Thursday, December 18, 2008

LA's Exergaming Evangelists!

12-15-08: No, I'm not talking about the city, LA, I'm talking about the STATE, Louisiana! Had 3 nurse practitioner students from Loyola Univ. in New Orleans, fly out for a day of brainstorming on exergaming research and to tour the Zone.

Imagine, they flew all the way out just to talk in person! They are really gung ho about this, and that is why they have earned the title, "The 3 Louisiana Exergaming Evangelists"!

They presented their powerpoint they gave for a class, and I must say, in just a short time, they have vaulted right up there with the rest of us in their thinking about this field. I look forward to future collaboration and research from these 3 newest Exergaming EvangelistsHere are the first 3 Louisiana Exergaming Evangelists (L-R): Tiffany, Amy (my initial contact), and Melissa. We welcome these 3 nurse practitioners into our exergaming family!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

APHA gets into exergaming!

Nov. 30, 2008 - Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday! As I was preparing my powerpoint for the last conference I'm speaking at this year (Medical Fitness Assoc. in TX on Dec. 5), I realized I didn't update my blog from the last conference I attended, the American Public Health Assoc. down in San Diego at the end of October, so here it is!

After 16 years of having my masters and doctorate in public health, this is the FIRST time for me to attend my profession's assoc. conference, mainly because I do more clinical work and attend other conferences that deal with clinical health and promotion and of course, exergaming--like American College of Sports Medicine, Healthy People, Games for Health, etc. APHA tended to be more focused on policies and public health, such as sanitation issues, epidemiology, population-based public health, etc

However, I noticed a trend towards lifestyle-related diseases and interventions, enough so that I finally joined the APHA and since this year's conference was just a couple of hours away, I decided to go and check out how receptive they would be to exergaming.

What I found was that the APHA is ripe for games for health and exergaming! This is a picture of a session put on by the newly formed Special Interest Group (SIG) Health & Technology. Guess what the topic was? Games for Health! So even though it was in one of the surrounding hotels and not at the main convention center, it was well attended. They are very interested in having more games for health, exergaming, etc. sessions next year, so I joined this SIG to stay in touch with them.

At another session, I heard about the new physical activity guidelines that just came out from the DHHS in Oct. This is the first time our federal government has issued official guidelines for physical activity. I'm here with Rear Admiral Penelope Royall, who was key in pushing this through the DHHS for the last couple of years. I introduced her to the idea of exergaming, which she seemed very interested in.
Another speaking on this session's panel was Toni Yancey, MD, from UCLA. She is a very dyanmic speaker, and I thanked her afterwards for mentioning exergaming in her talk! We bump into each other at various obesity conferences here in CA so she knows all about exergaming and XRtainment Zone. ;-)
If you're in one of Dr. Toni's sessions, you don't sit the whole time! She gets the whole room up and moving! Interestingly, a lady I was sitting next to wanted a copy of this shot, and we exchanged contact info. Turns out she is involved with the formation of a new SIG for Physical Acitivty! (Imagine that APHA doesn't have this yet, given the impact exercise can have on public health). We got to talking about games for health and exergaming, and I told her I would definitely be interested in joining the PA SIG as well.
A special thanks to Beth & Games for Health for helping to sponsor my trip there. Since Beth was manning the booth all by herself (they, too, were wanting to test the waters there for games for health), she asked me if I would check out the sessions, network, etc. so I was happy to help out in this capacity.
There were other contacts made, and quite a few sessions on physical activity, obesity, etc. There was even a poster on Second Life and AIDS prevention. Overall, it seems that the APHA community is ripe for games for health and exergaming, so I look forward to seeing us represented there in the conferences to come!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

XRTZ & Exergamefitness partner up!

10-13-08: Check out the press release by Exergamefitness on a new partnership between our two companies. We're looking forward to working with Tommy and Ed to spread exergaming to families who need it!

XRTZ officer lands spot on Oprah

10-15-08: Sheila Hodgkin, Development Officer, made it in the news this AM with her selection in an Oprah-sponsored women's leadership contest. You can read all about it in the San Bernardino Sun online article.

It mentioned her work with Andre Agassi, and here are some pictures from our recent trip to his gala for his schools.

