Wii Exercise Games – 3 Fitness Games Reviewed and Compared

I’m a video game fitness nut I guess. I own “Wii Fit”, “My Fitness Coach” and most recently got “EA Sports Active” (it was on sale) about two months ago.

I thought I’d do a comparison review of the games as I’ve experienced them so far. I’ve owned “Wii Fit” the longest and you can see my preliminary review of “Wii Fit” here.

First off the games are quite different from each other. “Wii Fit” is the game which comes with the Balance Board and started the whole “fitness game” craze. It separates exercises into a few categories, Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics and Balance Games. The Balance Board is used for most of these but sometimes you just use the Wiimote and nunchuk.

“My Fitness Coach” on the other hand does not use the Balance Board at all, it is structured as an exercise program, no “sports game” element is included and it flows more like a regular workout with an instructor. It does however adjust exercises to what external equipment you might have (or want to do) on a given workout. For example, you can tell it you have one, all or none of the following: hand weights, an exercise ball and a step platform. Workouts are not separated except that you can choose a Yoga workout or a “regular workout” for a regular workout you can choose an emphasis such as aerobics, core strength, upper body strength, etc or you can let the game choose it for you based on your overall goals you set up in your profile which guides all of your workouts. The game also has you do a challenge test every so often in which you need to weigh yourself, take measurements and do exercises to failure. I found this game to be the closest to a workout DVD in the sense that everything just flows so I feel it was the best for aerobic workouts. It also seems to have the biggest variety of exercises. However, whenever a new exercise is introduced you have the option of hitting a button and the trainer will show you how to do the moves before continuing on with the program. Another big plus is that after certain sections your trainer will ask you how that section felt and adjust it accordingly for next time. For example if you answer that it was a piece of cake she’ll make it harder, or conversely if you could barely keep up she might step it down. I really like this aspect of the game.

“EA Sports Active” is the newest game I’ve tried but I’ve had it for over a month now. It is the most ambitious in terms of integrating your movements into the Wii. A balance board is an option and it will ask each workout if you have one (or verify that you still do) but inside the “EA Sports Active” box a resistance band and a strap to hold the nunchuk are included. “EA Sports Active” also incorporates different sports such as boxing and an inline skate simulation (which is not like real skating at all but makes for a fun game). I find the resistance band to add nicely to exercises though depending on your height and existing strength you may want to buy your own. The straps that are intended to be used with the resistance band will work with other bands. One thing I noticed about the game though is that you must hold the wiimote and nunchuk exactly as pictured. I had trouble getting the game to recognize that I had lowered my arms on the second half of a bicep curl/shoulder raise drill and then realized it was because I didn’t quite have my nunchuk held the way the digital trainer had hers. I’ve also found that the nunchuk cord occasionally gets in the way but I can just hold the extra length. Another option folks seem to use is to buy a wireless nunchuk.

My Opinion
I think each of these games has its place. I’d go with “Wii Fit” to get the Balance Board and as an introduction to video game fitness. I liked learning Yoga poses with the “Wii Fit” as one is able to choose a front or back view of the instructor so it makes it easier to compare your pose to his/hers, also I liked that you got additional feedback when you used the balance board, for example, in standing tree pose you stand on the balance board and it shows you a dot for your center of balance and a larger pale yellow target area. The downside of “Wii Fit” is that after each exercise or game you must hit the A button to continue, which really breaks up a workout. Also if you just want to play games, for example you and a friend want to do the ski slalom game and compare scores, there isn’t a fast way to switch Miis. You have to exit back to the start screen to load up your Mii then go back to the slalom game. Of course you could just use the same Mii, but then the top scores wouldn’t reflect who had won what and you won’t get a workout credit for the appropriate Mii.

After getting “Wii Fit” you’ll want more of a challenge if you really want to get in shape. Your next choice is either “My Fitness Coach” or maybe “EA Sports Active”. To me the basic difference between the workout portion of these two games is in the level of micromanaging it does. “My Fitness Coach” tells you to do things and it’s up to you to make sure you have proper form and that you actually do them, not unlike a DVD. “EA Sports Active” counts reps you do since it uses the Wii accessory sensors and to some extent can tell if you are not using proper form. But then that can get frustrating as evidenced in my example above. Also it seems to break the flow of a workout even on the “Hard” workout option.

One feature in “EA Sports Active” is that you can review what exercises will be coming up in a given workout and check or uncheck them accordingly (for example you see that squats will be included but your knee is bugging you so you uncheck them). That’s a nice option that “My Fitness Coach” doesn’t have (except generally, for example you can choose to do a mainly upper body workout vs a lower body one). However if you do uncheck squats in “EA Sports Active” I noticed it doesn’t replace it with something else and your overall workout results in fewer calories burned.

