Wii, Wii, Wii… all the way thin

I hate exercise. I hate going to the gym. I’d rather stay home and play video games. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do — and lose weight doing it.

I’ve always struggled with weight and exercise. I’m definitely feeling the post-Christmas pressure on my jeans, but it is hardly a state exclusive to the holiday season.

I’ve tried to explain to my fitter friends that it is not that I’m lazy (ok, sometimes it is because I am lazy) — I just don’t enjoy exercise. I’m not good at it. It’s a struggle every step of the way, and I don’t get any sort of “athlete’s high” when I’m done.

I’ve pushed myself to run a 10 km race, and learned to ride a bike in this terrifying city. I’ve been to gyms but everywhere I looked people were fitter, stronger, and thinner than me. Plus, you have to go outside in the slush, sleet, and snow to get to a gym in the first place.

This time, I am going to have fun losing weight.

As a child of the mid-eighties I grew up playing video games, but only simple ones like Tetris and Super Mario Bros. I was never a serious “gamer”, and most systems beyond Super Nintendo became too complicated or violent for my tastes. That is why like the Wii so much.

It’s easy to use and fun to play. The selling point has never been about the most realistic graphics or the best war games. It’s a throwback to simpler times with modern features.

In a sort of low-tech virtual reality system, Wii Sports allows me to spar with my boyfriend in a boxing match, or hit baseballs out of the park. The controller registers my movements as I simulate a physical activity: In Wii Bowling I step forward, bend my knee, bring my arm back, then forward to release the virtual ball down the alley. It looks ridiculous to bystanders, but is incredibly engaging and works up a sweat in no time.

The Wii Fit game introduced the balance board. It is a rectangular platform, much like a bathroom scale, that measures balance, movement, and weight. The games include traditional “exercise” activities like aerobic step class and strength training yoga routines, along with games like ski jumping and hula hooping that require balance and timing. The new addition of Wii Fit Plus allows players to save routines for a regular workout.

The motion sensitive controls and simple graphics have made video games accessible to people who would never have considered playing them before. My partner’s grandmother plays Wii in her nursing home, and my semi-retired aunt played Wii at a resort in Myrtle Beach. Even my twenty-something best friend, who has never touched a video game in her life, enjoys Wii.

I see Wii as an opportunity to think outside the exercise box. For 8 weeks I will transform my living room into a gym (marvellously free of strangers’ sweat) and make friends with the Wii virtual trainers. A cartoon version of me (a Mii) will replicate my simulated actions as I stand in a Yoga tree pose or run laps in place. I have no idea if it will work, but that is the beauty of an experiment.

If it ends up just being a regular video game with some fancy features, then people should know that. But if it does work and it helps people get healthier, then they should know that too. At the very least, it is better than watching TV.

Now the only thing left to do is buy one. . . or borrow one. They’re sold out all over town.



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