster truck etc goes on screen. Most products are in this category, and most implementations are for PS2. Due to licencing restrictions, digital next gen bike controllers are limited to home brew versions.

2. Movement Mediated Gaming - Play any game, so long as you are exercising. Stop exercising and the game play is paused. Patented Gamercize interaction products, working with all the next generation consoles and PC.

3. Non-Movement Mediated Gaming - Not actually connected in any way to a game, similar to Movement Mediated Gaming, but if you stop pedalling there's no reminder to get moving again. You have to bring your own motivation along because there's no incentive to keep moving.

4. Bike Simulator/Trainer - The exercise is a bike, and so is the game. Involves some of the internet connected machines and a popular gym addition. I prefer the outdoor challenge, but the racing aspect gives a reason to make a great activity electronic.

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Thursday, January 7

Why You Should Not Go to the Gym in January

And how to avoid becoming a fitness fool!

This time of year is the absolutely worst time to go to the gym. All through the winter your gym was your gym. You could use any of the equipment, find a parking space, meet up with pals. But not this month. Oh no, the wrecking ball of newbie fitness members is here.

You know they type, they come on board with a 12 month membership, but chances are by March you'll never see them again. They try to go from years on the sofa to 110% effort in 1 hour, they clog up the machines, they take the staff's time up, the mess up the weights. You know the type.

So what do you do instead? Forget about it. Leave the gym alone for a month or two. "How do I keep fit with this appalling weather, risking injuries that'll put me out for months?" I hear you say. Exergaming, that's how. It's video games with a fitness twist, and yes, you may have heard of Wii Fit, but what I'm asking you to look at is something a bit more focused to the trained eye.

Wii Fit is a poor substitute for the gym, there's little or no exercise element, unlike the gym it's a solitary experience that'll leave you bored and frustrated. If you know exercise then you need to look at the Gamercize Family Fit. Why? Because it's a proper exercise machine. The recumbent cycle has magnetic resistance, so it's a smooth and powerful as a your cardio bikes in the fitness studio. What's more it also doubles as a full sized rowing machine, with a useful feature to avoid injury - a back rest.

Even more than it's outstanding fitness qualities; it is an exergame, working with the latest releases and the all time favorites alike. So long as your mind is in the game, your body is in the workout zone. Don't stop exercising or the game will pause to remind you to keep moving.

If you have tried Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus and found it a little on the undemanding side for entertainment, then the Gamercize Family Fit can tempt you with real games. Modern Warfare 2 to your liking? Maybe Forza 3 then, or Mario Kart Wii? Try Uncharted 2, Ratchet and Clank, Mirror's Edge, Tekken 2, Mass Effect 2 - in fact, any one of thousands of previously sedentary games out there on the Xbox 360, Wii or PlayStation 3.
See you back in the gym in March, and when you just don't have the time to make it, there's always your Gamercize Family Fit at home!

Tuesday, January 5

Five Wrongs of Exergaming

Exergaming is the 2010 Fitness Trend News!

Exergaming has been in the spotlight a lot in the last four or five days and it's not surprising. Make fitness accessible to all, make it fun and put that idea in front of people at a time New Year's Resolutions, exercise and diet are foremost in the mind - it's a winner. Mainstream media though has a few misconceptions of exergaming. Time to right the wrongs.

  1. Exergaming isn't good exercise - We, in the exergaming industry, tend to see this from a lot of mainstream media outlets. There's really no excuse for this "con" as many exergames are based on full body movements or genuine fitness machines.
  2. Exergaming is just a craze - This common statement does make me smile, exergaming may be news to the unwitting reporter, but it's been around in one form or another for 25 years, with the last five years being the most exciting. There's many more years left for the premier fitness option.
  3. Exergaming won't get you fit - This is a concerning statement that you often read from unresearched articles of the big news outlets. What they are looking at here are a few studies that show one single exergame failing, it's not the majority experience, but I guess it makes news.
  4. Exergaming is just for Seniors - Again and again we see stories of exergaming helping seniors with unstrenuous movements. Isn't this great? Don't forget that there's exergames out there that really kick out the numbers in calories, up to 650 calories an hour!
  5. Exergaming means Wii - The worst misconception, and the company that's responsible for all of the above shortcomings, and branding exergaming with the failings. If authors want to write about Wii and point out how it fails, call it Wii - if you want to write about exergaming, look a little deeper and you'll find answers to all the concerns in other products.

