01.Nintendo Wii Fit
Please note: this information was current as of August 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
The Wii Fit is an interactive fitness package for the Wii games console from Nintendo. It features some 40 different exercise activities designed to help you get into shape. Included in the package is a unique pressure-sensitive balance board which is used to determine how well each activity is being performed. But is it an effective fitness tool?
The experience starts by synchronising the Wii balance board with your Wii console. Once everything is connected, Wii Fit will begin by asking you to choose a Mii: a customisable avatar which can be created from the main menu. If you haven’t created a Mii before, you can choose from one of many pre-designed Mii characters.
Your Mii plays a large part in the Wii Fit experience, as it not only represents your presence in many of Wii Fit’s fitness activities, but will also attempt to physically represent your body mass as you progress over time. Wii Fit will then take you through what’s called a ‘body test’. This test measures your reflexes, posture, weight and general body reaction times in order to determine your level of fitness.
The test starts by measuring your centre of gravity and BMI (Body Mass Index), by factoring weight and height. As the balance board can only measure general weight and not muscle mass, those with a large amount of muscle, such as bodybuilders, may find the fitness rating generated by Wii Fit to be inaccurate. Likewise for children, as the BMI (body mass index) rating system is based on adult height and weight. The balance board can support a weight of up to 150 kg.
Wii Fit will then perform some balance tests in order to determine your athletic ability. These tests involve shifting varying amounts of weight from one side to the other, as quickly as possible. This data will then be used to determine your ‘Wii Fit age’, which compares your body test results with the average results of an ideally fit person in your age bracket. Wii Fit will also use your age, weight and height to determine your level of fitness by classifying you as either underweight, ideal, overweight and even obese.
Your Mii character’s body will then (rather humorously) change to resemble what Wii Fit approximates to be your own body shape. Once you’ve completed the body test, you can access Wii Fit’s various training exercises, which include yoga, muscle workouts, aerobic exercises and balance games. Of the 40 training activities, only a handful are immediately accessible, with the remainder needing to be unlocked by playing for a certain amount of time.
Wii Fit’s yoga and muscle workout exercises are demonstrated by either a male or female instructor, and while Wii Fit’s body test is text based, the actual exercises are narrated. Yoga activities test flexibility and posture by teaching how to stretch your body, and require you to hold body positions for various lengths of time. This may sound simple, but completing activities while maintaining good posture can be quite a challenge.
While Wii Fit is no substitute for proper training, performing muscle training exercises consecutively for an extended time without becoming fatigued and losing your balance is quite challenging. Wii Fit’s aerobic exercises use your Mii to demonstrate the moves, and include activities such as hula-hoop balancing, an arcade-style dance game, and jogging activities which require you to place a Wii remote control in your pocket and run on the spot.
The motion sensors in the remote control help record information about your intensity and duration of movement. Various balance games are also bundled, including soccer goalkeeping, virtual skiing, slalom jumping and tightrope walking. While basic, these games can be fun for parties or family get-togethers.
The Wii Fit contains a variety of exercises which can appeal to almost anyone from kids and parents to the elderly. Though overly-cute elements may put off some adult users and voice narration in place text would have made the initial setup process a bit more interesting, the Wii Fit is easy-to-use.
Just remember it’s no substitute for proper fitness equipment and more importantly, a trained instructor. It is however a fun experience that can promote casual fitness and help keep you interested enough to continue to work at it, while appealing to both young and old alike.