Nintendo's Wii Fit has the potential to become the breakthrough product in the oft-ignored exercise-game genre. The technology and execution weren't ready 20 years ago when Nintendo tried to popularize the Power Pad for the original NES, but it looks like Nintendo has figured things out with Wii Fit.
The package includes the Wii Fit software and a Wii Fit balance-board peripheral. The balance board is remarkably sturdy and can hold up to 330 lbs. The board has several internal pressure sensors that can sense your weight and determine how it's distributed across four quadrants on the board. It works best on a smooth surface such as a hardwood floor or thin carpet, but it comes with optional feet that make the board usable on thicker carpets. The board is wireless and requires four AA batteries to operate.
Wii Fit is as much a fitness application as it is a game. The software has several amusing activities that work very well as minigames, but one of the game's most important features is its ability to record and track each individual's physical fitness level, much like how the Brain Age games on the Nintendo DS record and track your cognitive fitness level.
When you first start Wii Fit, you're asked to create a profile that the game will use to track your progress. You then set your goal weight and deadline date to give yourself an objective to work toward. The game will use your height and weight information to calculate your BMI, or body mass index. Optimal BMI scores range from 18.5 to 25; 25 through 30 counts as overweight; and any score over 30 is officially classified as obese. Don't be shocked if you see a score above 25, given that most Americans are overweight these days.
Keep in mind that the BMI number is only a rough estimate of your fitness level based on your height and weight. The BMI doesn't take into account body composition, which can skew the score upward for muscular individuals. Athletes that have a higher proportion of heavy muscle mass will often have high BMI scores even if they're in great shape.
Wii Fit will keep a record of your "Wii Fit Age" in addition to tracking your weight and BMI. The Wii Fit age test is a basic balance test that requires you to shift and hold your weight on different areas of the board within a certain amount of time. Complete the test quickly to achieve a lower Wii Fit age. The game saves only one Wii Fit age assessment per day, which encourages you to come back each day to update your progress.
Once you get your daily age test out of the way, you're free to explore the activities area, where you can play a few balance games, try out some aerobics, or have a virtual personal trainer guide you through yoga and strength-training exercises. The game will tell you how you scored at the end of each activity and show you where you placed in the top-scores leaderboard. Not all activities are available when you first start the game, but you can unlock them by earning credits from spending time with all of the available activities. The amount of time you spend on each activity, usually one or two minutes, goes into your Fit Bank. New activities automatically unlock as you accumulate more minutes.
Wii Fit: Yoga
The Wii Fit Yoga exercises will ask you to perform and hold common yoga poses such as the Tree, Cobra, and the always popular Downward-Facing Dog. The exercises don't focus on any of the meditative aspects associated with yoga, but they do ask you to pay close attention to breathing. The exercises have a light blue circle that expands when you're supposed to exhale and contracts when you're supposed to inhale.
Most of the yoga activities will monitor your balance to determine your final score. Your center of balance will be represented onscreen by a red dot on a yellow background. If you're unsteady or exhibit a lot of movement, the game will often give you a few words of encouragement or advise you to steady yourself against an object.
You have access to only four yoga poses when you first start the game: Deep Breathing, Half-Moon, Warrior, and Tree. Other poses are unlocked as you accumulate more minutes in your Fit Bank. Many of the final yoga poses are the last activities that you unlock in the entire game.
- Unlockable Yoga Poses
- Sun Salutation: 15 minutes
- Standing Knee: 45 minutes
- Palm Tree: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Chair: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Triangle: 2 hours, 50 minutes
- Downward-Facing Dog: 3 hours, 10 minutes
- Dance: 3 hours, 20 minutes
- Cobra: 3 hours, 30 minutes
- Bridge: 3 hours, 40 minutes
- Spinal Twist: 4 hours
- Shoulder Stand: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Wii Fit: More Yoga
Wii Fit: Strength Training
The Wii Fit Strength Training exercises use your own body weight to provide the resistance that will help you build muscle. For example, the jackknife exercise works your abdominals by forcing you to lift both your upper body and your legs into the air while lying on the ground. The exercises don't require any weights, but a few of the activities such as the push-up and side plank can be very challenging with just your own body weight.
The game will unlock higher difficulty settings for several of the exercises, letting you increase the number of repetitions (reps) required to complete a set. Doing well in the advanced modes for the push-up and side plank, as well as the jackknife and plank exercises will unlock a challenge mode for each exercise that lets you try to perform as many reps as you can.
You begin with five strength-training exercises at the start but you can unlock six more, not including challenge modes, as you deposit more minutes into your Fit Bank.
- Unlockable Strength Training Exercises
- Rowing Squat: 20 minutes
- Single-Leg Twist: 30 minutes
- Plank: 1 hour, 50 minutes
- Tricep Extension: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Arm and Leg Lift: 2 hours, 40 minutes
- Single-Arm Stand: 3 hours, 50 minutes
Push-up and Side Plank
Wii Fit: More Strength Training
Sideways Leg Lift
Arm and Leg Lift
Wii Fit: Aerobics
The Wii Fit Aerobics exercises keep you in constant motion for a good cardiovascular workout. The beginner exercises are the Hula Hoop, the Basic Step, and the Basic Run. The unlockables include Rhythm Boxing and advanced versions of the hula hoop, step aerobics, and running exercises. The Hula Hoop test forces you to swing your hips around in a circle to keep the hoops spinning around your Mii. You'll also need to lean over occasionally to catch additional hoops that other Miis throw at you. If you do enough Hula Hooping, you'll unlock the Super Hula Hoop mode that requires you to run through the exercise twice, swinging your hips to the right for the first round and to the left for the second.
The Basic Step exercise is a step-aerobics class that works like a dancing minigame. You step on and off the board along with the beat. The advanced mode adds kick-out moves and two different stepping speeds. Free Step lets you step any way you want for a preset amount of time, sort of like a mindless exercise mode. The game actually suggests switching the video to watch TV while free-stepping. The running games have you jog in place as your Mii runs through various courses on the map. You start with one course but unlock others as you progress. The game has you place a Wii Remote in your pocket to count your steps instead of pounding away on the Wii Fit mat. If you have two Wii Remotes, you can run with a friend in 2-P Run Mode.
- Unlockable Aerobics
- Super Hula Hoop: skill unlock
- Advanced Step: skill unlock
- Free Step: skill unlock
- Free Run: skill unlock
- Rhythm Boxing: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Super Hula Hoop
Wii Fit: Balance Games
Yoga, strength training, and aerobics are all great for exercising, but you're probably going to break out the Wii Fit balance games when you have friends over and want an activity that can entertain everyone. The games won't challenge your strength or cardiovascular endurance, but they do require quick reactions and precise body control.
Most of the games require you to shift your weight distribution on the balance board to perform actions. For example, the Ski Slalom game requires you to lean forward to gain speed, and to carefully shift your weight to the left or right to adjust your trajectory as you ski down the slope. Other games force you to maintain your center of balance. The goal of the Tightrope Walk game is to step across a span without losing your balance, and the Lotus Focus game requires you to focus on a flickering candle while sitting motionless on the mat.
The initial game selection includes Soccer Heading, Ski Slalom, Ski Jump, and Table Tilt. Most games also have skill unlocks that open up more difficult modes. The Fit Bank unlockable games include Tightrope Walk, Bubble Balance, Penguin Slide, Snowboard Slalom, and Lotus Focus.
- Unlockable Balance Games
- Tightrope Walk: 10 minutes
- Bubble Balance: 1 hour
- Penguin Slide: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Snowboard Slalom: 2 hours
- Lotus Focus: 3 hours