Exergaming Part 1: – Chameleon Fitness

Innovation, evolution and revolution are human imperatives, no doubt. In the realm of technology, these imperatives extend across the entire software/hardware process, from conception to manufacturing and roll-out. However, when you apply these mainstays to more ‘emotive’ areas of our lives, it becomes all too easy to ‘box’ or package arising trends and technologies, in an effort to understand what may initially seem odd, alien or even ridiculous. Exergaming certainly engenders a diversity of reactions, often resulting in bewilderment or confusion, depending on the listener’s background. Thus presenting Exergaming as an innovative, evolutionary if not revolutionary fitness alternative, can be quite a challenge. At the very least, you have to be mindful of your audience, and tailor your explanation accordingly.

So what, you say, content customization is standard fare for many products and services, that’s true of course, however Exergaming’s rubbery nature compounds the difficulty in characterizing it. Ironically, it’s a victim of it’s strengths in that respect. Exergaming’s inherent adaptability and ease in adopting technologies, create a chameleon like identity, which morphs to suit its environment readily and rapidly. This was exemplified recently when my business advisor asked me to choose a business plan based on two ‘fitness challenges’ and a commensurate solution and strategy for each. Since our business model can incorporate any ‘Exergaming product’ and we use a flexible method of service delivery, I found choosing just two challenges VERY difficult. One challenge seemed patently obvious – PE alternatives for primary school aged children. An Exergaming Hardware/Product based solution would be an effective strategy. However, with a little thought, and broadening the scope of the model, Exerlearning offers a cognitive, behavioural and fitness benefit that is hard to ignore. Thinking further, and an ‘Active Playground‘ solution, from companies such as Smart Us, in Finland, are an exciting alternative. Which to choose?

We are spoilt for choice and our choices are increasingly steadily, if not daily. How we apply the plethora of available options becomes more important than any one particular product or service, this wasn’t necessarily the case in the recent past. Exergaming must remain innovative and adaptable and not be labelled a niche fitness alternative. This is somewhat problematic in establishing a ‘standard’ or even a definition forExergaming. We currently have a number of serviceable definitions for Exergaming, but as the genre is in constant flux, creating a concrete definition becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible. So whether we define this new ‘chameleon’ fitness alternative as Active gaming, Exergaming or Interactive gaming is perhaps irrelevant. Identifying the ‘fitness problem’ or challenge, case by case, and applying the imperatives of innovation, evolution and revolution will see this new genre continue to expand and become an entrenched, accountable fitness alternative.

I welcome your feedback, and please remember, this is purely my opinion and I’m certainly not precious about being criticised or questioned, far from it. If nothing else, I wish to merely continue the debate on the what, who, where, why and how of Exergaming.

In Part 2, I’ll look at how Exergaming can be integrated into conventional fitness environment, thereby transforming the fitness experience creating a highly motivational and effective training session that is effective at any existing fitness level! Enough theorizing and speculation, it’s time to get down and dirty 🙂

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