Don’t Mock My Methods

A lot of stick(s).

The new wave of gaming related exercise regimes is getting a lot of stick, and I don’t like it. I’m by no means a healthy person. I don’t jog, I don’t play sport on the weekend, and any form of sporting equipment dates back to my overly-ambitious teens.

I used to enjoy sport, don’t get me wrong; I’ve danced on stage in productions put on by my dancing school, and I used to play hockey for my local team, but I’ve always been self conscious with exercise.  Suffering from chronic Asthma means that, even when I feel fine, I can turn purple and look as though I’m about to pass out. Even a jog around the hockey pitch would leave me out of breath and, only being young, my teammates found it amusing when I’d have to double over and stop just to catch my breath.

Even at my healthiest and most active, the thought of jogging recreationally put the fear of God into me. As I got older I wanted to focus more on my studies, so hockey and dancing fell by the wayside. I love dancing, that’s the thing; I’d danced from the age of four. I don’t mean mindless jumping and grinding on the dance floor – I’ve never been able to let loose enough to even try that. No, I mean choreographed beauty that takes time, effort and true passion. I still miss it now, even though it’s been seven years since I last saw my dance teacher, and part of me likes to imagine that I’m still healthy enough to last a new class, but in reality I know I’ll not be able to do it. Not because I’ll get out of breath, but because I’m so self conscious now that I wouldn’t be able to pay attention for the worry that I’m doing it wrong.

Dancers... they're always so wonderfully slim!

This is, once again, where gaming has come to my rescue. While I admit that Wii Fit is no substitute for the gym, it had the right idea; it wanted to get people moving. I purchased my Wii Fit in my second year at university. I’d make sure to use it for at least half an hour every day. Of course, being partial to a bit of cake here and there, I didn’t lose any weight, but I did find myself feeling healthier. The walk to uni didn’t leave me feeling puffed out and I found that I was less tired by the time I’d walked up the stairs to my lectures. Just this light exercise vastly improved my breathing, and it was all from the hidden comfort of my own bedroom. As time moved on I found that my life was getting a lot easier, thanks to this game.

People in glass gyms shouldn't throw mocking stones

I’ve known a lot of people who instantly slated the idea of the Wii fit. Of course, you can go out and just go for walk or you can join a gym, but for many of us out here, exercise is embarrassing. I’ve joined gyms, and I do go for walks but, more often than not, I find myself being harassed by people asking if I’m okay as my face “isn’t a normal colour.” My Wii Fit gives me the freedom to go jogging for half an hour in the peace of my own living room, or to hula hoop to my heart’s content in my underwear. No one laughs at me when I fall down while attempting a new yoga pose, and the sense of achievement that I get when I’ve finished and worked up a sweat is better than anything I ever felt after the gym. In fact, I’ve recently cancelled a gym membership due to a single comment made by the staff members. At least with the Wii Fit, I only ever hear words of encouragement; not backhanded compliments.

Of course I’m not suggesting that everyone run out and buy a Wii Fit and neglect all other forms of exercise. I also Hula with a weighted hoop, and I go for long walks on nice days, but thanks to the Wii Fit I can exercise without shame, whatever the weather. Since its release, many other fitness games have sprung up that I’m interested in. Zumba on the Xbox is on my wish list (of course along with Kinect). I already have the Zumba DVDs so that I can dance my rump off, but being able to unlock achievements whilst dancing… well, I think you can understand why I really want Zumba. There is now an astounding selection to choose from; some encourage general fitness whilst others claim to train you to dance or fight like a pro, however I do take these claims with a pinch of salt. If it were all that easy we’d all be Ultimate Fighters with a large selection of tutus, but for that time in the morning, in front of my TV, I am a dancer, I am dodging footballs and leading a marching band. Those of you who can comfortably exercise in ‘the real world’ can give me all the smug looks and lectures that you like. I exercise very hard, and it’s people like you that make me want to hide away. So think what you like, but please don’t mock my methods.

Last five articles by Jo



  1. Ben Ben says:

    I’m just waiting to get the nod from the people with lots of letters after their name so I can start rehabilitating (if that’s the right word in this case) with UFC. I get a lot of exercise anyway but will be for the more cardio vascular workouts, can do it in my own home and the only thing I think I’d venture out too is a swimming pool.

    Fitness games have proved they can work providing the person using them has enough dedication and will power (same as gym though really) but if you had asked me ten years ago would after an operation I be using a video game to get healthier / strength back, I’d have said “no fool!” in a Mr T style voice over.

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    It’s funny… I looked down my nose at the Wii when it came out because they just didn’t seem to be putting much effort into the titles, or were shoe-horning the motion connectivity in where it really wasn’t necessary. I’ve been the same with Kinect and Move, so it’s not me specifically hating on Nintendo. That said, if I had the money, I WOULD be buying Kinect along with the UFC game… and I don’t know if that’s down to the power of marketing being able to convince me that it actually works, or just my own self belief in knowing that I would actually do it if I felt that I was getting something out of it but, either way, I do want it.

    I was a gym-goer for a year or so and, having started off as an 18st 11lb lardy, I felt those sneering eyes on the back of my neck as I worked towards a better me. As soon as the main franchise company went bust and the gym, along with all the memberships, was sold on to a private individual… all that changed. No sneering at all, just constant support from all the staff and the members. I loved that gym. I still miss it to this day. We have a treadmill, a rowing machine, an upright bike, and a full multigym with leg press… but we don’t use them.

    I WOULD use UFC though. I just can’t fully explain why. Perhaps it’s the marriage of health and tech that appeals to me; I have no idea.

  3. Jocky says:

    Listening to the Drunk Tank podcast recently, they were talking about how one of the staff had lost over 4 stone by gaming… while walking on a treadmill. He’d even bought a high tech pedometer that he could then use to log which game he was playing, and thus figure out how many miles it took him to complete Fallout etc.

    If I had enough room I’d be buying an exercise bike to put in front of my Xbox…

  4. Lee says:

    Good for you Jo – fucking gyms and the people in them annoy me. My mum uses her wii most days on wii fit (I bought her some wii fit socks one Christmas – best present she ever had) and she’s happy that it’s working for her. I don’t think I can bring myself to own a wii but do have kinect and UFC personal trainer. I lost my first stone in a month and since then it’s slowed down and I’m just under two stone lighter now so it does work but it’s hard graft somedays.
    Well done and keep it up.

  5. Rook says:

    Only gaming I do while standing up is a bit og Guitar Hero/Rock Band at times, otherwise it’s sitting/slouching. I get bored too easily trying to exercise so usually skip a session which leads to longer gaps between exercise to the situation were I am now, relaxing. If you do get any other exercise game I hope you enjoy it.

  6. Edward Edward says:

    I don’t really see where there is such a stigma when it comes to gaming and exercising. It’s such a perfect idea to combine the two but it seems like no one has perfected the integration to truly draw in as many people as it should. For for that, I certainly won’t mock your methods!

    Excellent article, Jo!

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