Here's Sheila, hard at work with Andre, telling him how his school can benefit from having exergaming in it. Notice the XRTZ business card in his hand...great job, Sheila!

Also got to meet some other celebs there, like Dr. Knowlton here with David Foster....
Sheila and Judy Peterson (wife of COO Joel Peterson) with Nick Cannon and Mariah!
Sheryl Crow was very nice...
I was able to get in one picture with Steffi, one of my fave female tennis players...
Coach K was very friendly, shaking our hands and asking our names. I asked him how it was dealing with all of those NBA-sized egos and he said it wasn't hard at all because, "...they really wanted it (the gold)."
This was for Kim's 3 sons, who love watching Emeril on TV.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lisa Hansen visits XRTZ!

9-1-08: Lisa Hansen, co-director of the XRKade Research Lab at the Univ. of South Florida, was in town to speak at the Int. Conf. on Physical Activity. This was her first time in the Loma Linda/Redlands area, so she just had to visit the 2 locations of XRTZ! It was great seeing here here on my "home turf", hearing her present, and touring her around.

Trying out the Gamercize

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Exergaming Researchers gather in New Mexico

Aug. 21 & 22 - From Maine, we went to New Mexico State Univ., where a group of us our part of a 4-year CYFAR grant that started earlier this year. Headed by Barbara Chamberlin, of NMSU's Gaming Lab (what a cool place!), this was our first in-person get-together as a group. Over the next 2 days, we brainstormed the details of our grant and charted the course for the next 4 years.

Like Maine, it was great to meet everyone in person and deepen relationships that are difficult to do when you're rushing to and fro at conferences.

Thanks to the gang at NMSU for being such great hosts! You guys are the best!

Here we are, hard at work delving into the exergaming research.

Of course, we had to take breaks and play the exergames! Increase blood flow to the brain, of course!

For some of us, it was our first time to NM so we had opps to check it out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Maine Exergaming Summit

Aug. 14 & 15, 2008 - Ben Sawyer and Beth Bryant, thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, convened the first-ever Exergaming Summit, bringing in exergaming gurus and evangelists from various industries, to discuss the state of exergaming in beautiful Portland, Maine. Results from this summit will be published in a white paper and presentations at the upcoming Games for Health conference in 2009.

While many of us knew each other by name or e-mail, it was nice to actually meet in person and get to really know each other (not the brief meeting we sometimes experience at conferences!).

It was neat to have representatives from various industries related to or interested in exergaming: healthcare, fitness, insurance, academia, business, foundations, and videogames. You can see the various participants and their companies below.

It wasn't all work and no play! We got to enjoy some of the tastes, sights, and sounds that Portland, Maine, has to offer. Sailing, lobster, and beautiful weather was enjoyed by all.

Thanks to Ben and Beth for organizing and putting this on, and for RWJF for helping to fund this so we could all attend. Stay tuned for results from this summit in the near future!

Exergaming gurus hard at work!

What a great bunch of exergaming gurus and evangelists! Though we're all into tech, it was nice to be able to interact in person and get to know each other better. That will just make our tech communication experience better!

Of course we took time to enjoy beautiful Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My visit to E3!

7-16-08: This year was my first year to go to E3 under the new format. Gone are the days when it took up several halls and had 10's of thousands of people. It seemed very small by comparison. There did seem to be a lot more HD camcorder equipment all over the place, with editor and reporters of video game magazines and blogs shooting and uploading on the fly.

I was only able to spend one day there, due to my day job obligations back at the clinic. But since there was only one small room with games in it, I was able to see everything in just over an hour--AND play some games! (Before, it took me several days to roam all the halls...and that was barely taking time to play the games!).

Thanks to my friend, Rob, at Golin Harris, I was able to score an invitation to Nintendo's press conf. at the Kodak Theater.

