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My Fitness Coach Wii Review

09/02/2009 Family Family Gamer Review
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My Fitness Coach Nintendo Wii

My Fitness Coach

Nintendo Wii


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Fitness Gamer (Wii)

Day 37 - Four weeks complete

Progress check: Two pounds lost, for net loss of three pounds. Well, I've been at it a month. I'm still porky, but I'm a more toned porky. The game has lost much of its allure as a video game, but let's be honest. That was not meant to be its purpose. Its purpose was to get you exercising and to keep you coming back. Has Wii My Fitness Coach accomplished that purpose?

With me, at least, the answer is an unequivocal yes. I've gotten up on days when I have more wanted to sleep in, and on days when I have slept in, I've still carved out fifteen minutes to do a workout.

Can I keep it up over the coming months? I think so. I hope so. But for purposes of this blog, the experiment was a success. My Fitness Coach got me moving, kept me interested, and maintained the interest for a full month, long enough for the exercise itch to become a full-fledged habit. For any woman who has ever wanted to throw a brick at the tv screen during an exercise video featuring a size 0 blond shouting perky affirmations while you sweat the equivalent of a small lake, this video game is for you. Use it in good health.

Posted: 18/01/2009
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Day 30 - Three weeks complete

Progress check: No loss, no gain, for net loss of one pound. By the start of my fourth week, I've unlocked the gold medal status, which means I can now exercise on the beach in the Caribbean. Now, I'm sorry - if I were on the Caribbean, I just don't think I'd be doing aerobics on the beach. Probably not even on my top five activities of what to do on a Caribbean beach. Still, it's a pretty locale on the television.

In a step towards realism, I skipped Friday's workout, although I did make it up on Saturday, which was supposed to be a day off. I wondered if Maya would be mad, or try to make me feel guilty; but she was pretty nice about it, all things considered. Further proof that she's a fictional character, because a real fitness trainer would have punished me with twenty extra pushups.

I had my second re-evaluation yesterday. It was much more heartening than the first one. Even though I've lost only one pound overall, I've lost about a half inch around my chest, waist and hips. I can make it through 90 seconds of jumping jacks without wanting to pass out; and feel better all around. My spouse, although he hasn't yet learned the proper response to 'Does this outfit make me look fat?' did tell me that in his experience, it takes 6-8 weeks for one's metabolism to shift enough to jump start weight loss. I like this theory, because it means I might still lose some weight eventually, even doing little 15 minute workouts. Which is really about all the time I can afford without having to give up sleep or my addiction to primetime television.

I had my second re-evaluation yesterday. It was much more heartening than the first one.

One note: I tried the Yoga workout on the game, which is not a workout that automatically pops up in the workout cycle. This is so much weaker than the rest of the game that it's jarring. Maya talks you through a yoga cycle of about 10 poses, but she doesn't explain how to do the move. And since you're generally bending over, looking through your ankles, as she's intoning 'First go into Downward Dog, then to Crocodile, Full Frontal, Half Eclipse, and Pumpkin Roll,' (I made up most of these pose names, by the way), if you're a novice, the yoga cycle is insanely confusing. Worse, on the next cycle, Maya assumes you now remember the sequence perfectly and takes you through it in silence. Silence. I don't know if the game designers were assigned this portion at 4:30 pm on a Friday afternoon, but it feels very lacking.

Still, outside of this minor blip on the workout landscape, I'm continuing to love My Fitness Trainer.

Posted: 18/01/2009
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Day 14 - Two weeks complete

Progress check: Gained back one pound, for net loss of one pound. This was a rough week. I went a little crazy, foodwise, over the SuperBowl weekend and gained everything back I'd lost, and then some. To add injury to insult, my Sunday workout included the bane of my existence - real pushups - which I have NEVER been able to do. I made it through about 4 of Maya's 12, then walked around in high heeled boots for much of the day, and by 2 pm, my back was thrown out so badly I could barely stand. But Monday was promised to be a 'Physical Challenge' day, and I didn't want to miss that! So Monday morning, I hauled my improved-but-still-sore carcass out of bed and went downstairs to work out.

Well, the 'Physical Challenge' was nothing more than the original Fitness Evaluation revisited to monitor my progress. All of my measurements appear to be more or less the same, taking standard measurements of error into account. But I was able to do more pushups and crunches, so slight progress was made. My head told me it was far too soon to see any real improvements in body measurement, but my heart sunk and wanted to reach for a monster brownie.

That tells me that something positive must be happening.

Other news of the day: Maya made a funny! The other day when I signed in, she said, 'Are you always this animated? I am. Get it?' I about dropped over, and was filled with a greater liking for her that workout. She may be the first trainer I've ever had, real or virtual, with any semblance of a sense of humor.

So two weeks into this, am I making any progress? To a degree, I suppose. I have managed to maintain a consistent schedule, and the continual adaptation of the workouts has kept me from becoming bored. I made it through a 15-minute cardio workout that kept me moving at a sprightly pace through 12 of the 15 minutes, and I did not pass out. I'm pretty consistently feeling a satisfied muscle soreness, particularly in the abs, that tells me that something positive must be happening.

It's still anyone's bet as to whether I'll stick it out beyond a month.

Posted: 18/01/2009
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Day 7 - One week complete

Progress check: Lost two pounds, or .91 kg. Well, I've made it through one week of workouts. Whoo-hoo! I must temper the wild enthusiasm, though, by confessing that I can pretty much stay on any exercise program for one week. I'm not that pathetic. And my two pound weight loss falls pretty much within my week-to-week weight yoyo, so again, not that excited yet. Now if this occurs next week, then we'll have major exhortations of happiness and joy.

