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Friday, March 6, 2009

Review: Wii Fit

I purchased a Wii Fit a few weeks ago and thought I'd post a review for those of you who might be interested in purchasing one for yourself. Overall, I like it a lot, but I don't think it is for everyone.

The biggest misconception about this "game" is that it is going to help everyone lose tons of weight. In general, I don't really think this is the case. But before I talk about why, I'm going to go over each part of the software and what I think of it:

  • The Fit Test. First, and at its simplest, it will weigh you and test your balance. Reporting is done in terms of BMI, although you can view actual weight as well. You can add a new Wii Channel just to take the Fit test without having to have the Wii Fit CD in the Wii, which I think is the best part of this. It's a great, easy way to keep track of your weight and one of the best features about the entire Wii Fit package. You can view a graph of your weight and BMI, as well as set goals. The major downside of this is that it insists on saying "You're overweight!" every single time that it weighs me, even if I've lost a bunch. I find this highly irritating. Some people have told me that they hate how it makes your Mii fat based on your weight, but for whatever reason, I don't have a problem with that one. It's just a cartoon. The only other downside that I have of this is that if you gain weight (even a little), it will ask you some dumb questions about why. "I have my period" or "I'm weighing in right after a big dinner" is not an option. If you want to proceed further into the fit test, it will test your balance in a number of different activities, which I don't find as useful, but can be very fun. At the end, it will give you your "Wii Fit Age," based off of the test, and you can also track this. There are folks that I know that have purchased the Wii Fit only for the Fit Test Feature, and it's a great one!
  • Yoga. Wii Fit contains a bunch of Yoga moves, which you do along with a "trainer." The trainer will lead you through the move, demo it, and offer you feedback. As you progress through the moves, it will unlock options for more difficult moves and variations. This is one of the main things that I bought the Wii Fit for, and so far have been enjoying it. The trainer can get irritating, but not excessively so. The downside is that it can be hard for the game to really know how you are doing. Sometimes, I am struggling, but it really doesn't know because of the limits of the Wii Balance Board. Still, it can be a nice way to get some yoga in or learn yoga.
  • Strength Training. I admit, I haven't done a whole lot of the strength exercises so far. What I can tell you is that the moves are very similar to what you find in Yoga, in that you follow with a trainer and receive feedback. The moves are more difficult than yoga. While I think there are some moves that might train and improve some muscles and core, if you are looking for a real strength building exercise, this isn't it. Videos with weights would be a much better investment. However, if you are just starting out or very out of shape, this is an excellent way to start, assuming you can keep up with doing it consistently.
  • Cardio Exercises. This is a series of games (the trainer is not involved) that are designed to get your heart pumping. With the exception of the running segment (running in place, of course), I haven't found them to be intense enough for me, but still are a lot of fun for something extra to do. I've gotten a slight obsession with Super Hula Hoop and do that one a lot. Basically, you just stand on the balance board and move your hips in a circle to hula hoop. There is a boxing segment that uses the nun chuck, and a step aerobics part, which is slow and kind of boring. As for the running? Well, it is certainly not a replacement for regular running, but is a nice way to start. If you can keep up with this and are not in shape, this is another excellent way to get started with exercise. However, it might be difficult to keep with it because the exercises are, quite frankly, boring (except Super Hula Hoop). In shape folks may find them fun in an off day, and at least it's better than sitting on the couch.
  • Balance Games. Like cardio, this is a series of games where the trainer is not involved. It is a bunch of things to test and work your balance, including skiing games, tightrope walking, and others. Todd and I have been competing at this and I find some of them to be really hard. I think they're pretty fun and it's nice to try and get a high score. I'm not sure if I am really seeing any kind of benefit from doing them or if my balance is really improving, though. While they are fun, I just don't know what I get out of it besides pride at being better than Todd at ski jumping.
  • Wii Fit Points. As you work on the Wii Fit, it keeps track of the minutes that you spend actually doing an activity. These translate into Wii Fit Points, and can be used to unlock new games, yoga poses, and strength exercises. It's nice to see how they really add up, and this can be a motivation factor.

I think this is a good purchase for those of us who are in shape, provided you think you might want the Wii Fit for either its weight tracking capabilities or its yoga and balance tests and exercises. It will definitely not substitute for any intense cardio or weight training session, and would only serve as something fun to supplement your current workout routine. This is what I'm using it for, anyway. I have a hard time finding value in the balance workouts, but do enjoy doing them anyway, and the yoga is nice.

To those who are not currently exercising or are not in shape, I think it really depends on your goal. If you think you would be motivated to use the Wii Fit because it is a game, it might be good for you. However, if you are not necessarily into video games or working out in front of the TV, I would skip it. It's not a magic pill and what you do with the Wii Fit is still going to require effort. However, I can see that the feedback that it gives and the tracking of Fit Points might be good motivation. Definitely, if your goal is to lose weight, you will have to do a LOT of the cardio exercises (which, like I said, can get very boring), and you will have to really work on your diet as well. So, like every other fitness purchase, it's only going to work if you actually use it and also eat sensibly. I can certainly see that people are buying a Wii Fit and never using it, so the motivation has to be there in the first place.

I'm happy with the Wii Fit and will continue to use it. If it sounds like it will fit your needs, definitely check it out, as it is not bad to have!

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