This Nike+ Kinect Training review is a part of Fit Bottomed Dude’s Week to encourage all the dudes out there to get moving! Check out all of the special dude-friendly content here.
Since the introduction of Wii Fit on the Nintendo Wii there has been no shortage of workout games/programs for console owners. Some have been quick money grabs that are simply out to get you to throw down 50 bucks while making a promise of fitness that they can’t even remotely deliver. A select few have been crafted with thought and are aimed at being an important part of a well-rounded workout routine. Nike+ Kinect Training is thankfully one of the latter.
First, I want to talk about the use of the Xbox Kinect. Various games have used the device with varying degrees of success. Some can successfully track you through sword fights and karate kicks, but others seem to think that your hands and feet can mystically swap places and that if you sit on the ground you’ve disappeared into the empty blackness of space. It can be really, really frustrating.
I’m sure the other Xbox gamers out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Steel Battalion, anyone? Star Wars Kinect? I shudder. Nike+ Kinect, however, demonstrates an uncanny ability to track body movements. The game places a blue silhouette on screen to represent you in the gym, and its movements are absolutely spot-on. What about that problematic on-the-floor part of the exercise routine? Tracked perfectly. I was absolutely astounded at how well the Kinect functioned for this title.
All that great technology, of course, doesn’t matter at all if it doesn’t give you a great workout. I’ll get right to the point and say that, yes, Nike+ Kinect gives you a great workout. After using the product several times, I can say that I’ve sweated a tremendous amount and have certainly had my fair share of soreness. If you commit to using the software as directed, it can certainly be a great addition to your workout regime, but it also comes with its fair share of both headaches and head-scratchers.
When you first boot up Nike+ Kinect, don’t expect to just immediately get a quick workout. You need to devote at least a half hour to 45 minutes to set it up. You are led through the process of creating a profile for the game, a Nike+ profile, linking social media, and setting about a dozen other options before you even see the workout menu. You’ll also be directed to choose a trainer and begin an initial test that’ll help the game craft a workout route for you.
Yes, I said the game creates a workout routine for you based on your initial test. That’s really cool. I mean, that’s really, really, really cool. I’m terrible, and I mean terrible at push-ups. Nike+ Kinect recognized this and started my workout with some presses that were clearly designed to improve my push-up form and strengthen the right muscles. The game also seemed to notice that I have atrocious balance and gave me a fair amount of balance-focused exercises to help with this as well.
Nike+ Kinect lets you devote as much time to it as you wish. Want to use it one day a week to augment your workout calendar? No problem; it’ll do that and design your workouts accordingly. Want to use it five days a week as your primary source of calorie burning? It’ll do that, too, but I would still think you’ll want to do some real running or weight-lifting as opposed to five days of running in place and doing burpees. The program is pretty well rounded, but it is, of course, still limited to what you can do in your living room in front of your TV.
This brings up the No. 1 issue you might have with Nike+ Kinect: you need space. A lot of space. The game states that you need an 8-foot diameter circle in order to be able to properly use the program. I found this to be just about right. Furniture had to be moved in my living room so that I could effectively jump, squat and lunge my way around. While some Kinect titles can use a special attachment to reduce the space needed for the sensor, there is no way around these spatial needs. You have to have a big, wide open living room for this.
Furniture moving aside, this game certainly has a lot to offer. Aside from the main workout calendar you set, you can also do a quick “5 Minute Workout” if you don’t have a full routine planned for that day. Again though, this option is only available once you’ve set up everything else. You also have the option to alter your calendar, so if you decide you want to start using the game three days a week instead of four, you can do that. You also have the option to purchase additional “workout packs” that add more and different exercises to the game’s already vast library.
In writing this review, I’ve struggled a bit with what to call Nike+ Kinect Training. Is it a game? Is it a program? Is it something else entirely? Is it alive? Thankfully no, but at times the software seems smart enough to make you think it might be. As a gamer, there is a part of this game (yes, I’m calling it a game) that I truly appreciate. As you complete each exercise, there is a zero to three star system to tell you how you are doing. If you aren’t doing the exercise in the proper form, you aren’t getting your time or reps counted by the system. The more correct reps you do, the more stars you get. It is almost like trying to get all the coins in Super Mario or finding all the skulls in Halo. It makes you want those stars. You want to do things right to get them counted so you can gain more stars and get those all-important status symbols of gamers: achievements. When I came back and did squats for the second time, my form was far better, and I improved from one to three stars and got myself an official Xbox achievement to show off to my friends. It seemed a bit odd at first that they would build the achievement system into a workout game, but after I saw how they implemented it, I totally got with the program. Kudos to the developers for thinking of the gaming crowd and giving them a reason to keep getting off the couch.
So do I recommend Nike+ Kinect Training? Yes, as long as you have the living room and the time to support it. There are a lot of factors that have to come together in order to make this work, but when it does, it really pays off. If you’ve got the Xbox 360, Kinect, TV, space and lack of furniture, you should pick this up if you are looking for a good workout to do at home on rainy days or as a supplement to a gym routine. A program like this will never fully substitute for a gym or real equipment, but it will make you work up a sweat and give you a good workout.
One last thing: If you have pets I’d lock them up someplace or let them outside before getting going. I nearly killed my cat on more than one occasion while jumping back and forth or doing burpees. Just a heads up.
Anyone else—dudes or girls—tried Nike+ Kinect Training? Agree with my review? —Michael Sarver