Ever since the Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Wii and Sony Play-Station added motion controls, couch potatoes have had the ability to transform into fitness freaks. Consumer Reports recently evaluated five of the most popular fitness games to see how much of a workout they provide and how much fun they offer.
Its findings include:
Nike+ Kinect Training for Xbox 360 ($40; ESRB rating: Everyone): Best for a serious workout. This game is for people who are determined to get or stay in shape and who take their workouts seriously. It evaluates your fitness and athleticism and creates a customized training program based on your fitness level.
Anyone who wants to lose a few pounds or is looking for an intense home workout system will appreciate this game. The workouts are extensive, challenging, engaging, fun and well-paced. While the game addresses cardiovascular and muscular endurance, it doesn’t do as well with strength.
Zumba Fitness Core for Wii and Xbox 360 ($40; ESRB rating: Everyone 10+): Core is a solid cardio workout. This is a dance-based game based on the popular Zumba workout. It focuses mainly on cardio- vascular fitness. The menu gives you the option of dancing to a single song; choosing a preset workout of short (about 20 minutes), mid- (about 45 minutes) or full-length (about one hour) duration; or creating your own custom class. You can also choose “Learn the Steps” to get a tutorial on different dances that are incorporated into the workouts. Each workout mode offers a choice of different dance styles and intensities.
Though it lacks resistance and flexibility training, Zumba Fitness Core gives a solid cardio workout that’s challenging, engaging, fun and well-paced. It would be a nice cardiovascular component of a well-rounded fitness routine.
Just Dance 4 for PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U and Xbox 360 ($40; ESRB rating: Everyone 10+): More fun than fitness. This is the latest in a games series that features popular music tracks. You perform specific dance routines to the songs, mirroring virtual dancers onscreen.
This is more of a party game than a true fitness routine. The “Just Sweat” mode will have you moving, but the cardiovascular challenge is only moderate. If you play the right way, though, it’s a lot of fun. (If you like dance games, Consumer Reports suggests checking out Dance Central 3, a similar game for the Xbox 360.)
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 for Wii U ($50; ESRB rating: Everyone 10+): Good for entry-level exercisers. This is a mix of fitness and fun. It offers ultra- customizable workouts, a multiplayer mode for up to four people and online components that let you share your progress with friends. The game is best for a self-directed exerciser with some knowledge of fitness, but it also works well for those who might not be in great shape (yet).
Your Shape does a decent job as a personal trainer. It offers fun activities and motivates you to burn calories via in-game rewards and competition with fellow players. You’ll need to have some knowledge of fitness, since the programs are self-directed. The exercises are pretty entry level, so this game is best for people who aren’t already very fit.
UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System for PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360 ($30; ESRB rating: Everyone): The Ultimate Fitness System is not that challenging. This transforms the popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) into a fitness game. Planned workouts vary from fundamental to advanced and include tutorials that range from basic striking techniques to more complex striking and kicking combinations. You can select a 30- or 60-day fitness plan based on a goal of strength building, weight loss or endurance.
For fans of mixed martial arts, Consumer Reports notes that this could be used as a very basic skill-learning game. But it isn’t very physically challenging and doesn’t give enough feedback to really get you in shape.
2013, Consumers Union Inc.