For a balanced view of exergaming take a look at The Exergame Network, a non-profit, non-affiliated collective of exergaming industry experts, industry captains, researchers and today's students forming the next generation of educators. Join this network and get answer to your questions on LinkedIn.

With my own experience with Gamercize I can personally dispel the misconceptions with genuine exercise from real fitness machines, genuine sustainability from the latest and future game releases , genuine enjoyment from ability to play any game and appeal to all ages from the support of all consoles and all genres of video game.

Sunday, January 3

Compensation for Wii Fit owners

Gamercize Mail-in Refund for Wii Fit

We're giving money back on Gamercize products to Wii Fit owners. The reason is simple, we've seen lots of studies claiming exergaming isn't exercise, studies saying exergaming is no good for fitness. All of these stories have a common fault - Wii Fit. Thanks Nintendo, you're making us all look bad.

Here's how we can change that. Look at the world of exergaming. See there's a lot more to it that virtual gyms. One leading exergame expert, Dr Ernie Medina, said "I find running around a track boring, so how does running around a track on screen make it any more interesting?". He's right of course, the point of exergaming is fun.

Fun and game play is central to the core values of Gamercize, this makes the genuine level of exercise that is inbuilt with Gamercize sustainable. What you get from exergaming should be about the game, about having fun and getting fitter as a byproduct. This is why Wii Fit is letting the exergaming side down by allowing people to think its a fun fitness tool. This is why we're stepping up and putting up the cash to make things right for Wii Fit owners.

Take a look at where you'll find details of how to qualify for this offer, that includes 3 months GZ Personal Trainer membership.

Friday, January 1

The Best 2010 New Year Fitness Resolution - Refund the Wii Fit

Enough of the hype, let's get fit with exergaming!

Gamercize is offering free virtual gym membership and mail-in rebates with its range of active gaming products in exchange for unwanted Wii Fit discs. Gamercize makes New Years fitness and weight loss resolutions more achievable.

Gamers who want to get fit but found Wii Fit lacking in enjoyment or exertion can take advantage of this offer to experience exergaming with Gamercize. Trading in your Wii Fit discs will entitle you to a mail-in rebate worth up to $150/70GBP. To help with New Year Resolutions to lose weight and improve fitness, Gamercize is also offering a full 3 month virtual gym membership of their GZ Personal Trainer programme free.

Patented Gamercize interaction is non-intrusive by allowing normal game play while working out on a range of fitness machines, pausing the player from the game if they stop. The minimal interaction allows players to have their mind in the game while their body is in the workout. Gamercize works with every sedentary game, ensuring it never gets boring. In tests Gamercize equipment has been proven six times more engaging than exercise alternatives and four times more energetic than Wii.

"I can attest first hand to the positive impact that this product has on children, teens and adults after seeing so many of our locations having huge success with it. Recently our Exergame Fitness advisory board member Dr. Stephen Yang of SUNY Cortland demonstrated the full potential of Gamercize. Stephen had an entire gym class consisting of future PE Teachers that were playing Gamercize tournaments using the NBA Basketball Xbox game. It was great to see the social aspect of the product and hear the praise from students." adds Tommy Seilheimer, CEO of Exergame Fitness USA.

The GZ Personal Trainer software included in this offer is accessed via the internet or 3G mobile phone. The membership software provides a link to real fitness professionals who help motivate while tracking your calorie burn and progress against key health indicators towards your goals.

From January 1st the full Gamercize range of active gaming products, including the GZ Power Stepper, GZ Endurance Cycle, GZ Family Fit 3 in 1 recumbent cycle and rower and the GZ PC-Sport under desk stepper, will carry a 10% mail-in rebate plus 3 months GZ Personal Trainer membership in exchange for unwanted Wii Fit discs.

"Time and time again I hear of exergaming falling short of the mark in research studies and personal experiences, all due to expectations having been set far higher than the best known product can deliver. Since 2006 Gamercize, by contrast, has continually stepped up and faced the challenging demands of the consumer, delivered and never disappointed. This offer is designed to help people rediscover active gaming, but this time with genuine fitness and honest game play enjoyment." says Gamercize CEO, Richard Coshott.