Wii Active 2 for You?

Posted by on March 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm :: 1 Comment

Winter does awful things to exercise motivation. When the temperature outside is below freezing and snow is whipping through the air going on a nice run usually isn’t foremost on your mind.  The sluggishness and bitterness of those cold months make many of us feel like we’d prefer napping in a cave to getting our bodies moving. The end result? Spring finds most of us fighting the flab.

Since staying fit in the winter is always a bit of a struggle for me too, this year I decided to try keeping myself in shape by getting the new Wii Active 2 Personal Trainer and doing its nine-week program. The Active 2 is pretty nifty; it’s heaps better than the first version. Now you don’t have to worry about plugging yourself into random cords like an electrified exercising Barbie doll.  Plus, the newer Active also has a heartbeat monitor, which makes it easy for you to see your heart attack coming. The nine-week program is designed to work all areas of your body and, since your routines get longer and harder as time goes by, keep you from plateauing. It incorporates cardiovascular as well as strength training exercises for all your wobbly bits. I started the program in early December and just finished it a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what I thought:

Pros:

1. Track Star: The program is great motivation for regular exercise. It schedules you for 4 workouts a week and when you miss a day it lets you know. You can make up missed exercise on your rest days but if you get too far behind catch-up becomes impossible. All that tracking was great incentive for me to keep up.

2. Every One of Your Bits Count: Everything gets exercised with this program. You do squats and lunges galore plus abs work and lots of training to toughen your arms. All those spots that usually get overlooked on me got an overhaul and they definitely needed it. Jason says he’s noticed that my arms look more toned. Sweet!

3. Cool It: The program includes warm-up and cool down portions. It felt nice to stretch after every workout-something I usually don’t do enough of.

I burned about 5000 calories doing the nine-week program. That's roughly a pound and a half of fat I'm not stuck carting around now.

Cons:

1. Condensed Cardio: For a running junkie like me, sprinting for a couple minutes at a time really doesn’t present much of a challenge. The cardio in the program wasn’t nearly as difficult for me as other portions of the workout.

2. Sadistic Ghost in the Machine: Although the second edition of the trainer is remarkably better than the first, it still has its hang-ups. There are certain exercises that seem to throw it for a loop and no matter how precisely you do them it doesn’t recognize your movement correctly. Nothing like being in the middle of a tough lunge routine, which you are struggling to finish anyway, and having the silly program tell you over and over that you aren’t completing your reps. As if the prescribed number of repetitions isn’t grueling enough, it would have you just keep going in a continual lunging loop while it deflates your morale by insisting that you are not actually doing anything. Geeze!

3. No Sick Days: The program doesn’t let you pause your workout schedule when you are unable to exercise for a period of days due to illness or a trip. This would be a nice feature. I was absent from the workout arena for a couple of weeks because I went to Mississippi and came home sick. That put me incurably behind; try as I might I could never get completely caught back up.

4. Game Over: After the last day of your nine weeks is up you can’t go back and complete missed workouts; it won’t even let you unofficially do them. Since I got behind because of my vacation/sickness duo, I was planning on doing my 6 missed workouts after the program was finished but it was a no go. That was disappointing and frustrating.

The Active isn't something you'll want to do with an audience present. Without onlookers it's easy to forget that you look silly running around an imaginary desert oasis; with onlookers it's nearly impossible to forget.

All said, would I recommend the Active 2 Personal Trainer?  Yes. It was perfect as a supplement to the sporadic snowboarding, running, and racquetball I do during the winter. It kept me going and it worked out parts of me that could normally be mistaken for pudgy Jell-O. However, I do think the Personal Trainer would get pretty boring if used as one’s sole means of exercise and, of course, I much prefer exercising outside when it isn’t roughly the temperature of an icebox out there. The Active 2 is a poor substitute for a sun-drenched run but I do plan on continuing to use it a couple times a week to keep my puny arms from reverting back to their gelatinous state.

On a side note, I set my nine-week program to medium, which is the equivalent of normal. I thought that this might be a little too easy and contemplated increasing the difficulty to the highest setting but I’m glad I didn’t. Normal was a bit too painless at first but as time progressed it definitely became challenging in bits. The cardiovascular portions never caused me too much grief but all those lunges, squats, crunches, and pushups were sometimes tricky. So unless you are a hardcore squatter I would recommend trying the program on medium.

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