Tag Archive | Zamzee Families

Zamzee, My Family, and Making Exercise Fun

By Virna McKinney

zamzee picture 108

One day last April I walked my son William to his classroom on the second floor of his school. By the time we got to the top of the stairs, we were both out of breath. In that moment I really felt like a failure as a mom. Walking to his classroom on the second floor was a struggle that William had to face five days a week, at least three times a day. I knew I needed to do something to help both of us, and that’s why I started looking for a way to make exercising fun.

I found Zamzee by doing a Google search for a child’s activity monitor. Since I had just joined Weight Watchers a few days before, I decided to get one for myself and both my kids. William was eight and Taylor was five at the time. They were both really excited to get started. When their Zamzees were fully charged, they started doing jumping jacks. My kids and I set challenges and ran in the backyard, or took walks around the block. During the summer break we spent hours in the backyard kicking and chasing the soccer ball. We also bounced on the trampoline, hula hooped, and jumped rope.

Pretty soon, Taylor joined a cheer squad and William joined a basketball team. Because they had their sports practice on two different nights of the week, I decided to take advantage of this time by walking around the track for an hour. But the surprise occurred when each child opted not to watch their sibling practice, but instead walk the track with me. Taylor didn’t actually walk. She ran. FAST. So that made me run too, to keep up with her. On one of our walks I set a challenge for William, without knowing he wasn’t wearing his Zamzee. When we got home I told him to plug it in to see if he had met the challenge. He said, “I forgot to put it on it but that’s ok. It’s not about the points anyway. I needed to walk.” That was a proud mama moment for me.

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My Son’s Complex Congenital Heart Defect and Zamzee

Bobby_hiking

By Trish Whitehouse

My son Bobby is now 13 years old. He was born with a complex congenital heart defect, which means it wasn’t “just” a hole that would close on its own, or a murmur. It was a big deal. Our heart has 4 working chambers, 2 atria, a R and a L, which bring blood into the big pumping chambers underneath them. Those two bottom chambers, called ventricles, are responsible for pumping blood all over the entire body. The R ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, and the L ventricle, the stronger and bigger of the two, pumps that blood to the entire body for us to use so we can move and eat and sleep and function.

When Bobby’s heart was developing, for some unknown reason, his L ventricle didn’t form properly. That’s the bigger, most important one. Essentially, his left ventricle is useless. About 15 or 20 years ago, these babies used to be called “blue babies” and they were comforted while eventually over a few hours or a few days, they decompensated and died. We’re very lucky that Bobby was born at time where that was not our only option.

Bobby went through a series of palliative surgeries. They can’t cure or fix his heart, but they can make it work for as long as possible. I’m told by his cardiologist that these kids do very well and live healthy lives well into adulthood. I don’t ask for much more than that anymore, because that’s all I really want to hear. The only limitation he has is for him to “self limit”– meaning that he should pay attention to his own body to guide him for exercise.

Exercise is about the best thing kids with a single ventricle can do to keep their hearts healthy. But for a lot of parents, it’s the one thing they dread watching their kids do. The kids turn out to be what we nurses call “cardiac cripples,” meaning the kids aren’t allowed to exert themselves. As a result, these kids live in fear of doing ANYTHING.

Bobby_SwimmingWe are a family of intense competitive athletes, and it’s lucky for Bobby that he was born into this family. Although exercise is not easy for Bobby, we find ways to encourage him to do it. He huffs and puffs going up a flight of stairs and he bikes but he has to go slow. He swims on a team but he has to swim with kids half his age because he can’t keep up with the teenager. Because of all the months of critical care in the hospital following complications from the surgeries, he’s not that coordinated. He plays soccer in school, but he basically watches the ball go by and then he’ll trot after it for a little bit, but he lets the “real athletes” kick it around the field. It’s kind of sad to watch. Who am I kidding, it’s horrible to watch. Every mother wants their kid to make that winning shot, just once, or to at least give the opponent a run for their money. Literally. Continue reading

My Kids Before and After Zamzee

By Andrew Kardon, from Mommy’s Busy… Go Ask Daddy

Zamzee_FamilyI have pretty well rounded kids. They spend equal time playing Mario, Sonic, Minecraft and Plants vs. Zombies.

Yep, before I discovered Zamzee, my kids were videogame-oholics. My wife and I would occasionally drag the kids outside to play, take a walk or go for a bike ride. And every time, it was as painful as taking them to the dentist. All that whining, kicking and screaming. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to encourage them to stop hating anything that involved physical activity.

And then I introduced them to Zamzee.

