GRANDVILLE—If you take a look at the 4th grade physical education class at South Elementary in Grandville, it may look like the advanced yoga class at the neighborhood gym, but it's not.
Nearly 30 students are moving in-sync with their eyes glued to the projection screen, and the Nintendo ' Wii-Fit' is sending the commands.
"All the kids are busy, all the time," said gym teacher Tim Arends.
Arends was given an opportunity, which he jumped at: He was given a free exercise video game, the Nintendo ' Wii Fit', a $350 dollar value, as long as he agreed that his class would be guinea pigs for the 'Active Practice Board'.
"What it is basically is a place holder for using and steering the WiiFit exercise, it allows spectators to join in or children to join in," says developer Jeffrey Kusmierz.
The 'Active Practice Board' is Kusmierz's brainchild. The board doesn't connect to the Wii, but it lets students feel like their still playing along.
"A lot of the younger kids actually think they're moving the character on the screen and they really get into it," said Arends.
After a couple of class sessions, it seemed to keep students engaged, but many of them say the video game experience won't replace good old fashioned running around outside.
"It's a lot different because you're inside, and you're not getting the sun outside and the actual exercise that you could be, but in the winter you still get the exercise you need," said Madeline Hyde.
Kuzmierz says it's up to teachers and users to find the right balance, adding the board isn't meant to replace traditional exercise.
"This is meant to supplement the programs that are already in place in the schools, to provide the teachers with some method of structured fitness classes," said Kuzmierz.
Another big hurdle for the new design is timing. $950 dollars get a school the Wii Fit and 30 practice boards. Considering all the budget cuts West Michigan schools are facing, spending $1,000 on new exercise equipment may not find it's way into the budget.
Still, Kasmierz plans to take the idea outside the classroom. There are also plans to market the 'Active Practice Board' to nursing homes and community centers.
((FOX 17's Smita Kalokhe contributed to this article)