We are inching closer to New Year’s and there are no prizes for guessing what tops the resolution list that most of us draw. Getting fit, losing that beer belly or just fitting into your junior college shorts! The only drawback is that there’s this creeping feeling that tells you that you are probably not going to see this through even as you jot these lofty goals down.
Here’s where ideas such as ‘Pay 20k to get a personal trainer’ or ‘Eat-nothing-but-cereals diet’ comes into play. Serial gym quitters, like yours truly, often need to be told that it’s not the personal trainer or the cereal that will do the push-ups for you. If only we had the motivation! To fuel the much-needed drive to get fit, Microsoft has launched the new Nike+ Kinect Training (read Nike Plus) aiming to make fitness a little more fun for you.
Unlike other titles, Nike+ Kinect is not exactly a game. You don’t get to level up or attain supernatural powers as you progress, but if done right you might be able to get rid of those love handles that have clung on to you like a possessive partner. To help you sweat it out, you can choose between two virtual personal trainers – Alex and Marie. Both characters are based on real-life Nike Training Club professionals. I chose Alex, who used to be a former football player. Fortunately, he doesn’t look like the scarily-ripped gym trainers one might encounter in the real world who make you wonder if their biceps and deltoids were stuffed with Styrofoam.
He asks me to choose among three different workout modes - Get Strong, Get Lean and Get Toned. The first regime helps you build strength and power with drills that keep on burning calories even when you are not working out. The second works to get your heart rate up while maximising fat burn with high intensity cardio.
I opted for the third – one that allured me with the idea of lean muscles and more definition. I would have to go through drills which were a mix of cardio and strength targeting every part of the body.
But first, Alex needed to gauge my current fitness levels, if any. I had to emulate a couple of moves such as a hurdle step, an in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active leg raises and so on. The movements were first demonstrated by Alex and he kept a good eye on me while I copied whatever he did. During some of the exercises, you need to adjust your current position to match a virtual marker. I could barely do it without bumping into the bureau in an office cabin.
Before purchasing the Nike+ Kinect Training, you have to keep in mind that some of the workouts you’ll be asked to do need a fair amount of space around you. You don’t want to keep bumping into or tripping over stuff while trying to indulge in some aerobics. Especially so with moves like the Balancing Hop and Stick, where you have to jump across virtual markers, from one leg to another and stabilise yourself on only one leg. At the end of the assessment session, Alex gave me a 17 and a 19 (out of 100!) based on my fitness and athleticism respectively. The average fitness score for women in my age bracket is 44. Ahem.
While the score would have crushed slightly more fragile egos, I comforted myself knowing that I had skipped a lot of the floor exercises such as rotary movements, push-ups and a couple more, thus dragging more points down.
Based on how you perform, Alex will help you gauge what you need to work on. I was told that while my range of motion looks fine, I need to put in some extra work to develop my core. You can work together to draw up a four-week schedule, with customisable days.
If you miss a day, you can log in and try out other options such as a 5-minute workout which takes you though four different drills.
As far as the variety and quality of exercises go, the Nike+ Kinect Training doesn’t leave much to be desired. The trainers enunciate directions carefully and pep you up just the right amount. Most of the training also insists you do the moves at a slow, decent pace and not go crazy with it, which is extremely important considering you are doing it unsupervised. After all, it’s not like virtual trainers can come to your rescue if you sprain your leg. Go for it if you want to give at-home, budget fitness a try.
Love – Wide range of exercises, good demos
Hate – Lot of space required, average graphics
Publisher – Microsoft Studios
Developer – Sumo Digital
Platform – Xbox 360
Rating - 3.5/5