Friday, January 15, 2010

Wii Fit Plus

Since Ed and I have a Wii, I finally went ahead and ordered Wii Fit Plus, which is a video game for the Wii that incorporates the use of a balance board (similar to a shallow step you'd use in a step class, except heavier and with electronics inside to report your actions to the game) and is intended as something like a personal trainer. I thought this would be something fun to do at home for fitness. When school is in session I really never make it to the gym at all, and then between semesters it's hard to bother starting.

The game (with balance board) is $99.

When you first register your character, using your little animated Wii representation (called a Mii), it weighs you and tests your balance. (If you're like me, after it weighs you and shows your BMI, a childlike voice says, "That's obese!" Thanks, Wii Fit. I had no idea.)

(This reminds me, actually. Someone was complaining online about the Wii Fit's use of BMI, given its limitations. They specifically mentioned that someone like a trim NFL player could be called obese despite actually just being very muscly. I couldn't help but think this common argument was really silly here - as though professional athletes are really a target audience for the Wii Fit. Hint to athletes: if you are training with the Fit, it's probably time to start asking yourself whether you're really into this whole sports career thing anymore.)

Anyway, once the Fit has finished insulting (or perhaps praising) you for your BMI, it has a variety of training exercises to choose from - perhaps about 100 in all. These fall into four categories: yoga, strength training, balance or rhythm games, and aerobic exercises. Each exercise uses some combination of the balance board and the two remotes that a Wii comes with. For example, the jog uses only the main Wii remote, which you put in your pocket to act as a kind of pedometer while you jog in place on the floor. (You're not supposed to jump on the board, and that probably includes jogging, since you raise both feet at the same time for that.)

I haven't gotten into a lot of the yoga poses, but they seem decent. The strength training exercises cover a nice range of difficulty, from very easy things like a tricep extension holding the remote, to things I can't do like pushups and side planks. So far I love some of the leg exercises (very hard, especially the balance aspect) and the plank (extremely difficult and I shake like crazy, which the onscreen trainer often comments on).

The aerobic/rhythm games are so far some of my favorite. I like the basic and advanced step classes, and I adore the rhythm kung-fu. I went on a jog tonight where I actually jogged in place for far longer than I would have thought possible. Every game or activity gives you a score at the end (which, for the strength and yoga ones, is generally based on your balance and steadiness), and there is a high score list for each one. As you get better at things, more levels are unlocked - for instance, my 30-second plank was steady enough tonight that I unlocked the 60-second version.

Overall, I find it fun and very motivational. A lot of people have complained that you have to keep selecting a new activity a lot (though you can set up a full routine of strength and yoga things to do all at once, or have the game do it for you if you tell it the time you want to spend), but I like that aspect - the fact that I get to continually choose what to do stops me from getting bored or feeling trapped doing something horrible forever.

I've done this for four days in a row now, and every day I am sore in all kinds of places both expected (thighs, shoulders) and not (hips, lower abdomen). I am winded and sweaty a lot as well. So it is fun and a good workout. I can't say for sure that it won't become the video game equivalent of a treadmill used as a clothing rack, but so far, it's working for me.


Sally said...

My parents have a Wii Fit and I thought it was a lot of fun to play with. I think the "unlock extra levels/games by succeeding" aspect is brilliant in terms of motivation.

Debbie M said...

I was hoping that when you are shaking like crazy doing planks, the comment the trainer is giving you is how awesome you are for working at your maximum. But then when you said you get scored based on your balance and steadiness, I realized you are probably getting a negative comment.

Sally said...

The jogging trainer was really nice in telling me that I was good at maintaining a steady pace and a regular, rhythmic stride (I don't remember the words it used) whereas any actual person looking at me jog would be unable to avoid evaluating my form as utterly terrible. The trainer had me going a fair bit slower than I normally would, which was a little bit challenging but made me feel good that I was not struggling with speed from the very beginning.

cartaufalous said...

It sounds like fun. Exercise should be fun, but often isn't.

Tam said...

Sally, that was Ed's experience at first too (that the trainer was slower than he would have gone naturally), but from our experiences since, I think the trainer actually adapts to you. He passed his up one time and then got to follow a little dog instead. The next time he seemed to get a much faster one that he wasn't able to pass. I'm not sure what the overall pattern is.