Beyond the Burg: University of Houston offers Wii-based class

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September 11, 2009

2:24 AM

The University of Houston is offering a one-credit “Wii Performance Class” as an option for students to fulfill their physical education requirement.

“I thought, ‘it’s too good to be true,’” senior Sajid Qureshi said to the Houston Chronicle.

The course uses Nintendo Wii games such as Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit. The course also covers the basic principles of proper nutrition and ways to maintain healthy body weight. Assignments include monitoring caloric intake and daily Wii activities. Students are expected to log 20 to 30 minutes of activity per class.

“I laughed at first. I have [a Wii], so I knew it wasn’t just playing video games on your couch,” course instructor Ben Hoffman said to the Houston Chronicle.

Hoffman, who holds a master’s degree in physical education, is also an exercise trainer and soccer instructor at the university.

“Part of the driving goal is to capture students who may, for whatever reason, not be interested in signing up for a traditional physical activity course,” Charles Layne, chairman of UH’s department of health and human performance, said to The Daily Cougar, UH’s student newspaper. “This is just an extension of trying to reach out to a greater student population.”

Other non-traditional physical education courses offered by UH include yoga, pilates, cycling and taichi.

“We have 10 stations and we’re splitting it up as two students per station. Every station is also set up with a Wii Fit board, but there are activities that do not use the Wii,” Health and Human Performance Director Randi Weintraub said to The Daily Cougar. “We’ve started with one class of 20 students and we may add more sections come spring.”

The Wii Fit has a pressure-sensitive balance board and can determine weight, body mass index and the user’s balance.

Additionally, it offers suggestions for improvement and remembers data from a user’s previous session.

“I wouldn’t say [using Wii Fit] is better than a personal trainer,” Qureshi said to the Houston Chronicle, “But it’s up there.”

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