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Top 5 Wii-Fit Fallacies

21/09/2008 Family Fit Gamer Article
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Being inundated with questions about Wii-Fit in my day job as a Personal Trainer made me realise it was time to revisit this gaming phenomenon and dispel some of those urban exercise-myths.

There's good news and bad news for Wii-Fit owners. If you are using it every day and seeing your BMI drop in a gentle slope then stop right here, you are informed, motivated and successful. If your latest purchase is now looking like eBay fodder, then read on.

As a Personal Trainer I don't mind busting some balls. Let me start with how you might have got off on the wrong foot and then I'll get you moving again. These five misconceptions are what I have learned talking to clients who have included Wii-Fit as part of their routine.

If you have made the commitment to buying Wii-Fit then you have taken the hardest step already, you have mentally committed to getting fitter and losing some weight.

1. Wii-Fit is Designed to Get Me Fit

If you bought Wii-Fit because you thought it would get you fit then bad luck, that's not what it is designed to do. Admittedly, the name is a little misleading, but Nintendo has been clear about what Wii-Fit is designed to do: make you aware of your body, balance and ability. It'll tell you if you're not fit, but the rest is up to you. This is where most people come unstuck, even after reading my Top 5 Tips for Wii-Fit!

2. Wii-Fit is a Video Game

If you were attracted to Wii-Fit because it's a video game with exercise then you've probably felt like you've taken a step back in time to before Wii Sports was released. The video gaming aspect is hardly compelling, and I'm taking this view from the basis that I'll spend hours involved in the game of the month but that sort of fun just isn't found here. There are mini games to play, but they are mini games with the emphasis on 'mini'.

3. Wii-Fit is a Fat Burning Workout

Out comes the sleek balance board from the box - perhaps a little too sleek. It is no where near the height of a Reebok Step and in aerobic terms less exercise than stepping on a phone book. If you have the durability to get through every aspect of the Wii-Fit software you'll find out there's only one exercise that will actually work up a sweat, and that's the jogging - which doesn't use the balance board anyway. So you have bought a nice bit of kit and then been told to jog on the spot holding the Wii Mote, not quite what you expected, is it?

4. Wii-Fit Means I can Ditch the Diet/Gym/Outdoors.

If you think the only thing between you and your ideal image of a Greek god or goddess is buying a plastic balance board then you really have got the wrong message from somewhere. That somewhere will definitely not be Nintendo! Wii-Fit is not a gym replacement, it won't keep your weight in check while you super size you meal deals, but it will tell you that you're headed in the wrong direction.

5. Wii-Fit Works for Friends, So It Will Work For Me

I'm a bit skeptical of some reports on the Internet about losing 45lbs in 3 days, as I am for most miracle weight loss stories. Even if they were true there's a problem with thinking you can share the success of a vocal minority. As a Personal Trainer I know that everyone is different, everyone needs a tailored exercise plan that fits in with their own ability and commitments. You need a plan and to monitor your progress.

So there you have it, this may all sounds terrible news for Wii-Fit, but wait. If you have made the commitment to buying Wii-Fit then you have taken the hardest step already, you have mentally committed to getting fitter and losing some weight. This is well worth the token amount you have spent of acquiring the latest fashion accessory in video gaming. All we need to do is set your expectations correctly and can turn your Wii-Fit from fashion into a valuable fitness tool.

I'll echo Nintendo's advice on diet - you need a calorie controlled diet to lose weight.

Start off getting your BMI and Fitness Age statistics going in the game. This is your baseline to work from. It doesn't really matter how accurate the figures are, we're looking to provide an indication of the direction of change, something that Wii-Fit is great for.

Next we need to set your expectations. If you want to lose weight or get fit with Wii-Fit then you're going to have to work for it, and work hard. Start by taking stock of your entire lifestyle, think about what you eat, where you can get some extra exercise "for free" and make some Wii-Fit time in your week.

I'll echo Nintendo's advice on diet - you need a calorie controlled diet to lose weight. That doesn't mean munching on celery every meal; it means be aware of how many calories you consume, because you'll have to beat that total in exercise calories to lose weight. There are plenty of resources on the Internet to help you find out what meals average out at in calorie terms, but just be a little careful on portion sizes, these are not always obvious and you could be out on the math.

Exercise for free is a great concept, it's actually what our bodies where designed for, doing something with exercise being a built in by-product. The next time you think about spending half an hour on the exercise bike staring at a blank wall, think about getting your bike out of the garage, putting some air in the tyres, and riding down to the local shop and back to get your daily goods. This does have the advantage that you'll always eat fresh too!

Lastly, find the time for Wii-Fit. You have to plan this and stick with it. Half an hour before work or an hour before your evening meal is a great time to block out for Wii-time. If you find yourself losing a bit of motivation, then vary your use - try some yoga, or maybe some strength training. You have your work cut out, but if you sustain motivation in the face of Mario Kart Wii, then you'll get there.

Wii-Fit is probably the most difficult Exergaming to sustain your motivation with, so if all else fails, contact your local Personal Trainer and they will help you with an exercise plan and provide the motivation you need to get to your goals.

Written by Luke Pyper

You can support Luke by buying Top 5 Wii-Fit Fallacies

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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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