15 May 2012

VGW: Day Two – Fitness Games

Author: DaisyChubb | Filed under: Other


Ya’ll ready for this? Today (after baking a giant batch of cookies x_x), we’re discussing Fitness Games! We’re talkin’  Zumba, Just Dance, Wii Fit, etc! These are totally based on our own experiences with the games. Let’s get to it!


Your Interviewer, Daisy

Today on our Panel:
       Travis          Evan         Kristin    Matthew  
Travis is back, our resident bear

Evan is a pal from Toronto, ON, and my go-to for anything superhero!

Kristin is a bestie, partner of Evan, and 100% fashionista meets brainsmarts

Matthew is a friend from Regina where he reviews everything in Review Times


: Hi friends! Let’s get to it. So what kind of fitness game do you own? Was it worth the money paid? How does it compare to having a gym membership?

: I own Wii Fit Plus. You know, it probably doesn’t do a whole lot of good to be honest – I find its assessment of your weight to be a little bit brutally straightforward, to be honest, which doesn’t really encourage a whole lot of progress within the game. However, in terms of working out in a small space like an apartment or whatever, I feel like it’s probably the best that you can do, honestly.

: We have the original WiiFit, but to tell you the truth we’ve never been super into it. I don’t have good enough balance to get the most out of the fitness games using the Wii Balance Board.

: It was more of a casual fitness experience. More like extra fun you could have with your Wii that happened to make you move!

: We purchased little blocks that raise the Balance board off the ground slightly and it makes the workout a little more intense, especially if you’re sticking to the aerobics games. It obviously doesn’t compare to the gym, if only because I think it’s meant to sort of maintain a status quo rather than do anything particularly “feel the burn”-y.

: I saw Kristin’s dad get really sweaty and into the workouts. It was like something you might do at a step class. I wouldn’t buy WiiFit again. We did have better luck with Wii Active, which is a game along similar lines produced by EA. Instead (or in addition to) a Balance Board, you make use of resistance bands. We use it without the Balance Board. The workouts are varied, ranging from simple to intense.

: For me, the hula hoop workout was always the most vigorous part of WiiFit. I think WiiFit is worth the money if you are a family, especially with small kids, that is interested in getting more active together but certainly not as a workout to replace a gym membership. [Wii Active is] nice because it works your cardio and strength training, with pre-programmed workouts that allow you to choose the intensity of that days exercises. It even builds in rest days to your workout calendar if you decide to do something like it’s 30 Day Challenge, which is designed to keep you interested and motivated. Seeing it flash on your Wii home screen is a great source of “Oh yeah… I should not skip it so that it stops reminding me I haven’t worked out in a while…”

: I think it’s different from having a gym membership because you have to find a way to motivate yourself to do a workout in your own home where you’re constantly surrounded by your own distractions and there’s nobody to call you on it if you’re faking it.

: I remember once, Kristin and Evan had me over to try Wii Active. It was a lot different from Wii Fit – I did enjoy the exercises that didn’t rely on the balance board. I would love to try those blocks that raise the balance board though – it would definitely be ‘feel the burn-y’! So – Do you find it effective as a tool for working out? What are the best parts about Wii Fit? What are the major flaws?

: When it works, you feel like you’re getting a good workout. The problem is that you have to learn where it thinks the Wii remote should be. You have to see yourself working out from the Wii’s perspective, otherwise the whole thing grinds to a halt and you want to put your foot through the TV.

: That’s why I really like Wii Active. Instead of solely relying on the Balance Board, you work with Wii remote, nunchuk, and a thigh harness (oh lala!) that help to properly place the equipment as you’re doing the exercise. It also makes it harder to cheat your squats!

: You know, if you can integrate the game into a regular sort of routine, I think it would be pretty beneficial. It’s actually doing that that’s the problem, though I can imagine that with the Wii U, Nintendo’s going to push this aspect a lot harder – maybe through smartphone integration that reminds you to exercise, or even social networking results, like “I just worked off 400 calories on Wii Fit Plus U!” or whatever.

: I had more problems than Kristin did in getting both games to “see” me. I guess you either have it or you don’t.

: The best parts, as it stands, are the parts that feel like real exercise but have an inherently game-like quality to them. I can’t count how many hours I’ve lost to hula hooping. On the other hand, the balance games don’t really seem to have a lot of purpose, even if they can be relatively fun. If I want fun, though, I’ll just turn to an actual video game.

