Wii fitness games have become increasingly popular and sophisticated since the Wii was launched in 2006. With its motion sensor controllers, casual gaming platform and worldwide appeal to men and women of all ages, the Wii console has become the perfect platform for fitness video games.
The first major fitness game for the Wii was Wii Fit. Wii Fit comes bundled with the Wii Balance Board that lets you control your on-screen movements. When performing your exercises, the Balance Board feeds back every movement you make to the game, and the game tells you how well you are doing.
Even though Nintendo launched Wii Fit to show how well the Balance Board worked as a new game controller (in the same way that Wii Sports showed off how well the Wii remote controller worked), the Wii Fit game has been hugely popular, and is still number 1 in the game charts in the UK and other countries, almost 18 months after its release.
Based on the Wii Fit’s success, many other fitness games are now available on the Wii console, including the sequel to Wii Fit, called Wii Fit Plus.
The original fitness booms of the 80s and 90s were fuelled by the availability of video recorders and DVD players in every house. Celebrities and their trainers were quick to produce workout videos, and the low price of videos and DVDs made it easy for people to do these workouts at home.
The problem with these workout videos though, was that they were a one-size-fits-all solution, and users couldn’t personalize their workouts or change the exercise routines in any way. If you wanted a different workout, you had to buy a new workout video.
The huge popularity of the Wii console around the world has now sparked a new fitness boom, and the Wii’s interactive features now let users choose a variety of exercise routines in a single game.
Most Wii fitness games let users create highly personalised workout programs based on answers they input into the game. Games can also create multiple workout routines for different users, making them ideal for families to use.
And as these Wii fitness video games have become more and more popular, celebrities and their trainers have been quick to add their names to the titles too. These include Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum and Daisy Fuentes Pilates.
Each fitness game uses a slightly different format to make the games fun, engaging and challenging, and users need to decide what motivates them to exercise when choosing a fitness video game.
Wii Fit introduced the Wii Balance Board, and most of the games on the market now incorporate the Balance Board into the game for at least some of the exercises. This lets people use their Balance Boards if they have them, but doesn’t stop people from using the game if they don’t own a Wii Balance Board.
My Fitness Coach is one of the leading fitness video games on the Wii, and is one of the few that doesn’t make use of the Balance Board or remote controller during workouts. Instead the game makes use of an in-game avatar, called Maya, who acts as your personal trainer. Maya gives you exercise advice, does your workouts with you, and shouts encouragement when you feel like you’re about to collapse. This in-game personal trainer works really well to create a highly personalised experience.
EA Sports Active takes a different approach and makes use of the Wii remote controller, nunchuck controller and an exercise resistance band during workouts. Your movements with the Wii remote and nunchuck tell the game how well you’re doing your exercises and the resistance band acts as weights for people who don’t have any exercise equipment at home. EA Sports Active also includes a few exercises that can be done with the Wii Balance Board.
One thing that most of these fitness games have in common is the huge selection of exercises that come with each game. This lets all of the games mix and match exercises to give you lots of different workouts and to stop you from getting bored. Exercises usually include stretching, cardio, upper body strength, lower body strength, abdominals, and yoga.
In addition to these general fitness games, there are a few specialized games that focus on only one type of exercise program. Yoga for Wii and Daisy Fuentes Pilates are great for yoga and pilates fans who want to do only these workouts and not worry about cardio or other strength exercises.
While the first wave of fitness video games have been purely exercise games, the second generation of fitness games now include healthy eating plans to complement the great workout programs.
NewU Personal Trainer includes comprehensive exercise programs from the personal trainers at the Fitness First gym chain, together with personalized healthy menus from the team at “You Are What You Eat”. Combining exercise and healthy eating makes these perfect lifestyle games for the whole family.
Based on the success of the current fitness video games, and the inclusion of healthy eating menus that will take upcoming games to the next level, it’s hard not to recommend a Wii fitness game to anyone who is seriously thinking of starting an exercise routine.
The relatively cheap price of most games, and the wide variety of exercises in each game, makes it a very cost effective option for most people when compared to the price of a gym membership. This is highlighted even more when comparing the cost of a game to the cost of gym memberships for a whole family.
The ability to work out whenever you want (and in the comfort of your own home), the ability to create and store personal workouts and eating plans for each member of the family, and the ability to select your own personal on-screen workout environments and music, makes Wii fitness games ideal for singles, married couples and families looking to get active.
Steve Braude runs the website Nintendo Wii Explained.com. Like the Nintendo Wii, this website is fun and vibrant with articles that explain all the features of the Wii console, its games and accessories in plain, simple English.