Friday, January 16, 2009

My Fitness Coach, or is it?

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about trading in my copy of Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009. When I traded it in, I picked up a copy of My Fitness Coach, also for the Wii. The funny thing about this game is that it is actually a port of a game which came out for the XBox in 2004, called Yourself!Fitness. I used Yourself!Fitness (YF) quite a lot on the XBox. It was a pretty good program. Notice I just switched from the term "game" to "program". That's because it's not really a game at all. It's more like a dynamic exercise video.

My Fitness Coach starts by having the user do a fitness test and set up goals, including scheduling workout days. The program uses the results of the fitness test to configure the workouts. A less fit user will get easier workouts. A more fit user will get harder workouts. Workouts may be either 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes in length. The workouts begin with an aerobics section and follow with strength training, and stretching. The duration of each section is determined by the type of workout chosen. If the user has a step bench, hand weights, exercise ball, and/or heart monitor, those things can be incorporated into the workout.

I've always thought this was a pretty good program. It beats doing exercise videos, since the order and content of the exercises changes from workout to workout, it's impossible to memorize what comes next. You also have a lot more control over the intensity. The level of difficulty can be adjusted at any time during a workout. The program tells you how many workouts you've completed, and awards new backgrounds and music options with regular use.

UBISOFT missed a big opportunity to do a true YF upgrade, rather than just doing a port. At the time the original was popular, the YF message boards were quite active with ideas and suggestions for the program. The YF developers stated that they were having some difficulties, but that a sequel was in the works. Well, My Fitness Coach isn't it. They kept the same graphics, sound, and most of the dialogue. The exercises are the same. It's basically the same program, minus the meal planning part of YF. (Which I never used, so that is no loss to me.) That means My Fitness Coach in no way takes advantage of the Wii and its capabilities. The controller is used to navigate through the menus, then sits on the table the rest of the time.

I think they could have made a few simple changes that would have greatly improved the program. First off, I don't see why the workouts need to be in increments of 15 minutes. I think they should change that to increments of 5 minutes, or even 1 minute. Second, when the coach needs a piece of equipment, it just appears. I personally can not teleport my hand weights from the floor to my hands. I would like a pause of 5-10 seconds to pick them up. Third, I would like the option to have a tutorial automatically appear every time an exercise is brand new. I know the tutorials are there, but since I have to pick up the Wiimote to access them (the Wiimote which is not used for much of anything and has been moved out of the way and has turned itself off), I almost never bother to actually view them. Instead I muddle along the best that I can. If they're not going to use the Wiimote as a regular part of the workout, then I shouldn't have to pick it up at all.

In short, I always thought YF had the makings of a good program, but wasn't quite there yet. My Fitness Coach feels the same way.


causticmuse said...

Thanks for the honest review of My Fitness Coach. I've owned the Xbox version of Yourself Fitness for several years and still use it (just this morning, in fact!), and was wondering if this was the long-awaited sequel.

It sounds like I should just keep on using my trusty Xbox YF disc and cross my fingers that a true update will be in the works.

Anastasia said...

Causticmuse - You're welcome! I was also disappointed that this was essentially a re-release, not the sequel.

Check back in early June for a review of Wii Sports Active. I have a copy on pre-order. It's due out May 19th.