Sunday, August 22, 2010


Most people are probably scratching their heads reading that title and trying to figure out what the hell I’m talking about. But if you own a Nintendo Wii, you probably already know. In the last few years, console game companies have made us realize we can feed our gaming obsession and get fit at the same time. Phew! Perhaps raising our children to stay fit will be so much easier. For those who can’t play a sport, but still have a competitive spirit, exergaming is the way to go. Here are a few great options:

EA Sports Active: This is an exergame on the Nintendo Wii console. But it’s more than gaming really. Rather, it’s like a whole personal fitness program. You have your own virtual personal trainer, and a virtual version of yourself. When you first start the game, you create your ‘virtual self’ by filling out a fitness profile and entering vital statistics. So this virtual version of you is supposed to really be like you. And there’s no point cheating because, well, how does that help you? There is a variety of exercises to choose from where you basically workout with your virtual personal trainer.

What are the benefits of this program? Well, firstly, it comes with a resistance band and leg strap that record your motion from beginning to end so you can see exactly what you’re doing on the screen. There are so many exercises to choose from, and the intensity of each exercise is based on your fitness level from the profile you filled out.

Sounds great, right? What’s the bad part? Well there’s a huge learning curve. If you haven’t used the Wii before, it may take a while to hold the controllers correctly. And if you don’t hold the controllers right, what you’re doing may not be exactly what you see on the screen. Secondly, when you get something wrong, your personal trainer yells at you. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Wii Fit: This is the Nintendo Wii exergame that most of us are familiar with. The Wii Fit comes with a balance board that is used to measure how you’re doing the exercises, and provide feedback. With the Wii Fit, you start by creating a ‘Mii’, which is your profile similar to the EA Sports Active. However, with the Wii Fit, you also have to do several weigh-ins on the balance board before you start working out. Your BMI is calculated from your weight, and other information entered in your profile. You’re also given a Wii Fit Age based on all this information. Obviously, if your Wii Fit Age is higher than your actual age, that may inspire you to work out more (or not). I don’t know what purpose this really serves.

The benefits? You can set a weight loss goal and a timeframe to achieve your goal so you can track your progress as time goes by. Also, there are so many different exercises to choose from in the four groups: yoga, strength, aerobic or balance. And anyone who’s tried the Wii Fit would probably tell you that it is a lot of fun, especially when you do it with others.

On the other hand, there are some negative factors as well. Compared to some other exergames, it is a little choppy because you can’t select a workout program. Rather, you choose single exercises. Another minus is that although there are levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced), the actual exercises within each level tend not to reflect the level. For example, you may find extremely difficult routines in the beginner section, and extremely easy ones in the advanced section.

Demand Fitness: Heard of on-Demand television? Well, now you can have on-Demand exercise programs. It’s really like a cable channel, but you pick the exercise classes you want. Here’s how it works. You pay a monthly, weekly, or daily fee, and you can choose from a library of over 200 classes. So it’s actually more like Netflix, but rather than have movies delivered to your doorstep, you have them available on demand online 24/7. 

The good? With over 200 exercise options, you’ll certainly find something you’re into. I’ve seen things like kickboxing to ballet to abs workouts, and you can preview them before you use them. Also, you can track your progress towards your fitness goals, as well as track what you’ve been doing. Lastly, since it is on your computer, you don’t have to lug a whole game console everywhere. You can simply bring your laptop with you, and you’re good to go. Oh, and it’s much cheaper than a gym membership (see prices below).

The bad? Well, you need the internet. So this limits the number of places you can use it. Also, I’ve heard that sometimes, the music does not always follow the workout so it wrecks your rhythm. But this is completely subject to interpretation. It is full of exercise classes too so if you’re all about one-on-one exergaming where the system waits for you to catch up and tracks your personal progress based on if you’re getting the exercises right, this may not work for you.

Fitness Builder: There are so many fitness mobile apps, but I think this is one of the best. There are three levels of access: standard, PLUS, and PRO. Of course, the PLUS costs more than standard because you have access to a wider variety of work outs. But the PRO costs the most because it is for personal trainers and gyms only. With all of the levels though, you get exercise tips, a fitness tracker, and access to multiple workouts. You can also send questions to a fitness expert.

What’s on point? You can select location-based workouts (gym, home, hotel, outside), which I think is pretty cool because your location determines the space you have to work with. And of course, it’s on your phone so you carry it everywhere you go. Also, since you can do everything else on your phone, why not track your fitness progress on your phone as well? And since everything comes down to Facebook and Twitter, yes, you can connect your Fitness Builder app to social media as well.

What’s wrong with it? For us Blackberry and Droid users, Fitness Builder is exclusively available on the iPhone. And keeping stats on your phone might be great, but watching videos, and trying to get poses right? Not so great. This is also pretty expensive compared to most of the other phone apps out there.

So these are a few exergaming options I think are great. Hopefully, since I’ve done the research and tried them out, you can easily make a decision. Well, not yet. We haven’t talked about the cost! What works cost-wise? See the table below for price details:

Cheers 'Eights' and 'Weights'!

1 comment:

  1. I actually have EA Sports Active and it is a great tool AS LONG AS YOU USE IT. Its kinda hard for me to stick to an exercise plan so its not the fault of EA Sports Active.

    Also, the resistance band it comes with is absolute rubbish. It feels WAYY too easy to use so I had to go to Walmart and buy myself a more "resistant" resistance band.

    Otherwise, it is truly great. I really like the tennis, boxing, and lower body exercises like squats, lunges, etc. I HATE the running.


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