Are you sure?

Even better than the real thing?

While going to a fitness club offers obvious advantages, it has its downsides, too. For a start, gyms aren’t cheap, and it requires yet more time when you are away from home and family. Not least, it can be a little intimidating if you find yourself next to a guy who is pumped up like Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond movie. What if you’d rather exercise at your own pace? That’s where the latest gaming consoles, with movement recognition technology, come in.

Although there are several gaming consoles already using this kind of technology, the basic idea behind each of them is the same: while a camera is watching you, the console is analyzing your movements in real time, and either corrects you, or congratulates you if you are doing well. On the TV screen you can see yourself and your virtual trainer beside you, and thus you can adjust your movements. But how do the various consoles differ?

 

Wii will Wii will slender U?

The first gym software to use movement recognition technology appeared on the older Nintendo Wii in 2010. “Your shape” was sold with a camera that mirrored you on the TV with a virtual trainer alongside your image. While the limited technology could only follow your movements in two dimensions, a bigger problem lay in the range of exercises, which weren’t specific enough and included an enormous number of jumping sessions. If you ignore the sore knee joints, there is still the problem of the angry neighbor living under your flat. If you want to stick to Nintendo, try out its latest “Wii U” console, with the now well “matured” Your Shape software: it is a lot more advanced, with tons of specific exercises, a touchscreen controller and easy-to-use interface. The only problem now is that you have to exercise with a small controller in hand, which can be bothersome for some people.

 

Get yourself Kinected

In winter 2010 the Kinect for Xbox 360 was touted as a revolutionary technology, destined to conquer the hearts of all gamers; in fact, it failed utterly as a serious gaming device. The basic idea behind Kinect technology is that it can track and recognize your whole body, your movements, your voice, and even your face, but it was hardly ever used in real hardcore games. In fact, while we struggle to name any really good game for Kinect, it does have tons of excellent gym or virtual sport software. The best of them are still from the Your Shape software series: Your Shape Fitness Evolved (YSFE) and YSFE 2012. The Kinect camera tracks your movements in real 3D, you can specifically work on any area of your body that you want to strengthen, and you don’t need to keep a controller in hand. YSFE 2012 is also pretty fun, with several games, martial arts, yoga, and dance programs. In fact, if you like to have fun while still moving and strengthening your body, there are several other virtual sport programs for Kinect out there as well, with which you can try your hand at the Olympic games, tennis, skiing, boxing or even dancing. Check out the reviews about them though, because some of these games are pretty bad, and your enthusiasm can quickly lead to frustration if you have bad Kinect recognition software.

 

MOVE your body!

Naturally, Sony also jumped on the movement recognition bandwagon with the “PlayStation Move” for PS3, which requires you have to use at least one, or sometimes even two – rather funny looking – controlling devices. Is this worth the effort and your money? Well, while unfortunately there isn’t any “Your Shape” software on PS3, there are other similar gym programs, and the virtual sport software for PS3 is especially good. With Sport Champions 2 you can immerse yourself in the best boxing, skiing or tennis simulations for consoles, and while having a big amount of fun, you will quickly lose weight without noticing, that you actually did some pretty solid exercises.

 Gergely Herpai