Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review - Wii Fit Plus

Before I begin this post... don't forget to enter my giveaway and support Threads of Compassion! If you've already entered, thanks for the support! You rock! :)

So last week I had a mind-numbingly boring, agonizing exercise session on the treadmill where I seriously considered dying to avoid having to finish the session. Realizing that any ideas I'd cherished about making this the year of a healthier me were going to die unless I came up with a new strategy, I posted a Facebook status update asking if I could borrow someone's Wii Fit for a week; a few seconds later, my incredible friend Krista wrote back saying that she'd lend me hers. She brought it on Sunday and I brought it home and plugged it in... and I've been hooked ever since. Not that self-discipline isn't great, but making an otherwise dreaded task fun is never a bad idea!

I had never used a Fit before, but I found the interface pretty consistent with the rest of the Wii games - nice for a non-gamer like me. I did think the "set up process" was a little ridiculously long - I mean, does anyone actually read those little info blurbs all the way through? I know I was skimming and pressing "A" the whole time. I also wish there was a "privacy mode" where you could take the balance test without having your weight or BMI displayed, since I often play with others around (or watching).

Let me just take a moment to review the actual balance board, the hardware which makes the whole Wii Fit concept possible. I have always wondered how well a plastic balance board would work for someone curvy and heavy (like me!) and I can now say I feel completely confident in it. Yes, it's rated for over 300 pounds, so no worries really, but it feels sturdy and doesn't warp under your feet. Nice. I have been thinking that if I were going to design a system like the Fit, I'd have made it a neoprene-type mat that lay flat on the floor, since that would allow for different stances (and make tripping over it less of an issue). Also, you could roll up a mat, making it more mobile, and dropping it wouldn't be a problem (since I'm told people like to travel with their boards... I can't see this, personally, but ok).

I have a wider stance, and the balance board sometimes feels unnatural to me since it requires my feet to be placed closer together than I prefer, thus throwing off my center of balance. I also notice that the board is much less sensitive towards the outside than it is in the center, which can create issues when playing games like Step, where you really need to pound on the board to get it to register your footstep. However, it does remarkably well overall - it recognized "jumps" in the Obstacle Course, subtle shifts in skiing and skateboarding games, etc, and my sibs and I were impressed.

The Fit features a nice little "toaster" (I'm sure it's a screen or counter of some sort, but for the life of me it reminds me of nothing so much as a toaster over) which keeps track of your actual workout time (in other words, time spent moving, not time spent perusing the menus, switching between games, etc) and calories burned (based on your actual height/weight). When you read 30 minutes of exercise, it does a little happy dance and dings gratifyingly. :) The Fit will also prompt you periodically to stop, catch your breath, and drink some water.

One of the things I wondered about was if the Wii Fit was actually capable of providing a good workout. I can't speak for the avid fitness expert, but for the beginner/recreational person like me, the answer is definitely yes. I am sweating, my heart rate is up, I can feel a satisfying soreness in my muscles. My younger sister, who is slim and athletic, said after one session on the Fit that it had worked muscles she didn't know she had. However, unlike other workout videos, the Fit seems to find the perfect balance of challenge and achievability. Is it just my imagination, or do the yoga poses last exactly as long as I can handle? Nice!

Speaking of yoga... this is the feature I was most excited about when I heard about the Fit, and It's totally lived up to my expectations (or rather, it has well exceded my dubiousness). When you select a pose, the trainer will demonstrate the pose at a slower pace, allowing you to try it out in slow-motion, then take you through it at a normal pace. If you're struggling, the trainer will offer you tips; if you're doing well, the trainer can tell this too and offers praise! Best of all, you can string together yoga moves in the My Workout mode and create your own routine.

The aerobics games are great! The Basic Step can be a little strange at first (tip: it's easier to watch your fellow Mii's then the floor at first) but once you master a few moves it's a blast! Coincidentally, this is possibly the most group-friendly activity... My sibs and I will do this activity in groups, with one person using the board and the rest using the floor. Advanced step is possibly even more fun!

Basic Run has taken my treadmill on and won. Essentially performing the same function as a treadmill (you run in place all over a scenic island), but with the encouragement of a fellow runner and some beautiful scenery. The chance to "race" other runners in itself is motivational.

There are many more games included, but I'll leave you something to discover yourself!

We have enjoyed our time on the Fit so much that the kids and I have decided to chip in together and get ourselves our own Fit when we return this one!


The Real Me said...

Thank you for sharing this review. I've teetered on and off about buying the Wii Fit and now I think I will put it on my list.

They also have some other exercise programs for the Wii now, but my mind is drawing a blank on the

Taleia said...

Yeah, I was EXACTLY like that... I had a hard time believing it would really work, but it totally does! I look forward to working out now!

It seems like there are a lot of games coming out for the balance board... I see Jillian Michaels has her own game now... I'm looking forward to checking some other games out, but really, the Fit Plus has quite enough to keep my busy for now! :)