Being one of those stereotypical overweight gamers with pale skin and a fear of the outside world, I have always been interested in the Nintendo Wii as an aid to general fitness and as a weight loss tool. I have read a few articles on-line about similar gamers using Wii Sports, and now Wii Fit, to lose weight and tone up their shameful looking bodies and it all seemed very promising. Have fun and become sexy in the comfort of your home? Sounds good to me!
I have now been 'playing' Wii Fit for about eighty days, or so the Balance Board keeps telling me, although I'll admit there have been some big gaps in between my 'on' days. Like all new exercise regimes, I approached it slowly and carefully, building up my time from ten minutes a day to twenty minutes and so on. I have actually lost a bit of weight from using it, although I imagine that has a lot to do with dieting as well. Any kind of gentle exercise is better than none, and Wii Fit is a great help in achieving this.
So, Wii Fit! For £70, you are given the Balance Board, a more complex addition to the Wii's peripheral library which is slightly more than just glorified bathroom scales as it will be used for future games such as Shaun White's Snowboarding and other such delights. In Wii Fit, the balance board is used to measure your weight, using the somewhat controversial BMI scale, and is the backbone for Wii Fit's activities.
Firstly, Wii Fit does tell you how fat you are. But, if you're worried about people finding out and laughing behind your back, you can set a password to keep your weight private. Wii Fit also calculates your Fitness Age, but to be honest, it is an inaccurate and unreliable system best to be ignored. The Balance Board itself will pop up and give you little fitness tips and other notifications, and the system allows you to set weight loss goals and keep track of your activities.
There are four fitness activities; Yoga, strength training, aerobic and and balance games. Yoga features a nice collection of various poses, including my personal favourite, deep breathing, which requires the right amount of effort. Strength training is all about muscle building exercises such as body stretches, push ups and torso twists. The aerobic exercises are more fun and include exercises meant to increase your heartbeat, such as hula hoop swinging, step ups, boxing and jogging. The balance games are Wii Fit's version of mini games, with fun little games such as football head butting, skiing, snowboarding, table tilting and the like, all devised to help you improve your body's balance, but mostly there just to make you look silly in front of your peers. Both the yoga and strength building exercises use a personal trainer of you preferred gender, offering encouragement and tips for improvement. I chose the male trainer, simply because, if I'm going to get all hot and sweaty, I might as well stare at the polygons of the opposite sex.
Out of all the activities, the yoga and strength building exercises are not exactly perfect and not ideally suited for fitness beginners. Many of the yoga poses are quite complicated, and without guidance from a yoga tutor to ensure you have the pose correct, you could well do yourself an injury. The strength building exercises can also result in strains and muscle agony if done incorrectly, and throughout my experience with Wii Fit, I only ever used the Tricep Extension, as it was the easiest to get to grips with and didn't break my back afterwards.
However, I have much love for the aerobic games. If you are relatively unfit and keep telling yourself you'll do something about it, then the Wii Fit aerobic exercises are a perfect way to introduce yourself to fitness. The aerobic exercises on offer do actually get your heart pumping, providing you put some actual effort into it, and make for a great warm up if you are planning something more strenuous later. Of course, you could argue that there isn't much point in spending £70 on Wii Fit when you can go jogging outside, but if you're like me, and would rather get fit without the embarrassment of being in public or surrounded by super-buff types at the gym, then Wii Fit is a great alternative, and certainly more fun then those dodgy keep fit DVD's your mum uses.
The game does have many small touches if you keep an eye out for them. You can unlock little stamps to mark your progress and longer harder versions of the activities, including your own customisable versions of the jogging and step up exercises, allowing you to set your own times and endurance.
As a gamer, I don't think you could class Wii Fit as a game. It's more of a life style accessory, but one that is slightly healthier for you than a mobile phone. You can certainly have fun with the aerobic exercises and balance games, and, if you really wanted to, you could cheat and create your own high scores, but you would only be cheating yourself. Competing for high scores with family members can feel great if you finally beat them at the ski jump, but eventually you'll realise that's it is just a tool to help you keep fit.
But, would you rather go to a proper gym and be surround by fat hairy men or women, or go to the Nintendo Gym and work out with Mario, Dr Eggman, Einstein and Darth Vader, or whoever you have as your Mii's?
8 / 10