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May
19

5 Solutions For Gyms to Help Kids Stay Fit

Childhood Obesity, Exergaming and 5 Fitness Solutions For Gyms

When some of us were children, we may recall our parents telling us to eat everything on our plate since there were “starving children in Africa” and other places around the world. On the contrary, while childhood hunger is still a serious problem, both here and abroad, the number of overweight and obese kids are growing globally.

According to the most recent figures from WHO (World Health Organization), gleaned from a report by the Commission For Ending Childhood Obesity, an estimated 41 million kids around the world, under the age of five, are considered overweight or obese. Their study also found within this same group of children:

  • Overweight and obese Asian children make up 48% of that population
  • 25% of African children are either overweight or obese
  • The total number of obese children in Africa has doubled over the last 24 years

The United States seems to be fairing better in comparison since we’ve able to reduce our younger obesity rates from 13.9% in 2004 to 8.4% in 2012, down by more than 5%.

Sugary CerealStarted With Sugar

For many years, childhood cavities and expanding waistlines were blamed on too many sweets, especially those found in sugary breakfast cereals. Although processed, ready-to-eat cereal has been around since the Civil War, the taste and trend didn’t pick up until sugar was added along with colorful cartoon characters, enticing youngsters to gobble up their new favorite flavors.

Due to declining sales and negative publicity, in 2006, food and beverage companies established the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. It was promoting it as “part of the solution to the complex problem of childhood obesity by using advertising to help promote healthier dietary choices and lifestyles for children.”

But apparently they aren’t listening to their own advice or following the guidelines they put into place since little progress has been made with added sugar and salt. Many of us may be noticing less advertising directly geared towards children, so instead manufacturers are offering statements about how healthy their cereals are instead. But not much has changed over the years, for example, from 2009 to 2012, salt and sugar in children’s cereal was reduced by only 3% on average.

Let's MoveLet’s Move Dietary Stats

Proponents aimed at ending childhood obesity have offered another solution, get our kids moving! First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative may come to mind. On their website, they also point to additional dietary problems:

  • An increase in the number of snacks children eat per day, up from one per day to an average of three or more from a few decades previously
  • An overall rise in caloric intake, around 31% on average compared to decades ago
  • Larger sweetened beverage serving sizes, up from around 13 ounces in the seventies, to 20 ounces at a time today
  • Most Americans eat 15 pounds more sugar per year than they did in 1970 and 56% more fat and oils
  • Portion sizes overall have risen two-and-a-half times in this period

Little Movement

While First Lady Michelle Obama’s dietary stats shows many unpleasant increases in our food intake, other numbers show a disappointing amount of exercise and activity with today’s young people. Older children and adolescents spend on average 7.5 hours each day on some type of media, whether it’s television, computers, video games or smartphones. It’s reported that only one-third of teens get the recommended amount of daily exercise.

The let’s move site also refers to a time when kids ran around at school during recess, came home and played outside until dark. When dinnertime came, we sat down around the table and ate healthier, smaller portions of food that included a serving of vegetables and a glass of milk. Fast food, pizza and eating out were rare treats, sweets and snacks were also seldom, rather than the norm.

So clearly we’ve gone from a generation of movers-and-shakers, to a majority of millennials who are lamers and gamers. We’re all clearly eating more red meat, fats and carbs while consuming less healthy greens, vegetables and fruits.

Less Lame and More Game

Given all of today’s technology, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to steer kids away from their omnipresent handheld devices, especially smartphones and game consoles. Thankfully there’s a solution that combines exercise with gaming, also known as exergaming.

Reminiscent of Nintendo’s Wii system, launched almost a decade ago, this controversial game system came with a new type of controller, complete with a wrist strap, meant to be used in a more physical manner. The compilation of games included with the initial purchase included interactive sports like baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis.

ExergamingGrowing Results

Since its release, sales of Wii products have skyrocketed and according to statistics, it’s not backing down anytime soon. Figures have shown since Wii was released onto the fitness platform, annual sales have gone on a steady uphill climb of almost 6 billion in 2007 to a whopping 70 billion in 2010 and topping off at over 100 billion at the end of 2015.

Since not all games played on Wii are physically interactive, it’s difficult to gauge the overall success of the programs that require participation that’s happening off the couch. Information from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) helps to shed some light on this topic – the popularity of exergaming with children and adolescents.

Exergaming Stats and Info

Exergaming (sometimes called active gaming) is being dubbed “the future of fitness,” and is being touted as a practical solution to children spending the equivalent of a work day being sedentary with technology. Definitively speaking, exergaming is a technologically driven, game or routine that requires the participants to be physically active or exercise in some way in order to play the game or complete a task.

