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Are Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect effective forms of exercise?

By Russ Howe

Unless you've been living under a rock, you will have seen or heard about Nintendo Wii Fit, the keep fit games console owned by millions of us worldwide. Microsoft and Sony recently also jumped into the fitness market with the Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move, too. But today we answer the number one question from fitness enthusiasts and exercise lovers worldwide...

Is losing weight at home via Wii Fit or other games consoles REALLY as effective as going to the gym?

Being a Personal Trainer, it would probably be acceptable of me to dismiss these products as a fad. However, that is not what I am going to do. While many trainers would be happy to just advise you to use a real gym, we can undoubtedly see that Nintendo Wii Fit, for example, has huge potential. Here are a few reasons why we believe this software actually has a massive future.

* If you lack the self confidence to join a public gym you can get good results at home with this.

* It's very easy to fit in a workout when you have the tools in your house. Convenience is an understatement.

* Compared to a monthly gym membership or the mammoth cost of assembling a decent home gym, a Wii Fit is actually affordable.

* The technology is awesome. And it gets better each year.

As a personal trainer you have to look at this type of technology with great enthusiasm for the future. You could, of course, see it as a potential threat however to me that's a sign of an insecure teacher. The fact is, this type of software allows gyms to prosper as it will help way more people get through the first, giant step of joining a gym. Who knows, maybe they would previously never have reached that stage with their confidence had they not been able to get started at home first.

Tools like this are excellent starting points for anyone who falls into the categories we listed above, and given the ability to download new workout routines to your console, workout with network friends, and the ever evolving nature of computer games in general I say this particular avenue of fitness is one which is very exciting indeed.

But is it as effective as physically going to a gym? At the moment the technology is great (and always improving) at providing great body weight workouts, cardio sessions and stretching but is understandably somewhat lacking when it comes to resistance training. Steps have been taken already to move in this direction however (such as the inclusion of resistance bands with EA Sports Active 2, for example). As things stand right now, the gym wins hands down when it comes to weights.

When it comes to a heavy weights session, or any other form of resistance training, the software isn't in the same league as hitting a gym for real. However, given the constant progress made in the gaming world I wouldn't be surprised if one day you and I met via a Playstation for one of my workout routines instead of face to face.

If you are looking at a games console such as Nintendo Wii Fit, Microsoft Xbox Kinect or Sony Playstation Move and are trying to decide whether it is worth your hard earned bucks, as a qualified fitness instructor and personal trainer I fully give this software my support.

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