22 May 2008

Ditch the Wii and Check Out Maya

Bored of Wii Fit after only a week? Then check out Amazon marketplace or eBay to pick up a copy of Yourself Fitness instead. Sadly, these are the only places to pick up the title (for PC, Xbox and Playstation) because the company appears to have fallen to a pretty rocky position since a 2004 lawsuit and the supposed follow-up game for 360/PS3 is always "just around the corner." But the business woes of ResponDesign are in no way reflected in the quality of the game.

The center of Yourself Fitness is your "personal trainer" Maya. She's sternly encouraging, not too mush of a cheerleader nor too much of a drill sergeant. The program requires you to complete a fairly basic fitness evaluation first, to set the initial difficulty levels in each area - cardio, upper body, lower body, core and flexibility. After that, it uses more complex logic to make things easier or harder on you, based on your mood and your response to previous workouts. Additionally, you make a commitment to work out a certain number of times per week and Maya keeps track, giving you a guilt trip when you skip out too often. You also have regular fitness evaluations to track your progress. And, like all video games, the more you play and progress, the more you unlock - in this case music selections and workout locations, not to mention the new moves that are added as you become more comfortable with the old ones.

I like this game because, first and foremost, it's pretty hard to skip. I can always find an excuse not to hit the gym, but this is right there, in my house. Better yet, it's hooked up to my TV, so if tempted to blow it off I can taunt myself into it ("sure, you have time to watch that repeat of Reaper, but not to just do your workout?"). I also see results, which is more important to me than anything else. When I finish a workout, I am sweaty and I often have sore muscles the next day. After using the cardio training focus for 2 weeks, I saw a measurable drop in both my resting and active heart rate, which I can even notice as I walk home from the T.

My only real complaints are that I can't use my own music and that there's no guidance regarding hand weight size or when it's time to move up a pound or two.