Name: Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout
When Wii Fit came out last year, I was an instant supporter and one of the few who didn’t abandon my balance board within the first few weeks. In fact, I was still doing regular Wii Fit workouts up until a few weeks ago, and the balance and exercise tool helped me lose over ten pounds and get into the best physical shape of my adult life. Plenty of people were quick to dismiss Wii Fit as a gimmick, but used properly and regularly, I have always felt that it is a good tool to help you become a healthier person. When it comes to straight-up calorie burning, though, there are only a few good, long exercises Wii Fit has, which can make the routine a bit too repetitive at times. However, other publishers have decided to experiment with exercise games, giving me more options. The latest is Ubisoft’s Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout, and despite the blatant advertising for the gym, it really is a workout.
One of my favorite exercises in Wii Fit is the aerobic boxing portion, so I was excited to try out Cardio Workout, which is largely comprised of learning and executing different kinds of punches while burning calories. It might be because I really like punching things, but boxing workouts never feel like as much of a chore to me as other, more mundane things, like running. Before you get started, Cardio Workout allows you to make a character, similar to a Mii, with the option to change clothes and unlock or buy more later. The customization is minimal, but being able to earn more outfits for your workout persona is just a little extra incentive to put in a few more punches.
Boxing workouts are available in basic, beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels, with the basics being taught to you right away. You’ll learn jabs, crosses, and uppercuts, as well as your footing and dodging. More advanced workouts have more elements, naturally, while beginner training may only have you throwing jabs for a few minutes. Each level of difficulty also has a handful of workouts within, usually broken up into two parts for a total of around 15 minutes. After one fifteen-minute boxing workout, you’ll definitely be sweating; after using this for one day, I woke up feeling sore all over, but as I stuck with it and used those muscles more, I really got into it.
One of the most interesting things about Cardio Boxing is the control scheme. You have the option of using the remote/nunchuk combination that you’re probably used to if you have ever done Wii Fit boxing, or you can use two remotes, one in each hand. I quickly found that the two-remote scheme was ideal, and offers the freedom to punch away without being bound by a connecting cord. In fact, the remote and nunchuk combo is actually a detriment in this game, because the punching and moving are more intense; you’re more likely to hit yourself in the face with the cord, or mess up a punch, using two connected controllers.
The balance board is compatible with Cardio Workout, but not used in any of the regular boxing workouts. Instead, there are a variety of other exercises, some of which use the board and some of which do not. Unfortunately, these exercises are definitely the weakest aspect of Cardio Workout, with or without the board. While attempting some of them, I failed miserably, and I wasn’t sure if it was the game’s fault or mine. Without any sort of indicator, like the balance meter Wii Fit uses, it was impossible to tell what I was doing wrong, so instead I just gave up and went back to boxing. There are, however, separate boxing exercises that work better, but still aren’t as good as the straightforward workouts.
The presentation of Cardio Workout is minimal, with main workouts taking place in one of three gym environments. This is almost necessary for a game like this, so I didn’t really mind, as most of my focus was on what punches I should be throwing. It would have been nice to have a bigger music selection, but that’s nitpicky; besides, there’s nothing like listening to a techno remix of “Eye of the Tiger” repeatedly to get you pumped. I was disappointed by the lack of a progress chart, like the one Wii Fit uses. Sure, I can just keep track of my own weight, but seeing that graph and how far I’ve come over the months can be a real motivator. Cardio Workout does use a “punch count”, though, which is kind of interesting. You also earn gold with each workout, used to buy the aforementioned clothing and accessories; the better you do, the more you’ll earn, and eventually you can also unlock new instructors. Using unlockable items is a different way of measuring progress, but I would have preferred a formal progress chart in addition to the unlockables.
Overall, Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout isn’t a game, but an exercise tool—just like Wii Fit. It’s not a substitute for going to the gym, but it’s better than nothing and can really help you burn calories and get in better shape. It’s not a miracle worker, and if you expect to be able to shed pounds without having to do any work you should look elsewhere. For me, someone who tries to exercise as regularly as possible, it was something refreshing and new, and I’ll definitely keep it up; also, the discounted $30 price point is more than a fair deal for the hours of exercise you will get out of it. If you feel like you would respond well to an exercise product on the Wii and Wii Fit isn’t quite getting the job done, Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing may just be the thing you’re looking for.