Focus On: Video Game Fitness

For a while, the only video game action our house saw was Call of Duty- the Pilot is a fan 😉 And then, the lovely representatives from Microsoft were so kind to send a couple of fitness video games that I might enjoy, along with an Xbox Kinect.


I very rarely accept products from companies but figured that since I was going to be home more often, it would be awesome to have another at-home workout option in the mix.

I was excited to have our own Kinect because there’s one at my mom’s house, and we’ve had quite a few family Fruit Ninja battles. The first time I played, I couldn’t believe how SORE my arms and shoulders were. More sore than they had been from lifting weights in quite a while, and I was surprised that during Dance Central, I actually worked up a sweat. Each song has a dance solo in the middle and you get the chance to freestyle. The best thing ever was watching my brother bust out to Lady Gaga and the Pilot’s freestyle moves. I have photos, but I’m not allowed to share them 😉

I played Dance Central at the madre’s the night before I went into labor:

dance game

With the Kinect, it was something fun to do when friends or family came over to see the baby and she was sleeping. Even though I wasn’t cleared to workout yet, it was great entertainment 🙂 Since then, the Pilot and I have played a handful of times, and the Dance Central games are my favorite. They’re actual choreographed dances –not the typical video game “dance moves” where you plug your nose and pretend like you’re swimming and circle your arms overhead- and the hard level dances are surprisingly challenging for a video game. The music selections are also fantastic.


Daddy Yankee and Nicki Minaj? Yes, please.

The Kinect Sports game includes football, skiing, baseball, darts, golf and tennis, and for someone who isn’t athletically coordinated in the least, the video game versions are a lot of fun. My legs definitely felt the skiing the next day.

The Your Shape game gives options to customize your workout using strength training, dance and floor exercises. You can also participate in boot camp, cardio boxing and jump rope. The dance moves were kind of cheesy, but I really liked how the sensor picked up the strength moves. With the Wii that we have, it was always kind of a hassle to hold the controller and complete the movements.

Video game workouts are a great option for at-home workouts. Here are some of the benefits I’ve noticed:

1. You decide how long or short you want the workout to be. There have been times when Livi’s napping and I’ll do a couple of dances on the Kinect. If she wakes up after 2 or 3, it’s NBD. With full workout DVDs, I never know if I’m going to make it through the entire thing.

2. You compete against yourself. It’s kind of fun to get to different levels in your workout and be able to see how you’ve advanced. Many fitness video games will keep track of your stats, award you medals as little tokens of motivation, and give you the opportunity to move up in intensity as you improve.

3. Mode customization. The great thing about mix-and-match programs is that you can choose what types of workouts you’d like to do, along with cardio breaks, muscle groups to target, etc. It does the rest for you by putting it all together. It’s kind of nice if you know you want to do a little cardio and work out your legs, but you don’t have to come up with the specific exercises yourself.

4. You can do it at home, in your jammies if you’d like. No need to put on gym clothes or leave the comfort of your home. This is also convenient if you just want to do a short little workout in between watching your favorite TV shows at night.

5. Great to get in extra activity, instead of sedentary video games. I love the Wii and Kinect have taken over as far as video games go, because when my brother and I were younger, we’d spend hours sitting playing Sonic the Hedgehog. It makes me happy to see kids (and adults) playing active video games, especially after spending most of the day sitting.

Potential downsides:

1. Motivation. Sometimes it’s challenging to workout at home, especially after a long day. For many people, going to the gym is motivating to complete a full workout and it’s harder to sweat at home. It’s a preference kinda thing 😉 I thrive taking classes in a group environment and feed off energy from other people.

2. Range of motion. You don’t need a ton of space to get in a great workout, but I do think that there are benefits to being able to REALLY move while you workout. In the gym, you burn extra calories moving from weight room, to cardio room, machine to machine, etc. and you’ll use different muscles dancing around in an aerobics room than you will in a 4×4 foot space.

