Let’s start off my fitness reviews with a tried-and-true favorite of mine. While technically a video game, the only person you compete against in Yourself!Fitness is um, yourself. Today you can find many “exer-games” like this on the market, but I like to think of this as the original (although I’m sure it wasn’t the first). The truly great thing about some of these programs is that you can use them for life.
Title: Yourself!Fitness (by Respondesign)
Instructor: Maya, a virtual trainer voiced by Yumi Lee
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, and your PC (works with Windows 2000/95/Me/NT/XP).
First Year Released: 2004
Updated Versions: My Fitness Coach (for Wii, by UBI Soft, 2008) followed by My Fitness Coach 2 (2010)
Is It Really a Good Workout? YES
Unique Attributes: This is an easily customizable fitness program with a virtual personal trainer named Maya. She will have you create your personal profile, and then perform an initial fitness evaluation and enter your basic data (height and weight) to determine at what level difficulty you should begin. She will also recommend the most important area of fitness for you to focus on – you can agree with her or choose another to help shape your workouts. You will also set up your workout Schedule, choosing which days you want to work out and for how long (15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes). Periodically, you’ll be asked to perform additional Fitness Evaluations to check your progress and ensure that the workouts change as you do.
Daily customizable choices for workouts include time (you don’t have to stick with your schedule although Maya will chide you if you do less), daily focus (cardio, upper body, lower body, core, or flexibility), and fitness equipment. You can choose to incorporate a heart rate monitor, weights, an aerobic step, an exercise ball, or all/some/none of the above. Workout settings and music choices are limited at first; more can be unlocked as rewards for your progress and continued “attendance.” Two other great features: Meal Plan with recipes, which you can set for calorie limits and days and consult or ignore at your leisure, and the Meditation Garden, which can be accessed at any time for a yoga workout.
Workouts themselves are easy to follow with multiple helpful features, including tutorials, adjustable camera angles, and brief explanations from Maya when you start most new exercises. Maya asks you how you’re feeling each day before you start working out, and you can choose an answer before she gets going! She’ll also check how you handled certain portions of the workout as you go along to determine the difficulty level of same exercise the next time you do it. (My personal tip: If you really want to get stronger, do not say it was too hard unless you couldn’t do it at all.) The scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen shows you what you’re doing now along with what’s coming next, plus the difficulty level of the current exercise and a timer for the whole workout. Maya provides frequent water and rest breaks, and tells you how many calories you burned when you’re done!
Pros: Maya is awesome. Miss a workout and she will gently lecture you. Keep missing workouts and she gets kinda sassy! The program is extremely easy to adapt to your fitness level, abilities, and equipment, whether it’s automatic adjustment over time or something you want to change in the middle of the workout.
I actually kind of like the music although it’s typical generic workout stuff. The exercises are mostly easy to learn with tutorials, explanations and adjustable camera angles. (Easy to perform is another story – some are rather difficult, and I like it that way.) The rewards are fun to unlock. The meal plan has some delicious recipes. And with over 500 exercises, you won’t get bored using it for a long time. In fact, you can’t even get bored while you wait for your daily workout to load because health tips flash across the screen.
This is not a sissy program. Keep using this and you will get fit!
Cons: Occasional odd glitches (on the PC) that are more amusing than anything. (For example, at times the view would abruptly switch for a few seconds, and Maya’s head would be looking at me upside down from the top of the screen.) Maya does not take you through enough cool-down stretches for my liking. Maya cues the workouts to the music which is cool, but if you take too long to answer one of her assessment questions, or if you view a tutorial, she may take several seconds to “find the beat” and get going again (but will tell you what she’s doing). I wish there were more rewards to unlock!
Fun Fact: Maya starred in four exercise DVDs released by McDonald’s in their “Go Active!” adult meals in 2006! I’m working on getting my hands on these ASAP!
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