IMAGES COURTESY OF NINTENDO AND IGN
The Wii Fit hit stores yesterday in Nintendo’s attempt to help us all lose some weight, get fit and have fun. After trying out the four main activities (yoga, aerobics, strength training and balance games) I must say the Wii Fit makes exercising fun. Just don’t expect it to be easy.
I’m really one of those next-gen console guys who prefers playing Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 over anything else, but the unique gameplay of the Wii has always fascinated me. Wii Sports was the first game I ever played that forced me to get off the couch. It was new, exciting and offered a decent workout, but was more fun than challenging. The Wii Fit (which includes the Wii Balance Board and Wii Fit game) is a totally different experience that will rock your body to the core and teach you the meaning of balance.
I played the game (if that’s what you want to call it) for several hours last night and here’s how my experience went. I hope it shows you what its like to play the Wii Fit, and inspires you to join me in my goal of getting into better shape while playing more video games.
Setting up the Wii Fit is wicked easy. You just put some batteries in the Wii Balance Board, sync it to the Wii console and you’re ready to go. First you’ll enter your age and height and the balance board will determine your body mass index (BMI) and Wii Fit Age. I’m in OK shape so I was pretty happy to see a BMI of 22.13 which was normal. Based on the information you entered it will tell you if you’re overweight or not which I’m sure will make some people upset. If you’re not happy with the result at least Wii Fit shames you in the privacy of your home. My Wii Fit Age was 37 and since I’m 32 that is not good. Looks like I’ve got some work to do. Next you get to pick a male or female trainer. I’ve always wanted my own personal female trainer and now I’ve got her. Lastly you get to set a goal for yourself. Enter how much weight you want to lose or what you want your BMI to be, then set a time frame and get to work. Wii Fit will keep track of all your progress and give you updated stats every time you step on the Wii Balance Board.
I chose the Balance Games first because it looked like the most fun. And it was fun, if your definition of fun is not living up to your expectations. I thought my balance was really good until I played these games. They were fun, but difficult. The Wii Balance Board (photo) is an amazing peripheral though. It senses even the subtlest movements of your body and feet. I milestone for gaming and unique gameplay, much like the Wii Remote and nunchuck have been since the Wii’s release.
The first game I played was “Soccer Heading.” You’re suppose to shift your body weight from side to side and head-butt the soccer balls. I had trouble with this one and got an Amateur rating (2 of 4 stars) twice, but it was still a lot of fun.
Next up was “Ski Slalom” where you balance on the board like you’re skiing.
Again you shift your weight from side to side in a very controlled way. I did horrible. Unbalanced rating (1 of 4 stars) twice.
“Ski Jump” makes you hold your balance in a crouched position on a downward-sloping ramp for a while and then extend your legs at the end for a fantastic ski jump. I got one Amateur rating (2 of 4 stars) and one Unbalanced rating (1 of 4 stars) because I didn’t extend quickly enough and fell off the ski ramp. Great, I’m getting even worse.
Next up, “Table Tilt” makes you shift the weight on your feet in all directions to try to make little balls drop down into holes.
It’s kinda like those old-timey handheld games where you maneuver a metal ball through a maze and try to get from one end to the other. Let me say this is way harder than that. I received Amateur rating (2 of 4 stars) twice. Damn this is hard. It’s still fun, but difficult. I’m sure it gets easier with more practice.
As you spend time on the balance board playing games or doing exercises, you accumulate credits. For every minute of activity you get one credit. The more credits you collect the more levels you unlock. This must be my incentive to keep going.
I got enough credits to open up a new balance game called “Tightrope Walk.”
Basically you shift your weight from right to left like your walking and then you have to keep your balance on a virtual rope. I kicked some butt on this game and got two Professional ratings (4 of 4 stars). Sweet! Finally, I’m doing something right.
The “Hula Hoop” was very easy and lots of fun. Just swivel around like you’re making a Hula Hoop go around you and that’s what happens to your onscreen Mii. You can catch more hoops and juggle up to four to maximize points, but make sure to keep a steady pace or you’ll drop them. I got two Calorie Roaster ratings (2 of 4 stars) and a bit of pain in my back.
