Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The better way to get in shape...

There are two things you should know: first, I am incredibly lazy when it comes to physical exertion. And two, our house is a shrine to every video game system ever invented in the history of the world including a thousand-year-old abacus that plays Pong.

Imagine my excitement then when I stumbled upon the Fit Gamers & Fitness Gaming Community over at LiveJournal. They're a community full of gamers dedicated to getting fit through gaming. That means burning calories with sweat-filled minutes of Dance, Dance Revolution and game after game of Wii Sports, among others. I was so thrilled with this idea that I went and pestered the community's founder, known on LiveJournal as Skylark, and asked her a few questions about this gaming group. Here's how it went:

How did you come up with the idea?

I was feeling a little, well, fat and unmotivated one day when I came across a game in my room that was collecting dust. It was EyeToy:Kinetic, a game that I used to enjoy. The idea of the game is to work alongside a virtual trainer and spend 12 weeks getting into shape. I wanted to see if others would join me in this 12 week regime and so created gamingworkout, promoted it in various gaming communities and, well, that was that really! I kept wondering if, like gaming, exercising would be more fun with other people. So it was born out of boredom, my love for gaming and my total lack of motivation.

What's the response been like?

Initially it was a little slow. Two weeks later we had 30 members and a nice little community that was gradually building up. I did have a few people scoff at the idea in various places that I promoted it, but most people saw through the inital wtf-factor, saw that it made sense and joined up. Since we've been on the Livejournal Spotlight however we've gone from strength to strength and every other introductory post has "Thank you for creating this community, this is a GREAT idea!" at the bottom of it.

How's it been working for people? Have people had good results?

I've heard so many stories about how they've lost up to 70lbs through "Gamercising!" A lot of people have been motivated by the community itself to dust off their dance mats or even buy new equipment just so they can join in and get fit through gaming! The community itself hasn't been around long enough to tell you that so-many-people have lost weight and gotten fit, but from what I've gathered one or two people have stuck to a routine for the past 3 weeks and are really feeling the changes in their level of fitness already! If you were to ask me the same question next month I'm sure I'd be able to tell you more!

What are some of the best games for exercising?

Everyone is different, and each person benefits from different kinds of exercise. The majority of weight loss has been apparent when people play on their DDR mats at least 3 to 4 times a week. It's a very energetic game and really gets the blood pumping! I wouldn't go as far as saying it's a very good cardiovascular workout, but it's not far from it! So for weight loss I'd say get out the DDR mat and get dancing! It's easy, it's fun and it works!

For toning up and shaping your body - or even working on weight loss in specific areas - then games like Yourself!Fitness and EyeToy:Kinetic are probably more suited as they aim for that goal. However some people find those games boring so really it's finding a game that matches what you're aiming for. Some people love Wii:Sports for their upper body as well as games like EyeToy:Play. But, as I said above, it really depends on what you're aiming for!

Are people in the community pretty supportive of each other?

Very! A lot of "Keep up the good work!" and comments of the like are posted daily. Whenever someone asks for tips/advice you can be assured there will be at least one reply. Very nice, friendly community with very nice, friendly members.

What would you say to encourage someone to give gaming workouts a try?

If you're a gamer like myself who finds it difficult to shift those extra few pounds, who can't afford to go to a gym (and who really doesn't want to) then a gaming workout is definitely something you should consider. It's fun, it's easy to fit into our daily lives (hey, if you can spend 30 mins a day on World of Warcraft then you can spend 30 mins a day Gamercising!) and it WORKS, which is the main thing. If you're looking for tips/advice or a kick up the bum then our community is also a place you might want to check out!

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