What are your thoughts on video game fitness? Any faves? 🙂

Hope you’re having a great day <3



More Focus On posts:

The Paleolithic Diet

YouTube Fitness

Tabata Training



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  1. Hillary on March 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    When my boyfriend first got a Wii, I was amazed at how intense the boxing game was—it was a legit, sweaty workout! I’d love to try some of these dance games; it’s the perfect solution since I don’t have any dance classes near me!

  2. Stephanie @ Legally Blinde on March 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I haven’t used the Kinect, but I do looooove Just Dance for the Wii. I’m not a good dancer at all, but a little girl I baby-sit wanted to play Just Dance and I was so surprised by how much fun I had, and that it really got my heart rate up and had me sweating a little! I’ve considered getting a Wii just for that game, haha.

  3. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on March 27, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Seeing you busting out the night before you went into labour reminded me, I’ve got a girl in my Zumba class who is now 1 1/2 weeks away from her due date and she is STILL putting many of the others to shame with her moves. She jokingly said tonight she’s going to bring one of those yellow “Caution: Slippery Floor” signs with her on Thursday in case her water breaks in class 😀

  4. Averie @ Averie Cooks on March 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I’ve never tried any video game fitness or workouts…I don’t have any gaming systems and probably never will, but if they work for someone and they fit that person’s needs, awesome.

    Thanks for the info/review on them because honestly I knew so little about them!

  5. Kaleigh on March 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    It was wii fit that got me moving again after putting on 20lbs of “honey moon” weight (what I call the weight I gained when my boyfriend and I first started dating). It was bright, colourful and entertaining. The only problem I had was that I progressed beyond it quickly, and it no longer gave me the same effective workout – so I graduated to workout videos. Now I go to the gym 5x a week and love it. I think it makes for a great stepping stone if you are just starting to discover fitness.

  6. Jessica @ The Process of Healing on March 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    While I’m not a HUGE video game person.. I think it’s a great idea! I had Wii Fit and loooved it!

  7. Sam on March 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I love the Zumba Fitness video game =D I only have a PS3 though, and they have only released the one game on that particular console. I would love to own a Wii + Wii Fit, and Zumba Fitness 2 someday. The video game isn’tquite the same as going to a Zumba class, but it’s a good alternative when you have a Zumba fix to fulfill.

  8. Lena @Fit on the Rocks on March 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    If it’s the only exercise a person plans on getting, then I’m glad they’re getting in some movement. To each his own, but I don’t think it’s the most ideal way to replace a workout. I know you’re not suggesting that, but I’ve heard people say they didn’t need to work out because they had a Wii or Kinect. Sounds odd to me, but I just love being outdoors or at a gym.

  9. Ginny on March 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I don’t have a gaming system, but I love playing on my friend’s!! Also, back in the day DDR was my favorite way to move 🙂

  10. alicia on March 28, 2012 at 1:13 am

    The new zumba for the kinect is really fun! The graphics are pretty weak. I don’t like that your “shadow” is a small figure in the bottom of the screen. But, there are tons of songs, great moves, you can take a short or long class! I work up a mad sweat every time I play. Of course, it’s not as fun as an actual class, but it’s the next best thing!

  11. mary on March 28, 2012 at 1:45 am

    I think Kinect puts the Wii to shame but we honestly never play either. I’d like to have the $50/each back we spent on the games. We get a lot more enjoyment from an actual controller-led video game. But I’m a fan of video game fitness in general. The games just kinda suck, for the most part. Though I’m not a dancer so that limits me.

    • Fitnessista on March 28, 2012 at 1:50 am

      i agree that the fitness ones are usually pretty womp womp

  12. Joyce on March 28, 2012 at 5:38 am

    I go through stages of buying fitness videos, doing the workouts, then putting them on the shelf never to see the light of day again. The spirit is willing, alas the body is weak.

  13. bojana on March 28, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Haha, you totally sent me down memory lane – me and my little brother also used to spend hours trying to level up one another on Sonic The Hedgehog 🙂 I may or may not have listened to the video game music for 10min now … ;b

  14. Diana on March 28, 2012 at 7:01 am

    i would love to have a kinect, so i can do the zumba game. the only time i’ve used it was with my nephew playing kinect sports, we def got a workout (and he totally beat me and he’s only 4!)

