Summer, it’s swimsuit season, so everybody is obviously trying to work off the hot dogs and ice cream as fast as they can. I know it can be rough, but there’s a new, really fun way to get rid of this excess weight, and it’s right up your alley.
My usual morning routine goes as follows:
1. Wake up, begrudgingly, and go make myself breakfast, egg-white omelet with spinach and sriracha sauce and some turkey bacon.
2. Watch some news programs as I eat.
3. Play videogames for an hour.
5. Start working.
A lot of people reading this are probably curious: “you play videogames for an hour every morning?!” Well yeah, I can’t wake up without it, leads to a more productive day, and it’s a great way to stay in shape!
Video games, a “great way to stay in shape?”
Most people would scoff and tell me I’m delusional, but thanks to the latest waves of technology, pioneered by the Nintendo Wii, specifically the Wii Fit, and improved by both the Xbox 360’s Kinect and the Playstation Move, fitness video games are starting to become something that can actually help.
As a gamer, I was pretty skeptical about fitness video games, “there’s no way you can loose weight and get in shape playing video games.”
I was wrong.
4 years ago I was a solid 250lbs, hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in a few years and was trying to find a way to really kickstart my weight-loss. I didn’t want to go to the gym, treadmills were boring, lifting weights just wasn’t engaging, and I was too nervous to try any group classes. That’s when I noticed “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved”, a fitness video game for the Xbox 360. I had a Kinect that I never really used aside from the gimmicky game that came with it, and it was mostly a Netflix controller for me. I got a copy of “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” on Gamefly and kept it after a week. The programs were fun, engaging, encouraging, and accessible. The first week I had the game I worked out every day, for the first time, probably ever.
Because the game was actually a lot of fun, the visuals weren’t anything special, but the workout routines were great, combinations of kick-boxing, push-ups, crunches, and squats. The stat tracking was also very encouraging, showing how you improve, no matter how little, really helps motivation. That isn’t to say the game was without flaws, the tracking often lost me, my play space wasn’t large enough so I had to get a Nyko Zoom Lens, which allows me to be closer to the Kinect while I work-out, and the work-outs got a little repetitive and boring after a while.
Then the sequel came out, “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012″.
This one really blew me away as a fitness video game.
The tracking was much improved, still a few issues here and there, but I’m in a less than ideal space, my favorite exercises returned, much improved and with more challenging versions, there are a few DLC packs, and some really great workout plans for 30 or 60 days, that focus on Strength training, Toning, or Weight Loss. These programs keep you motivated and keep you coming back, something that I just never found at the gym. There are leaderboards so you could compete with friends over how many blocks you can punch or how many pushups you can do without a break.
The biggest thing that surprised me, in a good way, was the level of difficulty.
A lot of these workouts and programs were things that I had seen on videos like P90-X, needless to say, it got intense and I really had to bring it, as Tony Horton would say. I’m talking T-Push ups, where you do a push up, then balance on one arm while the other is raised in the air, V-ups, sitting down lifting your legs in the air and touching your toes, and other, equally intense body-weight exercises. On top of these intense work-outs and fight training, they also had Yoga, Pilates, and all kinds of Dance programs, of varying difficulties. I found myself doing these at least 3 times a week, you work up a great sweat, it teaches you proper posture on the poses, and thanks to the tracking, gives you feedback on said poses, and encourages you to do them independently of the game.
Eventually though, I realized that my favorite thing about these programs were the kick-boxing and fighter training programs, so I decided to try out “UFC Personal Trainer” fitness video game on my Xbox 360.
This game was amazing, the tracking great, lots of different programs, they encourage you to use weights or resistance bands, and it provided a challenge for the higher level work-outs. You can choose a bunch of different “Trainers” to work with who are all professional UFC trainers and fighters, and helped to make this game. All of the exercises and routines in the game are made by REAL UFC FIGHTERS.
It. Is. INTENSE.
I usually warm up with a hit the mitts routine, where a trainer guides you through about 5 minutes of punching, kneeing, and kicking digital mitts, then I move on to one of the work-out programs, or if I’m feeling like continuing cardio and punching, I’ll load up one of my custom, “combo-only” workouts. The real benefit to this game over the others is the involvement of the trainers, they respond to how you do exercise and offer improvements, “keep your foot back”, “get that knee higher”, etc.
With this in mind, I am really excited to see how the PS4 and the Xbox One handle fitness video games. With everything that the new cameras are promising, especially Xbox One’s new Kinect that can track your heart rate, I’m very excited to see how fitness games kick it up for the new generation.
The tracking, I’d imagine, is going to be even better making the Zumba and Yoga programs all the better, admittedly I’ve never tried the Zumba programs or the dance work-outs, but I’m sure their great, and I have lady friends who rave about the Zumba fitness video games. Imagine being able to go through a full 2-hour yoga program with a highly trained instructor telling you what you need to do to make the pose perfect, without ever leaving your house, or paying somebody hundreds of dollars an hour to come to your home.
In short, if you’re looking to shed some pounds, get in shape, or just try a new workout, pick up one of these games, they’re challenging, a lot of fun, easy to do at home, and they’re effective. Pairing these programs with a healthy diet has lost me over 70 pounds of fat, I now weigh in at 190, so get off the couch and play some video games!