Local college students using video games to get fit

Courtny Gerrish, Stephanie Graham

Local college students using video games to get fit

CREATED Jun. 4, 2012

MILWAUKEE - From bowling, to track and field, to tennis, some Milwaukee Area Technical College students are getting fit -- without leaving the classroom.

James Weigel is a Water Quality Technology major. He says, "It definitely exposes us to different ways to do physical activity."

With no gymnasium at the West Allis MATC campus, instructor Judy Springer has to get creative in her class 'An Active Approach To Wellness And Fitness.'

"Especially students that are tech savvy--we can do strength training with dumbbells and weights, and all those other things which is great, but for alot of these guys, using technology really wets their appetite for trying something different," Springer explains.

Thanks an Innovation Grant from the Provost's Office, Springer is getting her students excited about fitness by using interactive video game systems like Nintendo Wii and Xbox.

"It's not just generic we have to go running, we have to work out at a gym. It's ways to incorporate fitness into your daily life while having fun--that's the most important part I think for anyone is having fun," James exclaims.

31-year-old Physical Therapist Assistant major James Huntley is in great shape now, but used to weigh 285 pounds. He is a strong believer in fitness in the classroom, and explains his personal turnaround. "One day I kinda got a wake-up call. Maybe it was God trying to talk to me--you're a little overweight--living the good life. You need to change your ways, cuz you might not have much longer to live."

He likes how the class promotes the idea of getting fit together.

"Most people don't make enough time at home, so yeah, I think it's pretty cool, we have it incorporated in class," Huntley says.

The class also includes a lecture component, where Springer teaches her students about proper nutrition and wellness. She explains, "This is a great class to be able to transfer into a 4-year university... For a lot of them--just a chance to look at some of the health and fitness parameters they haven't visited since high school."

After all--you're never too old to learn some new workout tricks!

Another plus to this course--it's a way to get fit indoors during the cold Wisconsin Winter.