Get Fit, Virtually

Reasons to take game systems seriously for weight loss

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Our lifestyles continually gravitate toward the computer-ized and virtual-ized. Why wouldn't our workout routines follow this pattern, too?

    When bump-on-a-log, couch potato Richie decided he needed to get moving and shape up, he turned to what he knew best:  video games. 

    Let’s rephrase -- fitness video games.

    “I gravitated toward a video game, because I thought it would give me exactly what I needed to make a successful workout-variation and guidance,” Richie said. “I was never one to do exercises correctly, try a variety of exercises or even do warm ups and cool downs.  I only did boring stuff, like use the elliptical machine or walk on the treadmill.”

    After scouring the net and reading reviews on top virtual picks, Richie decided on the EA Sports Active 2 Personal Trainer, which is a game compatible with the Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3

    The Personal Trainer includes well over 50 standard exercise combinations, like side lunges, alternating side lunges, front squats, sumo squats and so on.  The program also offers themed routines based around sports like basketball, soccer, cardio boxing, step aerobics, mountain boarding and mountain biking. 

    Nowadays, Richie sees a difference in his strength and his body tone.  “I can tell you, I feel so much better since I began back in January,” he said.  “I’m stronger and am definitely not having as much trouble doing some of the activities in the game now.”

    For Laura, a paralegal, the variation of the virtual Wii Fit routines provides an entertaining workout, motivating her to shed pounds in preparation for bikini season.

    “I like the silly games it makes me do,” she said.  “My absolute favorite is hula hooping.  I try to break my record every time, and after a few minutes of hula hooping my abs kill me the next day,” she said.  “I also like the aerobic step exercise.  I’m pretty challenged in the rhythm department, and the Wii Fit is easy to use.  I can really feel that I have done something.”

    Richie, a government contractor, also finds game system workouts ideal, because he logs long, ten hour work days.  On top of that, he is a pet owner and an evening visit to the gym is simply not conducive to his schedule. 

    “I have my dog Hobson at home.  I don’t want to have to run home and let him out, only to turn around and ditch him again for an hour,” he explained.

    Further, Richie admits that he is not comfortable working out in a gym. 

    “I’m not thrilled about having to go to a gym and working out in front of people.  I prefer to do that at home.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take very much to deter me from wanting to work out,” he said, “just the thought of having to leave the house and drive to the gym will about do it.”

    The length of each Personal Trainer workout varies according to the program and the level of difficulty set.  As a user gains endurance and strength, the number of repetitions will increase to ensure an effective workout. 

    Laura points out that, like with any exercise regimen, what you put in is what you get out of it.  Her workout goal is to commit to 90 minutes, four days a week.  To date, she has lost 15 pounds.

    “It’s all about putting forth effort.  With any exercise, if you don’t try, then you won’t see results,” stated Laura.  

    If you’re considering getting fit-by-video game, check out some of the following options, which are compatible with a variety of systems:  Kinect Sports, Zumba Fitness, Brunswick Pro Bowling and The Fight: Lights Out

    (Remember, though, to always check with a physician before engaging in any sort of physical exercise plan.  If given the go-ahead, see what’s out there that may best suit you.) 

    For those looking to amp up an otherwise mundane workout, Richie urges that you give virtual get-fit games a shot.

    “Whether it’s a primary or backup workout, you have a fully customizable routine to ensure you get a decent workout every time,” said Richie.  “What does it hurt?  Give it a try.”