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BitGym aims to trim your figure
Smartphone and tablet apps are fun. Cardio machines are boring. Can a combination improve your health?
Gaming has infiltrated almost every facet of society—even, lately, the health-care industry. TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” have made losing weight one big competition. And console games like Wii Fit Plus have sold more than 18 million copies to people looking to have some fun and drop some pounds.
Now BitGym, a new weight-loss game, is about to hit the market, and users of Reddit, the social news site, has been among the first to hear about it.
The game promises to turn “any smartphone or tablet with a processor, camera, and motion sensor into a virtual gaming console, controlled by the movements of your head and the speed at which you are going,” according to the BitGym website.
The tablet or smartphone is placed on an exercise bike or treadmill. Vibrations from the machine translates into how fast your car moves down the street or spaceship moves through an asteroid field.
On Reddit, news of the game reached the front page after longtime redditor and BitGym developer acgourley posted a photo explaining how it worked. The post collected more than 700 comments from people skeptical and supportive of the game.
“I don’t have a gym membership right now, but you can bet your ass if this happened I’d buy one….not to work out still, but to stand there and watch everyone move their heads/bodies to steer their games,” wrote cpatrick646. “Oh the lulz I would have…and the beer belly I’d still have.”
“I must say I’m skeptical on how well the iPad would pick up the vibrations, is there no way of coding something to read the speed through most digital displays on exercise bikes?” wrote cinemamacula.
The gamification of the health care industry makes sense. Already, 72 percent of American households play computer or console games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, an industry group. Then there are the prime-time competitive weight-loss TV shows watched by millions of Americans.
But do these shows and games encourage people to lose weight?
You can find some success stories out there. But according to Time and other reports, the answer is not really. The problem for most is food, not exercise. According to a New Yorker article, the real problem behind Americans’ growing waistlines is diet and the fact that “food has got cheaper in the past few decades, and fattening foods, in particular, have become a bargain.”
And with more than 33 percent of Americans considered obese, it’s going to take more than a clever new game to solve this epidemic.
Photo by Chris Blakely
Fernando Alfonso III served as an early Reddit and 4chan reporter and the Daily Dot’s first art director until 2016. He’s gone on to report at Lexington’s Herald-Leader and at the Houston Chronicle.