If you've been wondering what all the fuss is with the new Wii exercise
games, you're not alone. Wii Fit, the new component to the Wii gaming console,
launched May 19 and has been getting lots of buzz. In fact, if sales in this
country match those from abroad, you may have trouble finding one.
The brainchild of Shigero Myamoto -- the computer whiz behind Mario, Zelda,
and Donkey Kong -- Wii Fit is aimed at everyone, says Nintendo. The company
created the video exercise game to go with its original Wii console, which
boasts virtual games of tennis, bowling, baseball, boxing, and golf. You need
to own that Wii -- or buy one, for about $250 -- to be able to use Wii Fit. For
an additional $90, you get a CD full of exercises, information, and the
all-important balance board.
A 12-inch by 20-inch plastic slab that looks like a smaller version of the
steps used in aerobic classes, the balance board is Wii Fit's main accessory.
All the exercises (except running) are done on the board
or next to it, and it senses whether you're correctly positioned. It even
functions as a scale.
After booting up the software on your Wii console, you'll be instructed to
create a "Mii"-- an avatar you personalize with a nickname, facial features,
and body type to match your own, using the game's signature "wiimote." After
entering your date of birth, sex, and height, you'll activate the balance board
and step up for your first weigh-in. With the blare of a trumpet, the narrator
will announce your weight, body mass index (BMI), and your
"Wii fit age."
Be prepared to hear that you're "overweight" if you have large
muscles. The BMI doesn't take lean muscle mass and body fat into consideration,
after all. Also, don't be surprised if your "Wii fit age" is older than you
are. Your "Wii fit age" is largely determined by how well, and how quickly, you
do the initial Wii balance test, and does not take into consideration other
factors like muscle strength or cardio endurance.
Balance is a key component to Wii Fit. It not only determines your Wii
fitness level, but is also one of the four categories of Wii fitness games.
Balance games consist of a ski slalom run, a ski jump, a table tilt, and soccer
"heading," during which you butt the onscreen ball with your head.
"Many Wii Fit activities are directed towards a 'core' workout, a popular
exercise method that emphasizes slower, controlled motions," explains Marc
Franklin, director of public relations for Nintendo of America.
According to experts, however, balance -- especially the ability to stay
poised on a board -- rarely reflects actual fitness ability.
"In terms of skill, balance, coordination and agility are important for our
functional capabilities, but they don't equate to how fit a person is," says
Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, FACSM, chief science officer of the American Council on