Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Wii Fit

Today I'm happy to host a regular reader of Healthy Writer, Sally Kilpatrick. Sally has guested with us before, and we're thrilled to have her back. Today's she's talking about the pros and cons of the Wii Fit. Welcome, Sally!

First and foremost, let me say thanks to the Healthy Writers for letting me blog today. I’m inspired by everyone’s journey and the great tales they tell, and I’m learning some great strategies as well.

I’m writing today because I finally succumbed to the hype and bought a Wii and then, in short order, the Wii Fit. I can’t tell you that I’m now fit enough to model for Victoria’s Secret, but I would also have to confess that I let my fitness goals slide in the spring as I finished up my Masters. I sometimes wonder if I wouldn’t be in worse shape without having had the Wii Fit to chastise me when I started getting too far out of line. Let me share with you what I’ve learned about it so far and then please chime in with questions and comments.

First the Cons:
• While some of the yoga and strength training activities are challenging, I can’t see getting a really, really good strength training session from the Wii Fit. Similarly, some of the cardio activities will cause you to break a sweat, but it’s nothing like a treadmill run or a stair climber binge.
• You have to turn the blessed thing on. Before I bought mine, I asked my best friend if she liked hers and/or found it effective. Her response? I suppose it would work if I used it. As in all things, discipline will be required.
• The electronic voices and trainers sometimes make me want to throw things at them. I suppose I’m better at suppressing the urge if it’s an actual human being who’s asking me to identify the reasons I’ve gained weight or who’s telling me I’m “a little shaky.”
• The suggested weights for women seem to be about right—the Wii Fit thinks a woman of my age (30-mumble, mumble) and my height (5’4”) should weigh 129, but the recommended weight for men seems to be skewed—163 for my husband who is 6’2” and has a large bone structure. Trust me when I tell you he would be way too skinny at that weight, and it’s not quite 30 pounds more than my recommended weight even though I’m much shorter than he is.

And the Pros:
• The Wii keeps up with your progress and throws electronic confetti when you reach a goal. Yay, positive reinforcement!
• As someone who had never done yoga before, I love the yoga program and now feel more confident about taking a class with the real people. The Wii Fit Plus “My Routine” is especially good for putting together a yoga program. You can also combine yoga and strength training.
• The aerobic activities as well as the Wii Sports package that generally comes with the Wii are a fun way to burn extra calories. (I love rhythm boxing, advanced step, and tennis.)
• Using the Wii Fit is a great way to supplement your regular routine and/or get a workout on a rainy day. When our treadmill died, my husband and I combined sets of stairs with Wii Fit activities, and it helped us break our respective plateaus.
• Some of the strength training exercises—particularly core ones like the traditional “plank” are quite grueling. And helpful. But mainly grueling.
• The Wii does help you with your form in yoga and strength training exercises as well as emphasizing posture and flexibility.

My conclusion?
I think Wii Fit works really well in tandem with an exercise routine that involves more vigorous cardio and strength training routines. I generally go to the gym proper on Monday and Wednesday and use the Wii Fit on Tuesdays and Thursdays—as long as that routine is going well, I see great results. I’ve also noticed recently that I do much better with smaller goals and more frequent “celebrations,” and the Wii Fit starts with two-week goals.
The Wii Fit might also be an excellent purchase for someone who is new to fitness and needs to work up to more strenuous exercises or for someone who either can’t pay a gym membership or who doesn’t live near a gym. Like anything else, some aspects would get boring, but the Wii Fit does offer a lot of variety.
Most importantly, the kids like to play balance games and do some of the aerobic activities so exercise becomes a family affair. We also like to play some of the Wii Sports games like tennis as a way to blow off steam or to burn a few extra calories if we splurge on dessert. Our newest obsession is the “Just Dance” game for Wii; trust me when I tell you MC Hammer will have you panting at the end of that dance routine. Of course, the kids have seen us fuss at our weight so much that my eight-year-old will say, “The Wii Fit is evil.” I don’t have the heart to tell him that it’s not the Wii’s fault that his mother has a chocolate addiction.

