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My Fitness Coach: Cardio Workout, known as Gold's Gym: Cardio Workout elsewhere, is different from its predecessor My Fitness Coach in both fitness approach and visuals. Out goes the un-Wii like graphics and in comes Manga fitness instructors and clearer, simpler graphics. Unlike its predecessor, which started out as Yourself!Fitness on the Xbox and PS2, Cardio Workout has been designed from the ground up especially for the Wii.
My Fitness Coach was just a computerised version of a workout DVD, guiding you through a routine which varied each time. While a step up from the predictable fitness DVD, it never really made the most of the platform. Cardio Workout is different, it makes much better use of the Wii's capabilities, including the Wii-Fit balance board if you have one.
Cardio Workout is more focused than My Fitness Coach. Rather than take you through an all-round workout, it concentrates on 'shape boxing'. The idea is similar to any number of boxing games on the Wii, including the rhythm boxing in Wii-Fit: you move around and punch out sequences that scroll up the screen in time to music (including the obligatory Eye Of the Tiger). Pretty simple really, but by focussing on one aspect the developers have been able to make it very slick.
Brilliantly, you can use two Wii Remotes rather than a Nunchuck, which balances the weight in your hands and gets rid of the annoying cable, a nice improvement.
Before I could start doing full routines, I had to take a few lessons on all the major moves, including weaves and dodges. It gives you an opportunity to practice and get a bit of a sweat on. I rattled through the lessons in about fifteen minutes, and you can always recap moves before a routine if you forget how to do one.
Some of the punches, such as upper-cuts, require you to be quite precise, so take the time to learn how to do them properly. Brilliantly, you can use two Wii Remotes rather than a Nunchuck, which balances the weight in your hands and gets rid of the annoying cable, a nice improvement. I found the controls generally very responsive, although do make sure your batteries are well charged.
Once I'd learnt the moves it was time for some proper workouts. There are a number to choose from, of up to 15 minutes, with different sets of moves, and it's quick and easy to do a couple of different ones in a row to build a longer session.
Cardio Workout has many more moves, and longer and more complex sequences than Wii-Fit's rhythm boxing, and the punches come faster and harder.
Cardio Workout has many more moves, and longer and more complex sequences than Wii-Fit's rhythm boxing, and the punches come faster and harder. So despite it just being virtual shadow-boxing it turns out to be a really good workout, and to prove it I did some tests. Strapping on a pulse monitor I was able to record the all-important number of calories burnt, and the more esoteric 'time in the zone'. The calories varied, but at my best I was burning 10 a minute, or 600 an hour, roughly what I get when out running. Pretty impressive for pretending to be Rocky for half an hour - I defy anyone not to have Eye of the Tiger as their workout tune. It does estimate the number of calories you will burn, but it consistently underestimated for me.
My time in the training zone (60% to 80% of maximum heart-rate) was also very good, I was in this optimum range for calorie burning for over two-thirds of the time. Taken together that makes Cardio Workout a pretty efficient way of burning calories and giving your heart a good workout.
If Ubisoft had only included boxing in Cardio Workout you'd probably feel a bit short-changed. Luckily they have also added a selection of light muscle exercises which you can use to warm up before your routines. It's a small selection, and if you have Wii-Fit you will have seen most of them before, but it's a nice addition and saves swapping disks just to do a few pushups and crunches.
If you want a bit of variation in your fitness regime it is a great addition to one of the others.
While the packaging makes a point of the Wii-Fit balance board support, it is actually only used in a few of these other exercises, and not in the shape boxing routines. This seemed a strange omission, but I think it was the right decision. While there is no footwork element to the routines, it means you can take a much more natural side on stance, and gives you the freedom to move around more without being planted on the board.
Cardio Workout is unlikely to replace Wii-Fit or EA Sports Active when it comes to all-round body fitness, it lacks the breadth of exercises to be used on its own. However if you want a bit of variation in your fitness regime it is a great addition to one of the others. I have found it a very efficient way to burn calories in a short period, helping me to squeeze a bit more exercise into a busy day.
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