Let's get on with it!So, here I am, shoes off, standing on the Wii Balance Board, which is the heart of the Wii Fit program. First time set-up is very simple, just fit the supplied batteries and s press the synch button to connect the Balance Board to your Wii via Bluetooth and you’re done. After that, anytime you want to use it, just press the power button and the board synchs up with the Wii and you’re away.
Creating a user profile to track your progress is simplicity itself as you use one of your Miis as a user account and I’m sure everyone has created a Mii in their own likeness… so that’s that sorted. Wii Fit starts off by giving you a simple BMI check, based on your weight and height as I discussed on the previous page. Sadly, for tubby buggers like me, it then changes how your Mii looks based on the results… And the Wii came up with me being overweight according to my BMI and now I have a somewhat rotund Mii… Happily, this is only on the results screen, so my Mii, if I shared him over the net, wouldn’t be a big porker to the rest of the world.
As its name suggest, the Balance Board is just that and as such, Wii Fit is constantly measuring how much weight you put on each leg and how you’re centred left to right and front to back. It’s pressure sensitive too, measuring not just where you’re putting your weight but how much of it too, which comes into play with the various fitness programs built into Wii Fit.
Now I’m not going to call Wii Fit a ‘game’ as it most definitely doesn’t fall into the usual adrenaline filled excitement genre that we would normally call a game. No, this is fitness software for all the family with various mini-sections and workouts designed to help you tone up, improve your posture and generally make you more aware of your fitness. As I said before, as a rough guide it’s pretty good but in no way should you use Wii Fit as you’re sole source of fitness information, you need more advanced stuff for that.
Anyway, there’s four different fitness sections to Wii Fit. Yoga, Muscle Workout, Aerobics and Balance games and the latter is where I headed first. These are a set of mini games that you control with the Balance Board, shifting your weight around to control the game. The simplest is the football heading game where you just lean left or right to head footballs… and staying in the centre for straight kicks is the hardest bloody part! The more time you spend using Wii Fit, the more games you unlock and, if you elect to keep your profile public, you can see your score against others using the same Wii as well as track personal bests etc.
The Yoga section is all about balance and posture and your on-screen personal trainer takes you through some gentle Yoga exercises using a variety of positions as you stand on the board. It’s actually quite relaxing but for someone with a dodgy knee like me, I did start to feel the strain even on the beginner stuff.
The muscle workout uses the Balance Board to sense how much pressure you’re putting onto various parts of the board as you do various exercises using your own body as the weight to lift. The simplest is the press-ups, but there’s plenty more to do all without the need for any extra equipment. One thing I would note here is that doing the exercises on laminate flooring can be quite painful so perhaps get a Yoga mat or something to cushion yourself… and maybe something to lay on top of the Balance Board as the surface of the Board can be uncomfortable for bare hands.
And finally there’s the Aerobics section, which uses a combination of the Balance Board and Wii Remote to track how you’re doing. There’s a Hula Hoop ‘game’ where the idea is to rotate your hips and keep the hoop spinning, gathering more as you go. You stand on the board for this and it senses you shifting your weight as you gyrate your hips. But for jogging you don’t use the board at all but either hold the Wii Remote or pop it in your pocket and then run on the spot. (Quick Tip: Hold the Wii Remote or put it into a deep pocket… having it too near your waist means it doesn’t move much and you’ll have to work twice as hard to get anywhere!)
Through all of these sections Wii Fit firmly places an emphasis on not over-doing it, something I whole-heartedly agree with it; not because I’m a lazy bugger but because I’ve seen loads of people kick off a fitness regime, overdo it in the first week and then give up because they’ve knackered themselves out. Fitness is a gradual, constant thing and that’s where Wii Fit, in my opinion, slots perfectly into most families’ lifestyles.
But the big question is, is it worth the money? Well I think that adults will be getting far more out of Wii Fit than youngsters will. My kids like the mini-games and the eldest is into the Yoga but that’s about it. I, on the other, am avoiding Yoga like it was an Ebola-topped pizza and instead I’m focusing on Aerobic and muscle stuff… and so far I’m not aching or dreading turning the Wii on for another session.
Considering a monthly gym membership is going to cost me around £20 a month and then needs the investment of my time (something I just don’t have), I reckon Wii Fit is pretty good value for money… if I can keep at it for 3 months or longer. That said, there’s far more motivation built into Wii Fit than just the self-discipline to roll up to the gym three times a week… and can do get on the Balance Board everyday without having to make a trip to the gym.
Of course, with the Balance Board out there now, the way is open for developers to start using it as another control method in other types of games. Obvious choices would be as a surfboard, snowboard or skateboard… but how about as the movement control in an FPS or the kick control in a beat-em-up?
Overall, if you’re looking for a fun, new action game on the Wii, Wii Fit isn’t for you. However, if you, like me, are concerned about your overall fitness but just don’t have the time or motivation to get off your bum and do something about it, Wii Fit is an excellent way to make a start to sorting yourself out.
Simple and easy to use
Entry level exercises through to tougher workouts
Gives you guide to your overall fitness
Lets you track your stats and see improvements
Get fitter in the privacy of your own home
Cheaper than a gym club membership
Solely using the BMI is not the best indicator of fitness
Some exercises can strain weak joints – be careful!
Youngsters will get bored pretty quickly
Cheaper than a home gym, cheaper than a gym membership Wii Fit is one fitness ‘gadget’ you’ll probably keep on using