Wii Fit Workout 30 Day Exercise Challenge – Week 3

24 08 2008

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Day 15

Nursing a sore back again, so Mediasapien kept it light.  20 minutes of yoga-based stretching and a walk of about 1.5 miles.

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Day 16

Today: 30 minutes of yoga (all Wii Fit poses) and 30 minutes of boxing in Wii Sports.

As week # 3 get under way, Mediasapien is frustrated.  Some chinks in the armor are staring to appear that have me ending my workouts feeling angry and frustrated, not drained and relaxed.  Mostly its because the boxing I’ve been enjoying so much seems to have real limits as I progress through the ranks.  When I first boxed in the game, I was able to feel a reasonable connection between my punches and those of my avatar.  As I faced tougher opponents, I had to improve my game – and it showed.  I was getting stronger and faster with each bout.  But something happened along the way.  I started noticing missed or dropped punches – my avatar was unresponsive to faster punch combo, and missed many uppercut and roundhouse punches all together.  This would leave my avatar exposed too long and slow to recover, and the opponent would seize on this opportunity and pummel my avi to the mat with a quick succession of blows.  

As a test, I tried to shadow box a little to see how responsive it could be and the game failed.  IMHO, if the game misses one out of 10 punches, I could live with it.  But if the game is missing 4 out of ten, then there is little point in playing.  I even went to my local Gamestop and purchased a used copy of another Wii boxing title, Showtime Boxing.  This game was such a complete dog.  I returned it immediately.

Evaluation: The accuracy of the Wiimote had better improve if Nintendo expects people to play these games more than once or twice.  There is some research to indicate that 60% of Wii Fit owners use it once, and then never again.   Granted this research seems to be a quote from a Microsoft exec., but still, no Nintendo spokesperson has stood up to refute the claim.

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Day 17

Funny thing.  While rooting through the Wii Sports menus, I came across a fitness test that predates Wii Fit, and was clearly the inspiration to take the idea further.  It consisted of 3 tests – 2 boxing oriented tasks (hitting the trainer’s mitts and not the trainer, and KO’ing a punching bag), and one agility test based on avoiding balls thrown at you by the trainer.  These were fast and fun, if not particularly useful, and inspired me to do something foolish – break out the Wii Sports boxing and the inevitable frustration that it has come to represent.  Like a prophesy fulfilled, by the 2nd bout, I was getting angrier with each non-responsive “punch.”  I threw the Wiimote so hard that it literally flew down the hall into the next room, and smashed against the far wall, breaking the battery compartment lid.

I blame myself.

I knew this would happen.  It’s the same pattern that has developed in the last week or so while boxing.  It’s a shame because it is clearly the most fun AND the best workout available on the console, but I really must stop playing it.  What good is a workout that ends in rage?  

Since I acted some rashly, and broke my toy, I decided some punishment was in order, so I went through all the strength-building exercises at the maximum-allowable reps.  Fortunately, this took me past the minimum required 30 minutes, and I was able to power down the Wii and walk away.

Evaluation: I seem to be hitting a wall with Wii Fit and it’s cousins.  I am looking deep within the game and options to find a useful and enjoyable workout, but I might be reaching a point where the limits of the game are starting to show. Ironically, it’s the system’s selling point – the Wiimote – which seems to be the weakest link.  With just under 2 weeks remaining in the 30 day test, the outlook is becoming less rosy for the game.

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Day 18

Once again Mediasapien is sidelined by chronic back pain issues.  No Wii Fit today.  Hell, no sitting upright today, for that matter.  I have 18 holes scheduled for tomorrow in Golden Gate Park actual outdoor exercise with people, not Mii’s to keep me company.  I hope I’m up for it.

Mediasapien out.

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Day 19

Well Mediasapien’s back is still sore, but it comes and goes.  So I’m off to the park and some RL disc golf.  I’m going to record my walking distance (and call it a hike) even if I don’t toss the disc.  Either way I will record my outdoor activity for Wii Fit credits and perform a body test later.

