A group of investors is hoping to set a trend in physical training, by inserting video games into the gym. Volt Fitness in Glen Rock, New Jersey, is the first gym of its kind, linking gaming to working out to encourage youth to become active.
Based on circuit training, the gym presents a kid-friendly option to physical activity, using games as a motivator. For example, one machine makes kids pedal an exercise bicycle to play a racing video game on a large screen connected to the bike. The faster the child pedals, the faster a character in the video game moves. Read More...
Another machine, the Makoto, requires players to hit lights that flash on three poles and is actually used by professional basketball teams to develop speed and agility. Other works out include a rowing machine and simulated boxing matches.
Volt Fitness is fun to children "because I enjoy the games, it's fun because I'm doing something where I can be successful no matter what shape I'm in, and it's fun because I'm not competing against somebody else. I'm just competing against myself," said Dr. Mark Wade, paediatrician in Saddle River, N.J. and one of the four partners in the project.
Enrolment started in December 2007, with parents paying $10 to $15 an hour to have their child work up a sweat while having fun. Kids are weighed and tested for strength, flexibility and agility when they start the program, and retested every three months so parents and pediatricians can monitor a child's progress.
All of the exercise stations at Volt are designed "to get the kids moving so that they will have a change in mind-set — a paradigm shift in how they view exercise," Wade said.
"I think it's very cool how they do it here," said Jake, 14 years old, after a recent workout.
And the concept not only appeals to children, explains Tom Ardese, personal trainer and partner in the project. While Volt also has a regular gym with adult equipment, a growing number of adults ask to use the videogame training stations. "But adults can only use it when the kids aren't here, that's the rule," Ardese said.