Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Wii bit of a review

For my birthday this past year, Joe gifted me a Wii.  At first, I thought this gift was really for him that doubled as obligatory present for me.  But I have to say that other than ON my birthday (where he beat me soundly at each game we played), he hasn't touched the thing. 

I knew that I wanted to do something more active with it - I wanted some fitness games that would be fun to do on the Wii but still provide a good workout.  That's when I bought Dance Dance Revolution (and no...you still can't watch me dancing to such hits as "Never Gonna' Give You Up" and "Ice Ice Baby").  While it IS fun, the songs aren't long enough for me to really break a sweat before moving on to a different impossible dance combination for my clearly uncoordinated self.  Each "song" is just an excerpt and seems to last just a minute or so.

So I did what anybody else would do - I Googled the crap out of Wii Fitness Games including tags like "Top Rated" and "Best Workout Games for Wii".  And then I read eleventy hundred reviews and blog posts of these games which meant that I was thoroughly confused.  The thing is, comments like "Best Workout Ever!" are helpful...but only if you know what fitness level the reviewer is already at. 

So, I emailed Krissie at Questions for Dessert - I knew that she had just run a half marathon AND that she had a Wii Fit.  She was awesome and answered back immediately...and basically said that the Wii Fit is more fun, but the Biggest Loser Wii game is better a workout.

I took that knowledge and did NOTHING with it for months, as I am wont to do.  You may call it procrastination, I call it "letting thoughts marinate."  Truthfully, it's because I didn't want to waste a lot of money on a game that wouldn't be a good workout.  I learned my lesson with the DDR game.

Recently, I decided to invest in the Wii Fit Plus program.  I wanted the balance board, the games, and the goal setting.  I also secretly hoped that inside the box would be a fairy that would make me want to lose weight and do the exercise. 

Sadly, no fairy was in the box.  Looks like it'll just have to be me in charge of my weight loss and fitness program.  Bummer.

Katy asked a question in yesterday's post about if the Wii Fit was worth it - which made me remember that every review is subjective to the person doing it AND dependant on the person's beginning fitness level.  I figured that there must be some of you in the same boat, so I'm willing to let it all hang out...just to benefit you.
Here is my current fitness level:
I'm a 33 year old female.  I can run 3 miles easily without stopping to walk.  If I take one quick break (walking about 1-2 minutes in the middle), I can run 4-5 miles.  My longest run was 6 miles.  When I was running regularly, my pace was under 10 minutes a mile.  Now it's up to around 11 minutes (yes, if you don't use it, you lose it).  On any given day, I weigh between 225 and 230 pounds (UGH) and wear a large top and a size 16 bottoms. I'm between 5'9" and 5'10" (doctor's offices have measured differently).  I used to do the 30 day Shred DVD every day.  Climbing stairs or hopping up and down (hello jumping jacks!) hurts my knees, but running doesn't (I know.  I'm weird.).  Other than my weight, I'm pretty healthy (seriously, did I JUST write that?  I know...it's preposterous).

There you go - that's how healthy I am now.

Having said all of that, here is my review (not compensated in any way - just trying to share information):

Wii Fit Plus:
The Wii Fit games ARE fun - even if I am apparently as uncoordinated as a bowl full of jelly.  They have several different types of games but aerobic and balance games are the only ones I've tried.  I've heard that balance is good to work on - and judging from my scores on these games, I have a LOT to work on.  I usually score the lowest in this area...and only burn about one calorie per activity.  Better than sitting on the couch, I'm sure...but I might burn more calories when I'm eating chips and sitting on the couch (due to the hand movement from the bag to my mouth).

The aerobic parts have been fun too - I've tried the step class, the boxing, and the running.  Here I'm better, but you can't speed up the pace or music - so it's not a great workout.  I've done the freestyle running program and have definitely broken a sweat.  The jogging program is fine, but because you have to use the Wii balance board (for other games within the Wii Fit game) without socks or shoes, I found myself running barefoot on our wood floors, which is not how I choose to run.  Even if it's all in my head, I feel better about running in place with the support of my shoes.

