Getting moving

Note: This is not a commercial or an endorsement of any kind. I'm not a cool enough blogger with a big enough following to be able to do that. This is just me talking about my experience. Do not take it as an endorsement.

Last April, we bought our family a Wii and the Wii Fit program to go with it. We justified this rather expensive investment (at least to us) by saying that it would get the kids, and us, moving more. We all lead a rather sedentary life-style, preferring Facebook to football and Netflix to walking. It was time for all of us to add some exercise to our lives.

Yes, we could have just started going for walks, or jogs, or ride our bikes, or just go outside. But we live in New Mexico. Except for a few weeks in the spring, and a few in the fall, it's either too hot, too cold, or too sand-stormy to be outside for very long, let alone exercise. Also, keep in mind that we didn't exercise at all before we got the Wii. We needed something to start us off small so we didn't hurt ourselves.

At first, we liked it. We all set ourselves up on it and we were all up and moving. Within a few weeks, though, we were all bored with it. I don't know exactly what it was, but speaking for myself, it was just too tedious. To get from one exercise to another, there was always a break and you and to go through the menu and choose the one you want, and then when that was over you had to go back to the menu and choose a new one. I spent more time dealing with the menu than working out. Eventually, the game sat on the shelf collecting dust and the balance board sat in the corner.

At Christmas time, we got the update to the game, Wii Fit Plus. As of yesterday, I've been using it for 4 weeks straight (a few days off here and there, but I'm still going.) The game as a feature that you can set up a workout and just go without having to stop and choose the next exercise. This has been good as it keeps me going. But you can't choose the exercises you want, you're limited to the ones they choose for you.

If you are thinking about getting Wii Fit Plus, here's some things you should know:

If you already live a fairly active lifestyle, working out at a gym or with a trainer, this is not for you. You might enjoy some of the games, but as far as a work out, it won't do much for you. The game is really designed for kids and adults that don't get any exercise.

The workout routines are nice, in terms of keeping you moving, but after several days, they do get a bit repetitious. After you have mastered an exercise, there is no way to use the advanced levels in the work outs. Eventually, you will find yourself picking and choosing the exercises from the menu, leading to long pauses in your workout. You can keep your heart rate up by walking in place while choosing your next exercise.

The game tells you to warm up and stretch before and after your workout, but it doesn't tell you how. For something aimed at beginners, that seems like an odd omission. However, I would encourage you to look to an expert as to the best way to stretch and warm up. I consulted several websites and found some stretching poses that seem to work.

Once you start, in spite of the repetition, the Wii Fit Plus is fun, and it will keep you moving. It's addictive.

I would suggest skipping the body test. It isn't accurate at all and doesn't really do anything for you. It gives you a seemingly arbitrary "Wii Fit Age" that is based on your weight and how well you perform on a balance test. One day your Wii Fit Age might be 10 years over your actual age and on the next, 10 years under. Use the simple test to get your weight, ignore the BMI. Talk to your doctor about what your ideal weight is and go by that. Most people will register as obese. There's no way the game system can know your actual BMI.

The best part of the game, to me, is the aerobics. The yoga is good, as are the strength exercises, but they are presented in a rather boring, almost clinical way. The aerobic exercises are a lot of fun. I really like the boxing, but it moves kind of slow because it stops to show you each set of moves. If you're doing it, you'll want to keep moving by jogging in place or doing a couple jumping jacks while the coach lays out the new moves.

The calorie counter on the game doesn't mean a whole lot, since there is no heart monitor to know what you heart rate is, but you can use it as a guideline to see how hard you have worked for the day. If you are following what's on the screen correctly, then you will be working.

In the 4 weeks I've been using it, I've lost 4 pounds. That doesn't seem like a lot compared to a diet program or what you see on TV shows like Biggest Loser. But a doctor will tell you that that is a good rate to lose weight. Also, bear in mind that I haven't changed my eating habits.

If you're thinking about getting it, go for it. Stick with it, you'll love it.