“Basic Step” is just that, basic step. Starting on the floor you step right foot on the balance board, then left, then step off. Then you get some side stepping and back stepping together to increase the difficulty. Timing is important as you will get more points for nailing the step and keeping the beat.
It follows the Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution style of gameplay where you just follow the colored lights and do what they tell you to do. I personally liked following the other Miis on screen. Their smiling faces made me want to keep going. I got two Calorie Roaster ratings (2 of 4 stars) on this exercise and had a blast.
“Basic Run” does not use the Wii Balance Board but uses the Wii Remote instead. Either put it in your pocket or hold it in your hand as you run in place.
This is not as boring as it sounds because you get to follow other Mii runners through an entertaining virtual world. I used the hand-held technique and it worked great, although you can totally cheat and just stand in place while moving the Wii Remote up and down. Of course I didn’t cheat and ran at a decent pace for about three minutes. This was the most intense workout yet on the Wii Fit. It got my heart rate up and I’m sure I burned some calories and fat. I only got a Calorie Burner rating (1 of 4 stars) on this exercise, so I guess I need to work on my technique and keep my pace more consistent.
I’ve never done yoga before so this was an interesting introduction, and a very pleasant one.
Listening to my female personal trainer give me instructions in the “Deep Breathing” session was relaxing. I breathed in and out a few times, zened out a bit and got a Yoga Master rating (4 of 4 stars). Sweet!
“Half-Moon” was fun and somewhat difficult. I know I need to stretch more and this is a great stretch.
Hold the position as steady as you can to get more points. Breathing is important too. I’ll need to work on this one, Yoga Novice rating (2 of 4 stars).
The “Warrior Pose” stretches your hip flexors and improves form and posture. Hold the pose, your weight distribution, breath and relax. I have to say my personal trainer is very helpful in these sessions. She is informative and supportive and doesn’t sound too robotic. She’ll tell me when I’m doing bad or good and offer advice on how to do the workout better. It’s pretty cool, but I’m sure I’ll be listening to my own music after I get the hang of it. I got a Yoga Master rating (4 of 4 stars) on this one. Sweet!
The “Tree” pose was extremely difficult. I’ve got some work to do on this one too. I received a crummy Yoga Newcomer rating (1 of 4 stars) and a feeling of inadequacy.
There are 15 yoga exercises total, and moves that you can combine for a more intense session. Great. I can’t wait to see what kind of punishment they have in store.
All of these exercises are intended to build muscle and strength which is what I need to work on after playing way too much GTA4 in past few weeks and slacking on my normal workouts.
The “Single-Leg Extension” was a good exercise and after just 6 reps for each leg I could feel the burn.
As you try to keep your balance on the board, you see your progress on the screen. It’s fascinating to see how the balance board picks up every single movement. Keeping your balance steady is the key to doing all of these exercises well. I got a Body Builder rating (4 of 4 stars) on this exercise.
I almost don’t want to talk about the “Pushup and Side Plank” exercise. I did horrible. I even got a Couch Potato rating (1 of 4 stars). I guess my upper body strength is pathetic. Now I’m depressed. The pace of this workout is incredibly slow which makes it way more difficult than it should be. Trying to follow my personal trainer on this exercise was extremely hard. I’ll just have to keep at it.
The “Torso Twists” exercise went much better. Just straighten your arms, twist and keep your balance. I got a Body Builder rating (4 of 4 stars) and a feeling of satisfaction that my core was strong.
There are 15 total strength exercises and I’m sure it will be a tough workout to do them all.
The Wii Fit is not as much of a game as it is a workout machine. It’s important to understand this if you’re not sure about buying it for $100. Its basic graphics and focus on exercise isn’t going to appeal to hard-core gamers, but kids or adults who are interested in losing weight or getting fit in a fun and interesting way will love it.
Nintendo has done a fantastic job of creating a solid workout that includes a your very own virtual personal trainer who will never get tired or miss an appointment and will always push you to do your best.
Unfortunately Wii Fit doesn’t give you a workout schedule or tell you exactly what to do in order to lose weight, but it does give you a very open-ended, cool way to exercise and play video games at the same time. It’s brilliant. It’s Wii Fit.