Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Virtual World in Wii Games Is a Fitness Hit; You Can Run, Play and Watch It All Unfold with a Cartoon Version of Yourself

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Virtual World in Wii Games Is a Fitness Hit; You Can Run, Play and Watch It All Unfold with a Cartoon Version of Yourself

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

As Kathy Winstead was going for a run one recent day in Ponte Vedra Beach, she saw mountains ahead, as well as waterfalls and fellow runners who waved as they jogged by.

"What will they think of next? Rose Signorile, 90, asked as she watched Winstead, 66, exercise with a Nintendo Wii Fitness program at The Players Community Senior Center.

Winstead was actually running in place in a classroom at the center on Landrum Lane while watching a cartoon version of herself, on a television screen, running through the beautiful mountain park.

"Unbelievable," Signorile said.

The Fitness Wii class is the latest exercise offering at the center run by the St. Johns County Council on Aging.

The free class uses technology familiar to children and teens as a way to get seniors to get in shape and stay in shape.

The Council on Aging purchased the Wii console and Wii Fit game, which hook up to any television set. The system comes with a balance board/scale, which players stand on while facing the set, and a wand, which they hold to control features on the screen.

The system is designed to accommodate one participant at a time, so those who were waiting for a turn provided a small audience for Winstead Thursday as she stepped onto the balance board.

After she entered her birth date, height and weight, the system checked her center of balance and body mass index, which is a measurement that determines a person's appropriate weight for their height.

It also calculated that her "Wii fit" age is 48.

"That makes me real happy," said Winstead, who works out with a personal trainer and participates in other exercise classes at the center several days a week.

After her fitness age was flashed on the screen, Winstead was given a choice of many different exercise programs to try, including stretching, ski jumps, balance, walking a tight rope and yoga.

After trying the running program, she said, "That was fun."

When it was her turn, Sandy Dybel, 64, tried the virtual downhill ski slalom, which required maneuvering between flags on the way down a mountain. …

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