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Kingsport seniors getting fit with Wii gaming system

Kevin Castle • Feb 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Bill Elterbrock was hard at work Friday training inside the Kingsport Senior Center for an upcoming rematch at bowling. His opponent: the grandkids.

Video games and fitness for seniors have combined at the Senior Center with the donation of two Nintendo Wii gaming systems.

Friday’s Wii session was part of a continuing series the center is offering to help city seniors get active again, said branch coordinator Cindy Price.

“We were a little hesitant to try (the Wii), but our members have really taken to it,” said Price. “It’s kind of hard to get them to quit sometimes because they do enjoy it. It’s a growing trend among seniors, and it is becoming a good source of exercise for them. We plan to make this a regular feature we offer.”

The Wii systems were purchased and donated to the center by Kingsport developer Dave Clark.

He saw how active and how much fun his children had with the game at home, so he figured they could be useful here at the center,” said manager Shirley Buchanan.

Elterbrock was introduced to the gaming platform when his grandchildren brought the Wii over to his house during the holidays. He found the experience at first to be difficult, but he says his skills have improved.

“The movement is the same as what you would do if you were actually outside, and that has helped me get better,” said Elterbrock.

“I’ve tried bowling, tennis, golf, baseball, and it’s taken awhile to get the timing down. But getting to come down here is helping me. It really is a great thing to be able to do this and get the exercise, especially if you have the snowy weather we’ve had lately. You get a workout, and you stay indoors.”

A Wii Fit system was also part of Clark’s donation, which includes a balance board that a person stands on, and the game can determine the person’s body mass index, weight and personal training needs.

“It also can help people with their balance, which is crucial to seniors and their health. It gives us another wellness program to offer the seniors,” said Price.

Currently, the center is using borrowed television sets for the gaming systems and is looking for donations to help purchase new 32-inch sets for permanent use.

The organization is also accepting any donations of good condition, wall-mountable television sets.

Financial contributions can be sent to: Kingsport Senior Center, 1200 E. Center St., Kingsport, Tenn. 37660; or they can be presented in person to the center’s office located on the first floor of the Kingsport Renaissance Center.

For more information contact the center at 392-8400.

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