In the USA fitness DVDs are big business. They have fitness instructors who have become celebrities in their own right, pushing their viewers to the limit in a series of punishing workouts such as ‘Insanity’, ‘Metamorphosis’ or ‘Ripped in 30’. In Britain, we have Sonia from EastEnders rolling around on a yoga mat. Luckily, America has lent Microsoft some of their guys to whip us into shape.
You’re launched straight into whatever daft, intense sweat-a-thon you’ve chosen. No tutorials, no easy walkthrough, no entry level boss to ease you in. It would have been handy to have been warned what you’d need in terms of equipment and, more importantly, space because you soon find out how much a sofa hurts when you burpee straight into it.
Most of the workouts do offer an easy mode, namely one person stuck shamefully at the back of the room working at a slower pace than the others or taking shortcuts like kneeling for press ups. This is very useful if you’re not quite at the level of Jillian Michaels (The Biggest Loser) or Shaun T, the gentleman responsible for Insanity, the 60 day workout programme. So it’s very useful indeed.
The real interest lies with the amazing futuristic technology of the Kinect. The sensor sends its judging eyes all over your body and can give you ridiculously in-depth feedback such as your heart rate, which muscles you’re using and which muscles you should be using more. Being told by your Xbox One to work your shoulders more is a surreal experience and it’s a great motivation to see those little heat maps become stronger, showing the effectiveness of your workout.
The minor quibble here would be the fact that the sensor sometimes loses you when you drop for a press up, but that is easily remedied by strategic positioning of Kinect itself. The individual star-earning challenges also motivate you and mini-challenges throughout the workout, comparing your performance to the average person of your gender and age is also a nice touch.
There is an exceptional range of workouts to tailor to your every need, with options for core strengthening, conditioning and cardiovascular improvements, meaning that whatever you want to work on, there’s a workout for you. There are a host of free workouts to get you into it as well as the option to buy further workouts when you’ve properly been bitten by the fitness bug. Effective, motivating workouts without the gym or that cold, dark outside business? Thanks, Microsoft!