Just to be clear, the game based physical activities are more than simple hand and finger movements as the primary interface with the device. They require the user to apply full body motions in order to participate in virtual sports, play group fitness games, perform exercises or other interactive physical activities.

Studies have shown that different types of exergaming venues can provide moderate to vigorous physical activity levels and also give users positive physiological results. As with any exercise regimen, the results from the activities are dependent upon on how much the individual participates in the actual program or routine.

How Children React

In a survey, ACSM reported that over eighty-four percent of adolescents stated that having fun was the single most important element in life. Kids and teens are embracing these newer games and activities on a mostly positive level because they’re both fun and interactive.

When it comes to fitness routines, take into account these games are ever changing, with more titles containing different types of sports, other activities, and even varying plotlines, are emerging regularly. Apparently one of the biggest reasons the majority of people quit their exercise program or fitness regime is because of boredom so these choices should help to sustain their longevity.

Technology and Interaction67cc4a583497c449d9a3cdd5110ddb2b

Given the overwhelming growth and popularity of social media, today’s youngsters are interacting with each other on a different level. Compared to a few decades ago, when connections were made mostly on a face-to-face level rather than screen-to-screen interactions. Exergames are keeping up with this trend by allowing multiple players to participate and peers are able to play alongside of each other on a virtual level.

They’re also communicating about the activity, discussing results, posting scores, competing with one another and are even assisting their peers on continued improvement, better methods and strategies. This allows young people to play their favorite games with their friends and become healthier and more active at the same time.

Choices and Options

Exergames gives participants the ability to make individual choices during game play since they’re self-paced. Users can choose their own difficulty level, mode of play and whom to play against. They may choose to play against the computer, compete with friends, family, a group of their peers or other online competitors.

Using an avatar allows for at least some anonymity so there’s less chance of being bullied at school or in other social and public situations. It also h59346f43ebdb3da375faeae8f4d4f490elps participants from becoming discouraged if they’re not doing well and motives them to become more active and stick with the program in order to advance.

Gym Solutions

To reach this important younger audience, gyms, fitness clubs and other workout venues are looking more closely at today’s technology and also following current trends. As with the majority of other public places nowadays, access to free Wi Fi is omnipresent. Here’s five other ways that gyms are helping get kids fit, stay active and current with today’s technological times:

#1 – Online Competition and Participation

Most people, children and teens alike, are competitive by nature and in many gyms, members are mostly competing with themselves in order to reach a specific goal or surpass a “personal best.” Using social media or other online venues such as the company’s website, gyms and their members are reaching out to participants to share their progress, invite others to join them, compare results with each other and discuss the entire process.

#2 – One, Two, Three – Dodgeball!

Whether it was the cult movie classic,Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” or even recent nods on current family programs like “The Real O’Neils,” this playground favorite from days gone by  has been given a recent rebirth. When space allows or those fortunate enough to have a basketball court or other large arena, these are providing the perfect venue for this popular platform as a teen-friendly team sport.

#3 – Soul and Spinning Inspired Cycling

Similar to venues that offer Spin classes and reminiscent of Soul Cycle, gyms are attracting  youngsters, especially teens, by offering cycling sessions geared towards their interests. With a time set aside for spinning, participants are listening to their favorite pop radio channel, checking out a new album hitting the shelves or highlighting singles from Billboard’s Hot 100 list.

#4 – YMCA’s Gamification Program

The YMCA of Greater New York has been engaging their tweens with a gamification program that applies game theory to engage young people in fitness activities through the use of points, badges, a leaderboard and timeline to inspire them to increase their daily workout levels. At a kiosk, kids browse through activities and can create “fitness playlists” to share with friends online. Their program encourages kids to create an online community of more active peers and they’re  discussing their healthier lifestyle choices.

#5 – Institute Exergaming

Some gyms and health clubs are making a moderate investment in exergaming equipment to get young and old alike into using this newer technology. With an average cost of around $250 for a Wii system, $25 for a non-slip dance (dance revolution) pad and around $15 for each game, this is an affordable alternative to traditional gym equipment that can easily run into thousands of dollars.

These trends seem to be working since reports from the NY Daily News are indicating that obesity rates are leveling off among teens. More importantly, activity and exercise are on the rise with today’s youth, along with eating more healthier, fruits and vegetables. While there’s still room for improvement, things are looking up for today’s young people when it comes to health and physical fitness.

About the Author

Mark KirkpatrickMark Kirkpatrick is a journalist for health and fitness enthusiasts.  He lives in the Los Angeles are with his wife and two energetic daughters. As a former enlisted Marine with over 8 years of service, he has found that productivity starts with healthy habits and hopes to help others achieve their goals through positive reinforcement.  His goals as a graduate journalist is to send a message to those that need just a little more guidance in following their ambition and enjoying the path it takes them to.

