Are Wii Fit?

Are Wii Fit?
By Cindy Rott
The Wii Video Gaming system (a Nintendo product) is all the rage, but is it for you? Senior centers across the country are having Olympic Wii tournaments and physical rehabilitation centers are having their patients doing rehab while playing a game. Critics are wowed with the video game console that gets you off the couch. The Wii console and the game the Wii Fit are very easy to set up and use. Three simple plugs, color-coded for the back of the TV, will get you going.
The Wii Fit game comes with a balance board, which is a plastic component a little bit bigger than the size of a closed laptop. It slides easily under your couch when not in use. You place the balance board on the floor in front of the TV, you step on it barefoot and follow the directions that come up on your TV screen. Leave some space around the board to allow room for the exercises. The Wii balance board is wireless and will actually guide you through every step.
On your initial use, it will ask your height, and it is kind enough to show you your weight and your estimated BMI (body mass index). Since I don’t have a scale in my house, this was an added bonus, or maybe it was a flaw. (if the truth be known I didn’t really want to know)… But now that I know, it has been motivating. The Wii Fit will have you perform some balance drills that will evaluate your balance. It will then have you doing very easy tasks such as shifting your weight from left to right, or even standing perfectly still while following the commands on the TV screen. On completion, the Wii Fit will tell you your Wii age. Shocker for me–my ‘Wii Age’ was 16 years older than my actual age! To further the humiliation, it told me I was overweight and had poor balance. As an occasional runner I had mistakenly thought I was well on the road to fitness. I was dejected and yet really motivated to improve my scores.
The Wii Fit keeps track of your workouts and reminds you how many days it has been between Wii workouts, and will even allow you to track your other workouts outside of the Wii. The Wii encourages you to keep coming back by keeping a list of champions and by giving you credits each time you play. When you have earned enough credits, new games, exercises and yoga poses are unlocked and available for you to play. The competitive side of me likes to keep coming back and opening new things, I must admit. I also enjoy seeing my name listed as the champion.
The initial startup offers fitness tips, which you can view or skip over. And then you have a choice of either taking the body test or training. The body test was the part I really didn’t like to hear, but the training portion of it is fun. The Wii has you choose either a male or female trainer, who will then guide you through the exercises. And you can choose what type of exercises you feel like doing: Yoga, strength training, aerobics, or balance games.
I find the balance games the most fun and the strength training the most demanding. The games consist of moving your video self, called a Mii (me) through balance drills which consist of shifting your weight left, right, forward and back, while standing on the board. So far my favorites are pretending to head soccer balls, and a slalom ski course. In my own mind, I am a superstar.
In the aerobics section the hula hoop exercise is very fun and it gets your heart rate up, as you gyrate your hips in a big circle while trying to lean in and catch more hoops. I felt like an idiot, but it made me laugh. When Jack, one of my favorite young people was playing, it made me feel better to see he was definitely worn out after just one session. I also laughed as he struggled to beat my scores. The strength training segment is strenuous, and includes exercises such as pushups, the plank, leg extensions, lunges, etc. I will admit to being worn out at the end, but it is a pain to keep reaching for the remote and the time between setting up exercises sometimes hurts the flow, but it probably is good for me to rest between exercises.
Usually I play (workout) with the volume on mute, so I can listen to my own music, because the Wii music will make you crazy after awhile. And I have been playing once or twice a week, I have also lost 4 pounds since Christmas, but that could be because of my vow to stop eating sugar. I like it and have been using it a couple of times a week. I think that the bottom line is that it is fun, as fun as exercise can be. And if you really want to work out, you have to push a little. It probably is not better than a real workout for those already active, but definitely better than just sitting on the couch, a great supplement for regular exercisers and certainly a great way to start exercising, and a good way to encourage the sedentary to start moving.
The console retails for $249 and the Wii Fit game with the balance board is about $120. It is cumbersome for more than one player at a time, so you must exercise alone with your virtual trainer. However, a game called Wii Sports, which comes with the console, offers a four-person tennis game, which, with a little bit of wine has caused lots of laughter in my living room with my friends, but that is another article.

Cindy resides in Severna Park and continues her battle with staying fit. She can be reached at cmrott@aol.com

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