Get in Shape Via Videogames?

Microsoft’s New Kinect

Believe it or not, a great many people concerned with fitness are turning increasingly to videogames in order to satisfy the demands of an increasingly busy schedule. The comfort afforded from being able to work out, privately in your own home and on your own schedule is very appealing. In turn, the popularity of Wii fit was perhaps a surprise to some – but by the end of the year was certainly secret to no one. Selling millions of units, Nintendo’s Wii fit lead the charge of fitness games into popular culture. Now Microsoft’s new technology, the Kinect, seeks to transform your living room into a home gym – without the wires or the proprietary balance board.

What is the Microsoft Kinect?

Launched just previous to Christmas in 2010, the Microsoft connect is an exciting and innovative new technology that allows the player to use their own body as the controller. The hardware features an RGB camera, depth sensor, and multi-array microphone. By combining all of these elements the Kinect is able to provide full body 3-D motion capture, voice-recognition, and even the ability to recognize a user’s face. The Microsoft Kinect can track and display up to six people at once, so you can invite your friends over for a game or workout session.

Popular Fitness Games for the Kinect

Fans of the popular television show The Biggest Loser will be pleased to note that the videogame is now available alongside the Kinect. The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout allows the player to choose from a variety of different routines, and even offers you a personal trainer to guide you and to offer nutritional tips on the side. Boasting the ability to teach and recognize more than 125 exercise moves that focus and concentrate on the upper body, lower body, and limbs, The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout stays true to the premise of its show – even going so far as to include the expertise of notable personalities such as Bob Harper, Alison Sweeney and Jillian Michaels.

However the most popular fitness title for the Microsoft Kinect is likely Ubisoft’s Your Shape – Fitness Evolved. Originally based on the Nintendo Wii title of the same name, Fitness Evolved utilizes the Microsoft Kinect technology to scan the player and to present an image of them in full 3-D on-screen. The intuitive controls mean the player selects menu options by simply extending his or her hand towards their preferred choice. Including workouts specifically designed by Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazine, and including a variety of extremely fun games to boost both aerobic and anaerobic strength, Your Shape – Fitness Evolved is the title to beat in the fitness genre as of yet. Two DLC packs have been released so far, The Toned Body Program and Cardio Boxing Platinum, with 11 more DLC bundles planned for release by the end of 2011.

Non-Fitness Games That Will Still Keep You Fit!

The great thing about using your body as the controller is that your body is constantly moving, no matter what the game genre. Some of the most popular titles for the Microsoft Kinect have been built around this fun first philosophy, with a sizable side of good, old-fashioned exercise.

Anyone who’s ever wanted to learn how to dance in the privacy of their own home need look no further: Dance Central, developed by Harmonix is perhaps the most exciting connect game to be released so far. Including over 650 dance moves that the player must study and repeat across 90 dance routines, Dance Central may or may not transform players with two left feet into ballroom dancers, but will undoubtedly train rhythm and fluid movement. Featuring dance tracks by Beastie Boys, Kylie Minogue, Dirty Vegas, No Doubt, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Benny Benassi, there’s a little something here for everyone!

Lastly, for those fitness junkies and couch potatoes alike indulging in the latest fitness craze – Zumba, of course – will be pleased to know that you can now get your fix on your Xbox 360. This game really focuses on energetic dance sessions that demand real exertion. One of the greatest strengths of the game is in the variety of dance styles available for play; Salsa, cumbia, reggaeton, hip-hop, mambo, flamenco, and calypso are all present and accounted for in Zumba Fitness. As always, a virtual dance instructor is present to show the ropes to those who may not have danced in the styles before.

If you’ve never thought about what amounts to a very economical and entertaining solution to get into better shape, now is certainly the time. The technology is present and by all accounts, here to stay.


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