Monday, November 18, 2013

Wii Fit U and Wii Fit Meter Review ...

I'm going to be honest here. I am not a video game fan. As a child, my parents never let us have a gaming system (handheld or otherwise). I'm sure at the time, I was really mad about this, but as I grew older, I kind of got over it. I guess you can't miss what you never had. Of course, there's also the fact, I don't really like doing things I'm not good at and I am really horrible at video games, so for my sanity and my ego, it's just better that I stay away.

Unfortunately (for my children anyway), my perspective on gaming systems hasn't ever changed. Although, J had a PlayStation when we first got together, it quickly fell into disuse when the girls were born and I was sure that was the end of gaming in our home.

But then, just a few weeks ago, I was asked by Nintendo if I would review their new Wii Fit U and Wii Fit Meter. Despite my initial hesitation, I decided that I needed to give it a try. I mean, if anything was ever going to convince me to change my mind about video games, it was going to be a game that focused on fitness. And did it work? Yes and no, but we'll get to that in a minute.

So, you're probably wondering what the Wii Fit Meter is. Well, let's just think of if as a pedometer on steroids.

Wii Fit Meter
The Wii Fit Meter does a lot more than count your steps. It also has an acceleration sensor (to measure intensity) and an atmospheric pressure sensor (to measure altitude changes). This means the Wii Fit Meter can more accurately calculate how many calories you burn, based on what you’re doing. Running up stairs, for example, will torch more calories than taking the elevator—even though the distance is the same.

And then of course, there is Wii Fit U, the game and interactive community that the Wii Fit Meter is designed to sync with.

Within Wii Fit U there are numerous activities ranging from games to personal training to dance to yoga. There is even a virtual gym where players can connect with not only their friends and family, but other Wii Fit U users around the world.

Anyway, once you set up your personal profile in the Wii Fit U program, you can sync your Wii Fit Meter to the Wii U and get moving. All you need to do is wear the Fit Meter on your waistband and it will track your activity throughout the day. At the end of the day (or whenever you feel like it), you can wirelessly sync the data to your Wii U. And you don't have to workout alone, Wii Fit U can be set up with profiles for your entire family (separate Wii Fit Meters are needed).

So, what do you need?

Well, other than the Wii Fit Meter, which retails for $19.99 and Wii Fit U, which you can download HERE (Note: Wii Fit U has a free one month trial if you download by Jan 31st. You can keep the game permanently if you purchase a Wii Fit Meter), you'll need:
Everything you'll need

Now, you're probably asking yourself, "Is this all worth it? Do I want to workout with a video game? What did TMB mean by "yes and no"?"

Well, here's my take on Wii Fit U and the Wii Fit Meter:

The Good:

The game has a pretty awesome concept. As a data hungry person, it was awesome to see my stats from the Fit Meter incorporated into the Wii Fit U game. This feature alone would help anyone stay on point when it comes to reaching their fitness goals.

The game can be configured to your fitness needs and desires. All aspects of the game are customizable, allowing the player to control their experience and workout. And even better, if you don't want that kind of control there are over 70 built-in programs to select from. This game has nothing but options.

The Fit Meter will show you how much (or how little) you move throughout the day. Even though I think I am pretty active, if I didn't run, I never got the 10,000 recommended steps, usually falling in the 4000-5000 range.

There are some cool mileage and elevation challenges designed specifically for the Wii Fit Meter. This is perhaps my favorite feature of the game.

The Not-So-Good:

Although the Wii Fit Meter does appear to accurately track steps taken while walking, it starts to lose some accuracy while running (versus my GPS watch). Not a huge amount, but over the course of five miles the difference was about two-tenths, not huge, but there.

If you are already fit, this game might not fit all of your needs. While many of the games and activities are challenging and can work up a good sweat, I found that it wasn't always the workout I was looking for. So, unless you're just starting out, this isn't likely to be your go-to workout choice.

You have to actually remember to put on the Fit Meter. I almost never remembered to put it on right when I woke up. Most days, I didn't have readings for the first 2-4 hours of my day. Not a huge difference, but it definitely didn't give me an exact view of my activity. But, this of course, was user error.

The cost. Well, if you all ready have a Wii U and a Wii U Balance board, the cost is merely $19.99 per Fit Meter, as Wii Fit U can be downloaded for free with the purchase of a Fit Meter before 1/31/14. However, if you have to factor in the cost of all of the other hardware, this can be quite the investment.

So, what's the takeaway?

Wii Fit U and the Wii Fit Meter are definitely something to consider adding to your workout routine. While I would never promote a video game being your sole form of exercise, if it gets you up and moving, it's good in my book. Is it for everybody? No, probably not. But, it can definitely get you started on the road to fitness, help to motivate you and to keep you accountable for your daily activity. Nintendo is taking video games from a mostly-sedentary activity to a high-energy, calorie burning one and for that, I applaud them.

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