Video games aren’t just for couch potatoes. Try some ‘gamercise’
Time Out Bahrain staff
We’ve become pretty familiar with our games consoles over the summer. Okay, we’ll rephrase that: we’ve become very familiar with our games consoles over the summer. And while it’s now just about cool enough to peel ourselves off the sofa and rediscover the outside world, the thought of actually getting involved with any alfresco physical exertion still fills us with a deep and powerful dread. So, by way of compromise, we’ve had a crack at some of the most popular fitness games on the market. Do they really have any effect? Or are they just a loafer’s excuse for exercise?
Your Shape – Fitness Evolved
How does it work? Using Microsoft’s Kinect accessory (a natty, motion sensing device that sits at the bottom of your TV), you start off by undergoing a basic fitness check. With a few waves of your hand, you input your age, weight (don’t be tempted to lie about either, or you’ll skew your results later on) and activity level. It then plots these details against your height – which it detects automatically – to present you with your BMI score and personal calorie burning challenges. Select the ‘personal trainer’ mode and you’ll be put through your paces by a virtual, Lycra-clad Adonis; simply copy their movements (which include everything from star jumps to squat punches) and if the glowy orange version of yourself on the screen is judged to have matched them accurately enough, the little calorie counter in the corner will start notching up. Oh, and the sophistication of the Kinect’s sensor means it can tell when you try and sneak out a lazy half-squat, so don’t cut corners unless you can bear the humiliation of being berated by your own TV. For a less structured workout, there’s a selection of mini-games, which have you punching blocks, hula-hooping and generally prompting fits of giggles from the family as you flap your limbs about at thin air.
Do you really feel the burn? You most certainly do – and then some. After a sweaty 45-minute session in which we were judged to have burned off somewhere in the region of 200 calories, we were left feeling genuinely out of breath, while the following morning brought that satisfying ache in our legs, bum and abs. True, other games have done the whole ‘DIY aerobics class’ thing before, but only here are your motions accurately scrutinised, meaning you’re guaranteed to give your muscles an effective workout. There’s no controller to faff about with, either (menus are navigated simply by pointing at them), meaning you’ve got your hands free to check out the in-built yoga classes. Available for Xbox 360, priced around BD25. Kinect sensor is sold separately and priced around BD72.
Three more to try
Wii Fit Plus It may only be two years old, but this – and the original Wii Fit – are considered the great granddads of exergaming; guiding you through a series of simple workouts and tracking weight loss via the Wii Balance Board. But the real reason to get involved are the colourful mini-games, which are not only a blast to play but also great for building core strength. Available for Wii, priced around BD45 with Wii Balance Board
EA Sports Active 2 With more than 70 different exercises to dabble with and a nine-week programme designed by professional trainers, there’s plenty here to keep you perspiring. The software is also bundled with a small, wireless heart rate monitor that connects to your console to help you get more feedback from your workouts. Available for Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3, priced around BD25
Dance Central Not strictly a fitness game, but if you can stick at it for more than 15 minutes without running out of breath, you’re fitter people than we. Taking its lead from old skool rhythm games such as Dance Dance Revolution, this uses the Kinect sensor to track your movements as you throw shapes to the likes of Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue. Available for Xbox 360, priced around BD25