UFC Personal Trainer Q&A - Tony Sheets on Shaping Up at Home

THQ's Troy Sheets discusses getting players motivated, keeping them exercising, and including celebrity talent in the game.

Video games have long been blamed for the ill health of children and adults. The stereotypical gamer sits alone--pasty skinned and socially inept. But, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Everybody now plays games, and like the kilos shed while playing the fitness games that have taken the market by storm, the once-assumed image of gamers has fallen away. We recently chatted with THQ's Troy Sheets about punching and kicking at the TV with the company's upcoming fitness game based on the popular bloody sport.

GameSpot AU: Where does UFC Personal Trainer fit into the fitness genre?

Troy Sheets: UFC Personal Trainer is an unparalleled mixed martial arts (MMA)-based fitness product backed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and designed, in part, by leading MMA training experts. Built around training concepts used by real UFC fighters and their trainers, UFC Personal Trainer is positioned to help individuals set personal goals and achieve real results. Compared with other products in the fitness genre, UFC Personal Trainer is more authentic, intense, engaging--and more fun!

GS AU: Given that the exercises in UFC Personal Trainer are a lot more intense than, say, Wii Fit, are you worried about scaring off potential buyers?

TS: During the initial development phase for the product, we found users familiar with the interactive fitness genre were all looking for something that was more challenging. While there may be some people who are put off by the challenge, we believe our target audience has been waiting a long time for a product that is able to help people produce real results.

GS AU: How did you decide what exercises to put into the game?

TS: We worked closely with three leading MMA trainers--Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez--as well as NASM, to establish the core components of training, adapting what they teach into exercises and activities for our product. During the development process, we also reached out to, and worked with, a number of UFC fighters to round out the overall fitness experience.

GS AU: A lot of focus has been on the Xbox 360 version of the game and how it uses the Kinect, but how different are the PlayStation 3 and Wii versions of the game?

TS: Each platform's motion-sensing controls have their strengths and limitations, so when comparing one with another, users will notice there have been some modifications to each of the exercises and activities for the various platforms. We tailored UFC Personal Trainer to best take advantage of the hardware in each case, and, in the end, the overall experience is very similar across the board.

GS AU: You've consulted with both UFC fighters and coaches for the game. What was the difference between working with the two groups?

TS: When developing UFC Personal Trainer, the fighters and trainers both showed us the dedication and discipline that goes into getting real UFC bodies. We obtained similar information from both groups, but one of the great aspects of the trainers, in particular, is their dedication to the crafts they teach. Mark DellaGrotte became a world-class Muay Thai instructor as a result of his own ability. Javier Mendez won kickboxing championships during his own fighting career, and Greg Jackson has a reputation of outworking his own fighters running the legendary sand dunes in New Mexico. Our trainers are incredible athletes in their own right and go through the same rigorous training they put their fighters through.

GS AU: How have you designed UFC Personal Trainer so that it doesn't get overly repetitious and boring?

TS: For many, traditional workouts can become repetitive or boring after a while. We focus a good portion of the product on activities that get the heart rate going and ultimately keep the user engaged in the experience. By combining the activities in minigame formats with scoring and multiplayer challenges, users will not be thinking about counting reps and slogging through workouts; they are competing for high scores and achievements. Also, we keep each individual activity under five minutes, so in the course of a workout, users will experience several different things. Not only does this deliver a great workout, but it keeps the user's mind occupied.

GS AU: A lot of people who buy fitness games don't stick with them for very long. What's UFC Personal Trainer doing to keep them at it?

TS: UFC Personal Trainer is incredibly fun. The product has so many different options to meet individual needs and interests so if users get bored with premade routines, they can focus on an individual activity or even create custom workouts. Versatility and variety will keep people engaged. Also, our trainers and fighters put in countless hours of dialogue. Their personalities and motivational encouragement are well showcased throughout the entire product.

GS AU: Will you be looking at merchandising UFC Personal Trainer-branded fitness products outside of the game?

TS: We have no plans at this time for branded fitness products. However, our partners at Century Martial Arts have created a great line of UFC-branded workout equipment that can easily be utilized in conjunction with UFC Personal Trainer.

GS AU: Troy Sheets, thanks for your time.

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