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Wiley, 11, after going to the first XRtainmenet Zone exergame-fitness center, has one thing to tell SNEWS®: “I got good exercise, and it was entertaining and fun.”
From the mouths of babes, as they say.
Introduced in the GearTrends® 2005 Fitness magazine (click here to see the story), the XRtainment Zone center described by Ernie Medina is now up and running, and is likely the first fitness center for kids and adults of all ages with the tagline “where working out is all play.”
Added Wiley, who goes there regularly with his buddies, “It makes exercise fun because you’re playing video games and don’t even know you’re exercising.”
Founder Ernie Medina, who calls himself the “Exertainment Evangelist,” told SNEWS® in 2005 that exergaming was the future – one he first envisioned nearly a decade ago – and one he hopes to bring to the forefront with a chain of his XRtainment Zone centers (www.xrtainmentzone.com). The centers are a bit like arcades where all the video games and entertainment demand players are active, moving, jumping, hopping, dancing, pedaling, climbing, and the like. With the first one finally open in Redlands, Calif., in September 2006, he is working toward a future of 18 to 20 such centers smattered across Southern California, staffed with exercise physiologists and Ph.D.s who not only can educate members on being active but help them do it smartly while having fun.
According to the website, the mission of the center is “to provide families and kids of all ages a fitness club of their own ‘where working out is all play.’ When exercise is fun, lasting healthy lifestyle habits can be established and obesity, cardiovascular disease and other lifestyle illnesses can be prevented or reduced. The company uses new exertainment technology to make exercise fun, but also employs innovative wellness techniques to treat the multiple causes of lifestyle related diseases that currently plague modern families and society at large.”
SNEWS® found the Makoto, Trazer, Dance Dance Revolution, participatory and VR video games, baseball and kick-boxing simulators, climbing walls, Cateye game bikes, and Sportwall, as well as classes such as yoga, Pilates, dance and kick-boxing. Whatever a member does, smiles are the name of the game.
Even though adults can take part in all the arcade-like exergames, SNEWS® went to the experts to find out what they thought. Justin, 7; Wiley, 11; and Sam, 7; told us what they think:
SNEWS®: What do you like about the XRtainment Zone?
Justin: It’s just fun there! Because there are games there, TVs, and you can play baseball on the TVs.
SNEWS®: Is it fun? How is it fun?
Sam: It was totally fun because I got to play video games all day with my friends.
SNEWS®: Are you exercising?
Justin: Yes. Cause you’re moving while on the games, or bicycling, or swinging.
SNEWS®: Are you sweating? Do you feel your heart pounding harder? What does that mean?
Justin: Yes, a lot! It means you’re getting stronger.
SNEWS®: What’s your favorite thing to do here? What do you like about it?
Wiley: Throwing the bean bags against the wall. I liked that you could compete against your friends and even your mom.
SNEWS®: Do you think grownups would like it?
Sam: Yes. My mom loved it!
Justin: Yes! Because it’s exercise and fun and sweat.
SNEWS®: Why does it make exercise fun?
Wiley: Because you’re playing video games and don’t even know you’re exercising.
Sam: Because you get to be in the games and play videos, too.
SNEWS®: Is this more fun than PE in school? What makes it more fun?
Justin: Yes. ‘Cause there are more things to do there and games.
SNEWS®: What if schools had this kind of fun stuff to do?
Wiley: Everyone would want to do PE!
Said Justin’s father, also a member there: “My favorite activity there are the Makoto machines. You can use your feet, hands or a baton to hit the lighted targets on a triad of poles around you. One minute of engaged activity is surprisingly exhausting. It’s addicting. The secret is using all your senses on the Makoto. Listening to where the beeps are coming from, and using your peripheral vision, helps in finding the next target. Keeping your body centrally positioned and balanced is key, too.”
For adults who are done with a workout or dropping in to pick up their kids, there is a wireless lounge and juice bar, plus the center is set up for birthday parties and child care, as well as sessions in weight management. But full focus is on getting kids hooked.
“It seems like the kids who have tried it, break a sweat and are hooked,” one parent said. “They like it when they can compete with others virtually, on the exercycles, racing as cars, or mountain bikers. They also like the games where they see themselves in the game and interact with the game characters on the screen.”
To read more about the development of the XRtainment Zone, see pictures, and read updates on its future, click here. http://xrtainmentzone.blogspot.com/
SNEWS® View: We at SNEWS® are huge fans of exertainment, perhaps not as THE only way to exercise and gain fitness, but certainly as a superior way or additional method to have fun while sweating, using muscles and having the time pass without clock-watching. It’s certainly a way to go with kids who just shouldn’t at young ages be plopped on adult pieces of cardio equipment when they can get active and learn to love exercise by doing so many other things. They will have plenty of time as adults to spend their 30 or 60 minutes on an elliptical, stationary bike or treadmill. Medina is a passionate evangelist for this method – one whose enthusiasm should not be ignored. He has an important message and vital ideas about one way to add fitness to a person’s life.