The Virtual Fitness Revolution

We’ve come along way since the Jane Fonda workout videos of the 80’s and then Cindy Crawford in the 90’s. But the latter half of the 2000’s has really seen an explosion in the number of digital and virtual exercises programmes available to us. Of course there’s the huge global success ofWii Fit and more recently this year, the Nike+Kinect on Xbox, so we thought we’d give you an overview and test if they are just as good as the more traditional approaches to exercise and fitness.
Wii Fit and Wii Dance
The Wii Fit really led the way in terms of virtual video game exercise. Initially launched in Japan in 2007, its success surprised everyone as video games have typically been seen as encouraging inactivity rather than fighting against it. As of this year, 22.67 million copies of Wii Fit and 20.48 million copies of Wii Fit Plus have been sold worldwide, making it the third best selling console game in history.
One of the main advantages of Wii Fit is that you can use the game and console in the convenience of your own home rather than going to the gym or outside to jog. Calories burned per hour vary according to the sport, but Wii Fit Boxing, Zumba and Tennis top the list by burning 358, 319 and 299 calories per hour respectively. Not bad for a virtual workout! The other major plus is the high number of players allowed per game, which goes up to four and have made it a fun and competitive social activity at dinner parties around the world.
Another big plus is that you tailor the program to your own needs, so if you want to work mainly on your legs you can do that exercise programs that will build up those muscles. It also has some less conventional uses, including physiotherapy rehabilitation. The yoga and balance games are the right level of intensity for those undergoing physiotherapy and studies have seen significant results. Similarly, Wii Fit has been used in nursing homes by elderly people and has helpedimprove their posture and mobility through using the yoga, flexibility and balance exercises.
Wii Just Dance is less health conscious than Wii Fit given that the objective of the game is to dance to pop and dance tunes and have fun, but it still promotes fitness and sufficiently raises the heart rate to improve overall health. Some users prefer it to Wii Fit as you’re not using the game specifically to become healthier; it’s just an added bonus. The main goal is to have fun and show off your dance moves. We like the sound of that!

Nike+Kinect
Nike+Kinect Training is Xbox’s take on Nintendo’s Wii Fit. Released at the end of October this year; the game works on the premise that the user has a virtual trainer who creates customised workouts for them. Handy features include the Fitness Challenge which assesses fitness levels and gives you a customized Fuel Print so that workouts can be devised accordingly, and you can find out your general health and athletic abilities, whilst identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
Unlike the Wii Fit, Nike+Kinect Training doesn’t require a controller, but you use your voice and hands to activate the Kinect (gasp!) which is scarily futiristic and most all useful, as it means that your workout is not disrupted by having to use menu navigation and you can move as freely as possible. Like the Wii Fit and Just Dance, there is the added convenience of using the games at home and it being cheaper than a yearly gym membership. Not having to deal with difficult weather conditions if you go for a run outside in the winter sounds like heaven. Yes, we have already asked Santa and yes, we would be feeling smug about owning this for obvious reasons.

InstructorLive
The success of Wii Fit and now Nike+Kinect Training is in part due to their flexibility time wise. Since they can be used at home, you waste less time traveling to the gym or going for a jog when you only have a limited workout slot available. And with research showing that many self-conscious people are shying away from the gym in favour of working out at home, this has brought about a whole new fitness revolution.
InstructorLive incorporates the best elements of video game exercising and going to a gym class: you don’t have to leave the house but you are able to see and follow your instructor’s directions, interacting with them and asking questions on the Live Community page. The benefit is having a real human being on the other side of the screen and the variety of classes we have available which don’t require added costs of a console, game and tech gadgets. If you don’t already own an Xbox 360 or Wii, InstructorLive is your best option! What it comes down to is that you utilise it according to your schedule, with the added stability of having a real instructor rather than a virtually simulated one. It’s essentially the 21st century equivalent of the fitness video!
Verdict
Everyone should engage in 30 minutes of low to moderate cardiovascular activities daily, as it can prevent life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, liver disease and certain types of cancers. All these virtual workout experience are rendered more exciting by placing you as a character inside the game, so are a fun way to reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
So, even if you still like to hit the gym, any of the above options are a great way to complement your workouts and boost your metabolism. We especially think it’s the perfect way to start your day! Just think about it: wake up, switch on the TV/computer and get moving. Versus: getting out of bed, packing your gym gear and braving the cold, dark winter mornings to get to the gym before beginning your workout. For a thirty minute-long workout, which one would you rather have?