Virtual fitness resolution

Last night, hanging out on OSGrid waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve, I resolved — among other things — to exercise more.

But I’m the kind of person who thinks of herself less as a fitness freak and more as a … bookworm. Couch potato. Desk jockey.

Now, when I lived in big cities — Moscow, Chicago, Shanghai — I walked everywhere. In Western Massachusetts, though, the only practical transportation is driving. It’s not boding well for my waistline or my muscle tone.

The only thing that’s worked over the past couple years to get me exercising and eating well was when I was participating in the Club One fitness program. Once the program was over, my lifestyle slowly crept back to what it was before. Okay, some changes were permanent — I now work standing up, not sitting down. But my sleeping schedule it all shot to heck (I’m writing this at 3:20 a.m. — why? why?) and the Diet Coke money is back on my back.

Surfing in Club One in Second Life. Why can't we do this in OpenSim?

It would be so nice to be back in a support group again, like Club One’s. And not have to drive 40 minutes each way to get to it. I don’t have the time — I spend my evenings driving the kids around, instead.

Unfortunately, Club One isn’t holding its program for the general public in Second Life right now, as a result of the difficulty of marketing something like this — they’re currently focusing on the corporate market, instead.

I’ve considered starting my own virtual support group. But I’m too stingy to fork over $300 a month for a Second Life region — and it would probably need more than a single region, anyway.

And OpenSim didn’t have voice. What good is a support group if nobody can talk?

But we now have voice. Good, Vivox voice, not that cheap, lousy Freeswitch stuff (no offense, but the quality sucked — when it was working at all).

So there’s no excuse.

The only question — should I do it on Kitely? On Nova? On my private grid? On a home-based mini-grid?

Kitely would be nice because it has Facebook logins — I could probably get a lot of people to join through Facebook. And the on-demand pricing is perfect for this use.

But Kitely regions are all one size — standard — and there’s no hypergrid connectivity yet. So folks from other grids won’t be able to teleport in. Both megaregions and hypergrid are on the schedule, but I’m not in the mood to wait.

On my private grid? Maybe. I’ve got some free space that I’m not using for anything — but I’ve got plans for it. Adding more regions would cost me more money. Not Second Life money, but still — money.

A home-based mini-grid would be free, but my home bandwidth can only support a handful of visitors, max. And that’s if the kids aren’t watching movies and playing games online. Plus, the computer would have to be up and running all the time, in case folks want to show up in the off-hours for private meetings or just to use the facilities.

So I’m going to give Nova a try — specifically, their free-region-for-a-year deal. They’ll set it up for me in standard OpenSim, hypergrid-enabled, as a four-region megaregion.

That should give us space to lay out some hiking trails. Put in a swimming pool. Have a little store for exercise clothes.  If it doesn’t work, if we can’t get the performance we need, we’ll take our OAR files and move to another host. That’s the great thing about OpenSim — unless you’re on a closed, commercial grid — your content is your own and you can take it anywhere you want.

If it turns out there’s a lot of demand for this, we could ask participants to pay a small fee. Or we could get corporate sponsorship — help paying our hosting fees in return for hypergates to their  grids, stores, or land rental offices.

Some of Club One's support group sessions were held near this waterfall. We could have a waterfall.

This will be an all-volunteer effort. No charge for joining.

I plan to run it loosely like Club One did their meetings. A little bit of virtual exercise. A little bit of goal-setting. And a lot of support.

If anyone wants to donate exercise animations — running, swimming, jogging, dancing, pushups and situps, biking, that would be great. And exercise equipment, such as bikes. Or rowboats. Or surfboards.

The idea is — if you see yourself exercising virtually, your brain process is as if you had actually exercised — and you become much more likely to exercise the next day in real life.

Plus, with a supportive group behind you, it’s easier to eat right, to plan ahead to avoid temptations, and to get ideas for healthy alternatives to replace unhealthy ones.

Even in-world, I spend my time sitting down. That's got to change!

There’s a long list of healthy habits we know we should adopt. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Parking farther away and walking in. Taking regular scheduled breaks away from the computer to stretch and do some physical activity. Having exercise clothes laid out and ready in the morning.  Meeting with friends to go on a walk — instead of meeting for a movie or drinks. Eating smaller meals, more frequently. Eating more vegetables. Paying attention to what we eat instead of mindlessly eating in front of the television. Drinking water before meals. Replacing empty starches and animal fats with whole grains and vegetable oils.

We all know we should do these things. If we did them — or most of them — we would be in much better shape. But it’s too easy to slip into bad habits.

A virtual environment can help us practice good habits in-world, and get support from others to build those habits in real life.

Especially when everything else in our lives is conspiring against us doing just that!

Who’s with me?

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

3 Responses

  1.' Ilan Tochner says:

    Hi Maria,

    I think you should take into consideration the fact that Amazon’s free offer is for a Linux Micro Instance (shared core, 613 MB of memory, Low I/O Performance) which is less than the OpenSim rule-of-thumb recommended 1 core, 1 GB of memory per region. It is also significantly underpowered compared to the Large Instances (multicore, 7.5 GB of memory, High I/O Performance) that Kitely uses for running worlds.

    If your grid receives even a handfull of visitors while running on a Linux Micro Instance your visitors will probably suffer from a lot of lag which may keep them from recommending it to their friends. However, with Kitely, if your world receives high-concurrency, our system will automatically assign it a dedicated Large Instance all for itself so even big crowds will be able to enjoy good performance while visiting it.

    We had tried using Small Instances in the past (single core, 1.7 GB of memory, Medium I/O Performance) and their performance was unreliable to the extent that we were forced to re-architecture our service to use the much more expensive Large Instances instead. Considering Amazon states that network performance for the Micro Instances is even lower than that of Small Instances, the free Amazon instances are not likely to give consistent good performance – they might work okay occasionally for low load regions but will suffer from a lot of lag at unpredictable times.

    I think you will get better performance running your grid on your own home computer than on a Linux Micro Instance. IMO, the last thing you want is to create a grid, try to convince people to visit it then have it slow down to unusable speeds once a few people actually go inworld concurrently. It’s not just about having a region online, it’s about having it provide a good user experience that helps drive a word-of-mouth effect.

  2.' John Norris says:

    Good for you, Maria!
    You might plug into some of the already going land regions / sims that cater to support groups or medical education. Have you considered having a nomadic group, maybe organized around a simple email list, but meeting in world at various venues? You might pay a nominal rental to land owners for your occasional use.

    • John — Which sims are you talking about? Are there support groups and medical education sims already existing on the hypergrid? (JokaydiaGrid maybe?)

      If you’ve got HG addresses, please share!