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Fitness Friday Reveiw: Wii Fit Part II

Last week, in Part I of the Wii Fit by Nintendo review, I gave an overview of the system. This week looks at the games a bit more in depth, and gives some tips on gaining the most efficient workout from the system.

Nintendo wii fit

The Balance Games: The balance games will not provide you with true physical fitness. But they can improve general balance, which is a good thing to have, unless you enjoy tripping over your own feet. For some reason, the game likes to ask me after balance tests if I do that a lot!

  • Soccer Heading: In this game, you shift from side to side to head soccer balls and avoid the shoes and panda heads—yes panda heads—that are thrown at you. Aside from the fact that the panda heads are weird and that you can see the cleats in the shoes as they come at you, this game does provide a good warm up for later aerobic games. I am afraid of those panda heads though.
  • Ski Jumping: There is little to this one. It is fun, but It won’t do much for fitness or coordination. Maybe that is why it is my favorite?
  • Ski Slalom and Snowboard Slalom: Both of these games have a good amount of side to side action and can improve overall balance. They also are rather challenging.
  • Tightrope Walk: Not a great one if you are afraid of heights. The game has a snapping trap that can apparently balance on a wire better than you can, and it wants to eat your legs (your Mii gets to have legs in this game). Like the ski jump, I don’t find that it contributes much to fitness or balance.
  • Penguin Slide: This incredibly cute game, in which your Mii wears a penguin suit and happily flaps around, is another one with good side to side movement and is a decent warm up for the aerobic games.
  • Table Tilt: This marble game is probably the best of the Wii Fit games for building coordination and balance because it requires carefully controlled front to back and side to side movements to roll marbles into holes.
  • Balance Bubble: In this game your Mii runs inside a bubble down a stream. Because it involves movements in multiple directions, it too is one of the better games for developing balance and coordination.
  • Lotus Focus, aka Zazen: Sit still with your eyes closed for three minutes. Sounds easy? Well after a few tries it is, but only after you get accustomed to the sound of squeaking floors, buzzing insects, and the occasional person yelling at you. I find this one creepy, so I don’t play it.

The Yoga Poses: There are a number of yoga poses taught by the Wii Fit trainer. The downside is that there is no progression between poses.  The trainer gives fairly adequate instructions for each pose, including breathing, but does not often provide modifications to make the poses easier or more difficult. The poses are also often scored by keeping you balance so that a red dot stays within a yellow box on the screen. The result is that it isn’t at all like real Yoga.  Further, in some poses, putting your head up to watch the scoring screen will ruin the actual physical fitness benefits of the pose. The system will also strangely tell you to try combining poses with certain strength moves, but to do so would take a number of controller clicks to navigate between them, effectively ruining the whole point of combining them.

With that said, most of the poses will really help you develop balance and some muscle strength. I recommend not aiming for a score on these. Focus instead on breathing and doing a good pose. Don’t try to look at the yellow box, because doing so can ruin the effect that the pose is supposed to have. If the breathing sound seems off for you ignore it.  I find that it is sometimes too slow or two fast for me depending on the pose.

The Strength Exercises: The strength portion of the Wii fit is actually pretty good. Where it lacks is that, as with the yoga, scoring sometimes is based on keeping balanced so that a red dot stays in a yellow box.  In some exercises, trying to look at it ruins the benefit of the movement, so ignore it with those.  There also is little instruction on adding weight or otherwise modifying exercises, although a couple of exercises include that.  When comfortable, feel free to add light hand weights to most exercises. With the plank exercises, the game mentions that you can start on your knees. For most people who have not done planks before, this will be a necessity. Those are very hard from a full push up position, yet it is the second or third exercise in the game.

Aerobic Games: To get a true aerobic workout, you will need to do 30 minutes or more. In order to do that, you must unlock the advanced or free version of the games and then play them multiple times in arrow. Some games are just plain inefficient at getting the heart rate up to aerobic levels for many people, although those who are in the obese range or who are very out of shape, may find those games best suited for them at the beginning.

  • Hula Hoop and Super Hula Hoop: The hula hoop is the best game for getting the heart rate up because it does not cap how fast you can move on the board and still earn points. But the initial game is short, so you need to play it enough to unlock super hula hoop and then play that enough to unlock the longer time frame.
  • Running Games: The running games are also good games for achieving the correct heart rate, although until you unlock the free run, you are limited to a shorter game with a slower speed if you properly run behind the person in front of you per the game instructions. For a bit of fun, follow the dog instead of your trainer sometime.
  • Step games: The basic step game will not particularly get the heart rate up. Advanced also will not get it up much more, but it does speed part way though. However, it then gets capped at six minutes. So while fun, I find it a bit worthless. Free step caps the speed, so while you can step for 20 minutes, you won’t really get your heart rate up. Free step is also rather boring. But for those who need to start out slow, that one may be the best to begin with.
  • Rhythm Boxing: Anyone who had ever seen me twitter ”right, left, right, block” will know that this is my favorite, although I just barely get into my target heart rate with it. For the best workout, do the 10 minute version (once you unlock it) several times in a row. For something akin to intervals, alternate between super hula hoop and ten minute rhythm boxing. That is about the best aerobic workout that I can get from the Wii Fit.

Suggested routines: My favorite routine on the Wii Fit is advanced hula hoop followed by advanced rhythm boxing several times. I like to use the penguin slide to warm up and the table tilt to cool down.  Find your own combination by determining your favorite games, then use a balance game or a couple of yoga poses as a warm up and a couple more as a cool down. Put 20-40 minutes or aerobic exercise in between. Do strength separately on a different day.

When doing yoga or strength, focus just on those and try to go through all of the exercises. Give yourself  a day of rest between any full strength workouts. Do just aerobic exercise on those days.

Next week I will give some Wii Fit game hints and cheats.

Comparison Shop for the Wii Fit

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