A Week With Wii Fit (Diary)

By Mike Mason 29.04.2008 15


Mike Mason :: April 28th 2008

You'd have to be blind to not have noticed the growing hype for Nintendo's latest market-widening endeavour, Wii Fit. With the title selling out of preorders way ahead of release and adverts flooding over TV screens, it's clear that this could be the title to do for Wii what Brain Training did for DS - as if Wii Sports alone wasn't enough. How well does it actually work, though? Could training in front of your TV really replace a trip down to the gym? Or is it all one big cynical marketing ploy desperate to exploit the growing waistbands of our nations' youths? Mike Mason takes on Wii Fit for a week to see how well it works in practice...

Day One: Monday 21st April 2008

Finally, it has arrived! Unlike many, I've actually been looking forward to Wii Fit for a long time as I've found the concept interesting from the very start, even before the Balance Board was unveiled. Now it's here though, and I can't help but feel slightly apprehensive. Am I really ready for this? Is it going to dash all my anticipation for it in a few cruel motions? Is it actually worth it? Only one way to find out...

After a brief battle with the packaging, the Balance Board is out for all and yonder to see. A surprisingly weighty beast - incidentally, the carrying of the package home was a mini-exercise in itself - it's solidly built and looks like it'll have no trouble supporting my weight. On we hop, then. First things first, I have to tap in my height and date of birth so that it can do some preliminary tests. How's my balance? Very good, Wii Fit says. Thanks very much. What's my BMI? Hmm...26?! Apparently this makes me overweight - now I know how poor Reggie felt at E3 2007. It really is partially muscle! Partially. It also inaccurately puts my weight up by a few pounds (I know it's inaccurate as I weighed myself just a little while beforehand), tipping me over the 13 stone mark. Still, the technology is impressive and it's only a little out, so I'll let it off. Oh, and apparently my Wii Fit age is 36. Brilliant.

Already, then, the lines have been drawn. Wii Fit giveth the compliments, but it also hands out cruel verdicts complete with my poor little Mii fattening up as they are announced. Still stinging from the double punch of the overweight verdict and my Wii Fit age being 14 years higher than my actual age, I am tricked/forced into setting myself a target to meet. I choose to lose 1 stone and 8 pounds over the next month like a fool, but even when I try to do good Wii Fit cajoles me and tells me I'm doing it all wrong. Apparently it's only healthy to lose up to three pounds over a fortnight. Foiled again, Wii Fit has already gotten me into a two month training programme. Ashamed of my inadequacies, I decide to plough into some of the exercises. No pain, no gain...

The next forty minutes are a blur of muscle exercises, yoga, aerobics and balance games. I'm not going to go into each of these in detail for now - they will be explored during the week - but I will tell you that by the end of this session (in which I do well and fail in about equal proportions) I am both in awe and slightly terrified. Firstly, Wii Fit really does offer a decent work out and from my place flopped in a tired heap on the floor I can already see the potential for it working; perhaps not as a gym replacement, but as a form of exercise that's much, much better than nothing. Secondly, the Balance Board is scarily accurate. It knows when I'm doing something properly and it knows when I give up an exercise for a split-second, and it has no problems letting me know that it knows through its android personal trainers. It senses the slightest touch of my heels as I perform jackknives. It can feel the slightest movement that I make as I attempt to stand still. To impress Wii Fit is going to be an uphill battle...

Day Two: Tuesday 22nd April 2008

Today I decide to start off my session by easing myself in with some of the balance games. These are the ones that involve heading footballs by shifting your weight to match where the balls are flying, tightrope walking by literally walking on the board and making sure you move about so you don't go falling into the death drop below and the other fun things like ski jumping. Pleasingly, I find myself much better at the ski slalom this time round, only missing a couple of the gates, and I can actually get the balls to their goals in the "tilt-the-board-and-get-the-balls-into-the-holes' game. So far so good.

With spirits raised I decide to force myself through more yoga, and once that's stretched me out a bit too much for my liking it's onto the muscle exercises and aerobics. Already I seem to be improving in all areas, or at least staying the same - apparently I'm now a master of some of the muscle exercises and am on par with a yoga trainer. More things are unlocking readily now too; extra difficulty settings/reps for existing exercises, new exercises altogether. It all feels very rewarding and with another forty minute workout behind me they feel well earned.

To end my session for the day I take a body test and...devastation. My Wii Fit age has actually increased to 37 despite my improved scores on the activities. Perhaps leaving the test until the very end of my session was a bad idea. Tomorrow, I will prove to Wii Fit that I can do better. I hope.

Day Three: Wednesday 23rd April 2008

Family, meet Wii Fit. Wii Fit, meet family. Yes, I've decided to be a bit more social today and my sister has joined in for the exercising fun. She's quite disappointed to learn of her fitness age, with a similar reaction to my own, but luckily for her Wii Fit doesn't have it in for her entirely and has declared that she is the ideal weight. We take turns with the yoga exercises and it turns out that Wii Fit is just as good an experience with multiple people as it is alone. When alone I find myself trying to push myself; with somebody looking on, the game feels much less serious, which leads me to think that it might be a decent, if strange, party piece.

