Wait, What's a Wii?
Wait, What's a Wii Fit?The Wii Fit is intended to use the interactive capabilites of the system to focus on physical fitness. The set-up includes a 11 x 19 inch Balance Board for you to stand on. The Balance Board senses your center of gravity (as well as your weight) by measuring how much pressure you are putting on each foot. In your first session, the Wii determines your Body Mass Index and makes a recommendation for your ideal weight based on your height. After a balance test, the Wii delivers some bad news: your Wii Fit age. I would like to say that I am not quite 43, not any more than my husband is 29. I determined the Wii Fit age to be bunk (my husband disagrees).
Yoga on the Wii Fit
The Wii Fit’s strength, not surprisingly given the Balance Board, is in standing balancing postures. In poses like tree and king dancer, it’s actually useful to have a measurement of where your center of gravity is. These poses are not my strong suit, and I can see how practicing them regularly with the Wii would allow for improvement.
After you do each pose, you are given a score based on how the Balance Board has measured your success in the pose -- either holding your center of gravity or applying appropriate pressure with your hands or feet. The score is then ranked and compared to other players on your system, introducing a competitive edge to the proceedings. What with the constant scoring, the encouragement and advice of the trainer, and the navigating of menus, it took me about an hour to get 30 minutes of exercise.
Like all yoga done without a teacher present (such as videos), you will be in much better shape if you already know what you are doing. The Wii trainer generally provides pretty good advice, but a few poses she instructs completely incorrectly. Warrior II is one such pose: The knee of your front leg should never come in front of the ankle in this pose, but this is exactly how the trainer demonstrates it. Her alignment is also off in shoulderstand, where the hips should be directly over the shoulders. I also object to the way downward facing dog is instructed. This pose is done with the hands on the Balance Board, and I was repeated scolded for not having enough weight in my arms. In down dog, most of the weight should be in the legs, not an equal distribution as instructed here. When I achieved the degree of arm pressure the trainer approved of, I was practically in a plank position, with the hips way too far forward for a downward facing dog. Alignment is also compromised by the fact that the Balance Board is about two inches high, making poses where one foot is on the board and the other off (like warrior II) and poses where the hands are on but the feet off (like downward dog) feel a bit awkward.
In the yoga area, you are only given a few postures to begin with. You must then earn access to more poses by spending more time using the Wii Fit, which is a pain if you intend to use the system primarily for yoga. In my quest to earn more poses, I put in some quality time in the three other training areas.
So, Back to My MissionIs the Wii Fit providing accurate yoga information? For the most part yes, with the exceptions noted above, though I do find it troubling that those encountering yoga for the first time will come away with some incorrect alignment information.
Will the Wii Fit enhance your home practice? Yes. I think it's more fun than following a video, which I tend to find boring. The interactive features keep it interesting over time and you can always include strength training or hula-hooping in your routine. Especially if you already own a Wii, you can make use of the Wii Fit in your home practice. It doesn't replace going to class, but nothing does. I had hoped for a customizable vinyasa style workout, which seems to be the next logical step here. Wouldn’t it be great to pick an area of the body you want to work on, a duration of the session and then have a virtual teacher lead you through a series of poses? Listen up Nintendo, get cracking on the next generation Wii Fit now.