By Hugh John
Could Cyber Coach save the world or at the very least, UK students, from the, er, expanding threat of obesity?
Six months after its successful debut at BETT, where it was shortlisted for a BETT award, the virtual dance and exercise system in now being used by more than 200 schools across the UK. Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council has 19 Cyber Coach systems in its schools, and it's planning a significant increase to that number soon.
Cyber Coach's dance-mat routines have been augmented by movement games and an interactive coaching system that can be projected on to a wall or screen and offer the range of sports activities specified in the government's Extended Schools Programme. And who says that exercise can't be fun when you can learn to salsa, cheerlead or body pop from a Virtual Dance Instructor. No pain, no gain? That's strictly old school.
Janet Worrall, extended schools collaborator for Kirkby Collaborative (a partnership of 54 local schools) is convinced: "Cyber Coach enables us to provide all our schools with up-to-date dance and fitness activities for breakfast, lunch and after-school clubs. The extended schools programme relies heavily on the goodwill and availability of teaching staff.
"Using Cyber Coach we are able to reduce the pressure on staff and offer a truly diverse range of stimulating sporting activities for very little cost.. . . . Currently, each primary school has access to Cyber Coach for an entire half-term and the freedom to use it however they see fit. This has helped us provide a wide range of routines and dances at a fraction of the cost of employing specialist fitness instructors."
Presently, the Kirkby Collaborative schools are using Cyber Coach with key stage 2 pupils but hope to begin using the new key stage 1 routines shortly.
Cyber Coach costs £5,950 + VAT. New for 2009 is Cyber Coach Class Editor for PC (£495.00 + VAT) that enables schools to add video clips to create new exercise routines and programs. Teachers then simply upload the new routines back into the Cyber Coach machine using a USB drive.
Tel: 0845 869 2848