SHEPHERD, MT – This past April, Shepherd Public Schools was one of 67 organizations awarded a grant through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) designed to help schools and other organizations initiate, expand, and improve their physical education programs. One of the areas the Shepherd Public Schools focused their efforts to expand and improve their physical education program was at their high school level. The school’s mission is to “…promote individual learning by providing educational and social environments…” The school administration and physical education department saw an opportunity using their PEP grant to fulfill their mission statement and provide a unique experience for their students by integrating Exergame Fitness equipment to their fitness area.
In May, the Billings Gazette highlighted the excitement from one of the physical education teachers at Shepherd High School about this opportunity, and the teacher’s enthusiasm was for good reason. Many high schools have a fitness area where gym classes and sport teams can work out and use as a hands on learning environment to teach healthy living habits. However, most schools and students don’t have the opportunity to combine their regular fitness activities with highly engaging and gamified fitness equipment. The students and staff at Shepherd High School are part of an exclusive – yet rapidly growing – group of schools and organizations that are ushering in a new era of how we as a culture do fitness.
Exergaming helped fulfill Shepherd High School’s mission in that exergaming provides a social and educational environment for fitness and working out. The equipment that they installed – CardioWalls, Nexersys, 3Kick, TWall, a Spivi Group Spin Cycling system, and a Traverse climbing wall – combines technology and games to create a high energy, fast paced room designed to foster competition and a desire to keep improving.
Exergaming also fits right into where the majority of students spend their time – the virtual world. The Spivi Group Spin Cycling system displays how a user is doing compared to the group, not unlike many of the virtual racing games that exist on Xbox and Playstation. The Nexersys uses an interactive sensor system and a series of videos to guide the user through workouts, tracking their progress and helping them improve along the way.
Ultimately, what Shepherd High School is providing for their students is access to a new way for students to create healthy habits and maintain an active lifestyle. With obesity rates rising and reports that kids are spending more time in sedentary activities, exergaming will be at the forefront of the fitness world, helping to make schools a healthier place.