Sunday, January 04, 2009

Wii Fit

For Christmas of 2007 my nephew got a Wii. He needed someone to challenge. So we played tennis, boxing and bowling. Given that the Wii is for "casual gamers", it was very easy for me to play and spank him in most of the games. On the third day of Christmas he needed Icy Hot. By the end of it he didn't even say goodbye to me after I won yet another tennis match. After that I wanted a Wii of my own and it took me 6 months to find one at regular price. It was on from there. I noticed in the boxing you can work up quite a sweat. You can do the same in tennis you play with full force. I knew then that the Wii Sports could give me some cardio alternatives. Then I heard about the Wii Fit and looked it up on the Nintendo website and it seemed kind of silly. Why would anyone need a balance board and video game to help them do lunges and sun salutations? I kept hearing more about it and two friends of mine got one and they both loved it. One is a former gym rat so I was convinced I wanted one but I wasn't quite ready to spend lots of time tracking one down. Well this guy just happened to return one when I was buying Dance Dance Revolution for my nephew. There I was standing there with both video games that are supposed to be ultimate in fitness workouts. 


When you start the Wii Fit it let's you select your Mii, weighs you, and checks your balance. You get on the balance board with shoes and socks off. It will tell you if you are obese, overweight, normal or below according to your BMI. In fact it will tell you this everyday if you let it. It will also tell you your Wii Fit age which is based on the balance test. I think it's reallly silly to give you an age based on a balance test. You can then set a weight loss target and pick the gender of your personal trainer. It saves the data so you can track overtime. It's clear that this is very Eastern oriented as balance and rhythm seems to be more important than anything else in this game. 

Tip: When you weigh yourself, do it on a hard surface as the carpet may cause inaccuracies in your measurements. After that you can move it back to the carpet and ignore the "your weight is different messages."

The game consist of four sections: yoga, aerobics, strength and balance games. There are about 12 different activities or mini games to do in each. In each section only 3-4 things are available when you start so it will feel limited. However, each time you play a game you earn Fit Credits equal to the time spent playing. As you accumulate more fit credits you will unlock more games. For the existing games you may unlock increased time limits or advanced levels.

Yoga:
I really enjoy the yoga mostly because I used to do yoga all the time and I have fallen out of practice. You follow along with your personal trainer as s/he does the poses with you. Some of the poses are modified so you can get feedback from the balance board. I think this is the most unique feature. It let's you know if your are keeping your center of balance and/or how much weight you are putting on each side of your body. It's great to have the instant feedback. I also do it in front of the mirror so I can correct poses. After each pose is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Strength:
Ditto everything for the yoga. You are doing everything from pushes, lunges, squats to the plank. After each activity is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Aerobics:
I know I know. I should just get on my bike. However, I'm still afraid of theft. So for now it's in home exercises. On the Wii Fit my favorite thing to do is Hula Hoop and Super Hula Hoop. I remember doing this as a kid. I also remember this European chick kicking my ass in hula hoop at the bowling alley. When I saw this I knew it was a chance to redeem myself. You stand on the balance board and sway your hips in "large neat circles". You also catch hoops that are thrown at you by the other Wii characters. I think it's funny that my mate and his brother are always throwing at me. Hula Hoop is free for all. Super Hula Hoop has you go in each direction separately starting with 3 minutes and advancing to 6 minutes. If you take the game seriously you can work up a sweat. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Then there is Step, Advanced Step and Free Step. I was never any good a real step aerobics but I excel at Wii Step. If you have ever played Dance Dance Revultions this is the "For Dummies" version. Basic step is pretty slow and I didn't work up a real sweat as the moves are just really up and down. In Advanced step you learn even more moves and at the end they speed it up. This is a rhtyhm game as you are scored on stepping in sync. In Free Step the Wiimote taps the beat and you can change you TV to another chanell and just step your heart out at whatever pace works for you. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 


Today I finally worked out enough to unlock the Rhythm  Boxing. Well at first I thought this was a dud. You watch someone give you a pattern then you take your turn at the punching bag. I thought I was doing great until the bag spoke and told me better luck next time. I did it a couple times and still felt it was too easy and if I was going to with the actual rhythm it was much too slow. I was also able to unlock 6 minute rounds in no time. Well little did I know, the combinations became more difficult. I couldn't keep up. Punching when I should be dodging; dodging when I should be blocking. I think I started to finally work up a sweat. I have a lot more practice to do before I get good at this. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 


Last is the running game. This game doesn't use the balance board. Instead you put he Wiimote in your pocket or your hand. You are following a trainer on a scenic run. Other folks are running including your other Mii family members. You get higher scores for running at at steady pace. This isn't a game of speed. I like that it wants you to jog slow. However, I have bad knees and running in place hurts. Running hurts period for me. I really think I would rather go for a walk than play this game. However, I think it's a great warm up for me. Today instead of running in place I took a brisk walk in circles around the apartment. This is my least favorite of the aerobic games. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 


The intensity of most of the aerobics is low to moderate even when I put my all into them. If you are new to exercise then I think these would be more challenging. The Dance Dance Revolution game is the ultimate cardio workout and I will probably use that for cardio instead of the Wii Fit. 

Balance:
Well this is my weakest section. It's a selection of 1 minute mini games from balancing on the tight rope to head butting soccer balls I really suck at this. The balance board in most cases is looking for subtle movements when playing it's balance games. I seem to only be able to move big. It took me about 20 tries to get across the tight rope. These games are really fun and addicting. This part reminds you the most of playing a video game. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 


All in all I enjoy the Wii fit and I will probably stick with it. For me it will be used mostly to improve my flexibility, strength and balance. I don't think it will suffice for a good cardio workout. It does ,however, have one major flaw. After each activity you "you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. " There is no way to string a set of exercises together. It even recommends a few combinations but there is no easy way to do it. So even if you spent 30 minutes playing games tack on another 15 minutes to scroll through the menus each time. In spite of that now that I have unlocked some of the longer sessions but it will cut down on using the menu. During the strength segment the rest between sets makes a lot sense. So I have had to make up some routines to get the 30 minute mark. 

3 comments:

Kristal said...

Nice review, I've been thinking about getting one.

LittleTortilla stays in DC said...

You can come over and try it out if you like.

rashad said...

Damn, I am inspired