Game: Wii Fit
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Writing a review for Wii Fit is one of the strangest things I’ve had to do in my time at Gamervision. How do you score something that isn’t actually meant to be a game for a video game website? The usual criteria—fun factor, replayability, graphics, sound, storyline—don’t really apply, at least not in the same way that they would in a review for a run-of-the-mill video game. Still, since Wii Fit is designed to be used on a video game console, comes with a brand-new peripheral that can also be used for games, and is more enjoyable than your average workout, it has been deemed review-worthy in the realm of video games.
Personally, I have been excited about Wii Fit since I first heard about it. After having terrible eating, exercise, and general health habits for most of my life, I’ve recently been making an effort to get healthier. In the process, I have discovered how hard it is to undo 24 years of bad habits. I pre-ordered Wii Fit hoping that it would be able to help me on my quest to become healthier. Mind you, this is not an easy mission, because I generally hate exercise. I think it’s boring, and even when I do work out at home, I don’t even know if I’m doing it right. I don’t have enough free time to want to go to the gym, nor do I have any interest in spending that kind of money. Therefore, Wii Fit sounded ideal to me. At the same time, I was a little skeptical that Nintendo would be able to pass off an exercise program as a game, which is kind of how this was marketed when it was first announced. As it turned out, they weren’t trying to do that at all, nor did they need to.
The general purpose of Wii Fit is to make the user more aware of the overall health of his or her body. In addition to exercise, Wii Fit also promotes good posture and balance (hence the aptly-named balance board), because this is apparently a big part of one’s progression towards a healthier life. However, from what I’ve experienced so far, Wii Fit does far more than tell you how to stand up straight. It helps you burn calories and tone your body at your own pace while learning how to maintain a steady balance. Sure, it’s no replacement for a gym membership and a personal trainer, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and still much more structured than trying to exercise on your own.
To keep the focus on your balance and health, Nintendo went very minimalist when it came to graphics and sound. Everything is very simple, from the ski slopes you’ll make your way down on the balance board to the personal trainers who will direct you through tough yoga poses. The inclusion of Miis makes the experience feel even more personal, and it’s nice to see other familiar faces in the game to distract you from the less-fun activities, like jogging.
Your Wii Fit experience starts out with a body test, similar to the brain test in the Brain Age games for the DS (only potentially more embarrassing). The test will reveal where your center of balance lies, your BMI (body mass index), what weight range you fall into, and your overall body age. From there, you can set weight loss goals and begin training. The game will keep track of your BMI and weight progress for you, as well as how much time you’ve spent training your body.
Activities are divided into four categories: balance, aerobics, strength, and yoga, with each having a different purpose. Balance games are not usually physically exerting, but instead have you playing different mini-games using the balance board as a controller. Aerobics are good for burning calories, while strength training builds muscle. Yoga is good both for balance and for toning specific parts of your body. While only a few exercises in each category are available when you begin your training, more are unlocked the longer you play—I mean, get fit.
It’s easy to be cynical about Wii Fit; I’m sure many critics find it hard to believe that the Wii can offer a solid workout. However, there’s no denying that after 30 minutes of aerobics, strength training, and yoga, you will really feel it. If you’re already at a healthy weight and don’t need to shed pounds, the balance activities are still great for learning how to maintain a steady posture. Only you can decide what is right for you, and Wii Fit is there to help you.
You’re probably asking, “Yeah, but does it actually work?” I’ve been using Wii Fit for seven days now, and the short answer is yes, it does—if you’re willing to put in the time and energy. I have had horrible posture my whole life, and lean severely to the left without realizing it. I’m so unbalanced that I usually wear down the soles of my shoes diagonally. I have also been looking to shed a few pounds and gain some upper body strength, so my daily Wii Fit regimen consists of a 30-minute mix of all four categories, with some extra focus on aerobics and strength. As a result, I have lost three pounds, and my Wii Fit age has gone from 40 to 28, which is fairly close to my actual age of 25. As for my balance, it’s still not perfect, but there is definitely a little bit of improvement in my daily body tests. I’ve also become more aware of my posture during everyday activities.
I honestly only have one major complaint about the Wii Fit experience. Each individual exercise only lasts a few minutes, which is fine and keeps the workout from getting repetitive or boring. However, instead of allowing you to set up some sort of exercise playlist (or even telling the game to give you 30 minutes’ worth of activities), you need to continually choose what to do next every few minutes. While it is healthy to take a break between exercises, it’s still annoying to have to come out of the workout groove to decide what to do next.
I never expected Wii Fit to be a miraculous overnight weight loss product, and anyone looking for such a solution should spend his or her money elsewhere. Just like any kind of workout, you will actually need to stick with this one if you want to see results. That being said, I found it a lot easier to do Wii Fit every day than just exercise alone, and in just one week, I have already seen results. Best of all, I don’t hate it. It feels like exercise, but it’s not torture, and for me, that in itself is almost a miracle. I believe that Wii Fit is $90 well spent, and I intend to keep using it on a regular basis. If that seems like a lot of money, keep in mind that you’re mostly paying for the balance board peripheral, which can be used for other games as well. If losing weight and being more aware of your body’s well-being is something you feel you would be willing to devote half an hour a day to, then Wii Fit is probably a good choice for you as well.