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Review: 'Wii Fit' gives kinder, gentler workout

  • Story Highlights
  • Entire 'Wii Fit' setup doesn't take up much space, and the board is no eyesore
  • Wii Fit calculates your body mass index (BMI), a metric many doctors use
  • Program organized into 48 activities divided among four general areas
  • People over 6 feet tall or with broad shoulders may find some activities difficult
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By Wes Nihei
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(GameTap.com) -- Everyone wants to be more physically fit, but the toughest thing is finding motivation -- the motivation to get started, the motivation to keep going, the motivation to push yourself to the next level.

Wii Fit doesn't try to motivate you with before and after photos. It doesn't try to motivate you with testimonials from fitness gurus. It doesn't even offer you three easy payments.

But it does entice you to get into shape by making working out look like fun. And that it does very well.

In fact, Wii Fit might be some of the most fun you can have by just more or less standing still, which must make it about as mass market friendly as any video game product ever was.

Wii Fit requires a Wii, of course, and it comes bundled with a balance board. But the entire setup doesn't take up much space, and the board is no eyesore, either.

Unlike a bathroom scale that's usually squirreled away in a closet or shoved into the corner of a bathroom, looking at it doesn't make you feel guilty. Designed to fit in with Japanese living rooms, where space is usually at a premium, the balance board is sleek and elegantly designed. iReport.com: Send us your Wii Fit review

It conveys cool Asian style with a streamlined appearance. It's something you wouldn't mind having in your living room at all.

One thing about Nintendo: They know how to make hardware that's rugged but easy on the eyes.

Getting started with Wii Fit is a snap, but you might have to get some bad news out of the way first. The balance board connects to the Wii through a Wi-Fi connection. You stand on it and use the Wii remote to record your height and age. The balance board then registers your weight.

From those figures, Wii Fit calculates your body mass index (BMI), a standard metric many doctors use to determine a person's overall fitness, which you can track over time. Oddly, however, there's no easy way to just use the scale to see your weight without recalculating your BMI each time.

The Wii Fit-ness program is organized into 48 activities divided among four general areas: yoga, aerobics, strength training, and balance games. You can choose to work through all four in one session or just concentrate on one.

If you've never tried yoga before, working through the 15 positions here are as good an introduction as any. All of them are done with at least one foot on the balance board, so Wii Fit can measure how centered you keep your body.

Yoga is a great way to stretch muscles and joints out and to work on overall flexibility. As meditative as this physical activity would seem, you'll feel the burn even before you reach any of the advanced forms.

Once you're loosened up a little with yoga, you might move on to aerobics. The majority of these nine activities are basically variations of hula hooping, jogging in place, and simple step aerobics. The one exception is rhythm boxing, which you unlock later on.

By turning these aerobic challenges all into minigames, Wii Fit entices you to keep working on them to earn better scores and ratings. With the hula hoop, for example, you have to stand on the board and grind your hips to keep a virtual hoop twirling. Later, you have to "catch" tossed hoops, and then keep them all twirling, too. Wii Fit sets a mellow, steady pace for all its aerobic challenges, but it still manages to make your heart pump.

Facts: Wii Fit

Pros: Good mix of easy-to-learn activities; decent workout; elegant design.
Cons: Not much variety in balance game levels; balance board is narrow for tall people; scale feature not easy to access.
Score: 8 out of 10

If just the words "push" and "ups" makes you break out in a sweat, then you've probably already surmised that strength training contains some of the most physically demanding Wii Fit workouts. The torso twist and rowing squat are easy, but push-ups, planks, and even the lunges will show you what you're made of.

The push-ups in particular make you work extra hard. You do push-ups with your two hands on the board, but because it's 17 inches wide, people over six feet tall or with broad shoulders might find themselves with their hands positioned inside their shoulder width. While it's certainly a worthwhile goal to build up to, it's difficult to snap off a set of push-ups from that position.

The balance games require you to just apply pressure to the board through your feet. Skiing slaloms and ski jumping are fairly straightforward, but you can also walk a tightrope or try to float down a river inside a giant bubble.

All of these are simple and fun, and they really do make you aware of how well you maintain good posture and keep your balance. However, they are also short and very limited in the variety of levels and layouts.

Could you do all these exercises and balance activities right now without Wii Fit? Sure you could. But would you? That's where the Wii Fit balance board comes in.

Just like the Wii itself, it just looks like something you'd like to try out. But once you take that first step onto it, you might find yourself on the way to becoming more fit.

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Copyright: TM & © 2009 Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A Time Warner Company, or its licensors. Patent pending. All Rights Reserved.

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