Exergaming saved my soul

Exergaming is the ‘alternative Fitness’ methodology I’ve been waiting for my entire life! Phew, I’m thrilled I finally got that off my chest.
At 44, that represents a reasonable timeline I’d say. I’m almost embarrassed confessing this, one sentence to sum up my ‘Fitness/Career’, to this point. I certainly don’t wish to sound overly dramatic, but it’s true,  unequivocally true.

I remember the moment. Its since became one of those ‘pivotal moments’, please no Dr. Phil analogies,  that everyone experiences, in one way or another. My ‘timeline’ was initially jolted by the media blitz of the Nintendo Wii console at ‘E3’, in 2006. By the time of its commercial release, near the end of 2006, I was in raptures – seriously! The possibilities offered by this ‘hardware/software’ combination had my mind reeling. I could think of little else other than how to alter its basic form and redirect its potential into Fitness, and I didn’t even own one at this point.

Obviously, the new Nintendo Console platform meant something entirely different from my perspective. Quite frankly, I really didn’t give a damn about it as a gaming device, I was totally consumed by what it could offer as a new Fitness methodology. However, its gaming bent certainly supplied the other ‘essential ingredients’. The ingredients I’d always found lacking in traditional Fitness methods. Things that I regard as intrinsic, even sacrosanct, in making fitness a lifestyle not a fad:

  • Fun, and by fun I mean actual laughing hysterically, the unconscious childlike joy that adults exhibit when something pure tickles their fancy. Simple, honest and infectious fun.
  • Intuitive use of the hardware and software. Everything Microsoft said it was BUT never became – plug and play.
  • Applicable to any age and learning ability. Anyone can use this thing, anyone!
  • Low to no impact, other than the possibility of hitting yourself or a friend with a flying wiimote (been there done that :))
  • Motivational and utterly non-competitive, should you want it to be.
  • Easy, small, robust, clever, charming and reliable (just like me :P)
  • Did I mention fun?!

Since my early teens, I’ve a personal motto – ‘remove the interface’. Bloody odd now that I think about it, but my mind was driven at that age by science, science fiction, sport and sex (the idea of sex at least :)). I felt compelled to find the essence of experience, whatever that experience may be. I wanted a direct line to that ‘experience’ and anything that got in the way, was a contaminate and diluted the effect, so it had to go. Removing the contamination became my personal saga, finding the ‘beginnings of the answer’ is my revelation.

Making the connection between you and your desire, seamless and intuitive is extremely difficult. A connection that seems natural, where the technologies involved, quite possibly very complex technologies, just disappear and not get in the way of your purpose. Exergaming, done correctly, gets close, very close to my ideal…much closer than any methodology (Fitness wise), I’ve ever encountered.

For me, the Wii got the Exergaming ball rolling. The Wii has spawned an amazing variety of useful and useless software/hardware. Its popularity has pressured other manufactures to raise their game (so to speak), and realise the enormous potential in Exercise + Entertainment. The Eyetoy, Bodypad, PS2, DDR to name but a few, have offered tremendous Fitness opportunities, before and after the release of the Wii.

ExergamingFinland Coaching Team

ExergamingFinland Coaching Team

My own version of Exergaming – Exergaming Finland -  which began in 2007, is a bastardised version of the Wiki definition of Exergaming. Exergaming Australia will adapt to suit the Australian market but never lose sight of its origins. Our companies goal is to merge ‘all the good stuff’, ‘remove the rubbish’ and ‘innovate’ our own into a Fitness potpourri that will create a Fitness lifestyle that few people have ever  experienced. The ingredients are all available, our job as ‘Fitness chefs’ is to get the mix just right and then customise to each individual. Some of the ingredients are:

  • Established’ Exergaming equipment manufactures/innovators (Cybertrazer, Sportwall, Gamerciser, Expresso, TACX, Makoto etc),
  • Conventional equipment and software such as Reebok Core Balance Board, Suunto PC pod and HR monitoring, GymStick, Fitness Boxing,
  • Quality Web 2 Online Fitness applications (Traineo, Body Daemon),
  • Large screen projectors,
  • ExergamingFinland ‘Sim’ sports equipment (Tennis, Golf and Cricket),
  • ExergamingFinland ‘plugins’ for Treadmills and Crosstrainers.

There is no shortage of ideas, my problem is time, and money, funnily enough. Nevertheless, my hope is to start a ‘Centre’ for the clever and meaningful use of Exergaming and make Exergaming a ‘mobile and portable’ model. I really hesitate to use the ‘Gym’ word, it seems so sanitised, formulated and soulless. Gyms have become Cardio machine factories, human poker machines…horrible, the antithesis of what I want to achieve. Oddly enough, I also dislike the phrase ‘Exergaming’. Gaming in Australia means gambling, which makes Exergaming = Exercise + Gambling – well there’s an interesting business idea for someone 🙂 I’ve no real alternative to the name, plus its well established and well understood. So be it.

Welcome to my view of Exergaming, where it’s going and where ‘we’ (ExergamingFinland and Australia), want to take our own version of it. Time for some ‘Serious Fun’.

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