Is the Wii Fit a cheap workout?

by Paul Michael on 13 June 2008 23 comments
Photo: e.t.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fitness nut. I don’t like exercising, it always seems like a chore. But what if it wasn’t? What if it were, dare I say it, almost a game? That’s what Wii Fit promises…but will it pass the test?

For the benefit of Wisebread readers who own a Wii (or were thinking of buying one), I decided to put Wii Fit through its paces. Although to be fair, it was more like the Wii Fit put me through mine. Remember though, I’m not exactly a fitness freak. 

The Wii Fit concept is great; a complete fitness routine that uses the current Wii technology. At around $80, it’s certainly not cheap as games go (although that price does include the Wii Balance Board…more on that later).

But here’s the big question…is it really a game, or a fitness machine? Let’s face it, $80 for a fitness machine is dirt cheap. And with gym memberships costing anywhere from $20 - $300 a month (and that’s just here in Colorado), could this in fact be one of the cheapest workouts around? Let’s start with the technology.

Here’s a description of the Wii Balance Board (BB)
With dual sensors that can detect your weight and balance on each side as you exercise to the various on-screen Wii activities in Wii Fit. The board is wireless, and holds the potential of full-body games involving the Wiimote and the Wii Balance Board simultaneously. If you've had enough gaming, you can also have the Balance Board diagnose your body mass index. Or not. No word on when these two will launch, or for how much.

BB

So as you can see, the Wii balance board doubles as a weighing scale that actually measure Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a fair indication of just how lardy you are. It’s not always accurate, most body builders have a huge BMI, but for most of us it’s a fair idea of how chubby we are, or aren’t. The board itself is cool-looking, like a scale that went through the Apple filter. At almost 9lbs, it’s sturdy and will take the weight of a 330lb adult.

Now, the setup.
Like most other Wii games, there’s a setup screen. And in typical Nintendo fashion, it’s cute and simple. I was asked to enter my date of birth and height, and then I stepped onto the BB for a Biggest Loser-style weigh-in. This gave me my BMI - 27.9 (not the 26.53 pictured). Yup, I’m officially overweight.

BMI

Next, I did a balance test. As it turns out, I must have all the balance of a one-legged horse in a hurricane. My actual age is 34, but my Wii Fit age came out at 39. This can be recalculated daily, though, so one plus is that Wii Fit helps you feel younger as you get fitter. I plan to be 18 by the end of the year. Of course, all of this is pseudo science, a doctor or health/fitness expert is really the only qualified to tell you these facts. And this was my first experience of the Wii Fit being what it is…a game.

Finally…the workout!
First, if anyone is familiar with the way Wii games work, you won’t be disappointed here. It reminds me a lot of Wario Smooth Moves, especially the yoga section which mimic the Wiimote exercises you do in various stages of Smooth Moves.

yoga

>

There are four categories in Wii Fit: balance, aerobic, yoga and muscle. Let’s start with the latter first. Your average yoga poses are probably not going to impress anyone with even a modicum of yoga training. Some of them required me stand and breathe. I could do that one with one hand tied behind my back. Others try to mimic various classic yoga stances, including lunging and shoulder stands (which I passed on…sorry, not ready for that yet).

PU

In the muscle workout, there are also push-ups to do and a ton of other muscle-building exercises. It’s not exactly like benching 250lbs though, but your virtual trainer (male or female, you decide) will keep your spirits up.

I got most out of breath on the balance and aerobic sections. If anyone has pictures of me doing hula hoops, I’ll pay cash for them. Now. My favorite balance activity was….none of them. I sucked, that’s why. But snowboarding and the table-tilting game were fun, even if they were demoralizing.

The verdict.
I could get deeper into features like new games you can unlock, multi-player workouts and tailored workouts, but that would take another two pages. Let’s just get to the crux of the matter. Is it worth it? Well, in a word, yes. But is it going to replace your gym membership? Probably not if you’re a regular workout fanatic.

Remember, this is $80, and with most Wii games coming in at between $40-$60, it’s a great price for what you get out of it. It’s fun for the most part, and after 30 minutes I did feel like I’d lost the use of my legs and lungs. The exercises are challenging at times, and the interaction makes it feel less like a workout and more like a game. And that, Wisebread readers, was a big plus for me. I really don’t like staring into space while I sit on my rowing machine or ride the exercise bike. It made the time pass more quickly.

I think the Balance Board will also serve as a something even more fun in future Wii games. I can already see so many uses for it, including skateboarding/surfing games and those crazy dance games.

fit2

Wii Fit

But for right now, as a fun workout, the Wii Fit gets my vote. If you’ve got $80 to spare, and want something that will actually help you stay fit, this is a great place to start. If you'd like to pick one up though, you'll need luck on your side. As with most Nintendo Wii games, they're sold out in many places but as always, Amazon is usually a good place to start (link above). Don't pay over the retail price though, if it's out of stock contact your local Target or Circuit City and ask them when they'll get their next shipment.

