Scattered across store shelves throughout the country are hundreds of video games geared, first and foremost, toward a male gaming audience, but now comes a title boldly going where few games have gone before, and targeting the female market demographic. According to Xbox statistics, nearly 20% of all Xbox players are women, and that figure is expected to increase to 30% by the end of 2005. The developers of Yourself!Fitness, responDESIGN, are banking on female gamers liking their innovative offering to the never ending struggle for physical fitness. While this title is obviously slanted towards women, it should be noted that the game’s fitness system can also be used (and even enjoyed?) by men, too.
As the name suggests, Yourself!Fitness is not your typical video game. There are no complex puzzles to solve, no car chases, no gunfights, no fleeing from the authorities, and no hunting down bad guys. Yourself!Fitness is all about, well, fitness. However, this title is much different from your mom’s Jane Fonda workout tape; it’s extremely stylized and, with over 500 different exercises, you surely won’t tire from the same old routine. With fitness videotapes, repetitive workouts can quickly become monotonous and ineffectual, especially as changing your workout routine every so often helps to keep things on track.
Leading you through your workout is Maya, your personal trainer and fitness guru. Before your first workout Maya will perform an initial evaluation of your current fitness status, much like a real personal trainer would. The assessment information is then used to incorporate exercises into your routine that are compliant with your current fitness level. This will take roughly 30 minutes – so be prepared to break a sweat. Maya will want to record your resting heart rate and then your active heart rate. To get that heart pumping she’ll ask you to perform two minutes worth of jumping jacks, which seemed more like five to this reviewer! After surviving the initial evaluation it’s time to move on to the actual workouts.
Maya will make a suggestion on which type of workout you should concentrate on – based on her analysis of your evaluation. In my case she recommended a weight loss routine, but there are plenty of other options like Yoga, Pilates, Cardio Fitness, Strength Training, and Flexibility Exercises. Even though Maya freely offers her recommendation you are not condemned to pursue one specific workout routine each and every time you ?play’. You can always choose your desired workout before you begin. When the exercises become less challenging you’ll have the opportunity to interact with Maya and inform her of your advancement. She’ll remember this for your next workout and ?turn things up a notch’ so to speak.
Maya’s soothing voice and words of praise and encouragement will help keep you motivated throughout your routine. Your workout options include: workout type, length, music, and equipment. You can also do Yoga in the Meditation Garden should the mood take you.
Now, if you’re a novice fitness enthusiast, you’re likely to struggle to replicate some of the moves that Maya executes so flawlessly, but responDESIGN has taken this into consideration by offering a tutorial for each move. On screen during the workouts are the options to pause the game, or undertake a tutorial. The tutorials go into great detail on how to perform the extensive moves by using a 3D model example, which is accompanied by Maya’s voiceover instructions.
Since this is a review of a video game, some explanatory coverage of the game’s core components should help provide a clearer picture. First of all, the graphics are especially impressive on the Xbox – indeed, for me, the more time I spend on the Xbox the harder it becomes to play other gaming systems. Maya’s rendering is extremely realistic and true to life. The workout settings are breathtaking and being able to choose your workout scenery is also a nice touch.
What is a workout regime without music? Fitness!Yourself takes into account that we don’t all favor the same type and style of music. The game contains various choices, and the more dedicated you are, the more styles will become available to you. Currently I find myself sweating along to a selection of 80’s music – but I’ve also recently opened up a Latin soundtrack, too.
The value of Yourself!Fitness could be pretty high. I’ve only just started using the game but already I’m looking forward to my next workout, which is a revelation for someone with more than one workout video collecting dust on the living room shelf. The game’s variety is very attractive and the non-repetitive workouts provide easy incentive for subsequent sessions. With standard videotape fitness the workouts are repetitive and become mundane fairly quickly – especially for those gamers who are partial to nonstop action. Thanks to its variety and many choices Yourself!Fitness doesn’t fall into a set routine, which makes working out fun because something new is always awaiting you. The best deal on offer through this game is that you get a good workout with a personal trainer, and all from the comfort of your own living room.
Another nice feature of Yourself!Fitness is the customizable meal planning. Choose your ?diet’ and the game maps out weekly menu choices, complete with recipes and shopping lists. There are over 4,500 recipes, so variety shouldn’t be a problem. I was looking over one diet option and was pleasantly surprised that the recommended food choices were actually foods I would eat. This is a gripe I have about some eating plans where their outlined food offerings are not easily found in the local grocery store.
Yourself!Fitness seems to be a great option for those people who want to exercise but need a little hand-holding motivation, i.e. myself. A solo workout is all well and good, but it’s so much nicer to workout with someone. After completing your workout, Maya says “See you back here Thursday” since (in the game’s preferences) you set up which days you want to workout. This kind of accountability helps to keep working out in the forefront of your mind after committing to sessions on certain days. The intelligent, personal interaction sets Yourself!Fitness far apart from conventional workout tapes – and it’s a fitness solution likely to work best for a great number of people.
Personally, I have to work on my (in game) commitment level but, since this is my first week, I wanted to start with small goals and progressively and steadily bump them up. The commitment level is important for unlocking more of the game’s features, like the music and workout settings. It’s always worthwhile to be rewarded for commitment and, as games players, we’ve come to expect the fruits of our labor after working hard on a game. After only a few workouts the bronze status can be reached, which unlocks another music and workout selection.
Yourself!Fitness is definitely treading uncharted territory as a fitness game that primarily targets a female audience. responDesign’s goal is to develop “Games that are good for you” and they’ve succeeded here. Those gamers yearning for something different and who are not afraid of breaking a sweat should grab Yourself!Fitness and get physical. At first it may seem strange to be moving so much while playing your Xbox but you’ll soon see, and feel, the rewards, and it’ll all quickly become second nature.