Both games, “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” incorporate a workout journal of sorts, with “EA Sports Active” having the more detailed one as well as a “trophy” section for achieving certain goals.

Buddy or Family Workout
“Wii Fit” as I explained is not set up for simultaneous workouts of different people, though you can have a profile for each member of your family. This applies even if you were have two balance boards, the Wii itself just doesn’t handle two boards at once. “My Fitness Coach” is also set up for one person at a time, though since it is not measuring actual input from you, if you have enough room you and a friend or friends can all follow along with each workout. “EA Sports Active” allows you workout with another person though you will need to buy another set of equipment to do that. I’ve not tried this option so I’m not sure if all of the workouts will work for this or perhaps just some of the sports games.

My opinion of the games is shaped from a background of already being a reasonably active geek girl. I used to regularly go to a gym as well go rockclimbing at least once a week. I’ve since quit the regular gym and have replaced that with my workout games (I still climb and occasionally add more sports/exercise). Because of this I am looking at these games with an eye towards getting stronger and as a means to keep my weight down, but also doing so without potential overuse injury. I also like to fit in a workout when I want. Because this is my goal I find a use for all three of the games – though “Wii Fit” admittedly gets the least amount of use. I mainly use it to weigh myself, take its age test and, very rarely, play the balance games (been doing the ski and snowboard game because of the Winter Olympics lately). I like “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” about equally for now, I think I get a better, more rounded workout, with “My Fitness Coach” but sometimes find that “EA Sports Active” has some individually harder exercises. Sometimes I worry that it’s too hard, for example, in some of the games you do a fair amount of high jumping. Also, I haven’t used “My Fitness Coach” with a step platform or balance ball so I’m sure its individual exercises can get harder. I also really enjoy that “My Fitness Coach” seems to pull exercises from a variety of disciplines, like pilates for example. The difficulty of the individual exercises aside, I’ve found that I feel more “worked out” after a “My Fitness Coach” workout of 20 minutes or more than an equivalent length one from “EA Sports Active”.

If you’re coming to these games from a background of not having done exercises since PE class I’d suggest getting “Wii Fit” and just doing that until you get bored. If you’d like to move on from that, or if you feel confident you can do exercises with good form I’d suggest “My Fitness Coach” next. The reason I’d choose that over “EA Sports Active”? I feel that the way that “EA Sports Active” forces you to use the Wiimote and nunchuk can lead to bad form, I think it’s better to do the exercises in good form first before trying to adapt to the game’s limitations.

Finally, if it’s only the games you’re after and not the exercise, I’d go with “Wii Fit” and “EA Sports Active” though for “EA Sports Active” keep in mind that you will need to get through the exercises to unlock more sports. In fact, maybe just skip “EA Sports Active” and go for “Wii Sports Resort” instead. I had a lot of fun with that over Christmas playing my brother’s game.

Whatever you choose, have fun and burn those calories!

3 Responses to “Wii Exercise Games – 3 Fitness Games Reviewed and Compared”

  1. Dano Says:

    Excellent, excellent review – you’ve answered exactly all the questions I’ve been having as my wife and I prepare to buy our Wii fitness goodies. Actually, you touched on a enough to make me feel confident that all three have a lot to offer – so we may just go that route and get them all!

  2. Shawn Says:

    Thanks for the excellent overview.. I own both My Fitness Coach and recently also purchased EA Sports Active. I purchased my Wii specifically for fitness due to not having space to setup my four station gym that I had previously dedicated a spare bedroom in my apartment to before moving home so I could take care of mom. Unfortunately my self discipline has failed me in using either. When I purchased my Wii, EA hadn’t released Sports Active yet so I went with My Fitness Coach. I didn’t consider Wii Fit because to me it looked more like a game and less like a workout program. I was looking for something more along the lines that could provide a full body workout in addition to aerobic conditioning.. Now that I’ve got them, I just need to use them… lol

  3. Fricka Says:

    That’s great Dano! I really do like having all three, I got inspired to do a workout after writing this so I did an EA Sports Active workout on Medium because I plan on also doing a My Fitness Coach Yoga workout later. I think they can compliment each other nicely!

    Shawn, yeah I think at this point you don’t have to get Wii Fit, you don’t have to use it for the EA Sports Active games and so far it hasn’t been that compellingly integrated, I’m not done with the 30 day challenge yet though (I have just been doing regular ones). Speaking of the will power bit, EA Sports Active has a website where folks are supposed to make a profile etc, sort of a community support group as I gather, you might want to check it out.

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