My fitness age has dropped a couple of years to 35 today, thankfully. I'd hope that this is due to my increasingly lengthy workouts rather than sheer luck. Pushed forward by my slightly healthier ranking and a small decrease in my BMI I start to take on the advanced levels for the exercises, with double the amounts of repetitions - absolute killers on some of the muscle workouts such as lunges (surely some unprepared peoples' toes are going to be injured by this one), yet I'm somehow gaining 4/4 star ratings and "Muscle Legend" rankings on some of them. I'm also growing fond of many of the aerobics games - I'm now reasonably competent at hula hoops, have gained a sense of rhythm for the somewhat dance-esque step aerobics level and have discovered the glory that is rhythm boxing. Holding a nunchuk and remote in each hand and standing on the board, you must step a foot forward to launch your assault, and then punch as you would expect; block by planting both feet firmly on the board. If you thought Wii Sports boxing was tiring, you've seen absolutely nothing.

Day Four: Thursday 24th April 2008

Today is not a day for exercise. For reasons I can't fathom I'm not in the mood for exercise-based fun, but still I attempt to soldier on. To ease myself in I once again go for the balance games first, which are now feeling much more natural than they did on the first day. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily great at them - I'm still only getting a maximum of three out of four stars for each, and usually less than that. The ski based games are definitely my favourites, particularly the ski-jump, and in a similar vein I've unlocked the snowboarding game which requires the Balance Board to be turned so that I am stood on it side-on to the TV, just as if on a snowboard. It's probably the most difficult game of the lot, but much more interesting than the one where you tilt to move a penguin on an iceberg and gobble up fish (fun in its own right, but not too challenging).

I have a nice long jog and at the end unlock an even longer course that will take me around the entire island. When I move on to yoga, however, everything falls apart and I realise that my thought of 'not an exercise day' was correct - my balance is all over the place in the most pathetic fashion. My subsequent body test and Wii Fit age reflect the thought as well. While, happily, my BMI has dropped a little, my age has increased to a disappointing 37. Here's hoping for a more positive attitude tomorrow.

Day Five: Friday 25th April 2008

I have a busy day, so I don't get a chance to do much with Wii Fit today. I do manage to get in some muscle exercises and a body test, which reveals my age as 36, but that's about it. The beauty of the package, however, is that you don't always have to be doing hours of exercise. You can spend ten minutes on it or thirty minutes and you'll still feel like you've gotten something, no matter how little, out of it. Even though I'm only on it for a small amount of time, some new challenges appear in the muscle workout category, such as testing how many press-ups I can do compared to the trainer. I opt not to touch these for now.

It's worth noting that you can lob your other activities from your day into the game, and it keeps track of them on the graph alongside the Wii Fit workouts to give a more accurate look at how active you've been. You can add all the sorts of things you would expect - walking, dancing, swimming, running, etc. - and adds it all up with the work you've done on Wii Fit for a far more satisfying, and less guilt-inducing, tally of exercise.

Day Six: Saturday 26th April 2008

It's crunch time. Feeling bad for my lack of work yesterday I launch myself into an all-out regime, covering all the bases as much as I can, while still tactfully avoiding the island run-around and the muscle challenges as I'm not sure how ready I am for any of them. I've got a few new muscle exercises to try out, such as the surprisingly difficult parallel stretch (support your weight on your forearms and toes, don't let your body drop) and have unlocked about 75 - 80% of the tasks by now, though it"s done so gradually on the game"s part that I haven"t even realised this up until this point. Sadly, one of the games I unlock today is the most boring. I'm tasked with sitting on the board and looking at a candle, trying not to move at all or the candle will go out. It's utterly uninteresting and I'm not entirely certain how it managed to make its way in. Disappointing.

My apathy from the last couple of days may have paid off, though. I come back to Wii Fit refreshed and raring to go, and while my BMI has increased slightly (more than likely due to my tipping of alcohol down my throat for two nights running) my age is extremely satisfying after my workout. I'm now 26, only four years off target. Maybe I'm ready for those challenges afterall.

Day Seven: Sunday 27th April 2008

This is it, the final day of my week with Wii Fit, and I'm out to prove myself. The tough stuff I refused to do yesterday? Let's go for it. A jog around the entire island is first up, and ends up being the longest single workout of the game - 11 minutes of running action through a variety of locations on the pretty island, all while fellow Miis run, wave and trip around me. Naturally, this warms me up decently, so next I dive right into the challenges. Mr Trainer Man is ready and raring to go as I select the press up challenge, but I beat him when he quits after a mere ten reps. The same is true with the jackknives test. He calls himself a gym trainer!

