The Wii started out as a fad. But, to everyone's surprise - perhaps even Nintendo's - it's become something long lasting. Do you remember all those crazy Wii Sports weight-loss stories when it first launched? These are happily banished to the archives now, but since then there have been some much more believable Wii fitness games.
Luke Pyper is a personal trainer who uses videogames in the routines he prescribes his clients. For him, on motivational terms alone, Exergaming - his phrase for games that make you exercise - makes a big difference.
Here's his review for the Gamercize Family Fit machine. This gadget plugs in between your console and controller and automatically pauses the game if you don't keep pedaling or rowing fast enough. This can turn a Modern Warfare 2 session into something much more exhausting, and potentially beneficial. Over to Luke ...
The Gamercize Family Fit bike is a new idea to help gamers get fit while they play. It's designed to appeal to non-gamers and hard gamers alike.
The machine functions as a rowing machine, recumbent cycle and videogame fitness machine. As a personal trainer, fitness instructor and long-time gamer I'm keen to put it through its paces. To live up the claim it's making, it will need to work well for both gamers and fitness users.
In the world of videogame fitness there are many offerings that are based on workout challenges, so many I often get asked for advice on how to choose one. Your new fitness game will probably sit alongside that copy of Mario Kart. Likewise, your fitness games console sits next to an HD gaming powerhouse by Microsoft or Sony.
Here lies the intrinsic problem with workout titles such as Wii Fit or Jillian Michael's Fitness Ultimatum - you have to choose fitness over gaming. You have to resist Blur or Arkham Asylum in favor of the workout game. If you're a gamer like me, you'll want a bit more game play out of your Exergaming and the workout game takes second place.
I was initially impressed with the Gamercize Family Fit. It looks good, has an impressive instrument panel and feels well built. You won't feel silly or self conscious, which is a criticism I have heard a few times with a few other systems.
Feeling comfortable is a big part of any fitness experience and determines retention of a user within a fitness regime. This new exercise machine wouldn't look out of place amongst other next gen peripherals.
The value in Gamercize is the ability to play any game. It's a useful interaction if exercise is not your thing. As you play, you simply forget you are exercising.
The cycling action is smooth throughout the 8 resistance settings and while not up to commercial gym equipment standards, it is the closest I have seen. The position of the pedals is comfortable and so is the seat with its ample padding.
To really get your fitness improved, unlatch the seat and flick the on-board computer to rowing mode. The position for the rower is a little different from a regular rowing machine, as the footplates are slightly lower than normal. Despite feeling slightly odd, it reduces the amount of bend in your back and coupled with support from the seat back, it is a very safe rowing machine in its own right.
In rowing mode the resistance, for me, needed to be increased a couple of clicks and the pulling action was smooth and consistent. With a regular rowing machine there's more resistance when fully extended which then lessens as you pull back. But here I was pleased to find the resistance is equal throughout the stroke. Despite feeling, again, a little odd compared to a gym rower it does promote a safe use and reduce the chance of injury. I would highly recommend the Gamer Family Fit for its innovative rower alone.
Overall, the Gamercize Family Fit Bike did pretty well against its high claims. It's a serious fitness machine, providing upper and lower body workouts, and contains many innovative features missing on non-interactive exercise machines. Looping in gaming is simply the best way to hide the effort of exercise and certainly sustainable considering it works with all your games, even the ones yet to be released. For around $1000 the Gamercize Family Fit machine is by no means cheap, but for a family or club is worth the outlay.
What do you think though, is this a better way to keep fit while gaming or should we just get more outside time? With Natal and Move just around the corner - possibly triggering a fresh fad of tacky exercise videogames - I'm interested to see where serious fitness driven products like the Gamercize machine take things.
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