Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fitness equipment for geeks

Our star Christmas prezzie to ourselves was a Wii Fit.

For those of you who aren't entirely au fait with this latest in couch-potato fitness accessories: a Wii Fit is, basically, a very sensitive electronic scale that connects to your Wii (games console) and encourages you to do all kinds of exciting physical stuff to reduce your weight. You stand on the doodad and perform yoga, muscle, balance or aerobic exercises (per instruction) as the mood takes you; it tots up your time and chimes a happy validating little chord when you've clocked up half an hour.

Yogic deep breathing, for instance, can earn you two minutes. Jogging (running on the spot) can be variable length -- novices like me get a five-minute course, but by June I daresay I'll be up to the half-marathon level. And it has the advantage, over real jogging, that nobody can see you. Step exercises can earn you anything up to ten minutes in a single hit.

Then there's the balance games, which are video games controlled by leaning your body this way, that way and, for good measure, the other way. Skiing, ski-jumping, snowboarding, a penguin on the ice -- these frosty occupations will earn you about two minutes per hit -- for playing games. While you play, the trusty scale tracks your centre of gravity and uses this information to control the game.

Then it judges me -- assigns my "Wii Fit age" -- based on my powers of balance. The ability to stand perfectly still is highly prized in Wiiland. And it's harder than I'd thought.

Now, the first thing the scale told me, when I loaded myself onto it on Christmas Day, was that I was overweight. Bastard, I thought, and set myself a target to shed two kilos within two months, which will put me well within the "ideal" weight range.

Since then, my weight's been up and down like a stock market. But it has shown a slightly downward trend. On Sunday it told me, for the first time since I started, that I was no longer overweight.

I presume that's because I was taking the test before breakfast. (The device says that I probably fluctuate by about 1 kilo over the course of a day, so for consistency it's best to weigh oneself at around the same time daily.) Since then, I've been avoiding it. I figure the next news is probably going to be bad, so why rush it?

Interesting things I've noted:
  • I tend to gain weight on working days. No surprise there: going to work is bad for me. It's official.

  • By far the most effective ways of losing those Christmas kilos don't involve exercising at all: they're bathroom-related. (A long soak in a hot bath removes an astonishing amount of fat. What did you think I was talking about?)

Susan, however, has been going nuts. She's probably clocked enough hours on the Wii Fit to earn some kind of pilot's license. While on holiday -- from Christmas until this Monday -- she would take the test three, four times a day. And because she was burning so much energy, of course, she's been mainlining candy canes and similar health-giving foods.

So although she's unquestionably toned and beautiful, she's not losing weight. That's not a problem in theory -- she's already comfortably in the "ideal" region -- but the damn' device itself encourages us to set goals for weight change. "Staying much the same" isn't an option, as far as I can see.

On the whole, it's quite fun. And it speaks with a good English accent, which is nice. But I do wish it could be localised to the southern hemisphere. Being told to watch what I eat during these winter months is mildy annoying; come June, I anticipate being told to get out and enjoy the sunshine, which will be irritating beyond measure.


Eric Lester said...

John Walker has a lot to say about weight fluctuation in The Hacker's Diet . I believe he says that one can gain and lose as much as 13 pounds (maybe 6 Kg?) per day from water.

Being perenially overweight and always fighting it, I weigh myself on Saturday morning upon arising, before eating or drinking anything, and record the result.

I do my jogging early in the morning and no one looks at me.

vet said...

The routine I've settled into now is to weigh myself before dinner.

The last couple of days I've been into the "Ideal" BMI range, which is nice. Then I eat dinner...

Anonymous said...

Correction to OP: Wii step can clock up to 30mins in one hit.