How Does Wii Fit U Compare to Good Old-Fashioned Exercise?

How Does Wii Fit U Compare to Good Old-Fashioned Exercise?

In 31 days, Cassandra and Pete will see if Wii Fit U can compare to working out "au naturel"

We journalists don't get much exercise.

Our jobs tend to keep us sedentary, our hobbies best pursued without the inclusion of vigorous movements. (Can you make headshots in Battlefield while doing jumping jacks? I thought not.) But contrary to popular opinion, we do try. Sometimes. When we can. When it's not marathon Rayman Origins night. When - ahem. Moving on.

So, if you're wondering how Pete and I got entangled in this little debacle, the story goes something like this: Pete wanted to evaluate the potency of the upcoming Wii Fit U and -- actually, I'll let Pete tell you exactly how it came up.

Pete Davison News Editor

Cassandra has it nailed, really: those of us who spend our lives playing computer games on our couch and then sitting in front of our computer writing about them for a living don't get out (or, indeed, even on our feet) all that much.

Couple that with journos' well-documented love of coffee, cake (Cass's note: Mmmmm. Bacoooon.) and all manner of other things that aren't all that good for you, and you can see how this is a recipe for disaster in terms of staying fit, healthy and in shape.

I'll level with you, dear reader: I'm a porker. I'm overweight, and I hate it. It makes me feel bad about myself, ironically to such a degree that the prospect of getting out and doing something about it often feels like the absolute last thing I want to do. Why? Because it's demoralizing; many fitness programs out there tend to work on the assumption that you're already reasonably fit and healthy, and as such tend to expect a particular degree of fitness and flexibility before you start. If you, like me, don't meet that minimum standard, it can leave you feeling completely demotivated and wondering why you're bothering in the first place.

Here's what I liked about the original Wii Fit as compared to the numerous other fitness games I've tried over the years: it didn't make any such assumptions about you. Sure, it did that vaguely insulting thing of "inflating" your Mii to suitably chubby proportions if you weigh as much as I do, but it never felt like it was shaming you at any point; merely giving you a nudge in the right direction by offering practical, helpful advice coupled with games and activities that were genuinely fun, and challenging without being daunting.

Wii Fit U is more of the same -- right down to including the activities from the original -- and then a bit more on top of that. It has that Nintendo magic coursing through its veins, aiming to make it an enjoyable, addictive experience as well as being -- theoretically, anyway -- good for you.

But does it really help someone like me get up and moving -- and more importantly stay motivated? That's what I want to find out from this little exercise -- no pun intended.

Cassandra Khaw Team Nay

Naturally, I got nosy and wanted in. Pete, being the kick-ass Brit that he is, agreed and a new plan was formed. For next 31 days, we will be running, sweating, cursing and religiously documenting our journey towards our respective goals. As the sole member of Team Yay, Pete will be representing the demographic that believes in the Wii Fit U and I, as Team Nay's only champion, will be representing those who, well, don't. The winner will get gloating rights and a basket of vengeful sugar-cookies for Christmas. The loser will hang their head in social media shame.

Or something.

To provide ammunition for your inevitable heckling, here's our vital statistics, hopes, goals and dreams. All laid out for you to mercilessly crush. (Please don't.)

Name: Cassandra Khaw

Age: 29

Height: 5'4"

Weight: 122lbs

Measurements: 2 - Hey!

Current Activity Level: Moderate to piddling. Work and slothfulness frequently circumvent attempts at maintaining a constant routine. When I am being industrious, I swim and lift token amounts of weight. I also sporadically practice popping. Not bubble wrap. The dance style.

Eating Habits: Regrettable. (I have a contemptible sweet tooth.)

Reason for team alignment: Call me old-fashioned but I don't see any reason to supplement physical fitness. High-priced machinery and fancy doodads are synonymous with exploitative marketing in my mind. Blame the flinty-eyed fitness consultants that thronged around my social circles, the ones that'd do anything and say anything to snag a sale. I've seen people tell others that 15% body fat equates obesity. It's monstrous.

