May 11, 2011


Nearly one in three children and teens in the United States are obese and the reality is that with more and more of them spending their time online exercise is likely to be even more of a challenge to gain their participation. It is with this in mind that GoTrybe (Go Try Be) was designed. GoTrybe seeks to utilize the propensity for teens to gravitate towards computer oriented games and social networking in order to encourage physical fitness. Students create their own avatar, or identity online. Although they can customize this avatar to represent certain physical characteristics such as eye or hair color, the avatar is fairly generic when they begin. Students create a customized workout by choosing from a series of video options. My student who is doing GoTrybe chose largely hip hop themes for her first workout. The student chooses from multiple options within each category a warm-up, three cardio videos, a strength workout and a flex-yoga option to end the workout. The student can then save that particular combination to return to in the future. The workout downloads and can be followed from their computer. The student follows along as one might an exercise video. Time elapsed for that particular segment as well as for the entire workout (in Linnea's case, a few seconds under twenty minutes) can be viewed as a sidebar.

Additionally, there are daily nutrition and general fitness quizzes. As the student logs in exercise time and answers the quizzes they earn points. These points are then used to further customize their avatar by choosing clothing or accessories and creating outfits that they can then keep in their "online closet".

GoTrybe taps into the social media culture by allowing access to a forum where students can do anything from discuss GoTrybe issues such as "how do I gain points" to "has anyone used this workout option" as well as simply chatting.

The pluses--GoTrybe seems to have a sense of what might motivate teens to combine their interests in a mix to facilitate fitness. The concept seems good. The music and the workouts look enjoyable and it is a nice tough that although the instructor is professional, the teens in the workout are clearly not professional with some moving easily through the workouts and others clearly struggling--even if only in the area of rhythm!

The downsides--although the clothing worn by the instructor and the students on the video are not immodest (there is still plenty left to the imagination and they are definitely more clothed than what you might well see walking down the street) there are those who homeschool who might find it inappropriate. If you prefer for your teens to avoid hip hop type music again, you might not be too comfortable with the routines. As a mom of many I would greatly prefer that the membership fee covered more than one of my children. My children generally see the computer as a means to an end (research, online purchases, emailing friends in other states) and have not really been interested in online communities or social networking. They also tend to be more interested in searching for and acquiring outfits for their passion--history reenactment than in dressing an animated character online in current styles. These factors combine to mean that much of what GoTrybe uses to motivate teens are lost on my children. Additionally, my children lead fairly physical lives--it is not unusual for them to carry bales of hay weighing in excess of 100 lbs on a daily basis or work together to move a ton (literally) of feed when it is brought home weekly.

That being said, although we initially received access to GoTrybe free in exchange for an unbiased review as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, GoTrybe cost $19.95 for a year's membership and this is pretty inexpensive compared to a gym membership and we opted to purchase the year's membership in order to use the workouts as they proved fun and balanced and it worked a lot of energy out of the toddlers as they followed along as their older sister worked out. (You do not reach this stage of mothering without at least a wee bit of sneakiness!)

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