The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Review of Harley Pasternak Hollywood Workout for Kinect

Posted by steve on November - 5 - 2012 with 0 Comment

Harley Pasternak Hollywood Workout

Run of the mill fitness game that may be appealing to fans of Harley and his clients.

Harley Pasternak Hollywood Workout doesn’t really add anything especially innovative to the genre of exergaming, but it’s still a worthwhile purchase if you happen to follow Harley Pasternak’s diet program or want to experience what it’s like to have the same personal trainer to the hottest Hollywood stars.

Rating by steve: 3.0 stars

Harley Pasternak is a personal fitness trainer to the Stars. If you’ve ever watched Lady Gaga, Jessica Simpson, Hillary Duff, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Megan Fox, or Robert Pattison, you’re familiar with Harley Pasternak’s work. He’s the personal trainer for all of those celebrities. He created something called the “5-Factor Fitness program” for his celebrity clients that includes eating simple meals that used 5 ingredients 5 times a day, and doing workout routines in 5-minute sets. It was perfect for his clients who often didn’t have time to fit healthy diets or length workout routines when they were on tour or on location. His method was so well-received that in 2005 he published his book, 5-Factor Fitness: The Diet and Fitness Secret of Hollywood’s A-List, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout for Kinect is the video game version of his diet and exercise program for the Xbox 360. The game’s premise is that just as Harley Pasternak is a personal trainer to the stars, through the magic of video games he can now be your personal trainer too.  And the game pulls it off pretty convincingly.

When you start the game you’re greeted with a catchy beat as the game loads, followed by the voice of Harley Pasternak welcoming you to his Hollywood Workout. As with many games, you start by selecting an Xbox profile. Sadly, this title is not supported by Kinect Playfit, so the calories you burn will not count in the Playfit app.

You start by inputting your weight. You’re then asked if you’re “using a Harley Bar”. At first I thought this was some kind of strange new energy food that Harley was hocking–turns out it’s not quite so elaborate as that. It’s basically hand weight in the form of a big stick that you hold while exercising. I notice the only place that sold these were QVC and HSN, and they seem to be out of stock at both places right now. If you find a long metal pipe around the house, I think it’ll do about the same thing.

You’re then brought to the main menu. I’m never sure if it’s me or not, but I found the Kinect tracking to be off a bit. Sometimes I’d have to wave and wave before seeing a cursor come on the screen, if it comes up at all. I did get the option to use my Xbox controller, but in certain cases that didn’t quite work either. There were one or two instances where it got so bad that I had to reset the box and restart the game.

You can choose from the following:

1) Complete Programs. There are basically three “Complete Programs” you can choose that correspond to beginner, intermediate, or advanced. They come in 5 or 10 week lengths. Your choices are:

  1. Light Body Toning (5 week or 10 week). Ease your way into the Hollywood Workout with this program. Don’t worry, you’ll still achieve some great body shaping and toning!
  2. Getting Red Carpet Ready (5 week or 10 week). Get that body red carpet ready with this program. This intermediate program includes the exercises contained in the previous program, plus a few more.
  3. A-List Celebrity Workout (5 week or 10 week). My most intense program! This program adds even more exercises and engages your entire body for maximum activity. Hollywood, look out!

2) Single Workouts. These are 25-minute workouts you can start right way, which have warm up exercises, cool down exercises, and typically 3 individual workout routines in the middle that each last, you guessed it, 5 minutes each. Your choices are:

  1. Surf ‘n Sand – Like to surf or paddleboard? Get that body ready to ride the waves with this workout that includes Reverse Flys, Lunges, and the Superman.
  2. Super Hero – What does it take to prime your body for a life of fighting crime? Find out with this workout that includes Hammer Curls, Jump Squats, and the Superman.
  3. Diva in Training – You’ll be able to dance the night away after mastering this workout that includes Chest Flys, Skater Lunges, and Side Bends.
  4. Swimsuit Season – Never wear your favorite swimsuit anymore? Let’s change that with this workout that includes Lateral Raises, Hamstring Curls, and Side Bends.
  5. Sports Athlete – Get a leg up on the competition with this workout that includes Push Ups, Skater Lunges, and Bicycle Crunches.
  6. Lose That Baby Weight – Get back to that body you had before the kids with this workout that includs Tricep Kick Backs, Deadlifts, and Seated Twists.
  7. Beach Body – Don’t be afraid to show off that beach body with this workout that includes Lying Tricep Extensions, Squats, and Crunches.
  8. Strut The Runway – Get ready to wear your favorite skinny clothes again with this workout that includes Shoulder Presses, Hamstring Curls, Crunches.
  9. Action Movie Star – Do you own movie stunts with this workout that includes Hammer Curls, Jump Squats, and Double Crunches.
  10. Upper Body Burner – Strengthen that torso with this workout that includes Shoulder Presses, Lying Tricep Extensions, and Chest Flys.
  11. Sexy Legs – You’ll love showing off your legs after doing this workout that includes Lunges, Deadlifts, and Squats.
  12. Ab Toner – Feel that burn in your core! This ab-strengthening workout includes Bicycle Crunches, Double Crunches, and Seated Twists.

