Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wii Fit, Part the Second - Fountain of Youth!!!

Okay, so with images of my doughy, slouching and depressed Mii in my head, I've finally got my shiznit together and have embarked on something of a fitness program. This time, not so much hell-bent on modifying my life to fit a plan, but rather integrating a plan into my life. Okay, so maybe I won't get a washboard stomach...but I can at least get rid of some of the laundry piled up on it!

A week later, after a shift in nutrition and water intake and a moderate training session or two in the gym, I fire up the game and take another test. Lost about a pound, and did much better on the balance test. Somehow that makes my Mii 8 years "Wii Fit Age" is now 41, which is close enough to my real age to make Chunky Mii do a little victory dance. Amazing what a slight shift in water weight and a little focus can do...I feel younger already. It's very dependent upon how you perform that particular day. The balance tests get progressively harder; so there is no doubt that the next time I'm on it, I'll stumble all over the freakin' place, and be back up pushing 50 again.

After recording my "progress" on graphs and charts it was on to the exercises. There are four categories - Strength, Flexibility, Balance, and Aerobic exercise.

Strength consists of various bodyweight exercises. The best one in there that I see (at the beginner level) is the push up with side plank which is a bona-fide ball-buster of an exercise. But I am an avid fan of weight training, and as I had done a fairly intense upper body workout the day before, I skipped strength training.

So I worked on flexibility - this is a pretty cool computer tutorial that takes you through various yoga postures. I've never even attempted yoga (in a fitness vein - no desire to pursue it as a spiritual path) before; I can confidently say that I can now breathe, bend to the left/right, and do a couple of other fancy-schmansy poses while keeping myself fairly centered on the board. I'll be "keeping" this routine.

Next aerobics - there are some fun exercises here, and one or two duds. First the fun. "Hula-hooping" on the balance board is more work than I thought it would be. Try keeping evenly paced, (moderately) precise hip rotations up for 90 seconds each way as you accumulate more and more hula hoops around your waist. Next is jogging - no balance board, you run in place with the remote in your pocket (or hand) to keep "pace" with another character while running around an island. Fun for a few minutes - it's fun to watch the scenery change as the rest of your family's Mii's pass you, meet you coming the other way, and trip over themselves. Seems okay for a warm up, and I found out that running in place without running shoes on sucks. Honestly, if I want to run any longer than a few minutes, I'll run. It is fun watching your kids do it, though. They tend to get carried away and slowly merge with the TV armoir. The main "dud" is step aerobics on the balance board - slow paced, low step, unless you're very, VERY sedentary (again...that's a lot of gamers out there!) you'll just get bored.

The balance games are REALLY FUN. My particular favorites right now are downhill slalom skiing and ski jumping. They also use the balance board. No explanations needed...they just look fun!

The Wii does a great job of "bringing you into" the game. And apparently, as you advance, you can unlock snowboarding. Which is so much more awesome...skiers are so "yuppie".

So, all said and done, I'll say the "entire Wii Fit package" is good as a "starting point" for getting into shape if you're a very sedentary person who likes video games and has little to no fitness experience or coming back after an overly prolonged layoff. It's a GREAT way to have fun with your kids while doing some light to moderate exercise. But if you already have a background in moderate to heavy strength training and aerobic exercise, I think you'll get more benefit out of the yoga and balance training as an adjunct to your established routine.

I look forward to bringing my BMI and "age" down for the next few months. Once I've got those general indicators under control, and only if I feel like it, will I go back to the more "obsessive" ways of measuring progress that I used to do when I was younger.

1 comment:

Dr. Momentum said...

Thanks -- this is a very useful review!