Incidentally, I think it's cool that when you play the Wii Fit, it brings the other little characters you've already created to help you.  Joe and I created "Klaus" on my birthday who looks like an older male transvestite - with a full white beard, pink beanie cap, and wonderful make up.  He even has a beauty mole on his face.  He's a total train wreck and seeing him as my coach in soccer or in my step class cracks me up.

Biggest Loser Wii Game:
Yesterday I tried the Biggest Loser Wii game - and this was a whole different ball o' wax.  Granted, I've only tried it once, but in the 30 minute circuit work out I did (on the medium intensity setting), I had sweat dripping off my face.  I picked Bob Harper as my trainer (swoon!) and the circuits were long enough that I wasn't jumping all around and changing positions like crazy, but short enough that I really gave each my all because I knew I didn't have to do a ton of reps. My workout last night had one circuit (of many different activities that equaled 10 minutes) that I repeated three times.

Things I am not a fan of:  when you're on the ground doing hip raises, planks, and push ups, he switches moves on the screen - and since you're not looking, it can be hard to realize that he's switched.  I just went with the flow because so far it wasn't a big deal to me...only slightly annoying.

What I really didn't like is that apparently it must be hard for the Wii to figure out my movements - I would do them perfectly (or so I thought) and wouldn't be scored appropriately.  The game has little icons that flash on the screen when you're doing them right - and you're supposed to try to get five in each activity.  There would be some (like ladder climbers) that I would do perfectly and get NO icons (and therefore no calorie credit).  Because I'm a person driven by awards, I found this a bit discouraging.  I thought about screaming how it wasn't fair, but Bob doesn't like excuses so I saved my breath. 

At the end of my 30 minute work out, the game said I had burned 82 calories.  Umm...NO WAY is that correct.  I wouldn't say that this game is FUN per se, but it did what I wanted it to do - gave me a good workout and knowing that I have signed on for a 12 week program makes me want to keep coming back.  I don't understand how I can get kicked off yet (which I hear is a possibility) so if you're interested I'll write more later after I've had more experiences with it. Hit me up in the comments if you want me to expound more about it later.

So there you have it - my review of my games on the Wii.  Basically, exactly what Krissie said. 

Things I'm thinking about adding to make my workouts even better: weights, a stair riser, and some sort of padding.  Thanks to Jessica for letting me know that some of these are possibilities.

There are a few styles of weights that you can either add to your Wii remote (and they look like barbells!) or velcro on your wrists.  When I worked out regularly, I used 5-10 pound weights in each hand...the Wii remote ones are only 2 pounds each.  So I might start out with those and then graduate to the weights you just strap on your wrists/ankles.

The stair riser would raise the Wii balance board to a full 4" off the ground - which would be about the same height as most risers at a step class in a gym.  To me, that would make the stair stepper on the Wii Fit much more challenging.

The padding would be used for when I'm running in place or when I'm having to be on my knees to do planks or push ups.  I don't have great knees to begin with and having them on hardwood floors doesn't feel great.

Do you have any questions or comments about these or other games?  I'd love to know your opinion.   Tina mentioned Wii Active (I think by EA Sports?)...has anyone tried that?  And Tina - if you're still reading, what do you love about it?


Debbie said...

Ahhh the wii fit. I have one and love it. I have open the advance mode on several games. I like the one that I call Mario it is fun and I like the counting games with my hips. Also the hoola Hoop is a blast and will wear you out. Good Post..

TinaM said...

I would love it you kept us updated on how it goes for you as you do it more.

I have some more questions for you. The balance board, does it seem stable? You aren't afraid to break it or anything? What is the weight limit on it? I'd be very curious about how the lift effects this too...
Also, if the games keep your weight and other records, it it just up there for everyone to see when they turn it on??? Or in your own profile that only you see... LOL, I have been thinking about it since the wii fit came out, just been to chicken to actually go through with it.

