EA Sports Active — this ain’t no Wii Fit!

I just got out of the shower. Over-share? Well, there’s a point to it. I’m a morning shower guy. I can’t leave the house without my morning shower. So why did I just get out of the shower at 9:30 at night?

Because EA Sports Active came out today, and I figured I’d start right in. You remember your first day with Wii Fit? You headed some soccer balls, hula’d some hoops, did a little downhill skiing. No biggie. So I fired up EA Sports Active and figured I’d jump into some relaxing introduction to the program.


Now in all fairness, I’m about as out of shape as a person can get while still being able to get out of a chair on his own locomotion. I spend my days sitting in front of a computer, and my evenings…sitting in front of a computer. And I’ve got the body to show it.

But still, I told Active I wanted a “lite” workout. That ended up being about 20 minutes of running in place, squats, side lunges, held-squats camouflaged to look like an inline skating mini-game, and some upper body stuff that honestly was pretty easy. It was the leg/thigh stuff that kicked my ass.

By the end of it I was a sweaty ball of jello, barely able to stay on my feet. It took a good 15 minutes before I could manage that shower.

So was it fun? No, frankly it wasn’t, but I feel better for having done it. The boxing exercise was fun (pretty similar to the one in Wii Fit, honestly), and the inline skating thing might’ve been fun had my legs not been screaming in agony by that point.

Was it convenient? Well, nothing works like it does in the ads. Active comes with a belt that you strap to your thigh, and for exercises like running, you stick the Nunchuk into it. That belt was a pain in the ass for me. I was wearing sweats when I started, and no matter how tightly I cinched the belt, after a while it’d slide down and finally off. I finally ditched the sweats and just worked out in boxers and a t-shirt, and then it did a better job of staying put. Guess it’s time to invest in some gym shorts; the guinea pigs were shocked.

Once you get the belt in place, you jam the Nunchuk into it. The fit is really tight and I worry about damage to the analog stick on the Nunchuk. And you only use the belt and ‘chuk for some exercises; for others you have to hold it, so you’re constantly jamming it into this pocket and pulling it back out.

You also get a ‘resistance band’ which you use for doing curls and stuff. You hold one end in each hand, and stand on the middle of the thing. Seems really easy, until you’re trying to grab the end of the band and the Wii Remote in one hand, and the other end of the band and the Nunchuk in the other, and trying not to get the cord between the Remote and the Nunchuk tangled in the band. I mean it ain’t rocket science but I did find myself wishing I had a third arm a few times.

I’m sure all of this will become less of an issue once I’ve used all this gear a few times.

The software itself is decent. For every exercise you can first watch a video to see how it’s done (demonstrated by a real person, not an avatar) and then during the exercise, your avatar takes up most of the screen, while a trainer leads you in an inset window. Encouragement is fairly constant but the trainer will bitch you out if you start messing up.

It all worked pretty well, except for the running towards the end of the workout. Suddenly it stopped registering consistently. My guess is that the belt/nunchuk had become twisted or something… I was about to pass out from fatigue so it isn’t all that clear to me what was going on 🙂 but I was jogging in place at what I thought was a consistently plodding pace, and my onscreen avatar keep slowing way down, then speeding up, then slowing again. Apparently the game watches the distance between the Nunchuk and the Remote to determine your pacing, so you do need to pump your arms as you run…maybe I was screwing that up? Running was working a lot better early in the session though, so it was something wonky, not bad software.

After the torture workout was over, my trainer gave me a glimpse at what we’d be doing tomorrow, and then I had to answer a couple of surveys about eating habits and exercise outside of the game. I found myself feeling guilty at not having eat enough veggies, or drinking enough water, and for only getting 3 hours of sleep last night. I found it interesting that I was already giving my digital trainer a ‘personality’ and wanting to please her. But I am a geek with something of a robot fetish, so there ya go… ok, over-sharing again.

For my trouble, I got a trophy for completing my first workout, and another for burning at least 100 calories . 🙂

So that was day 1 of EA Sports Active. It offers a much more real workout than Wii Fit ever did, for me. The pre-set 30 Day Challenge doesn’t let you just do the easiest things over and over, and downtime between exercises is basically the amount of time it takes you to change gear…none of that 2 minutes of mini-game, 2 minutes of loading screen that Wii Fit offers.

By the way, the game will work with the Balance Board, but ours is still out for repair, so I couldn’t test that.

At this point it’s pretty clear that I have the tools. If I stick with Active, I’ll wind up in better shape than I’m in now. I can tell you that just by how my legs and thighs are feeling after that 1st workout.

3 thoughts on “EA Sports Active — this ain’t no Wii Fit!

  1. Yeah! Great review, and pretty much mirrors my experience with EA Sports Active. I’ve done two workouts so far and I can GUARANTEE that I’ll get in shape if I keep up with it. And hey, if you need help getting motivated, there’s a motivation center on the EA Active website!

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