Apr
21

GETTING BACK IN THE PILOT’S SEAT WITH GRAVITY

Mission Valley ymca images- GRAVITY- SMALLNancy Vaughan used to be a regular at the gym until she began experiencing constant hip pain and had to stop working out. A private pilot for 30 years, she could no longer get in and out of a plane; she couldn’t event go to Padres or Chargers games because she couldn’t walk the stadium stairs without pain.

Then Nancy had total hip replacement surgery, but her road to recovery only started there…

“After hip replacement surgery, your body mechanics are off – you have a foreign object in your leg – suddenly your bad leg is your good leg but you’re not sure how to move. You’re terrified of doing something wrong, so you don’t do anything.

I experienced severe muscle pain in my lower back after walking only a few steps.  I’d stopped working out prior to my surgery and had become deconditioned and I realized that I needed to get back into shape – I needed to take control of my pain”

So Nancy joined the Mission Valley YMCA

“I started aqua exercise classes with an instructor that specialized in pre and post-operative patients. Once I felt I could complete a workout in the gym, I joined the ‘Team Challenge’ where I got a free pass to try GRAVITY using the Total Gym GTS  – I pretty much stopped everything else after that first class. Now I attend GRAVITY classes as often as I can. I go four to five days a week; sometimes I even go every day. The instructors are all great and I love the variety of classes offered – some emphasize stretching, some posture and balance, others focus on building core strength and overall muscle – but they’re all fun – and it works!

Working out on the Total Gym GTS has helped me regain strength in my legs, strengthen my core and has greatly improved my posture. I feel like I’m standing taller and straighter than before.

Even though my physician had sent me to physical therapy, it was GRAVITY and working out with Total Gym equipment that saved my life.

Now I have the freedom to get up and go do whatever I want. I knew after my surgery, that once I was able to climb back into my airplane, I could fly it and GRAVITY helped me feel more confident about trying it.  And of course it helped me to have the energy to be able to do the physical things that go along with recreational flying, like pulling the plane out of the hangar, loading it up, putting fuel into it, and then putting it away and unloading it at the end of the day.

Part of the recovery process from any total joint replacement is getting people back to good conditioning – I believe if there had been a Total Gym machine available to me during my post-op physical therapy, I would have been six months ahead of the game. I personally don’t feel there is any reason physical therapy clinics can’t run their own GRAVITY classes – it’s the missing link!  Total Gym should be a part of any physical rehab program.”

Total Gym and GRAVITY allowed me to get back to my active lifestyle pain free with confidence!

Mar
27

AN INTERVIEW WITH IHRSA

We recently exhibited at the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) 2015 Tradeshow in Los Angeles where we had the opportunity to discuss two exciting NEW developments:

– The newest addition to the Elevate Line™ – the Total Gym® Jump Trainer™

– GRAVITY Studio® – a franchise/licensee opportunity for those looking for an approachable and effective studio fitness solution.

IHRSA is the trade association serving the global health club and fitness industry. The mission of IHRSA is to grow, protect and promote the health and fitness industry, and to provide its members with benefits that will help them be more successful.

IHRSA and its members of health clubs and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and industry suppliers (like us!) are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion.

Mar
20

EVERYONE’S JUMPING LIKE JORDAN

basketballTonight San Diego State University takes on St. Johns University in the NCAA Tournament. While I’m torn on who to cheer for – the Aztec’s who have become my local team over the past 10 years or the Red Storm who I grew up with (literally just a few blocks away from the University) – I’m excited to watch some of the finest college basketball players in the country go head-to-head as they try to advance to the next round.

And while, personally, I’m more interested in who can make the 3-point jump shot, I can’t deny the drama and awe that comes with the infamous “slam dunk.”

Propelling themselves to heights of 44”, 45” and even 46”, players like Sam “Slam” Thompson (Sr. Forward, Ohio State), Michael Qualls (Jr. Guard, Arkansas) and  Keifer Sykes (Sr. Guard, Green Bay) all seemingly defy gravity as they explode into the air, ball in hand, to make the glorious dunk shot.

But how are they able to do it?

Generally, people who can jump so high are born with a high percentage of fast-twitch muscles, which gives them explosive speed.  However, those that aren’t as genetically blessed can still increase their vertical leap with plyometric training.

Traditionally, basketball players perform various squats and box jumps to work their “vert” and develop their leg muscles for increased strength and power.  Popular exercises like the depth jump and barbell squat jumps have proven to add inches but also tend to leave athletes at risk for possible injury if not performed properly.

And for those who are not quite at the level of the pros or likely soon-to-be pros… jumping, while highly beneficial, is not as easy as it looks.

