Having finally, after many months, confessed to having a Wii and telling the world what I think about it. It’s time for the next step of my “coming out”.
We, after a long period of searching, also bought a Wii Fit!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about then take a look at the Nintendo Site about it. In short, it’s a balance board. A small and sturdy (and quite heavy) plinth that you stand on and it works out how much you weight and tracks you as you shift your centre of balance.
They were, at the time, pretty hard to get hold of. Yet lots of my colleagues at work were raving about them, and the thought of an interactive way to keep fit in your front room sounded pretty good. And we figured that if the quality of the Wii itself was anything to go by, this should be another more-than-half-decent Nintendo product.
Balance Boards and Body Tests
The reality turned out to be pretty good too. The Balance Board is robust and accurate and easy to set up and get going. The Wii Fit game is good too, after telling it who you are, how old you and, and a few other things (you only do this setup once), you get to do a “Body Test”, which weighs you and gives you some balance tests to do. At the end of the test you are presented (in quite humourous fashion, with your Wii Fit Age. This is a number between 20 and 99 that represents your ‘fitness’. Sort of.
You’re supposed to repeat the body test daily and the Wii Fit tracks your weight and Wii Fit Age, and you can set targets. The little animated version of the balance board that talks you through it all, also gives you fitness tips. These get quite dull after a while and I wish now that there was an option to turn them off.
The Wii Fit also tracks how long you spend on it and rewards you with unlocking extra features as you use it more.
The game then allows you to start exercising. There are four different types of exercise:
- Yoga – an onscreen “instructor” shows you a pose and you follow. The Balance Board tracks how well you’re balancing and the instructor gives you tips or encouragement in response. At the end you are scored on how well you balanced.
- Strength Exercises – again, the onscreen instructor shows and you follow, with appropriate feedback and scores at the end.
- Balance Games – skiing, snowboarding, riding a bubble, tightrope walking and a ‘sitting still’ game. All good ways to fine tune control of your centre of gravity. Thought some are much more fun than others. Again you are scored on how you perform.
- Aerobics – well, hardly. But you can do jogging on the spot, step classes and a kind of ‘boxercise’ type thing. Some of this is fun, some is pretty pointless in my opinion. As always, you are given scores for how well you do.
It’s very easy to get into and the competetive element with scores and tables showing who’s the best, is a great motivator. There are exercises in all categories that I don’t like (the bubble game and the jogging on the spot being two in particular), but I’ll happily do a bit of each.
So much potential
Now, I think this is a good product. BUT, what I really really wish is that it was a GREAT product. I’m really happy with the Wii Fit, but I have a load of criticisms that could be easily fixed that would make it SO much better.
- It’s annoying after a while. The talking instructor and animated balance board really need to go away after about 2 weeks. They’re good for helping you in but once you know what you’re doing there really needs to be an option to turn them off.
- The competetive element is hampered by the fact that only one person can play at a time. Things like skiing and snowboarding would be much better if you could quickly change between players. As it is you have to navigate back out to the profile selection screen, and then back in (past the annoying talking balance board) as the next person. A simple “Play this as a different user” option would go far!
- The Wii Fit Age is a bit pointless. There’s one particular balance exercise that I’m no good at and which gives me an age of about 40. All the others give me an age between 25 and 35. But it varies so wildly that it’s meaningless, and the program’s critical comments each time I go up are…yes…annoying. This may be related to the fact that…
- It doesn’t cater well for people who are already fit. I expect if you’re overweight and unfit then this is a great way to ease yourself into some exercise. But I’m about the right weight and I’m pretty healthy and fit. Yet it demands that I set a target (lose 2lbs this week to aim for your ideal BMI (Body Mass Index), which probably isn’t really what I need. Plus it complains if I have a big dinner and put on a couple of lbs. Big deal. Now shut up!!!
- It doesn’t do programs of exercises. I’d like it to say Monday – Yoga and Strength work. Tuesday – some aerobics. Wednesday – Balance Games. Thursday Aerobics and Strength. And so on, and to have it guide me through a program of exercies. As it is you have to select an exercise – say, a yoga pose – do it, get scored on it, then go back to the menu and select the next thing. Occasionally it suggests that you do a yoga pose and a strength exercise together because they complement each other, but you still have to navigate back through the menus to get to the other exercise.
So, much as I like it, I’m looking forward to the rumoured other games that are coming out for the balance board.
I don’t think it’s made me much fitter, but the balance games are a lot of fun and the Yoga and strength work is great for my posture and core strength, which I need for cycling.
Sally doesn’t really like the gym, has free time after work and a lower level of fitness and it’s been a really good way for her to burn some calories and build some strength.
Those last two paragraphs are testimony to the universal appeal of the Wii Fit. We both get something from it. It’s not a replacement for a gym, or for getting outdoors and doing some real exercise, but it’s a fun way to do some mild exercise.
Let’s hope there’s a Wii Fit 2 that addresses some of my gripes and really brings the balance board into it’s own.
Now where’s my trainers and the TV remote?