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Secret Origins/Mini-Review: Wii Fit U

Wii Fit UI never thought I'd get involved with the Wii Fit program, but here I am about three weeks into wearing the Fit Meter, playing the balance board games, and working on a training regimen in Wii Fit U.  Most surprisingly to me, I'm really enjoying it.  How did I end up here?  Exercise has never been a priority for me because of my traditionally poor health and my love of being stationary, but following my medical drama this year I've found myself in a unique position.  I lost over 140 lbs in 2013 and the start of 2014 due to serious illness and ended up having to gain weight back over the summer to reach a healthy size.  I'm a point now where I don't need to lose weight, but I don't need to gain any either.  I need a light exercise program that encourages toning up and rebuilding lost muscle.  Since I'm still healing from surgeries, I also need a program that doesn't end with me sweating or doing too much vigorous movement.  Wii Fit U seemed like the answer, so I bought the whole starter kit: game, balance board, and Fit Meter pedometer on sale at a Best Buy four days before my July surgery, then put it aside until I was healthy enough to start on it. 

Once I was given the all-clear from my surgeon to try it in October, I opened the box and set everything up.  Since then, I've looked at health and fitness differently.  Exercise isn't a chore now, it's something I actually look forward to doing at the end of the day.  I know that people talk about some magical quality that Nintendo imbues in its products, but any product that gets me to exercise and actually like it has to be special.  Maybe it has to do with a change in perspective following my terrible year or maybe it's just easier to move now that I'm much lighter than I once was and am no longer in constant pain.  Either way, there's something worthwhile happening here.

Fit MeterMy favorite part of the Wii Fit U experience is, strangely enough, wearing the Fit Meter.  The meter is a litle green and white circular pedometer with an embedded LCD screen.  It tracks the number of steps I walk, the altitude, how many calories I've burned (taking changes of altitude into account; I burn more walking up stairs, for instance), the ambient temperature, and a few other exercise-related statistics.  I clip the meter to my belt in the morning and then forget about it for the day.  It tracks my movements and then later when I start my Wii Fit U workout, I sync the meter to the game, and all of my daily steps and burned calories are imported into my in-game profile.  If I go for a long walk or go up and down a lot of stairs during the day, Wii Fit U credits me for that.  Detailed charts and graphs let me see my progress trends over time, too.  I love working with data in this way.  It makes me feel like I'm actually doing something for my health rather than just assuming my daily activities are burning calories.

I'm mostly interested in using the game to maintain my current weight and, as I said, tone up.  One disagreement that Wii Fit U and I have on a daily basis involves my supposed target weight.  Wii Fit U uses the Body Mass Index scale and my height to determine my supposed ideal weight and I can tell you right now that I when I was reduced to a weakened skeleton earlier this year, I was at that supposed ideal weight.  I was quite literally starving to death at the time as my small intestine had failed and, according to Wii Fit U, that's the image I should strive for now.  There is no way that I ever want to be that thin again and it doesn't help for it to tell me everyday "That's overweight!" when it calculates my current weight and BMI.  I don't completely blame Wii Fit U for this; the BMI scale has some shortcomings that the game isn't capable of overcoming.  I wish there was an option for me to tell the game that my current size is the healthy ideal for me and to stop badgering me to lose that much weight. 

Wii Fit UI've only dipped into a handful of the exercises because of my post-surgery restrictions.  Anything with serious bending or jostling has to wait until early next year, but the activities I've been able to play have been enjoyable.  I've set up a personalized routine that includes some yoga breathing and stretching, a few reps of a hula hoop game where I swing my hips in a circular motion as if keeping a hoop in motion while twirling additional hoops on my arms (a Wii remote with MotionPlus is required for the arm portion of the workout), a luge game where I sit on the board and lean to the left or right to navigate a downhill course, and some jogging and biking challenges around Wuhu Island.  I burn about ninety calories during the thirty minutes of activity and, for right now, that's just what I need.  As I continue to heal I look forward to trying some of the more advanced activities.

Wii Fit U includes Miiverse integration where workout achievements are posted as a way of showing off accomplishments and motivating friends to top high scores in the different workouts and games.  If you're using Wii Fit U and would like to join me in comparing progress, I've created a custom Miiverse community gym for Press The Buttons readers.  The code to access the gym is 0922-3622-7333 which is input in the community gym options section.  Come join up!  Maybe we can all motivate each other. 

While I've only scratched the surface of the available activities, I've really enjoyed the Wii Fit U experience so far.  Wearing the Fit Meter has me thinking about my physical activity in ways I'd never considered before and I find myself going out of my way to move more often to increase my daily step and calorie counts.  As I said above, any product that can get me to exercise and actually enjoy it has to be something special.  I can't speak to how well the game works for losing weight since I'm not using it for that purpose, but it is helping me stay at my current weight and I've noticed the muscle groups I've made a point to work starting to become stronger.  There's definitely something to this.  If you're interested in improving your health, I'd recommend it as part of your exercise routine.