Friday, July 06, 2012

A Rare Review

I hardly ever review a product. A Charlotte Mason paradigm eliminates the need for tons of formal curricula. We cut out the middleman by focusing on living books (not abridged versions or snippets in a literature anthology); on whole, specific composition by a composer (not the best of); on grade-level poems of four persons a year (not a mish-mash of mediocre works to fit a theme or literature selection). People probably get tired of my oddball responses to questions about a Bible study curriculum for children: we read the Bible, study maps, historical artifacts, etc. and talk about what we learned. When asked about language arts programs, I give an outline of Mason's building blocks for language acquisition. Not exactly what most people want to hear. Since prepackaged curriculum are off my radar, reviews are rare on this blog.

Steve knows me well and bought two perfect gifts for me this year: a Nook tablet and Wii Fit Training Plus. Pamela and I have been using the fitness games for almost four months now: she is on her 109th day, and I'm on my 113th. At first, I required her to do 30 minutes of every homeschool day, reminding her. She enjoys the program so much she faithfully exercises every morning for at least a half hour of her own free will. She even exercises on weekends. I have not paid any attention to her workout charts until deciding to do this review. She has exercised every single day for the past 24 days (as far as the activity log goes). She has averaged 37 minutes a day, burning about 113 calories per day. Her MET (metabolic equivalent) is 3 because she is burning 93 calories per half hour. That means her intensity level qualifies as moderate-intensity exercise.

Pamela has been averaging 256 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, all of her own free will. Here is a chart of her recent workout:

Comparing her activity to a chart of Sports and Leisure, Pamela is doing the equivalent of playing casual volleyball:

To put it into perspective, without any parental nagging, Pamela far exceeds the CDC guidelines for people her age (150 minutes a week). Every day, she works all major muscle groups because she selects non-game exercises (yoga and strength training).

I call that a win!

Other benefits include a change in Pamela's choice of beverages. She has taken Wii Fit's advice seriously, and now, when we hit McDonald's drive-thru for my McCoffee fix, she orders bottled water instead of soda. She has picked a bunch of new health-related vocabulary words like deep breathing, warm-up, yoga, strength training, obstacle course, aerobic training, boxing, Kung Fu, balance, advanced, etc. Not only did it develop a new interest (fireworks), Pamela has conversations with me about exercise: "You skipped boxing today," "I skipped the obstacle course today," "I got a little further," "Yippee! My personal best!" "Two humans did Perfect 10"—and Pamela is a supercalculator in that game.

I have benefited from the program as well. Every week, I aim for four to five one-hour workouts that burn at least 310 calories per session (my MET of 155 per half hour is equivalent to dancing with a partner). My muscle control, balance, and strength has improved greatly: my Wii Fit age scores are consistently below my chronological age, which wasn't the case during my first month. A typical session for me begins with twenty-five minutes of either yoga or strength training, followed by twenty minutes of aerobics and fifteen minutes of play. Moreover, the center of balance (COB) assessment helped me solve the problem of aching heels when I'm on my feet a lot. Feedback from Wii Fit trained me to move my COB forward and my heels rarely bother me now.

Conveniences include:
  • I can workout at any time, regardless of weather or daylight changes. Pamela prefers early in the morning (7 a.m.) while I prefer evenings (9:00 p.m.—weird, but it works for me). We can work out according to our unique body clock.
  • I don't have to waste gas money (21 miles to the nearest YMCA or 1 mile to our town's only fitness center).
  • I can exercise on my schedule not the limited hours of the local fitness center: M-F 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., S 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon, closed Sunday.
  • I am not bored out of my mind: I do not enjoy exercise of any form, except for swimming. I find the games entertaining. Being smacked in the head by imaginary sneakers or having a clay pot crash on my head are more amusing than some pretty, perky person encouraging me to feel the burn.
  • I don't have to pay monthly fees or skip workouts when we are visiting Steve in Kansas. Our exercise equipment is quite portable.

Does Wii Fit help people who are already in good physical condition? It depends. Steve is in great shape: he runs and bicycles regularly in a hilly Kansas city along the banks of the Missouri River. In his youth, he lived at the tennis court (in fact, his father still plays tennis—he's in his eighties!). Steve can run a 10K without any special training. A couple of years ago, he even ran a few marathons and many half-marathons.

Unfortunately, he neglected core muscle groups not used in running and rarely stretched or worked on flexibility. On the day before Thanksgiving of 2011, he pulled a muscle in his back. Pain shot up his back, and his spasms were so severe he made an appointment with a chiropractor that day. Steve had never seen a chiropractor in his life. While manipulating Steve's back, the man exclaimed regularly, "Dude, you are so stiff!" And, he was right!

Steve spent about six weeks in treatment. The chiropractor recommended Steve spend more time cross-training to work his core muscles, so he and some buddies made a pact to take Zumba classes ("whatever happens in Zumba stays in Zumba"). He found the classes helpful but inconvenient, so the Wii Fit has filled that void. When he first tried the Hula Hoop game back in April, he failed within a few seconds. Now, he can last for five minutes in each direction for a total of ten minutes. His back feels great, and we are both relieved that he found natural treatments to address his injury, avoiding addictive pain medication and surgery.


Annie Eskeldson said...

Awesome post!! Have been thinking on getting one of these this fall. Thanks!!

Annie Eskeldson said...

Thanks Tammy! Have been thinking about getting one of these this Fall or for Christmas!

walking said...

For someone like Pamela who has never been able to do team sports, Wii Fit is a great option. She can work at her own pace and develop confidence in her progress. Today, she decided to reach the expert level of the Snowball game. She ended up exercising for 66 minutes, burning off 210 calories—a personal record and working out at a moderate pace.

Pamela makes it more social than one might expect. She pays attention to my workouts and makes little comments. Today, when my Wii Fit age was 27 years old, Pamela said, "1990, just like Monterey" which is where I lived when I was that chronological age.

Bright Side of Life said...

Great review, it's wonderful that Pamela is self motivated to exercise and that she gets a lot more out of it then just keeping fit. Unfortunately the Wii we had was owned by Thomas and he has sold it. However, he tells me that I can buy playstation move.... but I will have to pay for it!! :)

walking said...

Things are still going well on the Wii-Fit front. Pamela has upped her goal to 145 calories and she exercises nearly every day. I upped myself to 390 calories, which I try to hit five times a week. I also discovered a new feature I really like. When in "My Routine", I click the picture of the balance board. It takes me to a screen where I can select how many minutes I want to work on Yoga and/or Strength Training. It automatically sets up a routine that is different everyday.

Thomas is quite the mercenary, Di! LOL

Bright Side of Life said...

Just had to pop back after I read your comment about Thomas! It gave me a good laugh... he is irritated with me because I always say to him that if he wants something badly enough then he must save up the money to buy it! Hence he had to buy his own wii and now playstation. He also bought his own iPod. I feel that it is a good life lesson for him... whether he likes it or not!! :-)