Canadian gym puts Wii workout on its schedule

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - A Canadian health club is offering a new form of exercise for people bored with the treadmill or cycling classes -- the Wii Workout Station.

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Studeo 55 in Vancouver has incorporated a Nintendo Wii workout station into circuit training where users can punch, run and jump with the system’s movement-sensitive controller.

While some other gyms have combined stationary bikes with PlayStations and Xboxes in a bid to win younger clients, a spokesman for Nintendo Canada said this is the first they have heard of a gym using the Wii in its schedule.

Nathan Mellalieu, the owner of Studeo 55, said he decided to bring video games into a fitness environment after watching how much fun some children were having and, more importantly, seeing them sweating.

“We’re always trying to break down paradigms and keep things fresh. It’s used here to break up the monotony of traditional work outs,” he told Reuters.

He estimates that one session of Wii boxing, tennis or bowling equates to going for a brisk walk and can burn between 75 to 125 calories.

“All of our clients get great results, but the biggest result we see is the smile on their faces. People have to understand that fun is important,” said Mellalieu.

Clients at the health club are encouraged to use the Wii as part of circuit training, warm-up or cool-down, with the system set up in a 400 square-foot theater room with a large projection screen.

“It’s pleasing to see people play video games who would have never played video games before.” Farjad Iravani, marketing manager for Nintendo Canada, told Reuters.

Since the Wii was released late last year, various studies have highlighted its ability to improve fitness and even lead to weight loss by getting armchair athletes moving.

A study conducted by researchers at the Liverpool John Moores University in England found that regular use of the console could burn up to 1,830 calories a per week -- the equivalent to almost four Big Macs.

Nintendo is also currently developing Wii Fit, a 2008 video game with an array of activities, from yoga to aerobics.

Kim Bey, a former Olympic swimmer, was among the first to take a shot at the virtual workout at Studeo 55 when it was first introduced two weeks ago, adding it was an easy learn.

“You get what you put into it and you can make it a pretty difficult workout for yourself. I broke a sweat in the boxing for sure and as far as incorporating it into your workout, it’s like taking a slight break and yet still working out,” Bey said in a telephone interview.