…Later. Golf was great.  Here’s the evidence, according to my iPhone and Pathtracker software:

After adding my Wii Fit credits, I took another body test.  My BMI hasn’t really budged much.  I’m still about 8-9 lbs overweight, but my improved center of balance and coordination have brought my Wii Fit age down to 36.  Woo Freakin’ Hoo.

Tomorrow Mediasapien is going to compare Wii Fit with an older Xbox game called Yourself Fitness – Microsoft’s effort at making a fitness title 3 years ago.

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Day 20

Bad new for Mediasapien.  Due to the flair up of old injuries, I can no longer continue my test of Wii FIt and other exercise and fitness games.  As reported several times over the last few weeks, the lower back was intermittently in spasm, and as I fired up the Xbox title Yourself fitness today, my left knee blew out severely.  Mediasapien hasn’t been in this much pain since first ruining my knees as a ballet student, which effectively ending any chance of a professional dance career back in high school and required 3 months of physical therapy.  So no exercise for at least 3-4 days. Period. None.  Even typing hurts my knees.

Too bad, because Yourself Fitness seemed to have potential.  The initial body test seemed more accurate than the Wii’s, even without the motion sensing tech – It evaluated resting and active heart rates, lower, core and upper body strength, weight and flexibility.  It even offered a built-in menu planner for weight loss, as well as the option to use any existing equipment you already have in your workouts.

Since the 30-day evaluation plan was cut short, I will hustle to get the final verdict posted within a day or two.  But for now, Mediasapien has to get off these throbbing knees, sit back and relax.   Maybe I’ll finally get a chance to sign up for Warcraft and see what all the fuss is about.





Wii Fit Workout 30 Day Exercise Challenge – Week 2

17 08 2008

Read all about week 1 here.

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DAY 9

Week 2 begins.  Yesterday Mediasapien rested and recovered a bit from the first complete week of working out, although I still went for a 2 mile walk.  Today, I was back at the Wii Fit.

Todays routine: Start with 6 minutes of hip-swinging hula action to get the blood flowing, followed by all the current yoga poses, which number 12 (out of 15).  This took the workout beyond 30 minutes, which is a minimal daily milestone.  Then it was on to my new favorite activity – boxing in Wii Sports.  

Evaluation: I know, technically Wii Sports boxing is not part of the Wii Fit workout. But the way I see it, this 30 day test is about whether a video game can be part of a fitness regime.  Sure the Wii Fit is the pointy tip of that spear, but ultimately any sweaty cardio can be exercise, so if other video games get me off my ass and moving, they should be counted as well.  Too bad the Wii Fit doesn’t allow me to manually add time spent on other activities.  The boxing is by far the sweatiest 10 minutes, so it would be nice for Wii Fit to factor that in.

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DAY 10

Good news.  While browsing Wii Fit’s menus, I came across the ability to add Wii Fit credits (basically time earned while exercising) while doing activities outside of the game.  This is important because I’ve been finding some of the best parts of my daily routine aren’t in Wii Fit per se, but in other Wii titles – specifically boxing.  Also, as of today all 15 yoga poses are unlocked, so of course I tried them all.  interestingly, the final few poses are done on the floor without the balance board or the Wiimote.  Basically you are following the game without any data collected on your performance.  Surprisingly, the trainer’s comments and encouragement don’t change.  Unless there is a some magical sensor technology at play, I think the game is bullshitting me.  Not the end of the world, but still…  Today’s total time in game is 46 minutes – 16 doing mixed cardio and 30 doing yoga.  Plus another 10 spent boxing.  

Speaking of sensors, I took another body test before working out today.  The game suggests having a test everyday, but that seems too fanatical, even for Mediasapien.  Once or twice a week seems plenty to track progress.  However, one misplaced sneeze during the evaluation can screw the whole thing up, as I discovered.  My Wii Fit age shot up to 46, from the previous milestone of 36 set a few days ago.  So after today’s workout I took the test again.  This time it gaves me a Wii Fit age of 41, but apparently I lost a one and a half pounds while working out.  Hmm…

Evaluation: Today I managed some of the best individual scores on about six yoga poses, based on balance and posture, and I worked out for about one hour, sweating hard for half of that time and stretching for the other half.  Overall I have better energy and stamina, and feel, well, great.

