Updated 04 July 2013

Getting a Wii bit fitter

I've just had my first boxing match and I don’t have a scratch on me. Not a bruise or a cut and I still have both my ears intact. Here's how I did it.


I've just had my first boxing match and I don't have a scratch on me. Not a bruise or a cut and I still have both my ears intact. OK, it wasn’t a real fight, but after having just finished off my virtualised opponent for the third time in a row, the only feeling that outstripped the tiredness in my arms was my smugness.

Playing Wii Sports for the first time was an experience that I found to be both addictive and torturous. Call me a glutton for punishment, but when working up a sweat is that much fun, it’s worth it.

I bought my Wii after being bombarded with a barrage of hype. It came with the much-publicised ‘Wii Sports’ and the unique controller setup of the Wii Remote (or ‘Wiimote’) and the Nunchuck, that allow players to have their arm movements in the real world mimicked in the games they play.

A quick bout of gaming on the Wii can easily turn into a near-serious workout, as I learnt during my first marathon session with the machine. Here’s how it went.

I thought I’d get my session started with a round or seventeen of Wii Sports Tennis. I figured that it was reasonably physically demanding and a good enough tutorial to get into the swing of things. It was fun, watching my ‘Mii’, a playable avatar of sorts, scrambling around the court and volleying the ball with the type of force Agassi would have been proud of. Within the space of about 15 minutes, I started to feel the effects of my maniacal arm waving kicking in.

Exercise value: Fairly taxing, especially when played on the higher difficulty settings. It can even be considered a decent warm-up routine to a serious exercise regimen of weight-lifting.

Baseball was a much more physically subdued, if still fun, affair. The main focus was hand-eye co-ordination. Using the Wiimote as a bat was fairly intuitive, but I didn’t find it to be as physically demanding as tennis. While my batting performance was less than stellar, I found pitching to be slightly more taxing though not by a significant degree.

Exercise value: Baseball is more a method of testing reaction time than anything else. Still, hitting a home run requires more than a lazy flick of the arm.

Ah yes, the boxing game. I found this to be the most physically intense game of the lot. Flailing my arms around in a bad impersonation of Muhammad Ali ("floating like a bee and stinging a butterfly") had me more worked up than tennis and baseball combined. After a few rounds, my arms started getting tired, a problem I’m sure The Greatest never had. After a while I decided to give my arms a breather, but I was more than ready for the next activity in my agenda.

Exercise value: The greatest. It may not be too intuitive at times, because you have to position your hands in a specific way to have a protective stance, but making mistakes only means more arm waving.

Bowling was the least physically taxing of all the titles on the disc, but definitely the most addictive. Like baseball, hand-eye co-ordination took centre stage. A run-up isn’t required, but I added it anyway, if only to add a level of authenticity.

Exercise value: There wasn’t much exercise value to bowling, but it’s a sure-fire hit to have at a party.

Similar to bowling, this game wasn’t too taxing on the arms, but it was a boatload of fun. The strength of a swing made by the club was determined by how hard I swung the Wiimote. I couldn’t use my tricks from tennis here, as accuracy and strength worked in tandem.

Exercise value:Not great, possibly due to the lack of a course coming packaged with the Wii. It is a great tool to help measure strength though.

At the end of my session, my arms felt like two leaden pipes attached to my shoulders. Nevertheless, I felt that the process of getting them to feel like that was worth it. Who ever knew having fun could be such hard work?

(André van Wyk, Health24, April 2008)


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