  15. Katie on March 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I love Dance Central on Kinect!! My boyfriend and I moved to a smaller place not too long ago, and unfortunately the Kinect doesn’t read where we are standing since the family room is so small (which obviously now means it gets no use), but when I did “workout” with it, I enjoyed it very much. It didn’t feel like working out, it felt more like play-time. 🙂 Now that’s my kind of fitness routine!

  16. Barb on March 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Hey! Total random comment here. I had a dream about you last and I went out to dinner with Liv. They boys weren’t invited. We were talking about shoes. The.whole.time. It was hilarious. Don’t mean to creep you out!

    And….I went to TJ’s yesterday and bought cookie butter for the first time……..yaaaaaa, thank a LOT.

    • Fitnessista on March 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      that sounds like a great night to me 🙂
      and no prob 😉

  17. Megan on March 28, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Zumba all the way! I’m surprised that they didn’t sen you the new Zumba game for Kinect.

  18. Bridget on March 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I played Dance Central at Christmas time at my cousins and LOVED it!! I think it was the first video game that I was the best at of my cousins since having dance experience really does give you an advantage! Loved some of th choegraphy too. Sweaty way to burn off the holiday meal haha! And yes my husband played too which was a sight to see.

  19. Helen on March 28, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I love Dance Central! We just got a Kinect and I’m totally obsessed. I love playing it with my husband, because he cracks me up when he does any of the moves where you have to shake your hips. 🙂

  20. Irene on March 28, 2012 at 9:44 am

    What a great focus on post! I have only used the kinect at my parents house a few times and we did the dancing game – I think its the one you are referencing. If you are coordinated enough to do the higher level dances, I’d call it a workout! But the biggest thing for me is that it was SO FUN to just dance around to great music. I’d do it just for enjoyment on top of my regular workouts. I don’t think your entire workout routine should be based around the kinect or the wii, but like you said, its another option for one of those days a *full* workout isn’t going to happen. Or if you are totally new to working out.

  21. KariLynne10 on March 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I just bought Zumba Fitness 2 for the Wii a couple of weeks ago and LOVE IT. I was looking for more exercise motivation at home and have always been interested in Zumba, only way too intimidated to do the class at my gym. I love it, I hated holding the Wii controller for other games but this one comes with a thin belt you wear and you put the Wii controller in a pouch on the side so it’s hands free like the Kinect. The belt can get bothersome when you are really moving (ie. working hard) but I really like it. You can also do a short, medium, or long class (medium is about 40 minutes) which is great because it feels like an actual gym class and just continues from one song to another.

  22. Ali @ Peaches and Football on March 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I don’t have a kinect but I am a huge dance dance revolution fan. I’ve even posted about it. I love the video game workouts because they are so fun you forget you are working out – plus they are convenient when you don’t have time to get to the gym or the weather isn’t cooperating outside!

  23. jonni on March 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I do have Kinect, and Love it! I agree, when my daughter talks me into dance central, and just dance3 I get in a great workout. I also love the Biggest Loser, and Zumba on kinect. I have played Wii and found it too easy to cheat, but you can’t cheat with kinect, you are either doing it or getting no points. I want to try UFC fighter, or whatever its called.
    This is a fun blog, I will add you to my favs. I too blog, but my page isn’t this exciting. I did start blogging for She Budgets, though, I am pretty proud of that.
    Keep up the fun stuff!

  24. Joy on March 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I love the wii for fitness games.
    Jillian kicks my butt
    And the Michael Jackson dance game is fun

    That said though I would NOT do a fitness class (I am too self conscious for that)
    But I swear by the gym for cardio

  25. Big Vanilla Athletic Club on March 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Those sound like fun! We always tell our members to mix fun and fitness; that makes working out much easier, and you’ll be more likely to keep up with your exercise!

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