Today on Games You Probably Haven’t Played, we have My Fitness Coach.
Ubisoft developed and published this title. It was released on December 2, 2008 as a Nintendo Wii exclusive. It spawned multiple direct sequels for the Wii as well as many indirect sequels in the Coach franchise across multiple systems. Indeed, the only reason people might overlook this game is that it came out in the wake of Wii Fit, which was released in May of that year, so it most likely would have been seen as a third party knockoff of that game and summarily dismissed.
My Fitness Coach, obviously, is a fitness game. Although, in all honesty, I am probably doing it a disservice by referring to it as a game at all. It would be more accurate to refer to it as an interactive personal trainer in digitized form. When you start it up, the game asks you to set up a profile. As part of this process, the game runs you through a series of fitness tests to determine what goal it thinks your workouts should be tailored toward. Regardless of the game’s recommendation, you are free to choose whichever of the six categories you want.
Let’s get into shape
After you’re done with that and setting up your workout calendar, you proceed to actual workouts. For each workout, you are allowed to customize the length of time you want to work out on that particular day. You can also change your calendar at any time after you have logged into your profile on any particular day if you so choose, but I digress. You are also allowed to choose which of six types of workouts you wish to do, though the game will have a recommendation starred each day that will vary.
Unlike Wii Fit, this game does not make use of the balance board, which I initially found odd, but which made more sense when I found out what this game was going to do. It can, however, incorporate the use of hand weights, a stability ball, a step, or a heart monitor into its workouts. After you tell it which of those things you have, it will ask you to choose a location and a type of music for your workout. Unfortunately, you have to do this for every workout instead of it remembering those settings.
The locations are nice-looking. The music, while generic, gets the job done in terms of fulfilling its intended purpose. As you attend more workouts, you can unlock more locations and music options. However, so far as I can tell, the different options have no real bearing on anything within the workouts themselves.
Anyway, the workouts are the meat of the game. Unfortunately, as I said before, the game does not use the Wii balance board. In fact, for most of the workout, you will not even have the Wiimote in your hand. Here’s how it works.
When you start the workout, Maya – the avatar of the game – asks you how you’re doing. You can select from three different options ranging from “nothing can stop me” to “you’re lucky I’m here.” There’s also a “not too bad” mid-range option. After you make your choice, she starts the workout. At this point, you may as well lay down your Wiimote so you can focus on the exercises because no movements are read during the workouts themselves.
Yes, you heard that right. Once a workout actually begins, the differences between this game and watching a workout DVD are minimal. As the workout progresses, you will see a bar along the bottom of the screen with the name of the workout move you are currently doing with a moving cursor to tell you how much longer you’ll be doing the current move.
At the same time, Maya will be doing the move onscreen. For some of the more complicated moves, she’ll explain how to do it. If you’re actually serious about doing the workout, you should be able to follow along well enough most of the time. If you’re not, the game will never know. Whether that’s an advantage or a disadvantage will be up to each individual participant.
There are issues, though. For some moves, the description and visual aid have you in a position where you cannot conveniently watch the screen. For some things, that’s not a big deal. But if you’re, say, looking at the floor and being expected to switch arms and legs in a movement, Maya won’t say “switch” or anything to cue you as to when to do so.
If you’re looking at the floor, but you’re supposed to be moving your arms up and down, she won’t say “up,” “down,” “up,” “down” to help you know the proper pace. As such, you’ll either have to try to crane your head to look at the screen, which is sometimes uncomfortable, or you’ll have to guess. Personally, I usually guess since, again, the game has no idea whether you’re doing anything anyway.
One other issue is the repetitiveness of the dialogue. As I said, when you do a more complicated move, Maya explains how to do it. If you do the same move multiple times in succession, even if there are rest periods in between, she’ll only explain it the first time. If you leave a move and come back to it later in the same workout, she may give you the same explanation again.
For those moves where she does not give a verbal explanation or it is far shorter than the length of time you’ll be doing the move, she’ll periodically interject words of encouragement. Unfortunately, there are only so many phrases she’ll use for this, so those phrases can get old to listen to over and over if you’re doing a longer workout.
Other than those issues, though, this title effectively does what it sets out to do. The game is called My Fitness Coach, and you definitely get a “personal trainer” feel from the avatar. She’s very encouraging and does a good job of making you feel good about your effort if you are actually making one. I assume that would be good for a laugh if you were just sitting on your couch watching her, although I can’t imagine many people would find that entertaining for very long.
Periodically during the workouts, Maya will stop and ask how you’re doing in the workout. At that point, you grab your Wiimote, probably reactivate it since it won’t have taken any inputs in a while, and pick between “I can’t keep up”, “I’m working hard”, and “no sweat”. If you pick either of the extreme options, the game will make a note of that and adjust subsequent workouts accordingly. In addition, the tests you took when you set up your profile will be repeated every couple weeks or so in order for the game to monitor your progress and adjust its recommendations to you as necessary. Clearly, this game meant to be relevant to its users in the long-term.
Overall, this game was quite good at doing what it’s intended to do, even if there are a few issues with it. I would imagine that many of the issues I mentioned here were addressed in the sequels, although I’ve never played any of them to know for sure. If you need a decent fitness game for the Wii and can’t find a balance board, this one is certainly worth putting down a few bucks for if you can find it, but there are other options out there too that probably work just as well.