Wii-Fit Forum brings us some news of new fitness gaming developments."/>
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24/09/2008 Family Fit Gamer Article
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This week Paul Leader of Wii-Fit Forum brings us some news of new fitness gaming developments.

Last week EA announced their Wii-Fit competitor EA Sport Active. There are a number of key features that include a 30 Day Challenge fitness road map, activities combined into circuits, two player support and calorie tracking. But perhaps the most unexpected of all these was the addition of straps that attaches the nunchuk to your lower body to track movement and resistence.

According to Oprah's Fitness trainer Bob Greene, who "Consulted" on the development of the game, it is designed to get "your heart pumping in just 20 minutes a day," said Greene. "It's a great way to get moving when you can't get outside or you only have a short amount of time at home".

EA have clearly been listening to some of the complaints leveled at Wii-Fit, especially with the addition of exercise circuits, and an increased concentration on CV workouts. I'm looking forward to trying it out, it should complement Wii-Fit nicely.

Asian fitness is about poise, balance, and core strength, while Western fitness means burning calories.

However one thing has bugged me about the press given to EA Sport Active, the idea that Wii-Fit is about "Asian" fitness, while Sport Active is "Western" fitness. In this bi-polar view of fitness Asian fitness is about poise, balance, and core strength, while Western fitness means burning calories.

There are three problems with this. Firstly, it isn't a description of fitness, it is a description of unfitness. Secondly, it glosses over and excuses the major problem with health and fitness in the West. Thirdly, it dismisses whole types of exercise as somehow esoteric and a little bit silly.

The archetypal Japanese diet is healthy; low in carbs, sugars and fats. Result: a population who are fundamentally healthy and free to worry about their "core strength", poise, and balance, not how many calories they have burnt. By comparison, the archetypal western diet, high in fat and carbohydrates and packed with high density calories, is fundamentally unsuited to a modern sedentary lifestyle. It was fine for our ancestors who spent the days doing hard physical work in the cold of Northern Europe, but it puts the modern office bound westerner at the bottom of the fitness ladder. The energy density of western food means we consume far more calories than we need, so we have to work it off in the gym, or going for a run, while our Japanese friends are standing like a tree and doing a bit of deep breathing.

By claiming that cardio workouts are somehow more "naturally western" than "Asian" exercises, we are excusing the terrible state of the modern western diet as ok and normal, something to be accepted, while countering its ill effects with cardio exercise and nutritional supplements.

The tragedy of this is that most people do not realise how out of balance this approach is. Many seem convinced that you can make up for increased intake by doing more, but don't have any real concept of the effort involved in burning off those excess calories. The 300 calories in a Mars Bar, which takes just a couple of minutes to eat, would take a 12 stone person about 3 miles (30-45 minutes) of running to burn off. Just going for a bit of a walk, doesn't mean you can eat what you like. Sad, but true.

So it's time for me to get "Asian" about my health, and tuck into a tasty plate of Sushi.

Finally, the tone with which many reviewers covered Wii-Fit, and especially its supposedly "Asian" exercises displayed a huge amount of ignorance regarding health and fitness. Many (mostly male) derided the idea of doing Yoga, and balance exercise, questioning how standing on one leg was going to make you fit. These put-downs display a very narrow and macho view of fitness. The western view seems to be that the only way to expend energy and work the human body is by moving it rapidly for long periods, or pumping heavy weights. Having done a fair amount of Yoga in the past, I can attest to the fact that you do now have to run fast, or pump iron to be fit. Watch an experienced practitioner, and you will see them do things that the fittest runner of gym bunny would struggle with. Sadly, the stereotyping of eastern approaches to fitness and health mean that many westerners avoid them as "girly" (seriously, watching a guy lifting his own weight on finger tips is not girly), missing out on important aspects of fitness and health.

So while I'm looking forward to EA Sport Active (and will hopefully write a review in the next few months), I'll also be keeping a much closer eye on what I eat if I want to stand any chance of losing weight. You will stand a better chance of success if you do a little bit of both than if you try to counteract those chocolate biscuits with a Wii Boxing session.

So it's time for me to get "Asian" about my health, and tuck into a tasty plate of Sushi.

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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