And now it’s your turn…
I’m looking forward to trying some of the Biggest Loser programs or the Jillian Michaels one. Does anyone want to share an experience with those programs or the Wii in general? Has anyone thrown something at the television because they stepped on the balance board and the voice said, “Oo” in that electronic mock-horror way only the Wii Fit can do? I’d love to hear your Wii Fit stories, and I’ll answer any of your questions that I can. Thanks again to all these lovely ladies, the Healthy Writers.


Keri Mikulski on June 22, 2010 at 7:37 AM said...

I want a Wii! :) Thanks for the review. :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 22, 2010 at 8:38 AM said...

I want to Wii too. Hmm, wonder what they're going for these days. I've played Wii bowling on my nephew's system before and that was fun.

Michelle Butler on June 22, 2010 at 9:42 AM said...

I love this part:

You have to turn the blessed thing on. Before I bought mine, I asked my best friend if she liked hers and/or found it effective. Her response? I suppose it would work if I used it. As in all things, discipline will be required.

Too true and too funny!

Thank you for the review of the wii and wii fit. I have used a wii (dance off) at a party, and it was fun. I thought awhile about getting a wii or wii fit - or giving it as a gift to my parents. Your review has made me more comfortable with my decision not to do so.

I've heard a lot about the Jillian Michaels and Biggest Loser exercise dvds but no the wii programs. I'd love to hear how those were too.

Sally Kilpatrick on June 22, 2010 at 10:29 AM said...

Kari, it's awesome. Except when I want to throw things at it, and, really, that's usually my fault.

Trish, I think the Wii system itself is around $250 and the Wii Fit is another $100. We really debated spending that much, but we've already got our money's worth and we haven't even had it a year. Hubby uses it religiously, and it helped him lose 20 pounds or so this year. I haven't see those results, but, then again, I haven't been as good about using it.

Michelle, my mother loved the Wii Fit. My father hated it. I'm really, really wanting the Just Dance game as something fun to do with the kids that will burn quite a few calories. (My best friend has it, and it provided hours of amusement to the kiddies.) Alas, I do not have the funds.

Sally Kilpatrick on June 22, 2010 at 10:30 AM said...

Oh, I'll be happy to check back in with everyone if I ever get a chance to try out the Jillian Michaels or the other Biggest Loser 'games.' Please see aforementioned lack of funds.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 22, 2010 at 10:55 AM said...

Sally, that's great about your husband losing the 20 lbs by using the Wii Fit.

Sally Kilpatrick on June 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM said...

Yeah, Trish, I probably should have led with that, eh? He's also used the treadmill and worked those stairs--once the treadmill broke--but the Wii Fit helped him stay on track. Me? I have to get around that spite of getting mad with that little electronic %$$#@! asks me why I think I've lost weight.

Rachel Kleinsorge on June 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM said...

Just be careful that you don't give yourself an 'injurWii'. One of my coworkers is still in psychical therapy thanks to a very vigorous bowling game over Christmas.

Everything else you said is dead on. I wish there was a way to smack that little electronic thing upside the head when it demands to know why I gained a pound from one day to the next... and then tells me that you often gain 2 lbs over the course of the day! Make up your electronic mind! Of course, I could just be bitter because I've never seen the fireworks.

Sally Kilpatrick on June 22, 2010 at 12:59 PM said...

Rachel, maybe I should rethink the Pros. Either we're going to be in physical therapy (forgot about hobbling around for a week after an unfortunate Wii bowling incident myself) or in psychotherapy (why does my Wii hate me?) If you want to see the fireworks, you have to pretty much stick with losing a pound over 2 weeks. Then if you work out with your frenemy the Wii for at least a week, you usually get to see the fireworks. : )

Sally Kilpatrick on June 22, 2010 at 1:00 PM said...

Oh, that was supposed to be "gained weight." He only gets into my business when I gain weight.

Tami Brothers on June 23, 2010 at 7:22 PM said...

Great post, Sally! We opted for an XBox 360 for my son after a very long debate, but I am really wishing we had gotten the Wii. If not for him, then for me to use with all these really cool systems.

I'll have to figure out if it would be worth getting another system but I will definitely keep the thought in mind. Wonder if XBox has any exercise "games"????


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