After the third workout, I reached the Bronze Level of commitment, and the game unlocked the Desert Springs resort for me; it's sunny and you can almost feel dry heat waves emanating from the television. Maya tells me it's where all the celebrities go. I want to see one of those virtual celebrities. I still really like the 15-minute workouts. Maya is not too talky, but seems to shout out 'Do it right' generally at the exact moment I cheat at the leg extension exercise by taking an extra step to regain my balance. Maybe they have a secret webcam installed in the game and some real trainer is yelling in real time at me. Spooky. Maya also occasionally offers tips on form during the exercise that have proved extremely helpful. During an upper arm exercise that I've done a zillion times, she told me to remember to keep my shoulders back. I shifted position just a little, and the entire feeling of the exercise changed. I gained new respect for my fictional friend.

Offers tips on form during the exercise that have proved extremely helpful.

Speaking of fictional friends, in the name of research, I created a new profile for Cara, an exotic (fictional) day trader who's everything I'm not - namely, skinny and fit. I gave her highest marks on all the initial fitness evaluation tasks, and sure enough, her beginning workout schedule was very different from mine: while I was prescribed 5 15-minute workouts a week, Cara received a recommendation of 3 45-60 minute sessions a week. When Cara began making virtual high-fives and taunting me with 'nyah, nyah,' I deleted her. It felt good.

According to the manual, the game will take me through a progress check at the two-week mark, so I'd better stick around that long at least. I'll keep you posted.

Posted: 18/01/2009
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Day 4 - Still Going

I've completed three workouts so far this week. This is an achievement, particularly since I've come down with a cold, so don't really feel much like working out. Actually, every time I start a new exercise regime, I get sick. Coincidence? I think not. Rather, I believe this proves my theory that exercise is essentially bad for you.

Still, I persevere. I've gone through three fifteen-minute workouts with Maya, so far, and all of them have been different, so I haven't been bored. I was VERY sore after the first workout, which is simply evidence of how pathetically out of shape I am. The second workout actually helped dissipate the soreness a little. Go figure.

Maya told me this morning that she was exhausted from having gone dancing last night. Which made dislike her a little, since my Saturday night was spent watching Grey's Anatomy on the computer. It did make me wonder if the game's developers have given Maya any kind of a back story. It's probably too much to hope that Maya will share with me the days where she has a wicked hangover or is having an intense craving for a double-fudge sundae. But wouldn't it be cool if she had a story that came out in bits and pieces - maybe her boyfriend is controlling, or her mother keeps calling her at inappropriate times. If Ubisoft incorporates this into future editions, I'll happily accept a royalty.

I'm enjoying it enough to stick with it, cold and all.

I've worked out in the three settings available to me thus far: the Empress' Dojo, the Urban Oasis, and the Meditation Garden. Each has a nice feel to it, and all have lulled me into the sense that I'm far more affluent than I really am. The music options so far are nothing to write home about. I'm not sure I've heard any difference between the 80's option versus the Latin. But that is a minor quibble right now. I'm enjoying it enough to stick with it, cold and all.

Posted: 18/01/2009
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Day 1 - Getting Started

Hi, I'm Toddie Downs one of the guest writers for the Family section on Game People. And I'm very excited about this program. I love my Wii-Fit, but I'm tired of having it call me 'obese' all the time, and it hasn't really panned out as the fitness workout vehicle that, frankly, I need desperately. When I heard about Wii My Fitness Coach, my thought process went something like this: 'Oh, good, another program I can buy, then ignore as my hindquarters expand ever larger. Still, it's cheaper than Wii-Fit was, and it's way cheaper than a gym. What can it hurt?'

Well, it did hurt today, but probably in all the right ways. After the program introduces you to Maya, a fit but happily not-too-perky trainer, the next thing it does is give you a fitness evaluation. You input your weight and measurements for chest, arms, waist, and thigh. Suffice it to say I was sobered by the measurements. Then the program had me take my resting heart rate, then do as many jumping jacks as I could over a two minute interval and put in my new heart rate. It also tested my lower body strength using squats, upper body strength using pushups, abdominal strength using crunches, and flexibility. What was nice after all this was the program recommends a goal - mine is weight loss, no surprise - but you can choose a different one if you want. It recommends a schedule of workouts - mine was 5 days a week for 15 minutes at a time. And it never called me 'obese'.

A very nifty feature is you can integrate your existing fitness equipment into the workout.

Now it was time for a workout. Cool. I was able to pick from three music styles (more once I've done enough workouts to unlock additional genres). Even cooler, I could pick where I wanted to work out - messy cluttered living room was happily not one of the options. I chose the relaxing, park-like outdoor setting. A very nifty feature is you can integrate your existing fitness equipment into the workout; the game asks you if you own free weights, stabilizing ball, step stool, etc., and if you click on any of the items, exercises incorporating them are brought into the workout.

My first workout had a warm up, cardio portion, then upper and lower body portion, ending with crunches and a cool down. As a workout, it wasn't much different from some of my exercise DVDs. What was different was that Maya stopped after every segment and asked how I was doing; based on my response (too hard; too easy; just right), future workouts will supposedly be adjusted.

I plan on writing about my progress with Wii My Fitness Coach over the next few weeks.

Bottom line: I sweated a lot and felt like I'd done something good for myself. The couch potato in me is happy knowing I only have to figure out how to schedule in 15 minute workouts. The video gamer in me is excited to chart my progress and unlock new workout settings and music. The frustrated exerciser in me has hope that the ability to customize workouts and alter things like setting and music might just be enough to keep me coming back for more.

I plan on writing about my progress with Wii My Fitness Coach, warts and all, over the next few weeks. You will know if I fall off the wagon, or succeed in losing some weight and gaining additional fitness. Can I do it? Keep reading and find out.

Written by Andy Robertson

You can support Andy by buying My Fitness Coach

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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