Fitness video games are not for couch potatoes.
I never got into video games as a kid and if someone handed me a controller, Mario would be lying in a ditch unconscious within seconds. I admit, my hand-eye coordination was off and my patience limited. But it didn't seem right that I sat and jiggled a controller while Mario & Luigi had all the fun. I became increasingly skeptical of video games through the years and labeled them "dorky". When the Wii Fit came out, I gave it the cold shoulder and preferred fitness DVDs. But then something happened that changed my mind--the invention of fitness games that let you into the game and use your body just like Mario & Luigi. This summer l tried out 3 new interactive fitness games that are workout worthy and tons of fun. You can play them on your own or break them out for family gatherings. Just make sure to push the couch out of the way because there's absolutely no sitting involved!
Your Shape:Fitness Evolved is a magical fitness experience.
Your Shape:Fitness Evolved ($60) comes out this November 4th for Xbox 360. It scans your body and projects it onscreen into the workout that you choose. You control the game with your voice and body and can pick from a variety of fitness experiences. Your options range from personal training sessions to classes (like yoga or martial arts class). Throughout your workout you get feedback on every move you make, like whether you're using the right body part or correct form during a specific exercise. Your Shape is a visually stimulating game with random and entertaining effects. Look out for bouncy balls and butterfly trails! These graphics appear onscreen during your workout to illustrate your exact movement and impact. As your performance improves you're rewarded with more interactive effects like paint, water, fire, and confetti.
EA Sports Active 2 is the bootcamp of fitness games.
EA Sports Active 2 ($99.95) comes out this November 16th for Xbox 360, Playstation and Wii. Much like Your Shape:Fitness Evolved, it offers a range of exercises and fitness activities to target different body parts and muscle groups. From my observation it's a more intense fitness program with less frills and more challenges. What I love most about this game is that it includes a heart rate monitor strap which transfers and displays your heart rate data constantly on screen. This helps you optimize your performance and determine a safe level of intensity. EA Sports Active 2 also comes with wireless motion tracking leg and arm straps so that you can move as freely as if you were playing in a live basketball game. Check out the video below:
Not into strength training? Then cardio-dance your pants off.
For a dance workout, definitely check out Gold's Gym Dance Workout ($30) for Wii (officially releases August 17th, 2010). When I tried it out, I was surprised at how easy it was to learn the steps. Your onscreen avatar (supported by backup dancers) provides cues and instructions that help you follow along. The graphics aren't as awesome as the 2 games above but the music and dance options are a blast. Grab your best friend--2 can play at once. Master salsa, samba, reggaeton and kangaroo boxing. Yep, Kangaroo boxing. It's a mini-workout challenge and break from all the dancing (just in case you get bored). Every Gold's Gym Dance Workout game comes with a bonus week-long VIP membership to Gold's Gym, because at some point you have to leave the house.
You will actually burn calories playing these games.
I can't give you an exact estimate because each workout is different and based on the level of intensity you choose, your calorie burn will vary. But what I can tell you is that fitness experts and trainers created the workouts in each of these games. They're designed to make you sweat and get your heart rate up. EA SPORTS Active 2 follows ACSM standards which recommend that an individual burn a minimum of 200-300 calories per exercise session.
I'm giving a Your Shape fitness game away!
Have a Wii? If you just nodded yes, then enter this giveaway contest. The winner receives the first edition of Your Shape featuring Jenny McCarthy for Wii (comes with motion tracking camera and lets you exercise controller-free). I wish I could give away Your Shape:Fitness Evolved, but it's not out yet. Leave a comment with your thoughts/knowledge on fitness gaming and you'll be entered for the giveaway. A winner will be randomly chosen on August 29th. I want to hear what you think! Is fitness gaming a legit way to work out??