Product Review: Wii Fit

27 May 2008

Does the Wii Fit have what it takes to get pulses racing?

The Nintendo Wii console has already changed the face of gaming by creating an emerging casual gamers market where young and old can join in this traditionally teenage male-dominated world with family-friendly games, which include tennis and bowling.

The real feather in Nintendo’s cap, however, is its latest game, the Wii Fit, which comes with a pressure-sensitive balance board that resembles the plastic platform used in step aerobics.

This piece of technology offers to be your personal trainer and get you fit as a fiddle with activities ranging from jogging to yoga to hula-hoops. However, it’s not as simple as jumping on the balance board and picking an activity.

In order to guide you through the ideal workout for your age and fitness level, similar to a personal trainer down your local gym, the Wii Fit will require you to go through a number of steps to gauge where your fitness is now and where it should be.

This was the most annoying part of the game and I felt like abandoning it several times. It took around half an hour to set up: it gathers information such as your age, height, weight, posture and balance and finally lets you begin.

Don’t worry if you appear off-balance – everyone I know that tried it was leaning a little to the left or right.

Now the fun begins! While the step aerobics and jogging didn’t really appeal to me, the fun games were the ones that left me breathless: hula-hoop, which is an aerobics workout, and slalom skiing, which improves balance.

The hula-hoop game basically involves you standing on the balance board waiting to be thrown a hula hoop by someone onscreen. You must keep rotating your hips to keep the hoops spinning, while diving either to the left or right depending on where the new hoops are coming from.

This game is great fun but be warned: to an onlooker you may look like a complete idiot spinning hoops that aren’t really there.

The slalom skiing game was just as fun, rushing down a slope and trying to avoid crashing into all the markers, while the ski jump was pretty difficult and involved good timing and (even better) leg muscles. Feel the burn!

I know what you’re thinking: it’s like buying a treadmill or rowing machine that you promise yourself you will use every day in order to get super fit in the comfort of your own home.

But the killer feature of the Wii Fit that sets it apart from the frankly self-delusional purchase of home fitness equipment is the daily tracking of your progress.

You will find yourself stepping up once, maybe twice a day, to see if your weight or BMI (body mass index) has changed. This will encourage you to ‘beat’ your current score, which will inevitably mean fitting in a good workout and perhaps avoiding junk food.

This is why I think the Wii Fit is not as female-oriented as it has been marketed. The competitive element will see as many men as women eager to switch on their Wii every day and get cracking with their goal of the ultimate Wii age.

If €80 seems like a high price for the average Wii game, just think about the investment. It is far cheaper than gym membership and no one has to see you in a tracksuit and sweatband flailing around ungracefully to step aerobics.

The Wii Fit is available from Dixons, Currys and PC World.

Pros: Gives a surprisingly solid workout
Cons: Set-up is really time-consuming
Price: €80 from PC World

By Marie Boran