Monday, February 13, 2006

Arcade gyms - XRtainment and Energy Factory

Traditional gyms have been slow to incorporate videogame-based exercise. Instead, what we're starting to see is a new kind of video arcade that features nothing but exercise games.

The Energy Factory in Tenafly, NJ is billed as an "indoor electronic fitness center for kids."
The brainchild of Alex Ehrlich, The Energy Factory is the first center of its kind in the country. Don't expect it to be the last.

Software engineers and game designers are the new warriors in the battle against childhood obesity and inactivity. The National Institutes of Health even is funding video-game research projects as part of its anti-obesity efforts.

The Hoover School, which does not have its own gymnasium, used a federal grant to pay for its visits to The Energy Factory. Grades 1 to 5 each stayed one hour, with seven minutes at every station.

Next up: The XRtainment Zone family fitness center is currently being built in Redlands, California.
“Exertainment” is a mix of entertainment and exercise. Exertainment games are fun and exciting, and will engage you in exercise by moving your entire body! Challenge yourself on XRtainment Zone’s games such as Makoto, 3Kick, EyeToy, DDR, GameBike, Jackie Chan Fitness Studio and more! XRtainment Zone makes exercising together fun; and when it’s fun, kids, parents and adults of all ages will be more successful in keeping fit.
Their blog hints at interesting things to come:
On this last day of January, we had our first big piece of equipment come in. It's called 3Kick, a machine where you stand inside 3 towers, kicking and punching the pads as they light up and beep. We can't wait to be able to put it together! Mark Alexander, the founder/inventor of this product, and his sister drove from Utah to deliver this to us.
UPDATE: The website for 3Kick turns out to be, naturally enough, . The product looks like a great way to practice martial arts strikes at various angles:

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Blogger Dr. Ernie "Exertainment Evanglist" Medina, Jr. said...

Thanks for the mention, Glen. We're about 3 weeks away from opening, barring any construction snafu. I don't know if you know this, but Energy Factory closed down already. We're not worried because we heard from consultants and our shared vendors that their business plan and philosophy wasn't the best. I was hoping that they would stay up and running but I heard their main investors got impatient and wanted out. That's too bad, as they were the first to open.

Nitfiks, up in Santa Rosa, opened next, and they're taking a "Curves" approach with this genre, so we'll see how they do. They're close enough to you that you could check them out.

If you're ever down in the SoCal area, feel free to drop in and check us out. We're taking a very clinical approach in that we will be working very closely with medical groups, docs, and local universities doing research to validate the benefits and advantages of exertainment over traditional exercise interventions.

Our target market is anyone 6 to 106 that finds exercise boring. Unlike Energy Factory, we will be prominently promoting our "Family Fit Zone" class for families that want to get healthier. We will be doing a host of health risk assessments, fitness, and nutritional testing, and using heart rate monitors to track "minutes in zone" which members can accrue for prizes (eg. 5,000 mins. in your zone will get you that iPod).

I heard that Energy Factory didn't even want to mention the word "weight loss", in the event that kids would think it a place for only fat kids. We're not too concerned about that because we already have a bunch of top DDR highschool kids waiting for us to open so that they can train and do our tournaments.

We also have a bouldering wall that some of our kids have already given a big 2 thumbs up (check out our blog for the latest pixs on that).

In our multipurpose room, we'll have cooking classes, b-days (we have a full kitchen in it for cooking demos), and also yoga, pilates, etc. for parents who aren't into playing video games.

Thanks again! We're all excited and anxious to get up and running.

5/27/2006 10:29 PM  

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