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DAY 11

Today I decided to emphasize cardio more than anything else, so after starting with a vigorous round of hula, I ran the Wii Island loop, for a total of 20 minutes of hard, sweaty movement.  Although the thrill of jogging with famous Mii’s is begining to wain a bit, it was still funny to be passed by Mona Lisa and “Assface”.  The free run mode is now unlocked, so maybe tomorrow, I can explore the island without following the pace-setter provided.

After running, I was going to call it a day, but decided to do the complete yoga circuit – 15 poses, most done on each side.  When finished, the total time today was 52 minutes.  Not bad considering I was ready to quit at 20.

Evaluation: With plenty of activities and exercises still to unlock, Wii Fit continues to keep Mediasapien enthusiastic about working out.

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DAY 12

Today was all about balance games ( and boxing).  I spent a sorta fun but not overtly useful 20 minutes playing through the various activities, including skiing and snowboard slalom, ski jumping, tilt-the-ball-and-maze, and feed the penguin.  Then a 5 minute hula warm up before hitting the ring for 5 or 6 fights.  I lost count and only quit when I was finally beaten.  My ranking in boxing rose from the low 600’s to over 800 (whatever that’s worth).  But the important thing is I killed ’em.

Evaluation:  The balance games are little more than an easy introduction to the mechanics of the balance board.  They are a mild diversion and fun for a while,  but ultimately forgettable compared to the rest of the Wii Fit offerings.

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DAY 13

Free run mode is now unlocked.  I was hoping that it would let me direct my own course across the island, but instead it seems to recognise the inherant boredom of running and suggests I watch TV while jogging.  It has a clever mechanism to allow this.  By utilizing the tiny speaker on the Wiimote, you can actually keep the game running but switch to TV, and still hear the trainer’s voice in your pocket.  This was a nice touch because 10 minutes jogging seems like a lifetime, but 10 minutes jogging while watching Hi Def History Channel just whizzed by.

Some of the more astute readers may have noticed that Mediasapien was avoiding one big part of Wii Fit most of the time.  I’m refering of course to the strength building exercises, you know, push-ups, jackknifes (knives?), leg lifts, etc…  Some of the more loathsome ways to spend a few minutes.  Well today, I avoid these hateful moves no more.  Digging in to all 11 available exercises, I dutifully work my abs, triceps, hips, delts, yadda, yadda.   I kinda hated it, but definitely feel the burn in several places I didn’t even know I HAD places.

Evaluation: Free run mode might just be one of the best elements of Wii Fit.  The strength building must be working, ’cause I freakin’ hate it.

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DAY 13

Skipped it.

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DAY 14

Today saw over an hour of exercise (40 minutes of yoga and 25 minutes boxing in Wii Sports).  The yoga trainer praised my progress on balance, core strength, and control – she actually applauded my efforts 3 or 4 times when my “score” reached 90 and above on various poses.  I realize that this praise is largely random at times, but it still offers an incentive.

On to boxing.  As previously stated, the boxing feels like a honest-to-goodness, full-tilt workout, getting Mediasapien’s whole body shuckin’ & jivin’.  The competition makes for an enthusiastic game, and progressing through the ranks keeps me coming back for more.  But as the competition gets harder to beat, some of the flaws are starting to appear.  The main issue is a lack of responsiveness from the Wiimote and Nunchuck – or more accurately, from the sensor that is reading the controller’s movements.  It just misses too many punches and jabs, leaving my Avatar exposed with no defensive posture.  This allows the competition to string together a rapid fire barrage of hits.   Once or twice is acceptable, but if that is the main reason the competition get the advantage, then Mediasapien gets steamed.  I don’t mind losing, but only because I suck, not because the game is sluggish, I literally threw the controllers across the room (aimed at a soft sofa – I’m not stupid!) in frustration.

Evaluation:  Mediasapien has mixed feelings about Wii and the workout it provides.  On one hand, it has been the best motivator to get me moving and sweating in a long while, provided an hour a day of mixed, and mostly fun activities.  But the best activity so far – the boxing – is starting to show it’s weaknesses.  Perhaps its time to see what other physically-demanding Wii titles are waiting in the used games bin at Gamestop.