IGN Review of My Fitness Coach
There is no doubt that any Wii owner interested in My Fitness Coach will immediately compare it to Wii Fit. Both are great exercise games, but they take two very different approaches. Where Wii Fit gave off a casual workout vibe (a sweat inducing vibe nonetheless), My Fitness Coach comes at you more like an aerobics DVD.
Let's get one item out of the way up front. My Fitness Coach does not use the Wii Balance Board. The Balance Board works wonders for its pioneer outing, but it's still a more casual approach overall. Trust me though, even without the Balance Board, My Fitness Coach will give you one heck of a workout.
My Fitness Coach starts out with a fitness analysis to determine the level of shape you are in. You will be asked to enter expected information such as you name, gender, weight, height, and date of birth; but things get even more technical from here.
Fitness Coach will also inquire about what exercise equipment you have readily available. Equipment that game utilizes includes heart monitors, stability balls, step benches, and hand weights. Fitness Coach will use any of these workout devices you have available when customizing your exercise routine.
For the next part you'll need a tape measure. My Fitness Coach asks for the circumference of your biceps, chest, waist, hips, and thighs in inches. This gets kind of personal, but feels like questions you would have to answer at a gym before beginning an exercise routine. From here you'll be able to keep up with progress for these areas of your body and determine which parts need the most work.
This trend of personal customization continues as My Fitness Coach asks for your resting heart rate as well active heart rate, which is measured after two minutes of jumping jacks. It goes on to ask for how you view your personal workout habits allowing you to select from sedentary, moderate, and active. Next your lower, upper, and core body strengths are analyzed according to how many squats, push-ups and crunches you can do respectively. Your final physical test determines how flexible you are by having you do a sit and reach and recording your distance.
Here lies a major difference between My Fitness Coach and Wii Fit. Fitness Coach does a much better job of "getting to know you" than Miyamoto's workout software does, but it relies on the honor system. The Balance Board allows Wii Fit to keep up with how many reps you do and how accurately you perform them, providing feedback in the process. For My Fitness Coach to be optimally effective, you have to be honest on the information you input.
Once your information is input in its entirety, My Fitness Coach will determine areas that you need to focus on. These areas consists of standard workout focuses like weight loss, cardio, upper body strength, core body strength, lower body strength, and flexibility. My Fitness Coach will recommend an area of focus based on your data, but you have the option to choose which area you personally feel needs the most attention.
I'm a little skeptical of the science that goes into My Fitness Coach's suggested area of focus. When doing the push-up test, I was able to do the maximum allotted amount of forty. However, my flexibility was pathetic in the sit and reach test. Fitness Coach then proceeded to suggest that I work on my upper body strength. How it reached this point when I clearly need to improve my flexibility I do not know. At least it gives you the option to select an area of focus rather than sticking with what the game suggests.
One of the single most important factors in any exercise routine is commitment. My Fitness Coach addresses this by including a workout calendar that you plan out in advance, around your week's activities. Fitness Coach uses data to suggest a workout schedule, but like with the area of focus, you have the final say so on when you break a sweat. The calendar allows you to set how long you plan to workout that day (workouts can last anywhere from fifteen to seventy five minutes), letting you adjust accordingly to your busy life.
My Fitness Coach features a ton of different workouts to whip you into shape. These include everything from general aerobics to the use of all the previously mentioned equipment. Regardless of how long of a workout you choose, the routine flows nonstop (with cool down rests of course). You will segue from one workout to the next while keeping a mostly steady tempo. Fitness Coach boasts that it has 450-plus different workouts, and while I haven't checked every single one off on a list, rest assured that as you progress you will see a huge amount of new routines and exercises.
A problem that arises from said array of exercises is the issue of space. Videogames are typically played in a living room or bedroom setting and these routines will have you moving all over the place. Another problem comes out of Fitness Coach's quick transition between exercises. If you're doing V-steps in a confined space, you may have to move your stability ball or step bench out of the way. It's not a huge hurdle, but it kind of throws the smooth flow of the exercises off when you have to quickly set a step bench into place.
A neat feature to My Fitness Coach is the option to select your workout environment and music. There are eight different environments to choose from, some of which are unlocked as you progress through the game. Likewise, you can select from multiple genres of music before a workout which serves to get you in that aggressive "push it to the limit" zone.
In case friends or family want to sweat it out with you, Fitness Coach includes a Group Exercise mode. You can have up to four profiles on your system which means that four people can work out and have their data monitored at the same time. This allows for the added benefit of group support, but will require you to have a massive living room to execute all the exercises.
For the most part, My Fitness Coach is much more of a workout video than a game. The only actual controller input you have is navigating the menus. You simply follow the instructions of your on-screen trainer Maya. At any point during an exercise, you can select a tutorial option to see how the routine is performed, without having to jump into it headfirst. Also the pause menu allows you to change workout difficulty levels and music tracks. In a nutshell, gameplay boils down to you miming the movements of Maya which will have your heart rate up in moments.
Visually, My Fitness Coach takes on a realistic approach. The Wii generally does better stylistically than realistically, so this might irk some people. The opening cut scene model of Maya looks great, but the in-game character models (and even some of the environments) look like a good PS2 game at best. Still, it's nice to change areas up depending on your mood.
On the audio end I've already mentioned that you can select genres and sift through tracks at your leisure. This is a neat feature because while some tracks stand out and get you pumped, others throw off your groove. This will differ from person to person, but the overall diversity in tracks is definitely appreciated. Maya has a lot of spoken dialogue which provide decent instruction, but falls flat in her motivational moments. Her "You can do it" lines can come off feeling a little sarcastic.
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