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Nintendo's response to the personal trainer

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By Becca Owsley

BOX: The Therapy and Sports Medicine Center inside Hardin Memorial Hospital's Ring Road Medical Plaza, 1111 Ring Road, will provide fitness services to patients and offer limited public access. Those who likely will qualify include people who have diabetes, weight issues or other illnesses, or injuries that would need a medical-based program. The center includes Nintendo Wii, a pool, weight and cardio equipment, walking track, a pediatric gym and therapy rooms for physical and other therapy training. A Trazer, which is an interactive computer-based program often used for college athletics and rehab, also is on site. The facility hopes to have competitions with youth in the area with the Trazer and Wii as the program increases.

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By BECCA OWSLEY bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com Colder weather is on its way, making it more difficult for athletes to venture outside. What can someone do to keep fit during the colder months? A gym membership is one option, but those who like to work out independently or may not have the time to go to a gym now have another choice. With the success of the Nintendo Wii being used as an instrument for physical therapy, the video game company came up with Wii Fit, released this year, for an interactive exercise alternative. The game comes with options for simple aerobics, stability training, core strength, strength training and balance. Game users can create their own Wii personalities by entering age, weight and height. The program gives a daily fitness tip and keeps up with exercise and fitness levels to help personalize an exercise plan. It also calculates body mass index based on the information provided. During the winter months, when activity levels tend to slow, the Wii Fit can get people off the couch by involving them in activities like jogging, hula hoops, push ups, tight rope walking and others. The program remembers when a person has been on it last and can motivate by giving a reminder about the frequency of activity and usage. “My character is going to yell at me because I haven’t been on it in two weeks,” Eric Oliver, an athletic trainer and coordinator of sports medicine at Hardin Memorial Hospital, said. The facility has incorporated Wii Fit into its Therapy & Sports Medicine Center at the new Ring Road Medical Plaza. “It’s great for fitness and rehab,” Oliver said. The balance program also can help with people who have had strokes, Oliver said. One of the disadvantages he sees of using the Wii instead of going to the gym is that after the newness wears off people may not be as committed to it because they are not continually paying a gym membership fee. But if a person continually uses the system, it could have health benefits. “It’s interactive,” Oliver said. “You have to get up and use it.” You do get the benefit of exercising in the privacy of your home, he said. You can go for jogs in the park in your own living room. “It’s not perfect by any means on your weight and body mass index because it is just a board and there is more scientific equipment that can do stuff like that," Oliver said. "However, for $89 it is not a bad gig." The Wii Fit is an additional component to the Wii gaming system that is required for usage and purchased separately. Families and groups also can make the games competitive. Oliver suggests using the Wii Fit as a family game night game instead of sitting around a board game — burning calories instead. Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.