: The balance games are definitely my enemy. But I agree with everyone so far – Hula Hooping is the champion of Wii workouts! haha. I can catch a hula like no other. Do you feel you have to supplement your workout in other areas, or does Wii Fit provide a full workout package?

: I definitely think that if you’re looking to get an actual workout, then it definitely has to be supplemented. In reality, though, Wii Fit should likely be your supplement for when you can’t get to the gym or go for a run or whatever. In that role, it serves its purpose wonderfully.

: I think you have to make a real effort to get outside as well. Running in place can only really go so far.

: Wii Fit is definitely less comprehensive, although it has a nice stretching pose selection. Wii Active is more balanced, but Evan is right when he says you have to get yourself moving elsewhere too.

: I like the idea that Wii Fit is actually the indoor supplement to the rest of your work out. That’s totally true. It is nice for the yoga/stretching aspect too though – the trainer pushes your core on that damn Plank pose haha. Also, I want a Motivational Poster of a guy on a treadmill and the saying is: ” Running in place can only really go so far.” I love it! How do you stay motivated to use games like Wii Fit every day (or whatever your workout schedule is)? Do you find it helps you to stay motivated as opposed to jogging or going to the gym?

: Well, considering I haven’t used Wii Fit in a long while, I’m probably not the best person to answer this question! However, both Kristy [Matthew’s partner] and I have felt that the game maybe doesn’t provide enough motivation for you, and often feels a little discouraging. We mostly kind of integrate a combination of Wii Fit and Just Dance in our own kind of workout routine to keep us motivated, though these days it’s more Kristy than myself.

: I actually think the motivation is exactly the same. It helps to have someone to hold you accountable, but it takes the same amount of effort to strap on the thigh harness and put on your workout clothes as it does to head out to the gym. I will say that it is nice in the wintertime to be able to stay in the warmth of my own home and know I’m not missing out on a workout.

: I agree. I also think games like Wii Fit or Wii Active are great for people who are self-conscious about the gym or don’t have one convenient to their home (or don’t have the money to pay gym fees every month… yikes!). You get the trainers on-screen walking you through the workouts and if you have a friend, roommate or loved-one to spot you and give you extra motivation, it’s just as easy/hard to stay in it.

: Definitely – I think it doesn’t do too too much to keep a person motivated, it really depends on the person to self motivate – but at least it’s there in rain or shine! or snow! I know I’ve had many periods when I’ve stopped playing Wii Fit. Can you think back and see what motivated you to stop the routine? Was it life got too busy, did the game get boring, was it inaccessible, etc.

: I do think I hit a bit of a level where I just couldn’t do it anymore. The variation isn’t huge and I just had to switch it up.

: Ya, it’s another reason why it’s important to get out and do other activities. If it’s boring or not challenging you anymore, you have to shake it up.

: Mostly, I think it has to do with life getting busy. Especially once I started working full time, the thought of further exerting myself physically was just not worth it.

: I hear ya – you gotta shake things up and keep things interesting – especially when work and life get crazy! Sometimes downtime is hard to find and you don’t always want to fill it with working out. Personally I find Wii Fit takes a long time before I work up a sweat – mostly due to going back to the menu to pick another activity. So, what made you get back into the routine after a break? What got you going again? Any tips for others who need the motivation?

: Getting back into the routine I think would simply involve saying, “you know what, I feel kind of gross today/lately, it’s not really nice enough to go outside, let’s fire up the Wii Fit.” I think once you get into the game, it does a pretty good job of keeping you in there, at least until other things intervene.

: I really missed the structure of the workouts and poverty prevents me from having access to even the most affordable gym membership. Since we’ve settled and gotten a sense of space here, I’m comfortable enough to start something again to feel good about me. I miss going to the YMCA as a supplementary thing, but I’m trying to do what I can, when I can fit it in. The workout choices are great for that! Plus, doing it in my apartment means I don’t have to jog next to the really hyper-fit Torontonians!!

: I lost my touch for the controls and found it very frustrating. It’s helped me get more motivated to get outside though!

: I’ll admit I’m off the wagon right now, but since I’m unemployed I should have all the time in the world to get back to it! It’s just been so nice outside though – it’s relaxing to take walks. :) So let’s talk about Just Dance, and get Travis in on the action haha. Do you feel Dance games are marketed as workout games, or just for fun games? Do you think they’re effective as workout games? Even if you haven’t tried them, do you think the Wii or the Xbox Kinect has the upper hand in a full body workout/more effective dance game system?