Happy Fun Pants said...

GREAT questions, TinaM.

So the board may have a weight limit - I'm not sure but I would bet that nintendo.com could tell you. When I use it, it feels stable. The only time it doesn't is during some of the step programs where I tend to stomp.

The Wii Fit allows you to create a profile that you CAN lock - so no one else can see your weight, BMI, or anything else.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the BL game - although maybe someone here can set me straight.

Tina said...

I love that there is cardio and strength training (comes with a large rubber band strip)...that I hurt the next day, in a good way...(I drip in sweat) that I can pick and choose my combo of workout circuits (short enough not to kill me, but not so quick that I am constantly changing position and confused) or pick a set workout...mmmm...and the background of my Mii is interesting. :o)

Admittedly...I don't do it enough. My Wii is in our front living area, close to the bedrooms, so if I would try to do it in the morning my little ones would surely hear me and be up too early. :o)

Karen@WaistingTime said...

I thought about having my kids get it for me for my last birthday. I figured they'd enjoy the irony in THEM buying ME a video game:) But I was not sure I'd get enough use out of it. For me, I am thinking it would not replace my workouts but be a potential way to do a bit more in the afternoons if I am bored. I want to try it first so am waiting for when my girlfriend has time to let me try hers. I loved reading about your experiences with it.

Tina said...

My favorite thing about the EA is that I get a different workout at home. I have two small kiddos, run an in-home child care and my hubby works ridiculous hours. From home I can do a full body workout that changes and is interactive...videos get boring, Wii Fit is fun but does not give me that sense of "workout".

Lanie Painie said...

I'm glad to read your review of DDR. We have "Just Dance" and we really like it. It gives you the whole song, and up to 4 people can play at one time. My daughter loves playing with me, her friend, and her friend's mom.

We also LOVE "Walk It Out" which is walking to a rythm and you can choose the music. You earn more music choices as you go and you earn tokens that you use to purchase buildings and other stuff to decorate your island. This can also be multi player although I prefer to decorate my island on my own. You can also use your DDR mat with it, or the Fit Board, or just your controller and nunchuck so it's versatile.

Mandy said...

Wait, you're supposed to be barefoot on the board? I ALWAYS wear my shoes!

Traci said...

Great review! I totally agree with everything you said. I did a review on them not too long ago too. My Wii is currently not working or I'm sure I would be writing about it more often.

Misspudding said...

Huh. We don't have a Wii, but some of my friends who have them, love them.

Glad to hear you're getting some use out of it, though!

krissie said...

I forgot that I wanted the risers for the board! It'd make the step a little more challenging...

I could box all day long!

Maybe I should dust that thing back off.

Kris said...

On the Wii Fit Plus I really like the boxing and Kung Fu (?) games. I have unlocked the advance levels and they make me sweat!!!
I am really enjoying my 10 Minute Solution game which I just purchased for the Wii. I recommend it!
TinaM I weigh about 275 and I have not broken the board...yet, lol!
Mandy I do not think that you have to be barefoot. I always am, but have noticed my back hurts a lot after I play. It was recommended I wear shoes. I did buy a gel pad which helps some.

Lala said...

Wow, thanks for that! I've been curious about the WII fit games for a long time. Sounds like the biggest loser workout is the best one!

TinaM said...

Thanks so much for the info! I know it shouldn't matter, but having my weight out there for everyone in the house to see was one of the reasons I never got one. So glad to hear you can lock it!
Thanks Kris! I am only a few pounds heavier, so hopefully I would be fine on it... well falling off is a different story LOL.

Lesia said...

I know I am weird but we have had a Wii for years and LOTS of games/activities but I have never even pick up the controllers other than to move them off the couch or floor. Not into video games or the Wii. Probably would be if I wasn't disabled. Smile.