Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The other night we played with some friends on their Wii Fit. I know there has been much controversy surrounding the Wii Fit, but I really enjoyed it. Partly because I rocked the yoga.

I will put it out there that I added 3 inches to my height because I didn't want to be labeled "Obese". I stand by my previous statements that BMI is generally a crock, but I still didn't want the label, especially in front of everyone. I had also just eaten a bunch of sushi and I had to pee. As it was, I was "Overweight" and the Wii gave a distinct roundness to my avatar, which was kind of depressing. You should be able to categorize yourself as "pear" or "apple", with the fat stores distributed accordingly. The only one of all of us who wasn't round was Jason's teeny tiny little sister*.

I was skeptical of how good a workout the Wii Fit could actually give, but after watching one of our friends do 6 sets of push ups that then went straight into side planks, I don't really doubt it anymore. There's a pretty good variety of activities (I want to try Boxing) and it works your muscles and can get your heart pumping.

I am the yoga master. My first time in, wearing jeans, I got the "Yoga Trainer" rating. Apparently all those yoga moves I did with Denise Austin last year and all of my pilates has really improved my balance and my ability to center myself properly while leaning to the side or standing on one leg. One thing I liked about the Wii is that it can sense how you distribute your weight and help you adjust so that you are doing it properly. So when I did Warrior I discovered that I usually rely too much on the front leg and the Wii told me to put more weight on the back leg. I could definitely feel my hips stretching out more after I corrected my balance.

People are all upset because of the labels that the Wii gives the players, especially when kids get on it looking to have fun and are told they are Overweight or Obese. I think the Wii Fit is actually a good way to make fitness fun, although when I was little we did this crazy thing called "going outside". I just think everyone needs to keep some perspective on the limitations of a machine. Kids are growing and may need more body fat than an adult of the same height. Many kids and adults are active already and have more muscle mass, triggering a high BMI that inaccurately measures the content of the weight (my problem with BMI in the first place*).

If kids are going to use the Wii Fit, their parents should be able to help them analyze what the machine is telling them, and how it may not be that big a deal. The problem is, many parents aren't informed about this stuff themselves. So the kids and the parents take to heart the BMI labels, which are guidelines at best, and freak out and blame Nintendo for their poor self-esteem. Everyone is so reactionary.

*I want to get down to 160 pounds and at 5' 6" that definitely puts me in the overweight category of BMI. I have been in the Normal range once in my life after having jaw surgery and eating a liquid diet for more than a month. I looked sickly. Personally, I would rather be strong and fit and healthy and weigh a bit more than the BMI says I should.

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