Along with your brand new Xbox One you may well have gained a few unwanted pounds for Christmas and are considering ways to losing them. Should you opt for a gym membership or put the Xbox to good use by following the workouts on Xbox Fitness? Well, think no further and read on as I compare what’s available on Xbox fitness to the classes offered at my local gym.
Many of the workouts are free with an Xbox live gold membership and range in length from a quick 10 minute blast to a full 60 minute class. I found that at my moderate fitness level most of the workouts were aimed at just the correct level – enough to challenge me but not hard enough to make me want to give up. You can also buy courses consisting of 2-4 workouts which range in price from £7.19-£23.99. For each course you can try the first one for free to see if you like it but the good news is that there is much to be gained from Xbox Fitness without having to shell out any money at all.
The marketing material includes the promise of working out with famous trainers. I personally have only heard of one: Jillian Michaels who gained fame through The Biggest Loser. If you have seen this show you will know that she motivates people by shouting very loudly and during her workout I got a taste of this when she told me that 300lb people can do this exercise – she might as well added on that I was lazy and pathetic. However, despite this, I found her ‘Ripped in 30’ workout really good. It was a mix of cardio, strength and abdominal exercises. She chooses exercises which work more than one body area at a time which promises maximum results in minimum time. It also gave three different options for each exercise – one option to make it easier and one to make it harder which was a nice touch.
Other trainers include Tracy Anderson, Tony Horton and Shaun T of INSANITY fame. This is one workout I have not tried, just watching it made me feel sick. However, if you are incredibly fit or just into self-torture then there is the option to have a go at this. The fact that these sessions have been designed by famous trainers who definitely know their stuff is something that I can’t get at my gym so Xbox fitness wins on that point.
Many of the workouts don’t require any kind of equipment although for some you need hand-weights (I just used bottles of water), a resistance band and ankle weights. Of course, you can do the exercises without them but you won’t be working your muscles to the same intensity. You might also like to use a floor mat for the floor exercise but I found the carpet was fine.
There is a nice mix of different styles of workout from the traditional aerobics style to the more up-to-date interval training. For those people who want something a bit different there is kickboxing and also dance-based workouts like ‘Beachbody Rockin Body Rock It Out’ which includes exercises to classic rock tracks. However, you will not find the same large choice of classes as you would at a gym. I was surprised not to see any Pilates or yoga courses which would offer a slightly lower impact choice.
You need a reasonable amount of space in the room to perform some of the workouts, I found the kicking on the cardio kickboxing workout a challenge in my living room. However, turning to the side worked just as well and Kinect still picked up my movements. It did, however, keep losing me on the floor exercises.
A very obvious advantage of Xbox Fitness is that you don’t have to leave the house, a plus when its bucketing it down outside or you don’t have time to fit in a trip to the gym. However, one issue, and one I had in the olden days of working out to fitness DVDs is that the workout is the same every time you do it so boredom is inevitable. I assume new workouts will become available but there’s no avoiding the fact that once you’ve done all the workouts, you’ve done all the workouts.
One big part of Xbox fitness are the personal challenges you get given at the start of each workout and the fitness points you earn. You can also compare how well you are doing to your Xbox friends and the rest of the community. All the stats you could ever want can be accessed from your ‘Fitness Profile’ on the home-screen. Also, during the workouts there are a few intervals where you are told how well you are doing compared to people of the same sex and age group. I personally find being in an exercise class with an actual instructor and other people much more motivating, purely because I don’t want to look pathetic in front of others, so I’m not sure if I was truly pushing myself to the same extent.
Kinect is being utilised well. Throughout the workouts you get feedback on your performance and which areas of your body are being used. Muscle mapping consists of a small image of yourself which glows white to show the areas where muscles are being engaged. Your pulse rate is monitored by the detection of tiny movements in your skin although you are told that this is not 100% accurate. Also during the workout a timer tells you how long you have got left on each particular exercise – very useful when you are ready to give up, and an energy meter which turns green to show you when you are matching the trainer’s effort. Although you do get tips on how to produce stronger results, for example telling you to jump higher, you can’t use this to check that your technique is 100% correct without an instructor watching you and giving you feedback.
So, will I be giving up my gym membership? Xbox fitness is a great way of fitting a workout into a busy day and I certainly felt just as exhausted as at the end of my normal gym classes. However, I would miss the social aspect of working out with others and the personal touch of having an actual instructor in the room with me. Also, I don’t get the same glow of self-satisfaction as I do after a workout at the gym, possibly because I’m not pushing myself. So, for me, although I will continue to use Xbox fitness, it will be as a supplement rather than an alternative to my gym sessions. However, if you have no intention of going to the gym then Xbox Fitness is a good choice and as many of the workouts are free you don’t have much to lose in giving it a go, apart from those post-Christmas pounds.