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Virtual Reality Bridges Healthy Lifestyle Gap at Club One

Club One’s virtual weight-loss pilot program has helped participants lose weight and has increased memberships for the club company.

Club One, San Francisco, revealed the results of its program, Club One Island, in May at the Games for Health Conference in Boston. The conference explored the potential of video games and virtual reality as a means to improve health education and health care.

All 20 of the participants who completed Club One Island’s 12-week program lost weight. The group’s collective average weight loss of 8.08 pounds per participant outperformed the control group, which lost 5.98 pounds per participant. Eighty percent of the participants said that the pilot program worked better for them than any other program they had tried in the past.

Developed by Club One in 2008, Club One Island explores the possibilities of fitness in the virtual realm. The program incorporates avatar association, cognitive behavioral theory, gaming, social networking and community as a way to change behavior and improve lives. The program’s 35 activities are divided into four segments: nutrition, movement, support and behavior change.

Participants log onto a computer, watch the avatars they’ve created as they perform various exercises and are guided by the program’s online trainers about how to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Celeste DeVaneaux, creative director for Club One Island, says the program emphasizes social aspects, allowing participants to go online and discuss their struggles and successes in the virtual world, which translates to feeling more empowered outside of it

“Club One Island is often confused with a game, but the virtual world is different than a game because there’s no real finish,” DeVaneaux says.

Although sitting in front of a monitor may not sound like an effective way to lose weight, the idea behind Club One Island is to virtually experience activity before doing it physically. The program’s nutrition and exercise classes reinforce healthy lifestyle choices. The program’s positive reinforcement system helps change the way participants feel about becoming active, DeVaneaux says.

Club One Island is offered to members and nonmembers. At least two program participants have joined or reinstated their memberships at Club One.

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