A Wii Bit of Fun

angie harris

AT_wii-fit_01.07.09.jpgRecently, over the holiday season, I had the rare opportunity to play with the Wii Fit. I am blessed with cousins who are younger than I am and they get access to the most current and trend-setting toys being offered today – and one of those was the Wii Fit.

I had played a Wii only briefly before at friends’ houses. This time, I didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to jump in and play. There are four basic sections to the Wii Fit: Strength Training, Aerobics, Balance, and Yoga.

Of course, I zoned in on the yoga section to see how it was, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how the whole system worked. Depending on how many minutes you have logged into the Wii Fit, you will be able to “unlock” certain yoga poses and other games/exercises within the system.

The first pose in the system was “Deep Breathing.” I was surprised that they actually had a section on breathing because many of the Yoga DVDs that I have seen don’t really teach you how to breathe correctly. Once you begin the deep breathing exercise, there is a red dot within a yellow dot that shows you where your center of balance is. The goal is to keep the red dot within the yellow dot so that your weight is equally distributed. Your “trainer” then guides you through the breathing exercise and even leads you through the inhalation and exhalation during the pose.

After the breathing exercise, I tried a variety of different poses: Sun Salutation, Tree Pose, Warrior, and Half Moon. Again, my “trainer” guided me through the poses while the Wii Fit box measured my balance and how much strength I was applying to the pressure and weight that I was distributing in my feet. During the pose, the trainer had me lengthen my spine and also told me which areas I was targeting.

At the end of each pose, I was given a graphical representation of where my weight had been distributed throughout the exercise, and I was also given points. What really surprised me was that at the end of each pose, the trainer would tell me what I needed to work on. For example, after I was done with the “tree” pose (which was horrible), she said that I had to work on my balance.

I think the only downfall (for me) was that I was distracted by having to keep concentrating on maintaining that red dot inside the yellow circle. I did not find my mind relaxing, which is what happens at the actual yoga classes that I go to. Also, there was hardly any yoga instruction on improving spiritual wellbeing – the focus was only on improving posture, flexibility and balance, which are all the physical aspects of yoga. Another downfall I felt was that with the Wii Fit I was more focused on beating other people’s scores than completing the yoga poses to benefit myself. Obviously, the Wii Fit is a machine, so the developers need to make it entertaining for their targeted audiences. I guess you can’t really expect too much out of it.

Wii Fit was fun. It doesn’t feel like you are working out, and the game completely distracts you from the fact that you are exercising. Of course, I was doing this in front of a very large TV screen, which made it seem more like a virtual reality game.

But I have to wonder – even though Wii Fit does bring yoga more into the public eye, will it hurt the yoga community in the long run because the general feeling will be that actual classes aren’t necessary because the Wii Fit can accomplish the same goals?
[tags]wii fit, wii yoga, nintendo, balance board, breathing exercise, workout[/tags]

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