a peek inside the fishbowl

28 Feb, 2012

Can you get fit with a video game? You be the judge.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Fishbowl patrons|Giveaways and product reviews

The first thing I did this morning, after dragging myself out of bed, is limp to the bathroom and take an Advil. I’m sitting here, in The Kingdom of Aching Muscles, feeling rather sore and craving a second coffee.

I used to be the kind of person who goes to the gym but I haven’t been that person for a long time… hence the aching muscles and the sudden need for pain killers. Ah, the things I do to write up a fair and accurate blog post!

This is my last post about the Kinect for Fishbowl patron Xbox Canada. (Do note: opinions remain my own!)

We’ve been quite happy with the fitness bundle and it’s given us a lot of amusement during the long evenings of The Winter That Shall Never End. The last game I’m reviewing is called Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012.

I hesitate calling it a game, because when you read “game” you immediate associate it with kids, but this is really not the case with this one. This is a program that pretty much replaces a trip to the gym. (You didn’t think a video game could do that, could you?) And for those of us who aren’t huge fans of the gym, this is quite possibly a very good thing.

The target market for this, er, game, is probably women like myself who are too busy to go to the gym and still need help toning up and trimming down. And for this, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 serves its purpose quite well. If you want to exercise at home, this might be the perfect motivation for you (but like any exercise program, you won’t see results if you don’t keep up with it).

There is a wide variety of activities, workouts and classes in Your Shape, enough to keep people like me from getting bored of the same routines for quite some time. The focus is really on you, and fitness. This is evident in the game design – it’s quite pared down, with lots of white and negative space, whereas Kinect Adventures (which I wrote about here) has a much more colourful game environment. And I think the calorie burning is on par. :)

Anyway, I’m skipping ahead a bit here.

When I first logged in I was startled to see a photo-realistic image of myself on the screen. Personally I would have liked to be represented by a MUCH cooler-looking avatar. I would have chosen to represent myself as Ms. Fantasy Fitness and decked myself out in my finest gear. Instead I had to look at my blobby, hippy self, which is slightly demotivational if you ask me. ;)

Users have the option of setting up their fitness routines based on some basic criteria. Are you a couch potato (which is what I chose), sporty, or an Olympian? I think there should have been more choice here, something that included Total Hopeless Beginner Who Doesn’t Know Left From Right, and Senior Citizen. I chose Couch Potato and found some of the routines that were chosen for me to be too difficult. (I collapsed after my first and only full- body pushup) although I did pretty well at squats and lunges. (Ha – I almost wrote LUNCHES there. I am good at lunch! Very good!) After the pushups-I-failed-to-do I was assigned “fast man climb” which just about killed me.

Anyway, there are other options available after I solidified my couch potato status. For example, did I want to lose weight (muffin top was listed in there), etc. User selection at this stage will affect the program that is chosen for you. All fitness programs are 30 minutes within this section (maybe it’s different for Olympians) and you can’t tailor the duration of the workout (although you can change the frequency) unless you choose Fit Express, which is a 15 minute workout. This I can handle.

If you’ve chosen to follow a program, the exercises you need to do that day are indicated with blue flags. You get a checkmark when each one is completed. You move through the various activities, workouts, and classes (there are dance classes, which are very fun). Sadly, the warm up games do not count towards your 30 minutes of allotted exercise, nor does the time you spend asking the dog to stop licking your face while you are doing crunches. ;)

Some of the activities were really fun. I’ve discovered that I’m a SUPERB wallbreaker (you punch across your chest to break bricks, and in higher levels you use your legs and duck to avoid red blobs), and I am also pretty good at jumping rope, although I was always disappointed to see how much work it requires to burn so few calories. But I suppose that’s the lesson here eh?

The calorie burning is a big marker of success and Calories Lost are turned into benchmarks, which makes it very much an adult game, because I never want to make a game out of calorie burning with my kids. (I am very very careful about what I say concerning diet and food around the girls.)

I had issues with most of the floor exercises because we just don’t have the space in our living room. Players need to turn sideways and be parallel with the TV, not facing it. This meant that the Kinect sensor could not track how many pushups I was struggling to do and threw off my score.

Having a yoga mat was very handy on our hardwood floor, as well as a bottle of water because if you take this seriously you will turn into a sweaty mess. (Again, a good thing.)

I will continue to use Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012, but I will build my own program and continue to do it a couple times a week and see where it takes me. I am planning on stepping up the cardio (I enjoy the skipping and the “run the world” is good too) and I predict I will be spending more time in the African and Hip Hop dance classes (although I have realized I will never be a Bollywood star). Here I am, trying it out at my inlaws place:

Me and the Xbox Kinect!

Although weight loss isn’t a goal of mine, good health definitely is. This little potato might like to be a little less jiggly and a little more toned, so that’s why I’m going to keep with it!

Thank you Xbox Canada, for helping me reach my fitness goals and give my family some fun and active entertainment this winter!


2 Responses to "Can you get fit with a video game? You be the judge."

1 | Lara C W

February 28th, 2012 at 11:23 am

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Does it give you options to regress each exercise Andrea? If u aren’t ready for a military style push up from the toes you should be able to do it from the knees or inclined or against a wall. One of my pet peeves of fitness gaming. Can’t replace proper instruction cueing correction and modification that an in person trainer provides. I think it’s great to help with the mental shift for some people that exercise can be fun of course but I’m all for safe and effective first and foremost – another gaming brand has a board you run on to simulate biking for instance – biomechanically a bad idea! Really stresses the ligaments tendons of lower leg especially for new exerciser so I’m always a bit wary. At the end of the day anything that gets you up off the couch is a start and I know many people for whom it was a gateway to (but not necessarily a substitute for) a more active lifestyle :)

2 | andrea

February 28th, 2012 at 11:33 am

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No it doesn’t.
Which reminds me… there used to be a fitness show on TV in which there were three women doing the excerices. One always did each exercise the “easy” way, one medium, and one did it the hard/superchallening way. I always thought this was smart.

You’re right about games not being able to replace proper instruction. In fact, as I played I wondered about this. Even during Wallbreaker (did I mention how good I was at that game?) there could have been more instructional tips i.e. suck in your gut, make sure you’re standing tall etc.

It’s up to the individual to watch their image on screen and ensure that it matches the “instructor” the best they can.

I think anything that gets someone off the couch and moving around is a good thing, especially if there’s no way they’d do it otherwise. BUT BUT BUT I don’t think parents should expect Kinect to replace a healthy and active lifestyle. But overall, if you’re going to buy a video game console, I would recommend purchasing a Kinect. It is really fun for the whole family.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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