While the Wii brought body movements to the world of digital gaming, the Wii Fit adds yet another dimension. It turns its games into exercise. The original Wii Fit has been unbelievably popular. Now Nintendo has introduced a new Wii Fit called the Wii Fit Plus. We looked at this new gaming-exercise device to see if it could deliver a true “exercise is fun experience.”
As shown in Figure 1, the Wii comes in a fairly plain box that is actually bigger and heavier than expected.
Figure 1: The Wii Fit Plus box.
Inside the box you will find the Wii Fit itself, shown in Figure 2. Also included is the software disk, 4 AA batteries and four extension legs which can be added to the bottom of the Wii if it will be used on plush carpeting.
The heft of the box comes from the Wii Fit balance board itself which is roughly 8.8 lbs (4 kilograms) and measures 20.5 x 13.2 x 3.1 inches (52 x 33.5 x 33 cm)
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Set up of the Wii Fit is very easy. You turn the board upside down and insert the 4 AA batteries, as shown in Figure 3. In this Figure you can also see the gray rubber feet which keep the Wii stable when used on tile, wood, or other slippery floors. As noted earlier, if you have thick carpets you can place the included additional feet on top of the rubber feet to add height to the balance board while maintaining its stability. The balance board is very sturdy. It can accommodate people up to 330 lbs (150 kg).
Figure 3: The bottom of the balance board.
Before you use your Wii Fit, you have to sync it with your Wii. This is generally something you will only need to do once. You remove the battery cover on the bottom of the Wii Balance Board. When you press and release the small red SYNC button on the Wii Balance Board, which is seen above the batteries in Figure 3, the blue light on the front board, shown in Figure 5 will start blinking. You then open the small SD Card slot cover on the front of the Wii console ( shown in Figure 4) and press and release the red SYNC button while the blue light on the board is still blinking. The blue light will stop blinking and turn a steady blue showing you that the synchronization is complete. After that, you turn on the Wii balance board by simply pressing the button on the front of the board, shown in Figure 5.
When you start using the Wii Fit you are asked to input your height and date of birth. Then you are asked to step on the balance board for a weigh in. This data is used to calculate the user’s BMI (Body Mass Index), which is commonly used in medical and exercise assessments to determine whether the person is underweight, normal, or overweight. Then a balance test is given. This requires the user to shift their balance. There are on-screen instructions that walk the user through this routine. You are then given your Wii Fit age and are encouraged to work at improving both your BMI and your Wii Fit age.
The on-screen instructions walk you through the activities. This may entail stepping in place, stepping on and/or off the board, moving your hips, shifting your weight, or a plethora of other movements. Once you get involved in a Wii Fit activity, the use of the board is quite intuitive.
All of the activities of the Wii Fit revolve around the balance board. While it is quite plain looking, it has a lot of technology inside. The board is extremely sensitive so it picks up even small shifts in weight.
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The original Wii Fit came with a disk with fun activities and exercises. The new Wii Fit Plus includes all of the original activities plus six new exercises and 15 new balance board games. It also adds a calorie tracker and the ability to create customized workout programs.
If you have the original Wii Fit, you can simply purchase the Wii Fit Plus the Plus upgrade for USD 19.99. You will be purchasing the software disk, as shown in Figure 6. This is the same disk that comes with the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus.
Figure 6: The Wii Fit Plus software.
Nintendo did a great job with this update. All of the activities in the original Wii Fit software are also in the Plus – with, of course, many new activities and features. If you own the original Wii Fit and decide to upgrade to the Plus version, you simply put in the new disk and the device transfers over all your weight-ins and your activities from the original version. We have to applaud Nintendo for making the transition so easy.
Whether you add the Wii Fit Plus software to your original Wii Fit or you get it with the Wii Fit Plus package, you will find that the new software adds a lot to the functionality of the device. In the original Nintendo Wii, some of the exercises were locked, or more or less hidden, until you reached a certain level of proficiency. With the Wii Plus, all the exercises are immediately available, which is a much preferable situation for the end user.
The new games, like the old are well-thought out and just plain fun. There are 5 areas to choose from including: Training Plus, Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, and Balance Games.
From twirling a hula hoop on your waist to skateboarding to riding a Segway on the beach, the games make you move. If you avoid the yoga and strength training exercises, you may not get much of a work out on the Wii Fit. However, you can create a well-rounded exercise program with the Wii Fit that will really make you move. We watch as an 8-year-old boy played and each time, he really worked up a sweat. For some, this will be the answer for the couch potato in their family.
