WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
MyFirstGym is proving that wearable smart technology isn’t just for adults and elite athletes. We’ve developed the MyMovementBuddy, Australia’s latest fitness technology tailored specifically (and safely) to kids, and it is a game changer. Designed for children and families, and developed purposefully to inspire more movement, the MyMovementBuddy is changing the way our MFG kids are approaching fitness with phenomenal results. 98% of parents said the most positive impact of joining MFG was on their child’s physical fitness, and the MyMovementBuddy is a big part of that outcome.
What is the MyMovementBuddy?
The MyMovementBuddy is a wearable fitness tracker built specifically to work within the MyFirstGym classes and community. The system allows parents and kids to track and clock up Movement Points each day, providing encouragement and incentive to make exercise a priority. Score updating is live and tracks incidental movement throughout the day as well as extra point scoring for checking into and completing MFG classes. The MyMovementBuddy is synchronised to the parent’s app, where feedback and movement scores are recorded as well as a handy booking system for MFG classes. Daily, weekly and monthly goals are mapped out, with a medal system rewarded when each is achieved.
Why does the MyMovementBuddy work?
We’re all motivated by reward, and it’s clear that the MyMovementBuddy has tapped into the intrinsic motivation of earning points. Our MFG kids want to go to more classes, they see the benefit of taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and are motivated to move more in the MFG classes they do attend. Our coaches set a points goal for each class be it gymnastics or parkour. During the class, they encourage the kids to look at the TV screens and leader boards, to challenge themselves and try harder to reach those movement goals.
When kids hit their goals and experience the admiration of their MFG coaches, parents and classmates because of their achievement, it’s one of the simplest forms of feeling good. There’s a powerful and healthy burst of dopamine, and the development of resilience and positive self-esteem.
One of our little champions from MFG Hawthorne was so excited to get his MyMovementBuddy, he woke up super early to run around the block to earn extra points. His mum told him it was too early and struck a deal: fold the family laundry and he could earn the device for the day. He did this gladly, and everyone’s a winner!
The MyMovementBuddy doesn’t have to be just for kids though: we’ve seen friendly rivalry pop up amongst friends, classmates and even parents. One MFG family became so driven by the Movement Points, the dad purchased one for himself to compete with his two daughters.
Old School Motivation.
The MyMovementBuddy isn’t a prerequisite for membership at MFG nor motivating kids to move. Old school motivation is still a thing at MFG, and it couldn’t be simpler! Here’s an example: getting a particular child of mine to exercise has always been
the seventh circle of hell a chore: at worst, we’d experience a full tantrum and at best, a grumpy attitude. This all changed the second one of their friends moved to the same class time. Suddenly, we had to be at MFG early and stayed for a play afterwards. My child smiled in the class and *gasp* was inspired to focus on technique to get faster and stronger.
Kids love being with other kids, which is why the whole of August is ‘Active August’ at MFG- where kids can bring a buddy to class for a free trial! Exercise is more enjoyable with a friend (even for adults!) and we’d love all our enrolled MFG champions to bring one to their favourite class in August for a double down on the fun. Old school motivation at its best!
Why bring more technology into the home: aren’t we trying to move kids away from screens?
Navigating technology for our kids in a way that is safe, healthy and affordable can be tricky, but it’s here to stay. As parents, we might as well get with the tech-driven program! With this in mind, the MFG team came up with the idea for the MyMovementBuddy with a few requirements. We wanted it to be safe, inspire movement and be simple to use: the last thing parents need is another brain ache around technology, sport fads or the latest social media craze. (VR headsets? Primal Movement? Threads? Ugh. Sometimes I feel really nostalgic about my childhood, where a screen was something to keep bugs out of the house.)
Most of all, we wanted kids to feel motivated to move, and not just in MFG classes. Seeing children feel excited about riding or walking to school, or choosing to kick a ball around at the park rather than watch television was another factor. Getting kids motivated to exercise in our modern world means bringing fitness into the future.