 

Additional photo credits: Wii, Amazon
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Guest's picture
Guest

I happen to LOVE the balance games -- especially the ski jump; I stink at all of the except the ski jump, which is the ONLY Wii game of any sort I can beat my 16 year old at (and btw, there is absolutely nothing that could get me down a ski jump in real life). Have fun.
S

Guest's picture
Tina Marie

I got mine the day it came out. Since then (almost a month), I've only missed one day. That says it all for me - if it can keep me coming back, it's worth it. The trainer and the high score list motivate me in a way no other exercise has. The first time I got the boxing trainer to say "Good job!" instead of "We'll try again tomorrow.", I was literally grinning for half an hour. The last time I got a gym membership, it was $200 just to sign up, plus monthly fees. No, this isn't as intense as going to the gym, but the way I see it, 30 minutes of a not-as-intense workout is still way better then making excuses to not go to the gym.

Guest's picture
Becky M

Like Tina, I received the game the day it came out. Don't forget that EB is still giving away $60 off if you trade in three games; this is what we did, and we received the game for $30ish the day it came out. Not even bad for a regular game.

I can not stop talking about Wii Fit to my friends, family, and personal trainer. Yes, I have a personal trainer. I got Wii Fit to complement my 2-month weight-loss/nutrition program. I suppose it doesn't replace the gym, as there's no proper weight lifting to it; but, the Free Run ability you unlock later, is better than a treadmill! I really think Wii Fit is one of the best games released on Wii since it came out. (Ok.. i lied, Endless Ocean is)

Thanks for this review. I think everyone should own a Wii Fit.. it's a great start to a healthy life! =D

Guest's picture
Kate

I'm not sure about this wii board yet. Over here in the UK it costs £70.
I'm not much into computer games so maybe thats why i'm not that convinced, but i guess if you are then at least you are getting a work out while you play and i'm up for that.

For now i am goinf to stick with my stepper and weights. Lets watch this space and see how this develops. :)

Guest's picture

While I commend Nintendo for introducing the Wii Fit and think that it's a fantastic concept, I personally don't feel it's worth the expense.

I would much rather get out of the house, ride my bike or jog, and appreciate the sights and sounds of my neighborhood.

Exercise is one of the few opportunities I have to get out of the house - God knows I spend enough time as it is in front of a screen of some sort.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

I've had Wiifit for a week now.  The second day I used it I gained 1.8 lbs.  Then every day I lost around 0.4 to 0.5 lbs so I was back at my weight on the first day.  Last night I ate a huge dinner with a burger and chili fries because my hubby smelled like BBQ. (he was grilling bacon & burgers at work !!!!)  Anyway, this morning I gained 1.8 lbs according to the body test so I'm back at where I started !!!! :(:(.  Oh, the games are pretty fun, though.  I really like the step exercise & rhythmic boxing.

Paul Michael's picture

...that I don't own a Wii Fit. I did all of this at my local Best Buy! They were very accommodating, I told them I was writing an article and didn't want to buy it just to review it. And yes, I looked like a fool!

Guest's picture

I really enjoyed the humor in this post. I was skeptical about this product until I read all of the above. Now, I think I'll take a closer look. The comment about it keeping track of your progress would be a real motivator for me. Thanks!

Guest's picture

I agree with Jimmy in the above post, that I commend Nintendo for coming up with a game that actually helps keep you in shape, instead of sitting in front of a screen doing nothing physical.

My older brother has two kids who have recently discovered Nintendo, Xbox, etc, and he's kinda upset because all of a sudden they're not as active as they were before. Now, with Wii Fit, there's a solution (somewhat) to parents who are concerned that their kids aren't going out to play as much.

Guest's picture
Sara

The husband and I are saving for a Wii, and Fit is on our list of potential games. I'm so glad to hear that it actually gave you a decent workout, since that's been my main concern. I'm also glad to hear others are finding it motivating, which is what I need. I mean, yeah, I could just go for a run, but the fact that I could and don't is a testament to my need for more motivating exercise. Thanks so much for looking silly in the store so that the rest of us can look silly in the comfort of our own homes. :)

Guest's picture
felix

The Wii Fit maybe fun, but it's not a substitution for real exercises. You get to lose the use of your legs and lungs faster simply by running up stairs.

Guest's picture
Rebecca141

My 8 year old, who isn't overweight, just likes to play computer games over outdoor exercise (yes, I limit games and encourage outdoor time), loves the wii fit. He's been getting up every morning at 6 and asking to go on, then plays for about an hour. He does mostly balance and aerobics, plus a little yoga (he loves to earn points for the breathing exercise!). This will be great for those too hot to go outside days of summer (like we just had here in the NE). I don't know how long it will last, but his friends have all been coming over to try it out. I think it's fun, but not enough for me, though.

Guest's picture

I've been using my Wii Fit for about three weeks and I'm really happy with it. I have lost a couple of pounds, though my BMI was normal to begin with. What I really wanted was to improve my posture, strength, and flexibility (basically, I'm slim but in horrible shape), and so far I have been very pleased with the results. I do supplement the daily Wii workouts with about 20 minutes or so of quick walking. I can see how the Wii Fit might not be for everyone, but it's a great system for me.

