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A ‘Wii’ bit of activity for seniors

When it was finally Nick&squo;s turn, they broke their grip and he walked into the aisle between the seats. He assumed the bowling position, and sent the bowling ball towards the pins.

But it wasn&squo;t just any bowling ball Koluch was using. It wasn&squo;t the usual 16-pounder you might find at an actual bowling alley. It was a virtual bowling ball.

Three months ago, Tryon Estates added the Nin-tendo Wii to its list of activities and the program has taken off.

It&squo;s attracting residents that hadn&squo;t done much of the activities offered previously, Tryon Estates Executive Director Johnathan Grant said. Residents can take part in the activity every Friday morning.

And not only are the residents of the retirement community getting involved, but they are having fun they haven&squo;t had in years, he said.

&dquo;(The activity) was only supposed to last an hour, but they&squo;ll stay in here for three or four hours,&dquo; Grant said. &dquo;They get so into it, they lose all concept of time.&dquo;

Since the addition to the activities list, the Wii experience has attracted large crowds and pairs and teams have developed.

For Team Koluch, playing Wii is something that is both fun and energizing.

New Jersey tandem

Nick and Annette retired in 1993. They settled in Flat Rock, N.C. for the first 11 years of their retirement.

They&squo;ve spent the last four at Tryon Estates. Before retirement, Nick was an engineer in Union and Somerset County in New Jersey. Annette was a secretary.

The couple, who have been married for 48 years, join others in the Tryon Estates every Friday for their chance to bowl and it&squo;s something that they look forward to and have so since the new activity was announced.

Despite video games and consoles being stereotypically for kids, Nick was excited at being able to bowl on the Wii.

&dquo;They described it as good simulation for bowling,&dquo; he said. &dquo;I wasn&squo;t concerned about the quality. I was looking forward to it.&dquo;

Nick hadn&squo;t done much bowling since his active duty days in the Navy during the 1950&squo;s. He is a Korean War veteran.

And now that they&squo;ve played, they don&squo;t want to stop, Annette said.

&dquo;It&squo;s almost addictive,&dquo; she said. &dquo;I think they did a fantastic job in setting it up and making it seem so real.&dquo;

But the thing that excites them the most will be surprising their grandchildren with the Wii knowledge they&squo;ve acquired, Annette said. The couple have three sons and nine grandchildren.

&dquo;The best part of this whole thing is when we go visit our grandchildren, they&squo;re going to be stunned that we know how to play it and that we&squo;re good at it,&dquo; she said.

Wii fitness

The Wii is not your ordinary video game console. It offers games like baseball, golf, tennis and bowling just to name a few.

The games are a workout. When you play baseball, the player has to stand up and do the pitching motion and the batting motion. When you play tennis, the player has to perform the actual swings. In every sport the person playing must actually do the motion, not just push buttons.

Wii users can actually work up a sweat if they really get into it.

The senior residents at Tryon Estates are getting up and working joints and going through the exact motion that you&squo;d find in any bowling alley in America.

And it won&squo;t be just bowling for long, Grant said.

Once the residents have mastered bowling and the art of playing the simulated version, other games will be added.

As the groups gather, laugh and bowl, Tryon Estates Fitness Director Sandra Wiley can&squo;t
help but smile.

&dquo;It makes (fitness) fun,&dquo; Wiley said. &dquo;It&squo;s a lot of fun for the residents and I enjoy them having a good time.&dquo;

There&squo;s even a website that promotes the healthiness of Wii for those young and old. There are plans for different types of Wii fitness games to come out down the road. On wiihealthy.com, there is even a ten-week weightloss program.

Popularity

While bowling is getting the senior citizens at Tryon Estates up and active, it&squo;s becoming a little too popular, Grant said.

Currently, there is one big screen television set up in the auditorium for residents to play Wii on.

But so many people are coming out to play and you can only play with four players at a time.

&dquo;It&squo;s so popular, they&squo;re asking us to add TVs somehow,&dquo; Grant said.

The residents want two or three televisions set up as if they have lanes in a bowling alley, he said.

As for Team Koluch, they&squo;re just enjoying the new experience.

&dquo;We play together and we enjoy it very much,&dquo; Nick said.