The games are fun. They include things like boxing, step dancing, jogging, ski jump, and ski slalom. Each game works on a specific area like balance or fat-burning. Some like the table tilt where you work on your balance get progressively more difficult. Some like the tightrope walk and the obstacle course are always challenging. Each game requires some unique movements. For instance, the snowball fight makes you lean to the left and the right and use the remote to shoot snowballs at opponents. In the golf dr
iving range, you go through the motions of the swing and on the screen you see the mechanics of your swing as it is tracked by how your weight shifts on the balance board. Since you can adjust your swing and/or your balance, you are able to get better as you play. Being able to make progress, makes the games even more fun.
In some cases virtual trainers guide you through the exercises, offering praise or criticism. You can get a little sick of their repeated rantings. Sometimes we found ourselves wishing that we could turn off the verbal and/or visual feedback. Also, there are times when you have to go through a step-by-step setup when you would appreciate an easier way to get right to the game.
The Wii Fit Plus has several enhancements. Some are pretty lame, like the ability to weight your pets, but some are useful like the new calorie counter. Every action in a game is assigned a metabolic equivalent of task (or METS) number. The calories used are then calculated against your weight. This type of assessment, like the BMI number mentioned earlier, has been attacked by some experts as not being completely accurate. You must remember that the Wii Fit is a game and that the assessments are a guide to your progress. The Wii Fit doesn’t take into consideration things like body frame size, so its assessments must be taken as only very general measurements.
The Wii Fit doesn’t have online functionality, which could be useful to some. Although the games are fully functional, they do not allow you to compare your data with family and friends, as you can with some other games like the Nike Plus that allows iPod users to track how far they’ve run and compare it to others. Since the Wii has an online component, our bet is that next version of the Wii Fit will contain this type of online connections. Although this could be an important component in the future, we don’t, however, think that it makes the Wii Fit lacking in any way. In fact, the Wii Fit Plus has added a multiplayer option to several of the games which allows you to take turns with other family members and friends.
The Wii Fit Plus also offers a way to create custom workout programs. This was not available in the original Wii Fit. You can accept Nintendo’s suggestion for pre-set exercises to work on certain areas of your body, or you can design your own custom workout from scratch. It allows you to create an exercise session up to 60 minutes in length. Unfortunately it only lets you put exercises from the yoga and strength-training groups into your routine. We longed for the ability to include aerobic games like jogging and rhythm boxing into our routine. Yet, if you want to use the Wii Fit Plus for serious exercise, you can create an exercise routine and simply add the other activities when you get through your workout.[nextpage title=”Specifications”]
Nintendo Wii Fit Plus main specifications are:
- Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.2 x 3.1 inches (52 x 33.5 x 33 cm)
- Weight: 8.8 pounds (4 kg)
- ESRB Rating for Software: E (Everyone)
- More Information: https://www.wiifit.com/
- Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price in the US: USD 99.95 (software alone: USD 19.95)
- A Nintendo Wii console is required
The original Wii Fit was a fun way to get some exercise. The new Wii Fit Plus adds even more fun activities. The Wii Fit balance board is unique and well implemented to check everything from weight to balance. The Wii Fit Plus includes a new set of games that can be fun for the whole family while putting a little more exercise into today’s somewhat sedate lifestyle. The draw, of course, is to make exercising more fun and the Wii Fit Plus does that quite well.
We watched as an 88-year old grandmother tried her skills at hula-hooping right along with her 4-year old great-granddaughter. Both had fun and both got their blood moving. The Wii Fit is definitely fun for the whole family.
The addition of the ability to create customized workouts makes the Wii Fit Plus a more useful exercise device than the original Wii Fit. Just like any other piece of exercise equipment, you have to use it on a regular basis to make any difference in your health, but even if you only use it occasionally, you won’t encounter any monthly gym bills and it takes up a lot less room that a treadmill.
- Fun games
- Easy upgrade from original Wii Fit
- Ability to create workout routines
- Ways to track your fitness progress
- Can improve balance and strength
- Good for the whole family
- Calorie burning guidance
- User routines limited to yoga and strength training activities
- On-screen help sometimes too repetitive
- No online component
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