Exercise, Schmexercise

I’m still plugging away at my new fitness regime and so far have managed to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day (except for three or four days around that very special time of the month).

I’m not convinced it’s having much of an impact on weight loss as yet, but I am certainly feeling FABULOUS, fitter than I’ve been since before the Minx was born.

In preparation for next year’s triathlon, I’m focusing this month on upping my general fitness and will probably do this next month as well, before moving on to more focused running, cycling and swimming training in January.

I don’t have gym membership – there’s just no way I’d be bothered to make my way to a gym every day – but have set up a small home gym in our partially finished basement.  It’s not pretty, but it’s OK for 30 minutes a day.

Here’s a summary of the equipment I’ve been finding helpful so far.

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EA Sports Active for the Wii Fit  – fitness ‘games’ for the Wii Fit have come on in leaps and bounds (ha ha!) since the original Wii Fit game. This game doesn’t use the Wii Balance Board much but comes with an integral thigh holster for the Nunchuk, so it can measure running, jumping, squatting etc. It features a 30 Day Challenge – 20 workouts in 30 days -  which I’ve been using as the basis for my month of workouts.  Each workout includes lower body work – mostly lunges and squats, upper body work using the fit band that comes with the game, a few minutes of some fun activities such as boxing, dancing, inline skating, tennis, volleyball, basketball etc and a few minutes of running.  Each separate exercise is only a few minutes long and each session features 18-20 exercises, so you get to do a lot of different stuff in around 35 minutes. It’s not a terribly challenging cardio workout, and doesn’t include any core work, but it does give you a good all-body workout in 30 minutes.

Pros I love how it mixes up different exercises every day, so you end up doing a different workout every day. But each day is based on the same core exercises, so you don’t spend all your time looking at the demonstration videos. You workout alongside a trainer who demonstrates the moves with you, it shows you working out on the screen (although my avatar lady is a little frightening) and it precisely reads the positions of the Wii remote and Nunchuk. so you can’t cheat on form or timing.  The settings are nice and I really like music (but then I am cheesy dance music sort of person).

Cons All the squats, lunges and upper body work get a bit samey after a while, though not enough to make me give it up. I think the squats and lunges in particular have done wonders for making me feel fitter.  There are some higher impact exercises (such as jump squats) which are not good for me as I have a bad knee.  You can avoid them in the workout if you want, but it would be nice to be able to choose a ‘low-impact’ version.  I usually end up doing those exercises on my little rebounding trampoline (also the running sections).

I also sometimes end up getting tangled in the wire between the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk.  Would definitely suggest getting a wireless Nunchuk for this game. Finally it’s sometimes difficult to get the machine to register that you’ve completed a move – the remote and Nunchuck have to be precisely aligned – this is frustrating at first and though I’ve learned how to do most movements so that they register, I can’t for the life of me get it to read my ‘Fast Kickbacks’ (but looking round the web, I’m not the only one).

Here’s what GeekSugar has to say about it.

 

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My Fitness Coach for the Wii

This is more like an interactive DVD than a true game. You don’t use the balance board at all or the Wii remote very much and there’s no way it can check your form or timing.  What you get is a very pleasant trainer who puts together a specific workout for you every time based on the equipment you have to hand (you can tell it if you have a step, hand weights, fit ball etc) and your previous feedback. You can also choose which areas to focus on and how long you want to work out for. I usually tell it to focus on cardio and core (to make up for the limitations of the EA SportsActive) and end up with a pretty strenuous step aerobic workout with lots of ab work – very similar to going to a step aerobics class.  (If you don’t have a step it will still devise a thorough aerobics programme for you).

Pros

It’s a good workout. I’ve been doing it once or twice a week and it’s like being able to pop into a class at the gym.  It definitely gets me sweating and my heart pumping.  Amazing really for a machine.  There are lots of different exercises built in so no two workouts are the same, though there are no fun little games.

Cons

I used to be a bit of a gym bunny so I can follow all the aerobics and step terminology, but I think you’d find this really difficult if you haven’t done step or normal aerobics before.  The machine doesn’t measure whether you’re doing the moves correctly though, so you can just bounce about if stuff gets too tricky.  It suffers from the same high impact issues as the EA Sports Active, but I get round those by doing some stuff on my rebounder or else just making the exercises low-impact. As I said the machine doesn’t check. Finally you need SPACE. Space to do all the grapevines etc, but also space to keep your step etc. close to hand.  There are no pauses in the cardio section, so you can’t keep pulling out your equipment.

Here’s what IGN has to say.

 

Cardio Coach

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My only piece of true gym equipment is my Concept 2 indoor rower, which I have used in a desultory fashion on and off over the last couple of years, mostly to row for 20mins while watching episodes of Sex and the City (which is about as much as my brain can get round while rowing). But basically I find cardio workouts both tedious and hard work.

Over the last week or so though I have been incorporating a Cardio Coach mp3 into my workout and my attitude is transformed. These ar e basically a series of mp3s for your Ipod where coach Sean O’Malley takes you through an interval workout set to music.  You can use them on any piece of cardio equipment or even when running outside. You exercise using a heartrate monitor to take yourself to four different levels of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t matter how fit or unfit you are, you can tailor your workout precisely to your needs. (For the record I do the warm-up at between 120–125 bpm, the level 2 ‘cruise control’ portion at around 140 bpm, the sprint intervals at around 155 bpm and then nearly kill myself going over 160 bpm in the short Level 4 section).

I currently have volume 1, but am going to download the rest. They are currently on special offer on the website.

Pros

It hurts.  This is a hardcore workout, but I feel a huge sense of achievement and really energetic afterwards.  The time also seems mysteriously to fly by – O’Malley talks just enough to keep you motivated and the music fits perfectly. I really can’t recommend these highly enough.

Cons

It hurts.

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