The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 13, 2011

Playworld seeks teens for fitness gear tests

By Joseph Deinlein
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — A Valley playground manufacturer found out its state-of-the-art-equipment can dramatically improve the health of adults.

Now, Playworld Systems is going to look at the effect of the ENERGI Total Body Fitness System on teenagers.

Given that nearly a third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese, the goal is to reach them while they’re young.

“That’s where people start to create habits that will last a lifetime,” said Ian Proud, the company’s market research manager. “What we learn in school tends to stick with us.”

Playworld is conducting an exercise study for those 13 to 17 years old at the Lewisburg Area Recreation Park on North 15th Street.

The cost is $1, but in exchange, participants will use the ENERGI system and get coaching from certified strength and conditioning coach Michelle Simons, who helped Playworld develop the product.

The six-week program runs after school from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. April 25 to June 3. Participants will take part in a “pre-test” scheduled between April 18 to 23 and a “post-test” scheduled between June 4 and 10.

A complete statistical review will be offered at the end of the program.

“We’re using this to validate it in a sense,” Proud said of the workout system. “We want to able to understand if it works, and if doesn’t, how we need to change it.”

The ENERGI system uses 10 stations that together include 120 exercises divided into three skill levels, Proud said. The system uses body weight resistance for the exercises and has a clear description of all possible exercises on nearby display panels.

“There’s so much variety, based on your condition and what day of the week you’re approaching it,” he said. “It’s not likely to repeat in a week, given the enormous variety.”

It is a popular piece of equipment. Playworld has sold 500 stations in seven countries and 31 states, Proud said.

The company held a similar test last year for adults in Danville and found participants increased strength, speed and flexibility.

The average participant increased upper body strength by 35 percent; improved leg strength by 34.5 percent; sprinting speed by 6 percent; abdominal strength as measured in full sit-ups by 34.7 percent; and flexibility by an inch in a sit and reach test.

The hope is to find ways to reach younger kids and help reverse the obesity trend.

“We have not been able to attract students,” Proud said, “so we need to get their attention and understand how we can help them.”