Getting in Shape

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 by Alex R. Cronk-Young

In case you don't follow the blog I started with several other people, the one about various forms of geeky media like video games and movies, I thought I'd post this here. I've been attempting to lose weight for over 30 days now, by playing the recently released EA Sports Active game for the Wii. This is my 30th day post, involving my final results and a summary of what I thought of the game. Since posting this, I've switched over to going for morning runs instead of playing the game. Eventually I hope to get down around 200 pounds.

Start Weight: 248.5
End Weight: 230
Total Weight Loss: 18.5 pounds

So that's it, I've made it to the end. I must have messed up my calculations in there at some point because I thought I was at 19 pounds. It might be a little weird though because the 230 weigh in was done after being up all night working and during the week I always weighed myself in the morning. I think there's a difference in your weight when you first wake up but I don't know exactly what it is.

Now, let's break down the game with a nice, convenient list of the good and bad, because everyone loves lists.

The Good

  • Takes what Wii Fit started to the next level: Wii Fit proved that people would buy fitness games, unfortunately it was extremely flawed. EA Sports Active helps take this blossoming genre the next step by fixing many of the things that Wii Fit did wrong.

  • Workout is strung together: One of the most annoying things Wii Fit did was kick you back to the menu after every activity. Not only did this break up the flow of your workout but it left you to decide what to do next, and when people are given the choice they probably won't choose the tough exercises very often. Active makes up its own routine for you, which can be tweaked, so that it can concentrate on different parts of the body and keep your workout moving along and your heart rate up.

  • Doesn't punish or scold you: The last thing I want my video games to do is to yell at me for being lazy when I've been too swamped to get in an exercise. Several days during my 30 day challenge we had to do hay, meaning I got plenty of workout tossing and stacking hundreds of heavy bales. When I returned to Active the next day, it was nice to see that it had simply counted my missed day as a rest day and let me get back onto my schedule without any problems.

The Bad

  • Janky Wii controls: You can't really fault the games very much for this type of stuff on the Wii. It can still be frustrating when the game has to stop you if it didn't read that you had lifted your arm because the Wiimote or Nunchuk were facing the wrong way, or you moved it too fast. Perhaps Motion Plus will fix issues like this in the future.

  • Poor quality equipment: The pack-in accessories for this game are some of the worst I've ever seen. My leg strap ripped in the first few days and only held together because of the edging, and reports are rampant of broken resistance bands. Even if the resistance band doesn't rip, its the flimsiest thing I've ever seen and provides almost no actual resistance without folding it over a ton to try to make it shorter.

  • Could make better use of the balance board: The balance board seems tacked on. I imagine they were trying to separate their game from Wii Fit in consumers minds so that people wouldn't think they needed a balance board to play it. Still, the activities that actually allow the board offer little to no extra benefit from using it.

I hope that the fitness genre keeps improving. Active comes much closer to my ideal fitness game, but it could do so much more. I want a game that not only caters to already fitness conscious people, but to those who haven't exercised in years. You could allow the game to offer up advice on eating habits, calorie intake, stretches, and a slew of other things so that those who know nothing about being active can have help getting into a healthy lifestyle.

It was daunting for me to adjust my eating habits as I didn't have any experience with dieting. I wasn't a fat kid, I have just gained weight slowly over the last 8 or 9 years since I quit cross country after my freshman year of high school. It would have been a much easier transition if Active was the trainer to help me through it.

Like I said though, EA Sports Active is a huge step in the direction of how I want to see fitness games go, and given that its only the second major release in the genre (unless you count that EyeToy fitness game) that's impressive. It has been the first step on my way to getting back in shape, I now have the confidence to get outside for morning runs which I will probably do from now on instead of playing the game. Still, it's nice to have around in case there's a rainy or muggy day and I want to stay inside to exercise. Instead of doing it on a boring, monotonous machine I can play Active. So while I may have sounded harsh against it sometimes, I do think it's the best game out there right now for getting into shape, and would recommend it to anyone who's looking to do that.

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