The first famous person to come out to promote one of the newest games was Shaun White, Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding! It utilizes the Wii Fit board, as you can see him demonstrating.
Another game coming out soon is a Star Wars game. I'm a big fan of Star Wars, so I can't wait for this to come out. Yes, it's a bit violent (sword fighting and all), but it utilizes the newest accessory for the Wiimote, the Motion Plus!
This new attachment to the bottom of the Wiimote allows true 3D movement, more so than the original Wiimote. Once you use, it, you'll see what I'm talking about.
It will come bundled with this new game, Resort, which has a bunch of fun games you can play.
One is a frisbee dog catching game, where you can actually tilt the frisbee to do different curves! It isn't quite set up to be able to throw forehand, backhand, or hammers yet, but hopefully they'll work on it and then maybe they'll have an Ultimate Frisbee Game for the Wii!!! Now THAT would really rock and I will stand in line for that and that would cause me to buy my own Wii for home use, even if that means risking sleeping on the couch!!! LOL!
Here's another game from Resort. It reminded me of the American Gladiator's Joust game, where you had to knock off your opponent of the raised circular platform with the big Q-tip. Here, you're using non-cutting swords to knock your opponent's Mii off the raised platform. In this picture, Cammie Dunaway (middle), Exec. VP for Sales and Marketing, is battling her boss, Reginald Fils-Aime (left), President and COO of NOA. Guess who won? ;-)
Another cool use of the Wiimote and the Board is this new drumming game so you can add to the rock band experience. See the video clip below.

Here's another music can play in a band! At the far right end (stage left) is none other than the famous Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of over 100 Nintendo games including Donkey Kong, Mario, and the Wii games and hardware. I was hoping to get my picture taken with him, but no way could I get near him!!!

Here's a close up of the Motion Plus, attached to the bottom of the Wiimote.
Here's a clip of 2 guys battling it out on Resort.

Here's an interesting dancing game by Ubisoft. Check out the video clips to really get an idea of how it's played.

Finally, I saw Beth Bryant (bummed I didn't get her picture!) running the Serious Games booth. No exergames, but other games for health were on display here. (With all the companies making Wii games, there were plenting of exergaming going on!)

Finally, speaking of Ubisoft and games for health, I actually did get into one of the meeting rooms--Ubisoft! I didn't have an appointment, but I made one on the spot and said I wanted to see more about their Quit Smoking game, to be released in Nov. Marcella, a pro gamer on Frag Dames, sponsored by Ubisoft, demo'd it for me. Turns out she's a smoker herself and has just started really using it to see if it'll help her quit smoking! (She's a pharmacy tech by day but doesn't want to use Chantix.) I gave her my card and told her that I help people quit, so we'll see! I also wanted to see their Weight Loss Coach game, but since that's already out, they weren't promoting it there at E3.

Monday, July 14, 2008

XRTZ debuts on Telemundo!

7-14-08: Last night, XRTZ was seen on Telemundo on the weekend show, Al Rojo Vivo. Conchita Portilla, NP, are spanish instructor for our Family Fit Zone class, was the main feature of this segment. She did a great job, even though she was quite nervous. Here we (Conchita, her daughter Natalie, my daughter Summer, and my wife Keri) watching it in the multipurpose room of the XRTZ (neither of us have cable!). And here's a screen shot of Conchita!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Exergaming on Telemundo!

Airing this Sunday, July 13, 6:30 PM PST...don't miss Teacher Conchita Portilla NP's debut, speaking about her Spanish Family Fit Zone class on Telemundo (Ch.52).

If you miss it, you can see it later on their website: Telemundo

She did a great job!!! Here are some shots of her during her interview...

Freelance producer Vanessa Zuniga and cameraman watch correspondent Guadalupe Vicon interview Conchita
Conchita even does the difficult "walk and talk" for the first time without tripping on anything!
Guadalupe plays the Wii Bowling (she's definitely not a newbie!)...
...then explains about her experience on camera. I have no idea what she's saying as it's in Spanish, but I'm sure it's all good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

1st International exergame tournament!

6-30-08: A few days before our Independance day, the first ever (as far as I know!) international exergame tournament via the Net was held between the US and the UK. It featured the Gamercize equipment and the kids were using it to power a soccer game, which is probably why the UK won this first international exergame! (Hey, XRTZ is located in Redlands, the hometown of Landon Donvan (his family is still here) so maybe if we got him to play, the US could kick us butt! I heard he was a videogamer, as are most athletes.)

