If you've purchased a gaming console in the last five years, then you're more than familiar with the many different attempts that have been made at fitness-oriented gaming. From XBox Kinect to various Wii fitness programs, there are more virtual options to partake in fitness in the comfort of your own home than ever before.
While this may be encouraging for those not willing to purchase a gym membership and/or personal training package, this shouldn't be the forum you turn to. Having a personal trainer to take you to that next level should be your go-to measure (and I'm not just saying that because I am one). Below I'll list a few of the primary reasons why this is the case...
1) A vast majority of these devices still have various technical glitches.
While I'm not a HUGE gamer, I keep an eye on these devices for personal use, and continue to see article after article explaining that the new gaming systems like XBox One have several issues; many of which have to do with the Kinect feature. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular gaming console, the Kinect is a camera-like device that takes the movements you perform in your living room and has your avatar on-screen perform them virtually. While this technology is amazing and I'm sure will be 100% up-to-par in the not-too-distant future, it's not helpful to your fitness goals when you're busting it during a workout and the camera on the Kinect or Wii isn't picking up all of your hard work.
Even still, since there's a lot of streaming video involved with these and upcoming fitness gaming options, there's always the possibility that a workout will suddenly stop and have to buffer in the middle. This leads to a frustrating user experience, which may deter those people looking to get back into shape through this forum (and sometimes, any other).
2) Lack of live, real-time accountability
While it was just announced that many of Beachbody's best programs will be On-Demand on the XBox One, these programs are only as effective as the participant in his/her home makes them. Even if the live streaming or Kinect you're using doesn't have any glitches, somebody pushing you through a television screen can only push you so far. When there's a live trainer with you in the same room, you're more likely to push yourself that extra bit harder than if Shaun T is screaming at you via a pre-recorded video on your television screen.
3) Lack of quality movement check
Performing movements that you see somebody demonstrating on a screen doesn't necessarily mean that you will perform those movements correctly. Dependent on your fitness level and experience, you may have some imbalances that need addressing through proper stretching and motor recruitment patterns. Should you go through a rough workout with movements you're unfamiliar with, it may burn calories and fat, but may continue to contribute to poor motor recruitment patterns, which will thus leave you more susceptible to muscle imbalance, and ultimately, injury. Having a qualified fitness professional with you as you work out will insure that you don't suffer these detrimental consequences when you're trying to better yourself through proper exercise.
Before you decide to make gaming your next stop in meeting your New Year's fitness goals, it might be more prudent to look into a personal trainer to (at a minimum) hold you accountable, teach you proper form and technique and get you going in the right directions safely and effectively.
Here's to You Taking Back Your Life,
- Peter Weintraub
Owner/Personal Trainer of Fitness Retriever