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Providing their own two cents

Greenspring fitness center serves as demo site for new exercise technology

Created date

February 16th, 2017
A Blue Goji employee leads Greenspring community member Mary McDonnell through a variety of interactive games designed for use on stationary bikes.

A Blue Goji employee leads Greenspring community member Mary McDonnell through a variety of interactive games designed for use on stationary bikes.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “making exercise and physical activity a regular part of life can improve health and help maintain independence as we age.”

The wellness staff at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., is dedicated to providing numerous opportunities for physical activity through the use of state-of-the-art exercise equipment, interactive exercise classes, fitness competitions, and annual special events like the Turkey Trot.

“The physical benefits of exercise are great,” says Brad Hibbs, Greenspring’s wellness manager. “Our fitness and wellness staff work with those across the physical fitness spectrum. Each day, we see people who have never made exercise a part of their daily life as well as those who’ve been active for years and years. We have something for everyone.”

In an ongoing commitment to stay both up to date and relevant to everyone at the community, Brad and his staff recently agreed to offer the fitness center as a demo site for a variety of Goji Play interactive fitness games created by Blue Goji.

Brothers Kai and Charles Huang (founders of the video game Guitar Hero) and software entrepreneur and philanthropist Coleman Fung created Blue Goji to promote interactive experiences that help improve the health and wellness of Americans.

“It’s definitely unlike anything we have done before,” says Brad. “We were eager to try the games, and more importantly, to provide feedback on how these games can best help older Americans achieve their fitness goals.”

Testing site

For one morning this past fall, two team members from Blue Goji’s headquarters in Austin, Tex., traveled to Greenspring to set up their interactive exercise games on Greenspring’s equipment.

“We used two recumbent bikes and a Precor elliptical for the demonstration,” says Brad. “We set up the machines in the hallway outside the fitness center to draw in participants on their way to the gym. It also engaged other community members who may not otherwise have known about the demonstration.”

The games used in combination with the recumbent bikes required the use of special pads placed on each bike’s two handles. A trivia game required simple yes or no answers selected using the handlebar pads. The game Smash required use of both the pedals (the faster you pedal, the faster you go) and the handlebar buttons to select direction.

Participants opting to try out the virtual reality games on the Precor elliptical were among the first to use the games, which were released mere days prior to the demonstration.

According to Blue Goji, “the virtual reality enhancement enables users to play interactive virtual reality games while training on their cardio machines and completely immersing themselves in virtual worlds to get fitter and healthier.”

Participants weigh in

By day’s end, 26 Greenspring community members took part in the Goji Play demonstration. Each was asked to complete a survey detailing their experience with the games. The results varied.

“Everyone agreed that the games were fun,” says Brad. “Some felt that there were motivated to work out longer, while others found learning the games distracted them from getting the most out of their workout. But I’m happy that Blue Goji was able to see firsthand what modifications will be most helpful to our audience, such as larger screens and more user-friendly operating handles on the bikes.”

Community member Roger Tancreti Jr., who works out at the fitness center daily, enjoyed taking part in the demonstration. 

“It was a fun challenge,” he says. “I think with a few modifications and updates, Goji will be helpful.” 

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