Luckily, here at Total Gym, we’ve just launched the NEW Jump Trainer09_Jump Squat_B small

Since full weight-bearing plyometric exercises, even at low intensities, can expose joints to considerable forces and substantial speeds of movement, the Jump Trainer acts as a transitional piece of equipment, allowing users to gradually progress by incrementally unloading their bodyweight.

Providing a safe and fun environment to perform squats and squat jumps, the Jump Trainer features a large, ergonomic glideboard that fully supports the spine during movements so that users can comfortably control the descending and ascending phases while exercising.

Not to say that the likes of Lebron James and Zach LaVine wouldn’t benefit from jumping aboard the Jump Trainer.

Its unique design allows EVERYONE –  from the mom or dad that just had their hip replaced to professional athletes who want to work on their “hang time” –  to develop all the major muscles of the lower body, from the intrinsic muscles of the foot to the glutes (and everything in between needed fto jump like Jordan).

How can one machine accommodate so many different users of so many different abilities? It’s all in the engineering.

Like all Total Gym products, the Jump Trainer uses incline body weight resistance, allowing users to train using anywhere between 20-80 percent of their own bodyweight. There’s plenty of room to progress from basic squats to complex plyometric movements that challenge a user’s proprioception while using maximal force and resistance.

And for the first time, Total Gym has incorporated optional variable band resistance (VBR) into the Jump Trainer. Four resistance bands offer an additional 10 -70 pounds of resistance in 10 pound increments, allowing for a maximum resistance of up to 150 percent of a user’s bodyweight when all four bands are engaged.

Leveraging band resistance allows users the unique opportunity to train the eccentric contraction of a squat or squat jump. Not only do the bands intensify the force needed to accelerate upwards, they also provide accelerated eccentric force that requires users to control the down phase – therefore training muscle deceleration which helps strengthen and protect ligaments and joints while developing fast-twitch muscles fibers and explosive power for improved athleticism and of course… an increased vertical.

So whilJacquie Jumping in Heelse I’m watching tonight’s game with my fingers crossed (Go Red Storm!!!), tomorrow, I’ll be back testing my jumping tenacity on the Jump Trainer (in heels no less ). I’ll keep you posted on any impressive leaps…

Dec
2

A WHISKER-RAISING CAUSE

This past month Total Gym took part in the Movember movemnet, raising awareness and funds for the health issues men face. This movement is saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

The Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health. Having raised $559 million to date, they’ve funded over 800 programs in 21 countries, saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

The Movember Foundation challenges men to grow moustaches during the month of November, now commonly referred to as Movember, to spark conversation and raise vital funds for its men’s health programs. To date, 4 million moustaches have been grown worldwide, and here at Total Gym we’ve done our own whisker-raising for the cause.
However you don’t need to sport a ‘stache to support this cause. You can make a donation directly to the Movember Movement here or on behalf of Team Total Gym here.

Remember, just like a mustache never goes out of style, it’s never too late to donate.

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Sep
16

Total Gym Takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Our mission is simple – helping millions of people get healthier – and sometimes it’s not through fitness.

These past few months there have been a slew of videos uploaded to social media. Video’s in which a person voluntarily pours a bucket of ice water over themselves in the name of ALS Awareness.

For those of you who don’t know, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the lethal neurodegenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

About 30,000 Americans have this devastating disease, which attacks nerve cells and ultimately leads to total paralysis, losing the ability to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe – all while the mind remains sharp.

Life expectancy is typically two to five years from the time of diagnosis and currently, there is only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ALS, which only modestly extends survival by two to three months. Consequently, ALS is 100 percent fatal.

In our small world of fitness, we have been greatly affected by ALS. Augie Nieto, a vivacious and energetic innovator in the industry who co-founded Lifecycles, Inc., now called Life Fitness, Inc., was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2005. But always the pioneer, Augie and his family have been leading the way in finding a cure for ALS.

They founded Augie’s Quest, the largest individual fundraising program for ALS. All funds raised by Augie’s Quest benefit ALS Therapy Development Institute – the world’s leader in ALS research whose focus is to discover and develop effective treatments to end ALS.

But without public awareness, there is only a limited pipeline for fundraising.  According to The ALS Association, only about half of the general public is knowledgeable about ALS. That means 50 percent of the American public doesn’t know what the disease is or that it even exists.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has made profound difference, welcoming more than 70,000 new donors who have raised over $110 million since July 29. At last count, more than 1.2 million people have posted videos on Facebook and mentioned the phenomenon more than 2.2 million times on Twitter.

Here at Total Gym, we were happy to join in, taking the challenge to the next level and contributing to the cause. Now we nominate all of you to Get On Board as well – take the challenge yourself and/or donate to any one of these foundations fighting for a cure:

ALS Association   Project ALS     ALS TDI   Augie’s  Quest

 

Jun
12

IT’S TIME TO ELEVATE YOUR WORKOUTS

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