FITNESS AND STAYING IN SHAPE

The converging  of personal fitness awareness and in-home exercise and training opportunities — along with growing momentum on a corporate basis is moving tech fitness from just a ‘game’ into the trend category.

With economic challenges and increasing costs of insuring one’s workforce – more companies are introducing corporate wellness programs in the belief that exercise and diet can positively impact the existing health problems in their workforce.  This ranges from fitness assessments and large-scale group exercise programs to holistic and integrative health programming.

The Data

The statistics are adding fuel to this trend.

Adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy; children and teens need 60 minutes of activity a day.  Moderate daily physical activity can reduce substantially the risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, such as colon cancer. Daily physical activity helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, helps prevent or retard osteoporosis, and helps reduce obesity, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and symptoms of arthritis, according to the U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services (HHS).

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. Physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as regularly active people.  Overweight and the obesity epidemic bring along the risks that include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and arthritis.

With this type of data emerging – we see the fitness industry growing – and it’s more than just going to a gym multiple times a week.  Given that the major barriers most people face when attempting to increase physical activity are time as well as access to affordable and convenient facilities – in-home fitness is on its way to become a significant trend.  Add into this the social networking and community piece and friends can exercise together from the comfort of their home – at a time that works for them.

Can’t Get To The Gym Today?  No Sweat.  

Feel like cycling at home today, and still want to track your performance?  Can’t get to the gym – but don’t want to miss your Zumba class, exercise or sports session?  Had a stressful day, and missed your mind-body yoga or pilates class?

No problem.  That also means, no more excuses.

Since the introduction of Nintendo’s Wii and then the Wii Fit Plus – people are moving off of the couch within the comfort of their home.  There’s something for everyone:  young and older, male and female.   With the expanding of console alternatives, such as the Xbox with Kinect and Sony’s PlayStation with Move – a slew of titles aimed at physical exercise, muscle strengthening, cardio and more are in the marketplace – and it seems as if more are coming.

In addition, developers are also discovering a marketplace for fitness apps for those on-the-go – with the growing penetration of tablets and smartphones.  Checkout discussion of this in the Nov/Dec issue of Vision Magazine or go to www.c4trends.com.

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

DANCE.  This genre is about burning calories, staying fit, and enjoying a fun workout

  • “Just Dance 3” from Ubisoft for the Wii and Xbox 360 was among the top five best-sellers for October 2011, according to NPD.  While you’re working out – have a blast with your favorite songs. Scrolling lyrics lines enable players to sing along  while you’re stepping to the beat and leaning real life dance moves.  And if you just want to have fun, there is a 4 player party modes – with simple controls, anyone can pick-up and play.
  • The popular “Zumba Fitness” for Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 from Majesco is a dance workout game featuring nine different dance styles, including salsa, hip-hop, and mambo. Nearly 1 million Americans have taken the popular studio classes, following the moves of 3,500 instructors, according to Zumba’s official website. If one is a Zumba enthusiast or owner of all the workout DVDs, this will be a great way to experience one’s favorite routines.  The original Zumba Fitness has jumped on and off NPD’s top ten monthly new retail sales charts throughout 2011.
  • “Dance Central” for the Xbox 360 from Harmonix
enables players to mimic the on-screen character’s dance moves for high scores while jumping and gyrating to songs from top artists like Lady Gaga.  One can master the moves individually and then launch into a dance battle to string them together to the music. A circle beneath the on-screen feet glows green when one hits the moves correctly and glows red when one messes up. The game tracks one’s calories during one’s routines and has settings for different intensities.

The company has sold over 2.5 million copies of the original Dance Central since its release last November, making it the second-best-selling Kinect game behind Kinect Sports. A multiplayer sequel to the game was released last month.  After being unceremoniously sold by Viacom, independent rhythm game maker Harmonix is expecting to book $100 million in revenue for 2011, driven by the success of the Dance Central franchise.  The company is also working on “multiple new music games” with no resemblance to the Dance Central and its Rock Band franchises.

EXERCISE

  • “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” for Xbox 360 produced with Men’s Health and Women’s Health from Ubisoft talks and walks one through precise movements to improve cardio and muscle work out.  This fitness game measures one’s body size and structure, and  with a hand-motion menu enter your age, weight and exercise habits so the game won’t overexert you. It makes it easy to follow along with the Tai chi and yoga moves of an on-screen instructor, who leads you through the movements and at the end of each routine gives you a score for your performance based on how well you stay in rhythm and mimic her deep knee bends.
  • Based on the hit NBC reality show, “The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout / Challenge”  for Xbox 360 and Wii from THQ , these two games feature trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. Jullian Michaels is a celebrity personal trainer, reality show personality, direct-response television pitchwoman and entrepreneur.  These games provide interactive workouts and nutrition goals, featuring more than 125 exercises to help one lose weight and get in shape. The Xbox 360 version, developed exclusively for the Kinect motion controller, includes several unique features, such as video diaries and online workout friends. These games offer a serious workout tool for players looking to get fit. No mini games or fun, casual challenges here.

SPORTS

  • “EA Sports Active 2” for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii shows the more sophisticated side of exercise with three sensors that connect wirelessly to the console of choice.  This  9-week exercise program offers numerous exercises in numerous categories – from cardio to upper body. One can create custom workouts. The arm sensor also serves as a heart rate monitor, which tracks how well one’s heart rate recovers following exercises, according to EA.
  • While previous games have been about general fitness, “EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp” boasts a more specific theme – football – and one chooses what team you want to train you. Like EA Active 2, one of the major differences in this iteration of the EA Sports Active franchise is the total-body tracking system. Ditching the nunchuk and its cord, this system uses the remote in conjunction with two new sensors: one on your thigh, the other on your arm. The workouts in NFL Training Camp are similar to what one might find NFL players doing – running and sprinting in place, kicking field goals, and throwing footballs. There are also strength-training exercises that use the included resistance band. A gruff-voiced “trainer” provides words of encouragement. If you’re looking to improve your 40-yard-dash time, this may be the game for you.
  •  “Kinect Sports” for the Xbox 360 from Microsoft is a collection of six sport games (bowling, boxing, track and field, table tennis, football and volleyball) that not only serves as a great way to get in shape using Microsoft’s new motion controller, but is also accessible and fun for the family.  It’s more fun with friends than solo — but one needs to have plenty of space in front of your TV.  What makes this game different from other motion controlled sports games, like Wii Sports or PS3′s Sports Champion, is that your entire body is a controller.  One constantly moves, and it is a fun way to burn calories and get off the couch.
  • “Sports Champion” for PS3 from Sony Computer Entertainment America is a varied collection of sports games that puts the PlayStation Move motion controller to good use.  Almost none of the games are obvious choices for inclusion in a collection that boasts only six different sports — disc golf, beach volleyball, archery, table tennis, bocce, and gladiator duel — but they’re all fun.  Like Nintendo’s Wii Sports, Sports Champions is a game that isn’t focused specifically on fitness, but the mini games are a fun way to raise one’s heart rate and get off the couch.