Is the Wii Fit a cheap workout?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.