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Top 5 Wii-Fit Tips

11/09/2007 Family Fit Gamer Article
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Congratulations! You have managed to beat the queues to get your hands on your very own Wii balance board to the envy of your friends, family and neighbours! But for the majority of us the novelty will soon wear off. With my personal trainer head on, I will bring a bit of understanding to why this happens, and suggest five ways too keep you on the road to health and fitness with Wii-Fit.

Video gaming that gets you to exercise is exactly what you needed to get in shape for summer! Now fast forward three weeks. The balance board has a home at the side of the TV and makes a tempting ebay item, unused and unwanted. What happened in those three weeks to make the saviour of your health and fitness goals turn into handy plant stand?

To understand this we must start with the first principle of why you bought Wii-Fit. Most people are not too concerned at how much they weigh, don't care what their BMI is, or know what BMI means. In my experience most people are driven by the promise of a trim, attractive body without all the flabby bits. Yes, exercise offers the chance to be young and sexy again, but there is a cost, you actually have to do it and over an extended period of time. When starting out with exercise you have a clear idea of how you want to look and your motivation and enthusiasm is at an all time high. However, the results are slow in coming, you cannot see any changes in the mirror and the scales haven't budged, but and the effort and pain are real and immediate.

Exergaming is the joining of exercise and gaming, to keep fitness fun enough for you not to give up

Now we are in the exercise danger zone, and we're going to lose you, you are about to give up. This is where 'exergaming' comes into its own. Exergaming is the joining of exercise and gaming, with the purpose of keeping fitness fun enough that you don't give up. Here is the first problem, the gaming aspect of Wii-Fit is just not engaging enough. Unlocking all the features is soon achieved and all you are left with are some graphs to keep you going. But with the right advice there is no reason why Wii-Fit cannot be a central point of reference in your journey to the athletic, supple body you desire. I have been using Wii-Fit for a while now with my fitness clients, and have seen these problems come and go. Let's look at the five top tips that have been proven to keep people on track.

Tip 1: Be Accurate.

You may have heard of children being upset when mistakenly called overweight by Wii-Fit. You may have seen the investigative TV spots taking Wii-Fit to people's houses and proving the balance board giving inaccurate weight. This is a problem because if Wii-Fit cannot weigh you correctly then how can you trust and be motivated by the graphs it shows you? Without motivation you will give up.

Take a look at all the images Nintendo have used to advertise Wii-Fit. Notice how all the pictures have Wii-Fit on hard, flat wooden floors? Chances are you are using your Wii-Fit next to the TV on the carpet. Carpet is a poor surface for scales and also for Wii-Fit, and will give an inaccurate reading. To be accurate about all this you need to weigh in regularly on a hard surface, and do it first thing in the morning.

Tip 2: Be Prepared

The sporadic, almost chaotic, use of Wii-Fit in the first few days quickly gives way to avoidance. Instead of turning on the Wii, you are turning on the TV. Instead of working out you are playing Mario Kart. This is a problem, because if you have to make a conscious effort to use Wii-Fit, you will never get enough 'board time' to see any physical benefits, and you will give up.

So start with a plan. Decide when you can use Wii-Fit as part of your daily routine. It may be half an hour before you go to work or an hour when you get home. As exercise will raise your metabolism, try to fit it in just before you eat so less of the food will end up as flab. Also, if you use the Wii with games, make a point to always put the Wii-Fit disc back in when you finish. In fact, throw away the case so the only home for it is in the Wii. Turning the console on to be greeted with a far more enjoyable game will lead you to 'just one quick game' and soon Wii-Fit will be forgotten!

Tip 3: Get Real

Did you decide to buy Wii-Fit from reading in depth interviews with the designer, or paying careful attention to the Nintendo advertisements? Chances are you decided to buy Wii-Fit because of news articles. These articles have a wow factor of 'video game fitness' to get noticed, and very rarely carry Nintendo's advice. This is a problem, because you are probably under the impression that an hour on Wii-Fit once a week will turn you into a Greek God or Goddess in a month, when you don't get there you'll give up.

The game designer says that Wii-Fit will not make you fit, but it will make you aware of your body and adverts carry advice on healthy eating. To get Wii-Fit to work as a fitness and weight loss tool you have to follow this advice. Keep a count of the calories you eat, your doctor, a dietician or a personal trainer can help you work out how much this should be. Take the healthy option with all your activities, for example use the stairs instead of an elevator, or wash the car by hand instead of in an automatic car wash.

Tip 4: Get Ready

Wii-Sports has a big problem that Wii-Fit shares, but also provides the same solution. If you go from cold to Wii-Boxing in ten seconds flat, you will suffer strains and muscle pulls. This is a problem because nothing stops even the most determined in their tracks like a good old fashioned injury. Unable to play, you may give up.

You may love heading the ball or hula hoops to break a sweat, but get your body ready for this workout. Do some warming up with gentle stretches, of even better use Wii-Fit to do this for you. Yoga is a very good warm up, so press the button!

Tip 5: Go For It!

You may find that your weight is not dropping off as quickly as you would like. Be aware that the expectation of what you can lose is driven by terribly unethical adverts for pills and diets that often dehydrate you to show a weight loss. The problem is that Wii-Fit does a poor job of measuring fitness. Your Wii age, will bounce around with little regard to your actual fitness. Without being able to see any visible progress, you will give up.

Fitness is probably the fastest way your body reacts to exercise, ignoring weight loss from water retention. The best way to measure your fitness is to go out for a walk, a jog or a run once a week and get yourself out of breath. Then time with a watch how long it takes you to regain your normal breathing. The fitter you are the quicker you recover from physical effort, and the better you will feel, and the more likely you are to keep using Wii-Fit.

Good Luck

Even if you have already given up on Wii-Fit, after reading my suggestions you should have a better understanding of the pitfalls and some solid tips to regain that motivation. Used regularly, and for long enough, with an eye on diet and extra physical activity, Wii-Fit will give you the benefits you bought it for.

I'll be back again soon with more exercise and gaming fare for you. Until then, why not follow me on my mini blog, friend me on Facebook or just email me with how you are getting on.

Written by Luke Pyper

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Luke Pyper writes the Fit Gamer column.

"As a trained professional fitness coach I bring an informed and balanced take on fitness video games. I cover Xbox 360, PS3, Wii-Fit, DS lite and PSP games from a gym, health and fitness angle."

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