: I guess it could be used as a fitness game if one played it at regular enough intervals for a respectable length of time each.  I think it could be [a good workout], considering the intensity of some of the dances. Obviously it would only be good for those wanting some sort of aerobic exercise, and it might lose its appeal after you’ve master all of the available songs so I wouldn’t count on it as some sort of long term exercise tool – perhaps maybe more of a supplement to a more well rounded exercise routine.

: Well, first of all I think that if anyone is trying to go for accuracy when it comes to dance games, that their hope is misplaced. But that’s not really the point, is it? Basically, a game like Just Dance on the Wii might actually be perfect, because it gives you the fantasy of feeling like you’re a pretty competent dancer while just letting you be silly to a bunch of equally-silly pop songs. And I can say from personal experience that these games are maybe even more compelling than actual fitness games, and I’ve found I sweat far more when doing a Just Dance thing. I’ve never tried the Kinect at all so I have no idea how good it is at this sort of thing.

: Let me say that I lost more weight doing Dance Dance Revolution through high school than I have ever lost in my entire life. I was easily at my healthiest and my cardio was through the roof! I have always thought it was a shame that it wasn’t used as a fitness tool by more people, because it’s super fun and always varied and challenging! It’s definitely targeted as a “for fun” type of thing. Saying that, I don’t believe any system has the upper hand in the dance game market. Although, some games are better than others. Something with a higher BPM like Dance Dance Revolution is going to give you more of a sweat than something like The Michael Jackson Experience on XBOX Kinect (which is still fun!).

: I think dance games have to be marketed as dance games because they are inaccessibly difficult unless you are pretty much already in shape.

: But the challenge is what makes you want to do them!!

: I’ve always found them too difficult, so I disagree with you. I agree that they are easily the best workout. I just think that they come with a severe learning curve for those of us in the poor-balance community!

:  You guys should see poor Michael waving his arms in Just Dance. It’s fun for both of us though, especially as a workout. We get freaking sweaty – even when the moves aren’t 100% there. It also helps living in a basement though – I didn’t touch Wii Fit, Just Dance or any game like that when we lived above the witch on the 3rd floor. I disgress – good call bringing DDR into the mix – I miss that game so much. I wonder if I could find a cheap one somewhere… Lastly, Do you think consoles like the Wii and Xbox Kinect inspire a generation of kids to get moving, or does it enforce the new system of “don’t play outside, stay in and play video games”?

: I think that I am of the first generation that grew up with console video games and I think that I spent plenty of time in both places. I think kids will still go outside and enjoy these active-alternative video games when they’re inside.

: I, too, grew up with console gaming. I also grew up with parents who would never let me play them for extended periods of time. We were always too busy with sports, activities, and being forced into yard work to be gaming potatoes. I think it’s all going to depend on the household environment.

: I really think there’s been a huge backlash against this kind of “casual/motion” gaming that isn’t entirely warranted. It seems that there’s been a move back towards traditional control lately as developers have more or less abandoned motion control, and I think it’s unfortunate – it had the opportunity to do some amazing things but very few developers have put in the time or effort to really push people to want to be active (Nintendo and only a few others, I think, have been successful). All of this is to say that whereas maybe a few years ago parents could feel confident that their kid was getting some (probably pretty rote) exercise in the form of the Wii or whatever, now, kids are abandoning both the outdoors AND motion controlled gaming, making for an incredibly sedate populace that’s about as inactive as they were like, ten years ago. A bit of a shame, if you ask me.


Thanks to my guests, who had some awesome input on this genre of game. I’m feeling a little motivated myself, although I might just stick to Just Dance and find a cheap DDR when I get a job 😀 Man DDR is the best.

Well folks, today is the last day to enter my contest! The winners will be announced tomorrow (the 16th), so be sure to come back and join us for Tea & Video Games! An in depth (an extremely serious) look at what our favourite video game characters will be drinking.

Have you had any success (or not) with Fitness Games? Chime in on the comment section below!




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One Response to “VGW: Day Two – Fitness Games”

  1. […] Don’t drink tea with workout games!! A nice tea and an RPG… because it rhymes and works well together. You don’t need […]

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