School's out and, although cooler weather is finally here, it is likely kids in Ahwatukee Foothills will stay indoors glued to the television for a good portion of their winter break. However, with new video games on the market that require players to get up and move, rather than lounge on the couch for hours at a time, many American parents are starting to believe staying indoors might not be such a bad thing anymore for their children. This year the $250 Nintendo Wii game system was on the top of most Christmas lists and it flew off shelves at local retail stores before Santa could say "Ho-ho-ho." The popular 2006 Wii Sports game, retail value $50, allows players to golf, box, bowl and play baseball and tennis in the comfort of their own living room. It also allows parents to work worry-free during the holidays while the kids monkey around at home. Even gyms across the country, including teen center Overtime Fitness in Mountain View, Calif., are incorporating games into working out. Parents are dropping $60 a month for their kids to play Xbox virtual games and the early 2000's Japanese innovation Dance Dance Revolution at Overtime Fitness. Locally, The BAR Fitness Studio in Ahwatukee Foothills offers simulation software much like a video game that analyzes golf swings, baseball pitches and other general fitness movements to produce individualized workouts. However, using the software itself is not a workout. "Using these games as practice for a beginner or to improve a stroke is useful," said Dawn Rutledge of Curves Ahwatukee. "I don't think it is a substitute for exercise." Rutledge, an active mother of four, disagrees with America's idea that working out can be done by playing video games. "We are getting so far away from being an active society and this is a poor substitute for exercise," she said. "I think we need to have our kids outside doing things that require them to do more than stand in front of a screen." Rutledge, who's 14-year-old daughter received a Wii this Christmas and has yet to put it down, does agree that games like Wii Sports are better for kids than sitting on the couch playing traditional video games; however, she says they do not come close to working the same muscle groups and cardiovascular benefits as the real life experience. "The games can help fine tune skills and give a taste of what it's like to do a certain activity, but generally my kids would rather be outside," she said. Rutledge recommends Makutu's Island, a 20,000-square-foot multi-level indoor playground made for children and adults in Chandler, or ice skating at the Desert Schools Coyote Center as alternatives to entertain kids this winter break. Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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