Fred Lee's picture
Fred Lee

I don't think a Wii is in our future plans, but your picture alone made reading the article worth it. Not to mention, of course, the text. Nice job, an entertaining read, as always.

Guest's picture
Dedicated

As someone who has spent the last 10 months working on me, I just want to say that BMI is important. More important then the actual weight you are.

Fat (which this calculates) is the number 1 cause of a slew of illnesses. Like heart disease, diabetes, etc.

I do not have the Wii Fit, but dream of this for the future. I do have a scale that calculates these numbers for me. I can say, when I began (girls have a higher bmi then guys) I was at 36.2% BMI. This equated to a 50 year old Metabolic Age. I was 38.

Currently, I am about 20% BMI and 18 years of age Metabolically. And I am really 39 now.

Yet, my weight has only decreased by 25lbs. And by the scale number I would consider myself overweight by about 30 lbs.

The BMI is the important number - cause I now look and feel fabulous.

I think this "toy" will help millions.

Thanks for the review I needed this.

Guest's picture
John Krumm

We bought the Wii Fit for my wife, but my 11 year old daughter likes it the most. The body tests are very inaccurate for measuring overall fitness because they don't test for aerobic ability. You could be an overweight marathoner with bad balance and it will give you no credit for being able to run a marathon. But it is fun. I was surprised how much my daughter used the running game. I think that's because it's easy to use with a friend. It's also one of the best workouts for getting the heart rate up.

For us I think it will be a fun, alternative game rather than a regular workout. What I'd really like to see is an improved version of the running game combined with the high quality treadmills at our fitness club. That would be cool.

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband just bought me the Wii balance board (and the rest of the Wii, since we did not own one yet) as an early birthday present. I really like it, since we have a 12 week old baby in the house and going to a gym just doesn't fit our life right now. I do go out walking with the stroller, but the Wii fit is a nice supplement to that.
Best feature: feedback and rankings of your efforts.

Guest's picture

I spent an hour and a half on it the first night we took it out of the box and had a blast. I think that it's a step in the right direction ... people love video games and they can play this and get fit.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi- we've had the WiiFit since first day of release. As an adult woman in my late 40's & I've used it about 12 times. I bought it to help me with my horrible balance. And it has! I'm now doing much better on Yoga poses (even the one legged ones!) and strength exercises. I agree with previous comments that the part that really keeps you on track is the BMI calculations and charting. A great feature.

This feature is also very good for kids. It allows them to view their BMI & weight in a "cartoony" game way & gives them goals to shoot for without having a adult have to set it up for them. A great way to provide feedback for kids on their fitness level.

Guest's picture

We've used the Wii Fit for about a month. The first few days saw pretty heavy usage since it was new and it was on a weekend. But now we've settled into a routine.

If you thought Wii Sports got you active, Wii Fit will definitely make you sweat. $80-90 is not bad, especially if you consider most fitness equipment would cost you a fair amount more. And even kids can do most of the mini-games and exercises okay.

The game progressively unlocks additional exercises or mini-games as you rack up minutes, which helps to keep you coming back for more. Even now, there's a few exercises we haven't unlocked yet, but there's already plenty to keep you burning calories.

What's lacking is more overall fitness guidance tailored to each person. You're kind of left on your own on which exercises to pursue. They don't suggest to work legs one day, arms the other, or aerobic conditioning, or anything like that. The Yoga and Strength exercises do occasionally tell you to try X +Y together as combined exercise. But that's not exactly the same as a long-term plan on building strength or losing weight, etc.

But still, the Wii Fit is highly recommended. Read about how we apply The Dollar Rule to the Wii Fit.

Guest's picture
Guest

I also recommend EA Sports wii for a good workout. It comes with two exercise bands and you actually break out a sweat doing these workouts. It has thirty day plan as well as other workouts for a harder workout than the wii fit. It is wii fit compatible so you can use the wii fit board and track your weight on it as well, but the wii fit board is not required.

Guest's picture
Guest

I BOUGHT THE WII CONSOLE, BOARD, AND WII FIT FOR CHRISTMAS IN 08, I WASN'T THAT MOTIVATED TO PLAY, I RECENTLY BOUGHT THE BIGGEST LOSER, AND BEEN ON IT FOR 4 WKS, WHEN I STARTED OFF, I WAS 218, NOW I'M 206, BUT I GOT ON THE WII FIT RIGHT AFTER I WEIGHED MYSELF ON THE BIGGEST LOSER, AND IT SAYS I'M 216. WHICH SHOULD I BELIEVE?

Guest's picture

This is amazing, truly amazing. Who cannot fall in love with it. I mean all my friends have it. I have encouraged my relatives to buy it. Above all I push my fat looking bear of a husband on this platform and make him do exercise. It is a great device for the kids to have some indoor games and a great tool for the boring rainy seasons. Keeps them busy and off my mind.