Tried and True: Wii get physical!

Filed under: Toys, Gadgets

Welcome to Tried and True, a monthly feature where cool products are put through the ringer -- from our family to yours.

Let's travel back to an extremely different time in my life, say, three years ago. Three years ago, I was prancing around town in my J. Crew suits and pointy-toed flats, working a great job and living it up. Between social engagements, I would hop on over to the gym for a quick kickboxing or Yoga class. I had all the time in the world to focus on being physically fit, with complete flexibility of my schedule.

Fast forward to the present. The suits are packed away in the closet (but the shoes remain, God as my witness) and the gym membership has been canceled. My schedule, like many stay/work-at-home-parents, now revolves around a child, which leaves about NO time for myself. At this stage in the game, being the sole caregiver for a toddler during the hours of 9am to 6pm puts a tiny damper on the whole getting fit dynamic.

Going to the gym? Not feasible. Running with a jogging stroller while a toddler protests at ear-shattering levels? Yeah, right. Sneaking out of the house while your child naps? Hello, CHILD SERVICES.

Sure, exercise DVDs are a great at-home option, but what happens if the motivation starts to wane? Who's going to notice if you sit down during the workout? Is the instructor going to motivate you personally? "Hey! You in the juice-stained shirt, get off your butt!" Unfortunately, I think not.

What's a parent to do?

Enter the Wii Fit. Your virtual personal trainer.


Mark my words - the Wii Fit will get you off the couch and working out with a smile.

First off, the Wii Fit is completely personalized to your needs. From the first day you use the program, you can set goals for weight loss, Body Mass Index, and the time frame is specified by YOU. Over the course of the workouts, your goals appear on a calendar, as well as graphs and activity logs, so you can visually track your progress. It's pretty cool to step on the Wii balance board and see that your BMI has dropped. Talk about motivation.

Although the Wii Fit won't physically hold your hand during the workouts, it gets pretty darn close. The balance board is obviously very sensitive to movement, which was confirmed earlier this week when the program called me out after I stepped off to grab a glass of water. Oh yes, this virtual trainer is not messing around, but on the flip side I've really enjoyed the tips and feedback on how to best achieve my personal goals.

Fitness goals aside, what about the kids? Last I checked, this was a PARENTING website. Well, from the perspective of a mom with a 22-month-old toddler, my child would rather run around the house pulling the toilet paper roll until it empties. However, for what it's worth, he also thinks "Happy Birthday" is the appropriate phrase to use upon waking up every morning.

With that being said, I invited my neighbors over to check out the games, and the older children were very enthusiastic. For the parents of kindergartners and up, the aerobics section has some fun games including hula-hooping, a basic aerobic step class (for older children) and running that seem to be very popular among the juice box set.

So, what about the cons? Some of the games have a steep learning curve, and for those of us in a hurry, it would be nice to directly access the games without several greetings and tips popping up. Personally, the Wii Fit will act as an excellent supplement to my existing workout program of Pilates and kickboxing DVDs, but I don't see it being my exclusive exercise regimen. Otherwise, it's AWESOME.

Before using this product, I wasn't sure if the Wii Fit would be the right program for me. Considering I hadn't come into contact with a gaming system since the original Super Mario Brothers was introduced for Nintendo (1985! OUCH.), I had my doubts. In all honesty, the Wii Fit is easy to set up, highly-personalized, and an incredibly fun way for the whole family to get healthy. You might even catch me making an Olympic wave after my Wii Fit ski jumps in the living room.

For more information on the Wii Fit, please check out Nintendo's website.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.