Personal prejudices and distrust aside, I suppose it's also vanity that fuels my disdain for mechanical aid. If I one day get casted -- totally not going to happen -- as a lingerie model, I want it to be because I did it my way. The idea of being reliant on someone or something else completely aggrieves my sense of vanity. Don't I have enough self-discipline to remodel my body into a temple? (Short answer: No. No, I do not. But that doesn't mean I can't try.)

Also, I might just be jealous of those who own a Wii U.

Plans for the month: I'm going to be unwisely ambitious here. I plan to alternate my usual hour in the lap pool with weight-lifting in the days between. At least an hour a day. (I'd show you the routine I plan to follow but it has embarrassing buzz words like "shredding" and "muscle goddess" in it.) Oh, and I plan to go back to eating healthy more zealously. Goodbye sinfully delicious green chili instant noodles.

Christmas turkey, why must you be so delicious and so fattening?

Goals: To lose 10 lbs by Christmas. Because Christmas. Lavish dinners trimmed with cranberry sauce and gravy. Mountains of pudding, delicately modeled cookies and chocolate reindeer. Mulled wine, hot chocolate and leftovers. There's a reason everyone seems to gain a few pounds by the end of the year -- it's because Christmas systematically plies us with amazing food every year. The way I figure it, subtracting a certain amount of weight from my gut prior to the festivities might allow me to balance out and stay exactly the same when the new year rolls in.


On a more serious note, it's really because of my impending birthday. In your twenties, you're allowed to drink, smoke and gorge yourself silly on unhealthy behaviour without fear of repercussions. Your thirties, though? They're dangerous. It's here that your metabolism begins to wither and crash diets stop becoming remotely feasible. Common wisdom dictates that your habits in your third decade will pave the asphalt of the rest of your life. As such, I'm hoping to enforce better routines in myself -- something that performing in the public eye for 31 days, so to speak, might help accomplish.

Pete Davison Team Yay

Age: 32

Height: 5'9"

Weight: Hahahaha... no.

Measurements: Plenty of me to go round.

Current Activity Level: Like Cassandra, a combination of work and other commitments often leaves me with less time than I'd like (or, to perhaps be more accurate, feel I should) devote to fitness. At present, I'm not doing much at all; I used to run quite a bit and even successfully completed a (very slow) 10K last year, but have since become extremely demotivated.

Eating Habits: I like cake.

Reason for team alignment: I need motivation -- beyond that which my own brain provides, I mean. Ideally, something I can do in my own home. I joined a low-price, 24-hour gym in my city a while back and barely went because it was just slightly too far away to be truly convenient. If something's in my own home, it'll look at me and taunt me until I do something with it. If it's actually fun it's something I'll want to do rather than feeling obliged to. And ultimately that's what will keep me motivated in the long term.

Cass has a point about fancy doodahs being somewhat exploitative and preying on the gullible in many cases, but I honestly believe the team behind the Wii Fit series has users' best interests at heart. The Balance Board is a practical means of not only tracking your weight, but also your stability and balance, and everything else can be achieved using controllers you probably already have -- though it's worth noting that Wii Fit U requires two MotionPlus devices or Wii Remote Plus controllers for many exercises so if you, like me, have an old-school Wii with old-school Wii Remotes you'll need to invest in some upgrades.

Wii Fit U also doesn't throw you straight in at the deep end with demoralizingly difficult routines, unlike other packages such as Your Shape and EA Sports Active. You can start gently and build yourself up at a pace that works for you rather than feeling demotivated at being unable to keep up with the perfectly-toned on-screen polygonal person bossing you around.

Plans for the month: My aim more than anything else is to get back into a good routine more than anything else. To that end, I intend to put in at least half an hour a day (tracked via the in-game timer) at least five days per week. Beyond that, I don't have a particular routine I want to stick to; I just want to get moving again. Once I get into some good habits, then I can look at shedding some of the weight I've picked up over the last few years, and perhaps even "sculpting." But let's take it one step at a time.

Goals: I'm going to aim for a more modest 6lb by Christmas. Wii Fit U encourages you to aim for no more than 2lb weight loss every two weeks, so that fits in with that schedule. Ideally I'd like to shed that weight and then keep it off, but as noted above, this is more about motivating me to get moving regularly more than anything else.

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