Games in Healthcare

Bulldog Interactive Fitness Sprouts Across Canada

Bulldog FitnessCanadian kids and teens can now enjoy the benefits of interactive workouts, with the new Bulldog Interactive Fitness for Youth. The program which has taken Canada by storm encourages fitness while having fun.

Canada’s Public Health Agency warns that from 1981 to 1996 the number of overweight children doubled while the number of obese kids tripled. Canadian girls are less active than boys with only 38 per cent of girls and 48 per cent of boys considered active enough.

“Bulldog isn't just a gym for kids; it is a place where self-esteem and well-being is our primary focus,” reads the company’s website. Open to kids ages 3 to 15, the chain creates a fun atmosphere for physical activity, an important step to fighting childhood obesity. Read More...

The Calgary location opened in mid-January 2008. There kids can do different things: work out on specialized game machines linked together and compete with their friends, participate in dancing competitions, climb walls, play with buckets of balls or plastic hockey sticks, even head to the gym to play group games. There are also child-sized weight machines for circuit training.

Programs are divided by age groups. Kids 3 to 5 can participate in PUPS, a fun, pre-school physical fitness program that incorporates games and learning. Teaching the five health related fitness components (cardio, strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition) it is designed to help young children develop healthy attitudes about exercise, while building social skills through interaction with their peers. Those 5 to 9 can take part in the PAWS program, helping build endurance, flexibility and strength.

"If we're going to expect our society to be fit, then we have to start early," said Stefne Madison, the Calgary gym’s co-owner. "We can't expect kids to learn that after childhood. They need to get into that regular fitness habit when they're young."

"You can do a lot more stuff here than at other arcades where it just has video games and stuff," says McLellan, on a quick break from pedaling. "This has video games but they get you active and help you get fit."

Bulldog emphasizes the fact it follows Canada's new physical activity guide for youth. It also reminds parents of the $500 federal tax credit they can get for each child under 16 taking part in a physical activity program. A drop-in session at Bulldog costs $15, a three-month membership costs $225 per child, and a year-long membership costs $780.

"It's about self-esteem at the end of the day," adds Madison. "What's important is that they see themselves accomplishing goals, and that spills over into every aspect of their lives. They get better grades, they eat better, they have more energy and they're happier people.”

Other programs include jogging, team sports (floor hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball and several other fun, non-competitive team sports and activities), team training, and classes (yoga, pilates, aerobics, cheerleading, cooking classes).

There are currently seven other locations across Canada, in Dartmouth (NS), Toronto, Barrie, Thornhill and Guelph (ON), Saskatoon (SK), and in St. Johns (NL). Another one is coming soon in British Columbia and even one in Florida.