This thing was apparently created for kids just like mine. They already were big fans of websites like Club Penguin, where you get to customize characters, earn points and “buy” all sorts of virtual items for your character. So when I showed my boys what Zamzee can do, they didn’t miss a beat.

“Look, daddy. I can get a dog for my guy!” Ryan said enthusiastically.

The avatars, badges and points you earn (and can spend) got both my boys hooked immediately. I swear, the first time we said we’d try it out, I never saw my kids get their shoes on so fast. Continue reading

Can Adults Use Zamzee?

Jeff and his kids taking a walk last weekend.

Jeff and his kids taking a walk last weekend.

Hi Team Zamzee,

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much Zamzee has helped me change my life. A few minutes ago I ordered the Xbox reward after the last few months of busting my butt to earn the Zamz for it. It was a great motivator for me, and Zamzee will continue to be a great source of motivation for me and my family.

As of this morning, I’ve lost 39.8 pounds since getting my meter. I still have a long way to go to be “fit,” but I’m well on my way…and it’s largely thanks to you and that little blue meter. I spend the better part of 2-3 hours per day walking now. Time that I used to spend in front of the TV or computer is now spent doing challenges. I have more energy, my fat clothes don’t fit any more, and my wife is finding me more handsome every day! 🙂 Continue reading

Play as Active Jazz…Riffing on Movement with Zamzee and the Play Lab

By Cameron Yick

PlayLab

The Creation of the game Freezedisk

My name is Cameron, and I’m a senior in high school. I consider myself an active individual, as I’ve tried many sports through the years (soccer, lacrosse, and even skating!). My motivation stems from genuine enjoyment of physical activity, and I’m always looking for ways to help other people find that joy as well. Last spring, I researched the various “gamification” and “fitness logger” devices, most of which appeared to be targeted at adults. Zamzee was the first solution that appeared to target children. I wondered whether it would be motivating to teenagers too. Here’s what I’ve learned after using a meter for the past few months.

1.     Encourages physical activity

The benefits of increased physical activity cannot be overstated. Most people already know they need to move more, and yet have difficulty overcoming the inertia of being sedentary in school. Zamzee might be just the “kick” you need to start a new habit. Who doesn’t like getting recognition for their work (or play)?

I obtained a Zamzee meter at the same time a classmate who shared the meter with his sibling. He was blown away at her reaction the first evening with the meter. “It was like she ate a whole pack of Skittles candy!” She was running up and down the stairs with glee, re-plugging in the meter periodically to see how many points had been accumulated.

Although I don’t always plug the meter in daily, the meter stores data for up to a week so I can catch up on the weekends. However, the daily login bonuses give me incentive to plug in the meter every day during vacation periods. Continue reading

Zamzee at Greenfield Hebrew Academy – we’re going to make it to A Million Minutes of Activity!

By Sue Loubser, Director of Technology at Greenfield Hebrew Academy

This morning, when I looked at our Zamzee Program View, I saw we had passed 860,000 minutes as our middle school moves towards our goal of one million minutes of activity recorded on our students’ Zamzee meters. I took a few moments to reflect on our year. I am pretty sure we will reach our goal by the end of May – just before the end of our school year – which will be awesome.

Along the way, we have had a visit from Ellen LaPointe of Zamzee, CBS ‘Fit Kids’ did a segment on our program, the Hawks Development team came to exercise with us, and LaVon Mercer, the first African American basketball player to represent Israel came to talk to our students and play some basketball with them. It’s all been pretty cool.

We have also learned a lot along the way. Our most engaged users are our younger students and our teachers. We have a core group of students who are in a Zamzee routine, and who regularly do their 60 minutes or more each day. We have a core group of teachers who egg each other on to do Challenges while they work towards earning gift cards! It is not uncommon to see them hopping and bopping in the hallways during lunch or recess as they take their challenges.

GHA student Bella, also known as 13CantorB (with over 119,00 Pointz!) wears her Zamzee on her sandal in Israel.

GHA student Bella, also known as 13CantorB (with over 119,00 Pointz!) wears her Zamzee on her sandal in Israel.

Our students have also zamzeed (our new verb) around the world. Right now, we have students in Israel, measuring their activity as they walk and hike through Israel. (It is not uncommon for them to exercise over 120 minutes a day when they are not spending in time in a classroom). Students have walked in New York, run in Washington D.C. and they are looking forward to jumping at Jekyll Island, on our organized field trips. Our headmaster’s meter has accompanied him on many runs and a few marathons, including the Jerusalem Marathon. Continue reading