3) Fitness Tracker – This part of the game has five options.

  1. Workout Journal tracks workout days, time spent, calories burned, “Harley Points” earned, weight loss, and average reps per session averaged over days, weeks, and months. This is a great feature if you’ll be using this game exclusively for working out. But sadly, this game is not supported by Kinect PlayFit, so all your hard work will not be included in those totals.
  2. Second, you can adjust your weight at any time by going to Personal Data.
  3. Photos displays photos that you can take throughout your workout. If you’re on a weight loss regimen, this is a pretty good way to track your progress.
  4. Exercises shows a list of every individual exercise, how many reps you average, and how many total reps you’ve done in the history of playing the game.
  5. Finally, Achievements are the typical kind of “badges” you see in games like this where you can collect rewards for hitting certain milestones, from performing 200 minutes of cardio to walking a mile to completing 15,000 reps.

4) Videos lets you see Harley provide nutrition tips, lifestyle advice, and workout tips by video. These are the same videos you’ll see throughout the game.

5) Multiplayer – this option supposedly lets you create challenges against other players. When I selected it, it said “This gamer profile is unable to play on Xbox LIVE. Please check your Family Settings or obtain an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership”. Since I don’t have an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership, I’m guessing this part of the game doesn’t apply to me.

I decided to try out a “Complete Program”, selecting my goal as “A-List Celebrity Workout”. After a video introduction by Harley, you’re then sent to a screen where you see an animated version of Harley. Behind him are two ladies in workout garb who’ll be doing all the exercises with you. The animation is not bad in that you can see a pretty good representation of the proper form for each exercise.

One thing I noticed were shameless plugs for New Balance and SmartWater, both disguised as “tips”; the first being that you should wear proper training shoes prior to any workout, and the latter being that you should keep yourself hydrated, both with his logos. I suppose this may have been a way the publisher kept the price low (it’s $29.99 as of this writing), but there was definitely something off-putting about there being ads in the game.

You start with warm-up exercises and then proceed to the aerobic and calisthenic exercises. There’s little  you haven’t seen before in other exercise videos and games, you have jumping jacks, squat jumps, ice skaters, and so on. There are only 30 unique exercises through the game, but put together properly they are very effective. Here’s a full list of individual exercises:

  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Crunches
  • Deadlifts
  • Double Crunches
  • Hammer Curls
  • Hamstring Curls
  • Jump Squats
  • Lateral Raises
  • Lunges
  • Chest Flys
  • Lying Tricep
  • Push Ups
  • Reverse Flys
  • Seated Twists
  • Shoulder Presses
  • Side Bends
  • Skater Lunges
  • Squats
  • Superman
  • Tricep Kick Backs
  • Ice Skaters
  • Jog
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Trunk Crosses
  • Jump Rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Punches
  • Side Shuffles

One thing I found a little odd at first but which I grew to like is that Harley doesn’t just do the exercises with you–he’ll talk (and talk, and talk) throughout the routine and at some points he’ll get up and walk around. At first it threw me off, as I was focusing on him while doing my reps. But as I thought about it, this way it felt more realistic, as if I were in a ”real training session” with Harley. After all, in a real training class your trainer rarely gets on the floor and does all the exercises with you as you’re doing it.

While he’s walking around and talking he’s verbally providing very precise details of why you’re doing the exercise, what the proper form is, what’s happening to your body, what you’re feeling, and other helpful information similar to what a real personal trainer might tell you during exercises. In this sense, it was one of the more realistic “personal training sessions” I’ve experienced in a video game.

Granted, as with all videos and exercises it does get repetitive. And the game doesn’t quite have the “elements of fun” that I think a great video game exercise program should have. Instead, it’s a fairly dry and routine set of reps.

The motion control on the game is passable. There are arrows that cue you for doing each rep, but I found that almost any movement would trigger a response from the game. There’s a little silhouette of yourself in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, but it’s kind of a stretch (no pun intended) to try to compare your form with the form of the ladies in the background.

Overall, I’d give this game 3 stars out of 5. It’s really nothing special, but then again it does a pretty good job of capturing Harley Pasternak’s exercise philosophy and regimen in a video game. If you’re already a Harley fan, own his books, follow his diet, and enjoy his appearances on morning talk shows, I’d say this is a worthwhile purchase, especially at the low price of $30. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a game that balances fun and exercise, I’d go to far superior games such as Nike+ Kinect or Adidas MiCoach.