Despite the joy of winning, I can't help but feel disappointed in the android-like man who has guided me through the last week. To get rid of the bitter taste left in my mouth by the experience I take on the advanced stages of hula hooping (I seem unable to hula clockwise very well, which is definitely something to work on), steps (which gets insane as it asks you to clap, kick and step onto the board sideways in a seamless fashion; I do alright, but could be much better) and rhythm boxing (becoming more challenging by having to dodge backwards and to the sides as well as block and punch to the rhythm). This leaves me exhausted, and now it's time for my final body test of this little experiment. On we go...my BMI is down again, but my age has somehow crept back into the 30s. A mildly depressing end to the week.

There you have it, then; my first week with Wii Fit. Will I keep up with the exercise programs it offers? Undoubtedly I'll be trying to keep it scheduled into my life, as no matter what my Wii Fit age might say I'm feeling much healthier than this time last week and like I have been through some improvement, even if it is only slight. I would definitely recommend exercising with the title; you probably won't get as much out of it as you would a trip to the gym, but when the alternative to a decent 40 minute workout on Wii Fit is doing nothing it's a fair replacement. One issue I would level at it is the weighing system. It seems relatively accurate, but it should be taken as a guideline rather than gospel. For example, at one point I doubted its accuracy and took two tests in a row, only to find that my BMI miraculously changed between the two tests even though they were carried out within two minutes of each other.

My favourite section of Wii Fit would have to be the aerobics, which are the real fat burners of the piece. Jogging, rhythm boxing and steps are probably some of the best workouts you can get in your living room, and combining these with the muscle toning exercises could work wonders in conjunction with a bit of separate weight training. I'm still not too sold on yoga in terms of improving balance, mainly because I'm still wobbling around like a jelly on a pneumatic drill when I'm trying, but they're great for warming up and stretching out. Despite the doubters, Nintendo have done it again when it comes to their market expanding titles and I would wholeheartedly agree with Adam's review score. If you have a Wii, it's time to get Fit...

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Comments

Serious question: Would you class it as a game? Because I don't see how anyone could.

( Edited 30.10.2012 14:35 by Guest )

Excellent article Mike, I'm really enjoying reading it so far. Smilie

Just got passed the first part, but I'm gonna have to read the rest tomorrow, as my eyes are hurting trying to read it on the Wii, Sorry.

[Written on Wii]

( Edited 30.10.2012 14:35 by Guest )

Go to C3 Wii or zoom in. I'm also using the Wii.

Naah this ain't a game. I see it more as a tech demo for the balance board. But if the skii-ing is any good then ski-sim.

( Edited 30.10.2012 14:35 by Guest )

Of course its a game. lol. At least it contains games, as well as more serious fitness related information.

But I dont think it really matters if you consider it a game or not, so long as people find it fun and enjoyable it is a game to them.

( Edited 30.10.2012 14:35 by Guest )

That's a great article, top stuff Mike Smilie

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Thanks for the comments guys. Smilie

knighty said:
Serious question: Would you class it as a game? Because I don't see how anyone could.

I would, yeah. It's definitely in the realms of the training games though; I can't remember who said it or what their exact wording was to describe that sort of game, but I liked it. It's a 'constructive' game in that it's helping you improve yourself rather than being an all out funfest. Some of the sections are pretty much an interactive workout package (yoga and muscle workouts), but the aerobics and balance game sections are where the main fun lies and are more like traditional games with a new slant with the Balance Board, which is probably why I enjoyed those sections the most. So the content is probably 50/50 game/non-game in my eyes.

Guest 29.04.2008#7

I don't care if it's a game or not. It looks fun enough to try it someday, something which a lot of games lack.

What is a stone? How many lbs. is it?

A little help for your non-European enthusiasts.

Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.
Guest 29.04.2008#9

BlueRocks said:
What is a stone? How many lbs. is it?

A little help for your non-European enthusiasts.

Yeah, would be great if they'd say how many kilogram it is, for the normal Europeans. Smilie

A stone is 14 lbs which is about 6.4 kilos.

Kilos =/= Weight.

Sorry to be a devil\'s advocate Smilie

( Edited 29.04.2008 18:50 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

knighty said:
Serious question: Would you class it as a game? Because I don't see how anyone could.

Or is it hardware with software tossed in?
Like Wii Play and Mario Kart Wii.

Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.
Image for


haha your FAT

Good job that isn't me then. Smilie

I'm not happy with the fact that BMI has crept into Wii Fit like this. Although it is an easy way of showing an overall representation of how you should be, BMI is not an accurate representation of how unhealthy someone is. Muscle tissue does indeed weigh a lot more than fat tissue which isn't taken into account when calculating BMI.

People shouldn't get too hung up on their BMI claiming that they are "overweight". My BMI is about 26 but I would not classify myself as overweight at all (I do have quite a bit of muscle tissue due to the gym, but there is some chub I admit Smilie). I know people that are bigger than be but can run for miles on a treadmill Smilie

I know that it will probably say this on the packaging or in the booklet or something, but Wii Fit should really only be used as a guide for weight maintenance.

Co-founder of the PDSLB - Pink DS Lite Buddies Fraz: Cheerios are made from fairy orgasms.

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