Last month I decided to start my own OzBoxLive Challenge with Xbox Fitness. This would be a 30 day challenge where I would complete a different workout everyday. In all honesty when I started this I didn’t think about the future at all. My goal was to simply complete a new workout every single day by testing KINECT and the game Xbox Fitness. Well I’m very proud to say that I succeeded and the results were much more positive than I imagined.
FITNESS LEVEL: Couch Potato
DIET: Fast Foods, Pasta, Take Away, Ice Cream, Soda Drinks,
GOAL: Overall Fitness
So I guess the reason I started this particular challenge was simple. At 31 years of age I’ve realised that in the blink of any eye I will be 40 years old. Then another blink I will be 50 and again and again. Life moves so fast and I’ve never really spent the time needed to focus on my own overall fitness. Sure I’ve joined Fitness First and Genesis Gym in the past. But the problem with those was that I just didn’t feel comfortable going mainly because I had no idea what I was doing. There were a couple of machines that I liked such as the treadmill with built-in TV screen and the bicycle with simple video game characters that saved your ghost replays. Slowly over time I just found it very difficult to motivate myself to keep going. This is why I was so excited about Xbox Fitness. I knew that this is something I could do at home but more importantly see the results instantly.
If you’re new to Xbox Fitness or Xbox One for that matter you will be pleased to know that the game is FREE. All you need is some space in your family room, some good shoes and an exercise mat. The only other equipment I needed was a pair of dumbbells. It’s worth mentioning that there’s a lot of free content available for Xbox Live Gold Members as well as paid workouts ranging in prices. This is something that you would purchase when you are ready or perhaps completed all of the free sessions. Also worth mentioning is that recently Gatorade came on board with their own workouts that are free and it’s exciting to know that over time more companies will get involved with sponsored content.
My challenge was to do the very basics… 10 minute sessions for 30 days. Now I know what you are all thinking, how can you lose weight or even get fit from just 10 minutes of exercise. Well I can tell you that I treated this as “Basic Training” to prepare me for the months to come. Meaning if I could successfully complete these sessions for just one month then I would increase them each month. August would be 20 minutes, September would be 30 minutes and thus increasing until I get to the one hour workouts. To be fair I was also taking my dog for a brisk 20 minute walk before each session.
Xbox Fitness has a large variety of workouts from different fitness instructors such as Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton, Tracy Anderson, Shaun T and many more to choose from. In the 10 minutes section there are three female instructors with five workouts each. These range in areas of focus such as boot camp, sports drills, abs, upper body, lower body, kickboxing and Yoga. I found all the sessions easy enough to do and most of them were fun and enjoyable. I will admit that there were a couple of specific routines that I would not attempt purely because my legs wouldn’t stretch in that manner or because a particular move reminded me of The Exorcist.
My personal favourite was the kickboxing sessions as I felt confident enough that my posture was correct and that I was able to keep up with the trainer. I can not tell you the level of satisfaction that comes from completing a workout and being in sync with the trainer the entire time. Reminds me of the olden days of Dance Dance Revolution.
This is where KINECT really shines for me and is one of the reasons I found the entire experience so enjoyable. The Kinect camera is looking at you and displaying your outline in the upper right corner the entire time. A lot of these sort of workouts are available on DVD (or VHS) and dedicated TV channels, but just imagine how boring it would be to not get any instant feedback. Exercise for the first time has become interactive, fun and challenging… Just like a video game! You get Fitness Points (FP) as you complete each move and you get more when you complete these correctly. Every now and then I would be off camera attempting push ups or sit ups and the camera would not see me. As a result I did not receive FP even though I did attempt them. The solution is to really make sure you are in the best location and you have plenty of space.
Having the Kinect camera allowed the game to tell you to work harder or keep up with the trainer as it can see if you are copying the on-screen actions correctly. It can even measure your heart rate which at first I thought was amazing but never found it to be particularly useful. Perhaps if I push myself too hard it will tell me to relax or take a break.
Once you have completed a session you would be provided with lots of data. How many fitness points earned, what was your best session, comparison with other users of similar age groups and how many calories burned. This is also saved for future references and is nicely organized in your profile to come back later. But the real goal for me is collecting those stamps for my fitness cards and trying to get that five-star rating for each workout.
The biggest issue I had was “Xbox Fitness Service Unavailable”. Even though the Xbox was fine and my Internet was running smoothly, every now and then during a session the game would pause with this error message. Surprisingly simply pressing “Try Again” would fix this for a short period of time. This became increasingly frustrating when you are in the middle of an intensive round of push ups only to have the game pause on you like this. After contacting the team @XboxSupport via Twitter they figured out that it could be due to my Internet provider.
In the future I would like to see a few more things added to Xbox Fitness. A weekly or monthly planner that automatically recommends workouts for you based on some questions you complete. Competing with Xbox Live Friends would be fantastic and the ability to create your own group or clan. Games like Halo, Forza Motorsport and Destiny are doing this so why not have a group of real fitness buddies where you can challenge and encourage each other. Also during the loading times at the beginning and end I would like to see a simple suggestion or recommendation on a meal, food, vegetable or some other fun fact.
At the end of the day I can say that not only am I happy that I completed this challenge but I am pleasantly surprised with my attitude towards the future of fitness. I actually lost 0.5kg to my amazement. What’s surprising about this is that I did not change my diet at all. I had plenty of ice cream when I went to the movies, enjoyed my Nando’s, McDonald’s and Pasta and when I could see chocolate… it would quickly disappear. Now imagine what it will be like next month when I choose what foods to eat and avoid.
Xbox Fitness is not for everyone! In all reality it is designed for just about any type of person of any fitness level. But it’s still not the same as having your own personal fitness instructor. Some people prefer going to the gym whilst others are happy playing basketball, football, soccer or any other sport that gets you out and about. But I bet that there are others like me who genuinely has no interest in fitness but wishes they were. If you fall into that category than you really must give this a go. More importantly due to our busy life styles I’m sure there are millions of people who would rather wake up early and go straight into a workout in the comfort and privacy of their own home. There are far more positives than negatives and at the end you feel satisfied and can smile from another workout completed. After trying this for 30 days I can now highly recommend that you create your own challenge and then go from there. Just remember that you have to keep pushing yourself if you want to see results. I’m now looking forward to seeing how much I improve next month and hopefully the many more months to come thanks to Xbox Fitness and Kinect.