Happy New Year to everyone! Yes, it’s that time of year again and no, I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. I did that 8 years ago and did lose 135 lbs over a 2.5 year period. That said, for those of you who are beginning this journey, I thought I’d finally write-up my experiences over the past few months with the XBOX 360 Kinect Exercise Programs: EA Sports Active, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (FE), The Biggest Loser, and Zumba Fitness.
To provide you with some context, my husband and I got our XBOX 360 the night they launched Kinect. (We just happened to be up at midnight and decided, literally at 11:45 PM, to go out to see how long the lines were and how devoted XBOX fans really were )
In terms of exercise programs, let me give you a little background on me. I HATE exercise with a PASSION! The only way I will do it is if I can do at home and without much fuss! I was an avid fan of EA Sports Active (and all the subsequent versions) for the Wii (my first game console purchase ever!) and I had been using that program religiously since its launch. What I LOVED about the program was that they put me on a daily/weekly routine and I just had to turn it on and they would lead me through it, without me having to select exercises, etc. I also really liked that I could workout with my husband at the same time (side-by-side). That said, I was getting bored of the exercises in the last version and was excited by the potential of getting rid of the controllers with Kinect and allowing me to use free-weights and other exercise equipment. So…I waited for the EA Sports Active Kinect release and started with this program first. Here is what I thought…
Unfortunately, EA Sports Active for the Kinect was AWFUL! The menus were not Kinect-friendly (I had a really hard time keeping my hand steady enough to navigate through them) and more importantly, while exercising, the program would launch into tutorials, when it thought I was doing something wrong, instead of just letting me continue…way to break any momentum! The one plus was that I could still work out with my husband side-by-side. The heart rate monitor was intriguing, but overall, I was incredibly disappointed and saddened! This was the most expensive exercise program of the bunch and I had waited for it, but unfortunately, it did NOT deliver!
I then bought Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (FE). This was an incredible upgrade and the menus were easy to navigate and they also had programs that put several exercises together. However, most of the routines were lower-body ones and once I picked a program, it was quite repetitive on a daily basis. In other words, the programs didn’t offer alternating routines on different days, etc. And, once again, I’m far too lazy to want to figure this out! Also, there was no way to work out with my husband, which meant we had to coordinate who worked out first and then change players…a bit annoying. Overall, the menus and navigation on this were superb, but the workout routines, for my needs, were not varied or full-body enough.
I then picked up the Zumba Fitness. I must confess that I’ve spent the least time with this program since my first session was a complete disaster! I have not taken any Zumba classes and do not know the moves. The tutorials were useless and the pace was WAY too fast for me to figure out (and I’m a very fast learner and not a bad dancer – thanks to my Puerto Rican and African American genes and I have NO problem with Dance Central!) I couldn’t figure out the tutorial navigation, which seemed to go faster and faster randomly and I couldn’t make heads or tails of them. I tried a few routines, but again the pace was quite fast for a true beginner. If you are an experienced Zumba person, your experience might be different.
For Christmas, I asked for (and received) The Biggest Loser. (At this point, I thought I might as well have them all I’ve been using this for a few weeks and have found the workouts to be much more full-body, and quite rigorous. (Do note that when you first start up, you’ll need some time to get your routines and fitness levels set up…set aside a good 30 minutes for this.) The menus and user interface (UI) are okay, but once again, there are times when I wish they would give me another way to navigate. Getting my avatar personalized was quite painful and doesn’t even really look like me! Once again, it works only for one player at a time and I still haven’t figured out how to change players other than exiting the program completely and starting it up again, which takes far too long in my opinion. I have to say that for my needs, The Biggest Loser is probably the best bet, but there are many trade-offs I have had to make.
Here’s my summary of the XBOX 360 Kinect Exercise Programs:
EA Sports Active
Pros: Workout together with someone else (side-by-side) at the same time (great for those days when one person isn’t very motivated) Has weekly routines that are varied and full-body, i.e. it’s more like a personal trainer that creates a program for you. Heart rate monitor is interesting.
Cons: Awful menus for using with Kinect, clearly optimized for navigation with a controller. Interrupts exercises when you’re not doing it “right” and launches into Tutorials, which can be frustrating when the technology is not capturing something and breaks any momentum.
Pros: Great music
Cons: Pace of the tutorials and routines…clearly this was meant for people who are familiar with the Zumba dance steps already.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (FE)
Pros: Excellent menus and Kinect navigation; launches and gets to routines quickly
Cons: Routines are very lower-body focused and you must vary them (from day-to-day) based on what you think you need. No ability for two players to work out together at the same time.
The Biggest Loser
Pros: Nice full-body, rigorous and varied routines. They set up the exercises and I can just follow along from day-to-day.
Cons: Menu navigation could be better, especially for all the ancillary activities (avatar personalization and getting recipes, was painful). No ability for two players to work out together at the same time. No ability to set specific workout days, e.g. M, W, F or add other outside activities, e.g. running, walking, etc.
Now, I am not the most experienced exerciser/athlete and as I said, I really HATE exercise! So, if there is any way to avoid it, I will! That said, I do know the benefits of exercise and I do workout (in some form) 4-5 times per week. If some of the things I mention CAN be done, please let me know! Overall, I think I’ll be bouncing between the Biggest Loser and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Please note that I also have Dance Central and have very much enjoyed it, but don’t put it quite into the fitness category, even though you can work up quite a sweat!
So there you have it, a very amateur’s perspective of the XBOX 360 Kinect Fitness Programs. I will continue to try others as they become available and welcome any comments you might have!