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Adding Wii games to your strength program

Three of my favorite metal objects!

Lisa of Wii Fitness and Gaming asked me to write a guest post for her blog, so I wrote a post about how I add Wii games to my strength training routine of kettlebells and heavy weights.  Check out my post here, and see the rest of her blog (and her Wii Fitness Examiner page) for more great Wii workout ideas.

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Your Shape for Kinect now has Men’s Health/Women’s Health tie-in

And in other breaking box art news, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved for Kinect now has a blurb that says “Featuring Workouts Created By Men’s Health and Women’s Health”.  I can’t find any other details, but that’s great news, certainly better than their former alliance with Jenny McCarthy.

The fitness magazines Men’s Health and Women’s Health promote whole-body exercising that focuses on your movements rather than separate muscles.  They’ve come out with two “Big Book of Exercises” volumes, one for men and one for women, but with very little difference between the two outside of marketing and photos.  I got the Women’s Health Big Book out of the library, and it’s now on my wish list to own.  Despite the title, it’s a relatively compact paperback book that’s crammed with exercises plus numerous programs for using them, whether you work out at home or in the gym.

WH also greatly emphasizes the benefits of heavy weights for women; no more pink 1-pound dumbbells, unless you do YTWLs or shadow boxing with them.  One of the advantages of Kinect over Wii is that you can hold weights without having a handheld controller get in the way.  So I hope that some of the WH or MH workouts on Your Shape include heavy weights.  If there’s a virtual kettlebell trainer on board, or a virtual deadlifting coach, I am so there.

Your Shape exergame gives it another go on Kinect

When Your Shape came out for the Wii, it looked very promising, or at least different from other Wii fitness games:  it came with its own camera, allowing for controller-free play nearly a year before Kinect was announced.  But the game bundle’s price soon fell from $70 to around $20 on Amazon.  Some possible reasons for the flop:  the high price during lean times, the game not working very well, hostess Jenny McCarthy’s questionable medical advice, or (probably the biggest one IMO) the fact that most at-home exercisers just don’t want to see themselves on TV.

So the game is evolving as Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, this time for the Xbox360 Kinect accessory, although the $60 price for the game alone is nearly as much as the Wii bundle’s original price.  I’m not that interested in workout-centered games, preferring to play fun games that just happen to make me sweat, but I think this new Your Shape looks really good, and seems to address the stumbling blocks of its predecessor.

First off, no Jenny or any other celeb host who could bring unwanted baggage.  Instead, there’s an actual trainer, Michael George, best known to some workout DVD fans for his Beachbody Fast 10 series.  And instead of working out to yourself, which is kind of creepy, you’re represented on the TV by a faceless silhouette.  There looks to be a lot more variety and fun activities than the Wii game, and online support, something Wii fitness games were sorely lacking.

Here’s a preview and video walkthrough of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  Since it’s supposed to be one of Kinect’s 15 launch games, expect it in November.

Do “lighter” weights actually seem lighter?

I keep looking  for news about the next installment in the EA Sports Active series, 2.0.  There hasn’t been much news in the month since it was first announced, but Kotaku asked the EA rep an interesting question: why are the 2.0 controllers white? And they got an interesting answer: according to their research and focus groups and all, they made them white because black looked too heavy.

But what about those heavy bands?

I never really thought about it before, but maybe the pure-whiteness of the Wii is part of why it has been attracting women and “non-traditional” gamers.  White looks so lightweight and ethereal, like an iPod.  My white netbook and pink Nintendo DS proudly show my girly side.

Like Yogi Berra says, 90% of the game is half mental, so maybe we can extend the lightening properties of white to something heavier than a game controller.  If some trainer took a 50-pound kettlebell and painted it white, and didn’t tell anyone how much it weighed, would women find it easier to swing than a black one of the same weight?  I’d love to see someone conduct such an experiment.

Another core workout for Wii: Active Life Outdoor Challenge

We are in the heart of the “snowmageddon” zone – 2 major blizzards in 4 days – so not only do we have to do our workouts indoors, but I need to strengthen up my muscles for shoveling 40-plus inches of snow.  I already spent several hours on Monday shoveling around my street, and my shoulders, butt, abs and arms are still aching.  So until I can get out and shovel again, once the high winds and whiteout conditions have died down, I’m working out my core with Wii.

This is one time I regret not having a balance board s0 I can enjoy wintery games like the We Ski or Shaun White series.  So instead I’m escaping to the tropical setting of Active Life Outdoor Challenge.  This is a superb exergame for the whole family, and some of its mat minigames are great for those shoveling muscles.

Three that stand out in that category are the kayak game, the mine cart game and the pipe slider game.  In the kayak game, you just stand on the mat and vigorously “paddle” with your remote down a raging river.  In mine cart, you pump the remote up and down to power your cart through a twisty mine, and whenever there’s a curve in the track, you have to lift one foot off the mat and balance on one leg while pumping.

Mine cart game (images from Gamespy)

But the biggest upper body workout of all is the pipe slider.  In what is maybe unique among mat games, you have to sit on the mat and bang on the arrows to push your sled forward through a pipe.  Think of pushing your sled down a not-so-steep hill.  Your shoulders and arms will burn!

Pipe slider game

Special honorable mention goes to the mountain boarding game, which requires you to not only stand on the mat and steer by stepping on the arrows, but also whenever a tunnel appears, you have to “duck” into the tunnel by leaning over and striking the mat with one hand.  This getting-down and getting-up is fantastic for the whole body.

Active Life Outdoor Challenge is nothing compared to the REAL outdoor challenge awaiting me outside my door, but it’s a fun way to get myself prepared for the real thing.  To everyone else in the blizzard zone, best wishes and stay safe!

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