But XRTZ has laid down the gauntlet and has challenged Gamercizer's Richard Coshott CEO, Gamercize UK to another international match, date TBD, so stay tuned!!!

If you'd like to see a newsclip of this tournament from the US side (somewhere up in NorCal, near Sacramento, I believe), check out this video clip.

To see the news release on this first-ever international exergame tourney, go to Gamercize's blog.

I just rec'd word from Richard that now that he's done this pilot test tournament, they are working on much larger, multi-country exergame tournament, and we're working on getting XRTZ involved to help represent the USA!!! Watch for details to be announced.

Hopefully, this will spur other vendors to help get involved in exergaming tournaments. I can see our XRTZ members starting to train as soon as they hear about this tournament and will want to join Team XRTZ for this competition!

Monday, June 30, 2008

"Exergaming's enjoyable engagement effect"

6-30-08: In doing a tel. interview with a reporter from a Va newspaper, she asked a question about why exergaming works and I came up with that phrase. It's what separates watching TV while working out on a treadmill, in my mind.

Any thoughts? Comments?

Seniors play Wii

6-30-08: Another local story about seniors playing Wii and getting into exergaming! There's a reference about the county setting up seniors centers with exergaming--that's us! Check out the article here at the Sun.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Exergaming in the news!

6-28-08: This past week, XRTZ was featured for a 2nd time on Fox 11 news. Check out this news segment, featuring both kids and seniors into exergaming.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tournament at E for All

6-25-08: E for All is what took the place of E3 and is held in October. It's open to the general public as well. Look what I found--they are hosting tournaments! Think it's too late to include some XRGaming tournaments??? We can try! Check out the press release and E for All's website and let's see if we can do this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New equipment; on Fox News again!

6-24-08: We recently just put in some new games in the Zone. Come in and check it out!

The first thing we recently added was this stepper called the Gamercize Pro Stepper. Richard Coshott, out of the UK, is the founder of Gamercize and definitely "European Exergaming Evangelist"! Here you see one of our senior staffers, Vicky, trying it out. We'll report back in a little bit to see how the response is to it.
Another game that we just got installed yesterday is called "Dogfight", a flight simulator combined with a recumbent bike. Check out their website, Electronic Sports and see a demo video of how it works. It's a blast! I played it this AM against Joel and within a minute or so, he blasted me out of the air and I had to eject and parachute to safety.

Here's a shot of Joel and his daughter, Cassie, putting it though it's paces.
A close of up what Cassie is seeing on this huge screen. You use the handles to turn and bank your plane.

Joe Dean is the creator of this cool game and it's being developed in the beautiful island of Cebu, Philippines. We are fortunate to be the 2nd facility in the US to have a pair, and will give it a good workout here in the Zone. Here, Joe and Joel are doing a dogfight.

The crew, all the way from the Philippines, pose for one final shot before they head to Utah for some R & R.

Both games are connected to the Internet, allowing for online competition with players anywhere in the world. Hopefully, we'll soon have competitions with players from other states and countries!

We'll be utilizing both of these games, along with the Wii Fit and other games, in our upcoming 3rd Annual XRGames in August, so stay tuned!

In other XRTZ news, we are making progress on our first extension location, the Drayson Center, Loma Linda University's fitness center. Here you can see the display we have at the entrance promoting the summer day camp and the July Grand Opening, and the 2nd picture is where this will be located (behind the wall). We're excited about this collaboration, not only to bring exergaming to more people, but to also further research in medicine at LLU. (The Drayson Center is my regular gym where I play r-ball, lift weights, and swim, so I'll be able to check in on this on a regular basis.)

Finally, XRTZ was featured on Ch. 11 Fox News last night and this AM! Joel Tivo'd it and we'll soon have the segment on our website. They did a great job on the piece in getting our message out there, and if you notice my voice, you're not hearing things--it does sound strange because I was just getting over a head cold! (This was shot shortly after I had returned from my 5th conference in 6 weeks and it finally caught up to me.)

Jillian Michaels to make Wii fitness game!

6-24-08: Jillian Michaels, one of the trainers on "The Biggest Loser", has teamed up with Majesco to make a Wii fitness game! Check out the article. Does anyone know or have a connection with Jillian? That's awesome she's doing this!