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Virtual Wii-ality

I’ve had a Wii for more than a year now. I regularly play Wii Sports bowling, tennis and home-run derby. I have never, however, had a big desire to try out Wii Fit. Why? Because I was a total workout snob. Notice the tense there: WAS. See, I fell under the delusion that because I work out regularly and can run 3 miles with little trouble these days, I could easily do anything a simple thing like a Wii Fit Balance Board could throw at me. Har. Har.

A few weeks ago, I spent an evening at a friend’s house, playing his Wii Fit and drinking a little wine. (Hey if Kathy Smith can get away with it, so can I) While I’d like to blame the chardonnay for my lackluster Wii Fit performance, I really can’t. I was terrible at it before I took the first sip.

When you first pop the Wii Fit game into your system, you’re prompted to create a profile (which includes your “Mii,” a small animated version of yourself that you can make as cute or horrific as you wish; I chose the former), and then you stand on the Wii Fit board as it takes your weight and calculates your BMI. From there, you select a svelte human-robot personal trainer and get to it. As you perfect certain games—yoga, strength, balance and aerobics, you open up new moves in the game. The system tracks your progress and accumulated time Wii-Fitting, and records your weight with fun graphs. (By the way, the balance board is said to be one of the most accurate scales around—well, that’s at least what my friend says, and he’s a Nintendo devotee).

I got sweatin’ with the strength moves, which included lunges and push-ups to side planks, and I could really feel my core during the hula-hoop game (which also makes you look like a bit of an over-sexual zealot when you’re swiveling your hips without an actual hula hoop—but in a good way). The yoga and cardio moves weren’t particularly challenging, but they were entertaining. During yoga you’re instructed to breathe with this large glowing dot that expands and contracts just like your lungs, which is cool in an earthy high-tech way, if that makes any sense. One of the cardio segments includes a virtual step class that is on a stage in front of a crowd of Miis. This game was so made for me.

Notice that I haven’t talked about the balance exercises yet? Well, that’s because I sucked at them. Like, really sucked. Like, “Hey, look at the girl who is wearing a Fit Bottomed Girl shirt but can’t maintain her balance during the simplest of moves.” I wish I was joking.

See, the balance board is amazing at determining where your weight is placed when you’re standing on it. Is it on your toes? Heels? The object is to center your weight evenly between both of your feet. As someone who has spent the last seven years telling people in group exercise classes and personal training sessions to keep their weight in their heels as they squat, this was darn near impossible for me. Despite disqualified attempt after disqualified attempt at the ski jump and the urgings of my friend and husband to distribute my weight evenly and even lean forward beyond my knees, I couldn’t break a cardinal fitness rule. Not even for a darn video game. Darn my fitness education; It’s not like one little move could injure me that much, as I was barely bending down.

My performance was ranked as beginner on other balance exercises, too. Walking the tight rope was beyond challenging, and even some of the yoga moves such as tree pose failed me. Thankfully, I rocked the cardio and strength moves, even impressing my friends and maintaining my self confidence.

After playing the Wii Fit game, we popped in Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2009. While the trailer makes it look pretty cool, I was disappointed. The moves weren’t challenging or natural, and you had to work really hard to get any sort of workout. I’m not much of a graphics gal, but even to me they seemed shabby, and not in a chic way. I believe my friend described them as very “PlayStation 1,” which was released in 1994 (AKA eons ago in the gaming world). Jillian’s tips were the best thing the game had going for it. It includes video of her giving tips on everything from exercise to nutrition to staying motivated. It’s probably not worth buying the game for, but they were good.

After my experience, would I invest in a Wii Fit? Probably not, although it’s tempting to do just to conquer that dang ski jump. But would I regularly play it at a friend’s house? You betcha. It’s good to get a dose of workout reality from time to time. No one is perfect, and you can always be schooled at something, whether it’s in the real world or the virtual one. Whenever I’m feeling high and mighty on my workout horse, I plan to Wii Fit it up at my friends’ place. I’ll get a good dose of reality—and lots of laughs. —Jenn


Wii Fit photos grabbed from WizardJoker7 and drunkentyger on Photobucket.

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