Frugal Family Fitness: Wii-time to Me-time

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by Robin

If the statistics are right, you are probably like me and have had a gym membership that you rarely use.  There are many reasons mine went dormant.  The top reasons:

  1. Travel time to get there
  2. Getting home (or up) too late to make it to the class I wanted
  3. My hermit-like nature (I love being home, probably more than is healthy)
  4. Guilt over leaving my kids (especially after just getting home from work)

Then I stumbled upon a way to bypass all those excuses reasons.  I figured out how to turn our Wii into something more than a babysitter while I jump in the shower or get some housework done.

1) Wii Active 2 from EA Sports

The Wii Active 2 is the third Wii Active product I have used and definitely the best.  They all run you through a total body workout.  This one has 70 different exercises.  They have a built-in fitness program of so many times per week with a variety of workouts. Wii Active games can be really fun and, if you push yourself, pretty effective.

I can understand why they have these pre-set programs, people want results and following a consistent plan is the best way to get results.  But, they can be too rigid for my hectic life.  If I have made the time to work out, I bristle at the digital coach nagging me about missed workouts.  I have enough things to feel guilty about, disappointing my Wii, is not one of them.  How I use this system is by creating my own workouts by choosing from the activities I find the most fun.  I also don't use this more than once or twice a week.  The built-in program is 4 or 5 times a week, and trying to do that took me on the fast track to boredom.  Building fun into your workouts is how you will keep doing them.

What I also like about these workouts is that the kids get to see a good fitness role model.  In fact, the kids motivate me.  Just last week my son (age 5) came to me and said it was time for him to be my coach.  I would not have worked out that day were it not for his idea.  (Digital nags I have no tolerance for, but cute boy ones motivate!)  When I do these Wii workouts we call him "My Coach".  He gets me water bottles and hands me exercise bands and what-not.  The cutest is when he does the exercises alongside.  (We often call him "Mandelbaum" for his great coaching and his penchant for wearing all-red track suits.  Reference c/o Seinfeld.)

2)  Zumba Fitness

I've done Zumba at the gym and really enjoyed it.  My cheeks would hurt by the end from smiling so much.  Zumba's rhythm and dance moves are fun and get your heart pumping.  What I didn't like about Zumba at the gym was that while all the ladies danced to the sexy Latin rythms, creepy, old guys would watch through the windows or over the balcony (I exaggerate - only slightly.  Think: Benny Hill.).  The only creepy guy watching me do this at home is Ed, and I am used to his leering after 11 years of marriage.

It sounds like the old standby line of exercise equipment sales, but it really is so much fun you forget you're working out.  There's a bit of a game with it, where you try to match your "red hot international steps" with the on-screen instructor to earn points.  The points are pretty meaningless, you gain a more decorated stage with fire works, etc, but it's strangely motivating.  I turned off the "encouraging" voice telling me what a great job I was doing.  I found her insincerity distracting.  (Seriously, I went to get a package that was delivered at the front door, chatted with the lady a bit and the game raved about my dancing and told me to keep it up.)  The kids get involved in this one too.  They can't help but dance around me, which is more fun than a gym full of middle-aged women any day (Plus, you can holler at your family if they get in your way.  They frown on that at the gym.)

3) Just Dance Kids

Do you remember when you first got your Wii and were so excited by how active it would get your kids?  Do you sort-of laugh at your naivety now?  While Lego Star Wars is awesome and fun, active?  Not so much.  But there are great games that get kids moving.  Have you done any of the Just Dance games?  They are so much fun!  We've gone to parties where we all take turns dancing along to the game.  No matter how arrhythmic our friends were, they still got caught up in the game.  Our daughter and her friend are skilled at the dance moves and get really high scores.  I smile and cringe watching them.  The versions for grown-ups are a bit too...well, adult.  Some of the songs and moves are too sexy for my prudish ways.  That's why I am happy for the Just Dance Kids versions.  There are two now, but we've only tried the first.  The songs are tame and the moves are sweet.  My daughter works up a sweat and she get's caught up in the dancing.

Now that we are into the long, dark days of winter, I love having some in-house ways to change our cabin-fever into dance-fever.

Do you have any video game fitness games you'd recommend?  We'd love to hear about some more to try!

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