It's Fun to Play at the Y.M.C.A.

Christina Loguidice's picture

Bill and I recently received a flier in the mail from our local YMCA and went to check it out yesterday. The facility is about 3 miles from our home, and having membership there also gives us membership to a facility about 10 miles away. Both facilities have the typical YMCA offerings, including Olympic-sized pools, basketball courts, exercise room with strength training equipment and free weights, and various exercise studios, where you can take a host of classes. As we found out yesterday, their Zumba class is extremely popular. If you do not know what Zumba is, which we did not, it “fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a one-of-a-kind fitness program that will blow you away” per the description on the official Zumba Website. Many people showed up just for that class and left immediately after discovering it was canceled for the holiday weekend; forget about getting physical activity any other way, sadly it was “Zumba or nothing” for them!

The YMCA a little further from our home is slightly nicer and also has an indoor track and a small exergaming studio, which contains a few interactive gaming bikes, one DanceDanceRevolution or DDR (see Chapter 3 of Vintage Games) set-up with medium-grade dance pads, and one Wii console set at an angle by the doorway. While the studio was a little underwhelming and it would have been nice to see a bit more equipment, some exercise accessories (such as weights, step risers, etc), and a slightly larger room, we appreciate the fact that the facility offers an exergaming option. Certainly, it is possible that their set-up is more than adequate. The room was empty when we were there and the equipment looked to be in very good shape, so we would love to know how much traffic it gets. Regardless, its presence is an indication of the ever-growing exergaming trend.

As you no doubt already heard earlier this month, the American Heart Association (AHA) partnered with Nintendo to promote Nintendo’s exergaming titles. As part of the agreement, Nintendo will give the AHA $1.5 million over a period of 3 years and in exchange can use the AHA “heart check” logo on all Nintendo Wii exergaming programs and accessories. Both organizations have also launched a Website where individuals can learn more about engaging in active play and how to stay physically fit and active. The Website, which is hosted by Nintendo, is currently more promotional of Nintendo’s products than serving as a repository of useful health information. Naturally, this partnership has generated quite a bit of controversy as some feel exergaming does not provide enough of a challenge to truly work the cardiovascular system, limiting its utility as an exercise medium. However, having to use several different programs while writing Wii Fitness of Dummies, especially Wii Fit Plus, EA Sports Active: Personal Trainer; and Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010, made clear to us that exergaming can indeed provide a good workout. While some programs are better than others at producing sweat and raising heart rates, everyone has different needs and gentler games may be an ideal way for the elderly or individuals in rehabilitation programs to get physical activity. Further, even if an activity doesn’t give you a cardiovascular workout, it can be a fun way to get off the couch and away from the potato chips, both of which are good for the heart.

The YMCA we toured is not the only facility to offer exergaming. It appears many facilities across the country already offer it and others are looking to adopt it. Who knows, whole facilities dedicated to exergaming may just become the next fitness craze, especially as the technology continues to develop. One such facility already opened in Idaho of all places—no offense to anyone in Idaho, but all that comes to mind for most people is potato fields—called Exergame Fitness. While the facility is geared toward children, which isn’t surprising considering kids these days are practically born with a controller in their hands, adults can also use the facility, which is managed by the neighboring Gold’s Gym.

Anyway, at the end of our YMCA tour, we signed up for a family membership. Whether shooting hoops, lifting weights, swimming laps, or riding on one of the interactive gaming cycles, it should be a lot of fun to play at the YMCA.


Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
This sounds like a good time.

This sounds like a good time. I'll have to check to see if there's a YMCA in St. Cloud. I didn't even realize women could go there.

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Joined: 12/31/1969
Matt Barton wrote:

This sounds like a good time. I'll have to check to see if there's a YMCA in St. Cloud. I didn't even realize women could go there.

It's very different from the vintage perception, at least in our area, and particularly since the two are independently owned and operated. The two clubs are essentially like big fitness facilities with regular activities and events, like swim lessons, childcare, camping, etc. There are no longer any visible religious or gender associations, at least that I could see, and I certainly wouldn't tolerate it if there were. It's actually a good deal in that it's $75 a month for the entire family (you can pay less if you're in a lower income bracket, student, etc.), which can be the high end for just a single gym membership.


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