Jillian Michaels’ ultimate fitness fiasco
Posted by Sue
I have mixed feelings about TV trainer Jillian Michaels. Her workout videos such as “30 Day Shred” are in a solid, back-to-basics style that I would like if the music wasn’t so boring (games like DDR and We Cheer have me really spoiled about music) and I’m glad she encourages to women to lift heavy, go hard, and lose the knees when doing pushups.
On the other hand, Jillian tends to hop on bandwagons without knowing any better. Kettlebells are the hottest thing in fitness? Then she’ll hoist a kettlebell on TV, no matter how hideous her form is. And hot on the heels of last year’s Wii Fit, Jillian announced her very own Wii fitness game, Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2009, making her the first “big-name” trainer to have a Wii workout. I was very excited to hear the news, and looked forward to seeing a tough exergame with real fitness-pro cred.
Disclaimer: I’ve never tried JMFU (that sounds like a chat-room insult!). But it’s hard to argue with more than 200 negative reviews. That didn’t impact sales much; the game sold close to a million copies and Jillian has announced a sequel, Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2010. On top of that, she now has a line of “fat-burner” pills and potions bearing her name. Okay, maybe my feelings about Jillian aren’t as mixed anymore. Can you say sell-out?
Jillian’s exergaming fiasco taught me a few lessons about exergames:
- Wait for reviews. Unlike some of the money-saving preordering deals offered by workout DVD producers, there is almost no advantage to preordering a video game other than being first on your block to have it. So save your cash until word gets out; there is no rush.
- Look at the game publisher’s track record. While I’m no game-industry expert, I know certain companies are more successful than others at making games with lasting value. Namco Bandai, maker of We Cheer and the Active Life series, has a stellar reputation going back to their invention of Pac-Man; Konami’s decade of rhythm experience with DDR bodes well for their upcoming Wii walking game Walk It Out; Ubisoft has earned accolades for Wii games My Fitness Coach and Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout. And you can count on Nintendo’s own games for its own console (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wii Sports Resort) to not have the controller problems that Jillian’s game suffered from.
- Beware of rush jobs. Good video games take time to design and program, often the better part of a year. When JMFU’s release was moved up a month or so, that made me uneasy.
Hopefully Jillian has also learned that there’s much more to making a quality game than putting your face on the cover. I’ll be watching previews and reviews of her new Ultimatum to see whether she will deliver the goods this time around, or if simply raking in the bucks will be the name of her game.