Nintendo Wii Power Tips for the Family
Review: Wii Fit and Wii Balance Board
You'll excuse me if this sounds as if it's coming from a Nintendo fan boy, but as someone who really, truly gets what the company are trying to do in pushing new boundaries with the Wii, the Wii Fit is just superbly thought out.
Far from being yet another novel way to control games, the Wii Fit is a properly thought out exercise system. OK, so there's some fun to be had along the way, but the core of the Wii Fit is the way your weight is tracked from day to day and from week to week, achieving goals. In addition, your muscle control is measured, by way of the sensitive sensors in the device, which detect the way your balance and pose change over time. The end result is that your 'fitness age', 'BMI' (Body Mass Index) and progress against your weight loss goals are tracked.
I love the way everything's tied into the Mii system already present in the Wii - the balance mode knows about your weight and if you're signed in as the wrong Mii it will even detect this and warn you. Clever. Oh, and your other family and friend Miis form the audience, fellow exercisers in the Wii Fit world, on-screen.
Some of the exercises really are that: exercise - the aerobic ones (e.g. jogging - which doesn't use the balance board but is good to see here anyway) get the heart and lungs going, while the muscle strength ones (one-handed pressups?!) really do help tone the body.
There are some great touches here and there - the crowd clapping along as you complete a sychronised step routine, snow noises as you swoosh around on skis, a complete 3D world to jog through, complete with surround sound and Mii friends to overtake and wave to, some of whom even take their pets out with them(!) - oh yes, and a nubile instructor to help you through the yoga!
There's no real substitute for fresh air and the real thing, but the Wii Fit is ten million times better for you than lazing on the couch playing Halo or Assassin's Creed for hours...
The Wii Fit is highly recommended. (Handy Amazon link to buy it now: Wii Fit)
You need to take some of the original claims for the Wii with a pinch of salt. For example, that a round of golf in Wii Sports (shipped with every Wii) will give you a similar physical work out to a real 'good walk spoiled'. It won't - though it will be fun. Ditto Bowling and Baseball.
The other two sports in the package will give you a bit more of a workout, however. Tennis, played properly against a decent human or Wii opponent, is pretty good for giving your upper body a good stretching, provided you treat it in the same way as a real match rather than flipping the remote with your wrist and trying to fool the Wii software/sensors.
Boxing, unlikely as it seems, actually gives a good cardiovascular workout. Try it and see. Boxing hard enough to win a bout for 5 or 10 minutes will really get you breathing heavily and sweating!
If you know of any other Wii titles that are good for providing aerobic exercise, please get in touch with me at slitchfield at gmail.com
All text copyright 2008 Steve Litchfield