Las Vegas January 7, 2005 Dave Weinstein visits the CES and finds a way to get fit while playing video games. Powergrid Kilowatt SPORT is a fitness product that helps entertain and enthuse you by hooking up to a video game while you use it. Enrolling the competitive instinct to get that little bit extra from you, the harder you work, the more competitive you are in playing the game. Multi-platform compatibility allows the system to work with all the major game and computer platforms, including PS2, XBox, Gamecube, PC and Apple Mac.
I tried the Pro version at the CES and I can tell you it's quite strenuous to use and I could probably use it in losing some Christmas Cheer. Unlike several other devices that give you a workout and hook to a video game console, the Kilowatt is not a bicycle - it works using isometric exercise - you just push against the shoulder-height joystick device and nothing moves - but you're definitely burning calories and getting a workout. The company catch-cry goes along the lines of "Your body is in a workout...but your mind is in a game" and I can see the advantages. The US Olympic ski team has apparently been using the Kilowatt in training so it's reasonable to assume it does the job claimed.
I wasn't the only person impressed - the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has selected the Kilowatt from among 800 entries as The 2005 Best of Innovations award WINNER in the Electronic Gaming category. In addition, G4techTV has selected the product as a nominee for the Best of CES award and C/net has selected the product as a nominee for The Next Big Thing.
They also have an attachment coming out shortly for the pro version where you slide back the backrest, mount a seat and then on the front you mount a flywheel device so it becomes sort of like a recumbent bicycle.
The Kilowatt also answers one of the major criticisms of the games entertainment industry - that video game use is sedentary and therefore is playing a role in the growing obesity epidemic. Powergrid Fitness's Co-Founder Greg Merril says, "Kilowatt is the first product to turn being a 'couch potato' into a physically demanding sport! Most Americans want to lose weight --189 million say 20 lbs or more. They want to exercise..... but few do. 60% play video games. The Kilowatt SPORT, with it's relatively small size (smaller than most home gyms) is an ideal product for home use." How it works
The core function of the Kilowatt is in it's ability to measure, in real-time, the force the user exerts against the controller. Two microprocessors are used to translate the pressure readings into a joystick data stream that is compatible with all major video game consoles. A new manufacturing technique was developed to integrate strain gauge sensors inside a alloy steel rod.
The floor of the unit is formed from three extruded aluminum alloy planks that dovetail to form a rock-solid platform capable of withstanding hundreds of pounds of torque generated by the user pushing on the resistance rod. An LCD status display shows total workout time, pounds lifted, and current resistance level. The system integrates a one-touch resistance adjustment for increasing the workout from level 1 (easy) to level 12 (brutal).
Kilowatt effectively tones and builds muscles through static contraction training (isometrics). Kilowatt engages virtually every major muscle group with emphasis on the abdominals, back, pectorals, latissimus dorsi, and quadriceps.
Kilowatt's physiologic benefits are currently being studied at the Human Performance Lab at Gettysburg College under the direction of Dr. Dan Drury, Fellow and President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Kilowatt Sport is available through at pwrgrid.com for a suggested retail price is US$799.99.