The 30th day of my 30-day fitness challenge on EA Sports Active has come and gone, and I now feel ready to render final judgment on which is better: Wii Fit or EA Sports Active.
Drum roll, please…
Wii Fit, hands down, is the better program.
Why, you may ask? There are a number of reasons. The first, and most important in my book, is that I actually gained weight this past month, an extra three pounds that I’m now going to have to work on losing. Sports Active did not give me the workouts I needed to burn calories. Each workout in the 30-day challenge ran 25 minutes, on average, the longest workout running 28 minutes. Most of those workouts concentrated on strength building exercises, which are important, but don’t burn the calories like cardio exercises do. And except for the medium and long run exercises in EA Sports Active, there’s not really any cardio to speak of. The aerobic dance segments barely get my heart rate going (and honestly, I think they’re a joke, when compared to Wii Fit’s step routine). The boxing is nice, but doesn’t last nearly long enough to keep my heart rate up. The baseball, basketball, tennis and volley ball drills don’t last long either, and they don’t pop up nearly often enough in the workouts for the 30-day challenge to make a difference, in my opinion.
(And keep in mind, this is all in my opinion. You’ll see as we go today that I expect certain things from my workouts which may not appeal to everyone.)
Another big problem I had with EA Sports Active was its emphasis on lunges, squats, and jumping. I have bad knees. Wii Fit actually improved my knees dramatically. Prior to using Wii Fit, I had problems getting into and holding many positions in my karate classes because my knees couldn’t handle the stances. A few weeks on Wii Fit fixed that. I expect it’s the focus on balance and posture that did the trick, correcting problems with how I stand in general to the point that the muscles I needed to compensate for my knee problems finally got the workout they needed. EA Sports Active doesn’t have that focus. It’s all strength training, and while the repeated lunges, squats, and jumping did strengthen my outer thighs, they did damned little for those muscles that actually support my knees. As I type this review, I can feel my knees swelling from today’s workout. And the crunching noise they make when I go up and down the stairs is just as bad as it was six months ago, before I started on Wii Fit. It’s terrible, I tell ya.
My third issue with EA Sports Active is the exercise band. The one thing I looked forward to in EA Sports Active was the upper body workout. This is one area where Wii Fit falls flat. Aside from a few moves in the strength training section, Wii Fit focuses all its attention on core muscle building. My arms were starting to get flabby. EA Sports should have taken care of that, but the exercise band they packaged with the game is pretty much useless. It’s one of the lightest-weight bands you can find, and offered very little resistance for me during workouts. EA Sports Active advises that if you need more resistance, you can double up the band and stand on it. This shortened band will provide the resistance you need. Well, it sort of does that. The problem with that fix is that I sometimes had to stand almost on the handles to make the band short enough for some exercises. Also, it was too easy to get the band uneven in the folding, thus leading to uneven resistance between arms. Finally, I managed to tear a hole in my band by the fourth week of working out, and I think it happened because of how far I had to double up the band to get the resistance I needed.
Fortunately, I did have another band on hand, one that offers four times the resistance of the band that arrived with the game. I’m definitely getting that arm workout now. But I would have liked to have had this band from the start. Better yet, I would have liked to have had a variety of bands from the start, with handles to go with them. I’m thinking of ordering some extra bands and handles to solve that problem. I’ve looked online, but have yet to see a package of such bands offered by EA Sports Active. They seriously ought to consider putting one together and selling it as an accessory.
Now that I’ve bashed poor EA Sports Active, let me say what I liked about it. It does offer strength training beyond the core muscles. I especially like that I have the option to do more upper body exercises than just the push ups and plank poses offered by Wii Fit. And I like EA Sports Active’s journal feature. By filling it out each day, I have a regular reminder to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, and stay away from sugary drinks and fast food. Those are probably my biggest downfalls when it comes to losing weight, and that gentle reminder is nice to have.
Wii Fit, on the other hand, doesn’t really look at nutrition, unless you suddenly gain 2 lbs, and then the snarky little bitch wants to know why you’re so fat all of a sudden. Unfortunately, Wii Fit will only accept a certain select list of excuses, many of which have nothing to do with why I gain weight suddenly (Wii Fit does not believe in water weight gain). And once you select your excuse, you have to listen to a lecture on the evils of what you did wrong. Annoying. As is Wii Fit’s comments when you miss a day or two or more. Guess what? I can’t help missing a week when I’m out of town! It’s not like I’m going to pack the whole Wii with Balance Board and Wii Fit disk and take it on the road with me! EA Sports Active, on the other hand, simply labels any days you take off as rest days. Maybe this is a cop out. Maybe I do need the nagging reminders and the lectures that Wii Fit hands out when I miss a few days or when my weight suddenly balloons, but you know what? I don’t like it!
My final analysis is this. I prefer Wii Fit, but EA Sports Active has something to offer, if I use it right. I think what I’ll probably end up doing is abandoning the 30-day challenge from here on out and make up my own workouts in EA Sports Active, to supplement what I do in Wii Fit. I’d like to try putting together a series of 15-minute routines that use those strength training exercises, but scaling back on the lunging and jumping so I don’t continue to kill my knees. I can use the long run to warm up, or even do a few minutes on our elliptical machine, then do strength training with EA Sports Active. After that, I can switch to Wii Fit, do my heavy duty cardio there (about 20-25 minutes straight), and then throw in 10-15 minutes of yoga, strength training, and balance games to workout those core muscles and strengthen my poor knees. I may even consider doing extra balance games later in the day as a pick-me-up in the afternoons. I have a tendency to get tired right before sitting down to work, and this might help me perk up. Or I could pull out the DDR mat and do some of that for a few minutes to get my blood pumping before I sit down at the computer.
One final thought before I sign off. The 30-day challenge might have worked for me and helped me lose, or at least maintain, weight if I had done two things. The first is attempting to complete all 20 workouts in 30 days. I actually missed the deadline by a week; I had five workouts left to go when day 30 rolled around. But I realize now there was no way I was going to complete 20 workouts in 30 days and still do karate and swimming during that time. What can I say? I like variety in my workouts, so I continued to space out EA Sports Active with those other activities, and thus blew my deadline. Second, I might have lost more weight if I had opted for the high intensity program rather than medium. That level of intensity might have made the difference. I might have seen more aerobic exercises mixed into the workouts, or I might have done longer, more intense workouts. However, I also fear that doing that level of workout for 30 days would have completely destroyed my knees, so perhaps it’s best I didn’t go that route..
I should finish up the last two workouts of my 30-day challenge by Wednesday, then I plan to finish up the week with Wii Fit only. On Monday, I’ll start doing custom workouts mixed with Wii Fit and we’ll see how that goes for a month.