XboxFitness.org

The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Yes, the Xbox Kinect is good for fitness. No, it won't give you a four foot vertical leap.

In the Beginning there was the Wii. And it was good (apologies to Moses for the paraphrasing).

For the last few years, the Wii has stood alone in the world of motion gaming. When people first started playing Wii Sports, they immediately noticed something they hadn’t noticed before with video games. Their heartrate went up. Their muscles got stronger. And more than their thumbs were sore after a marathon gaming session.

Soon after that, the concept of using video games for fitness started to evolve. Just like in the early days of TV, most TV shows were just a radio broadcaster reading in front of a camera, in the early days of Wii fitness, most of the games were just glorified exercise videos. You could change the music and the background, but the workout itself wasn’t too far removed from Jane Fonda in the 80s.

Of course, you know what happened next. Video game workouts became so popular that they even spawned a new made-up word: exergaming. Traditional exercise can be tedious and boring (the elliptical I paid hundreds of dollars for is now an expensive coat rack because I just got tired of climbing and climbing to nowhere). But with video game exercise, you can face down major league pitching, go swimming with sharks, race in a 100-meter dash, and dance the night away without even realizing that you’re shedding pounds.

Speaking of made-up words, a few years ago I started up my own little Wii fitness game site called “Nutwiisystem”, which became popular (and don’t worry Wii fans, I still love my Wii and will continue to maintain that site).

When Microsoft first announced the Xbox Kinect, I admit I was very, very skeptical. Throughout Microsoft’s history their attempts to copy other companies’ successful technologies has been a bit abysmal. The Zune didn’t really have much of a chance over the iPod. Windows Mobile is a distant third to Apple iPhone and Google Android. And who can forget Microsoft Bob? (I guess everybody).

So when I first heard about Kinect, I thought to myself “there you go again”.

But a few months ago, I went to a dinner party at my friend Sandy’s house. She had a new Kinect, which we set up and played. The evening was not without its disasters. In a room full of people, we had to try to get everyone to be quiet (plus the people of New York City below) in order to configure the system.  We had to move her furniture all over the place to make room. And if someone standing behind the players so much as sneezed, it would confuse the system to no end.

But once we got over the negatives, I began to notice how incredible the technology was.  If I moved my hand, surely enough the guy on the screen moved his too. If I danced a jig, sneezed, or made that old Arsenio Hall “woot woot woot” fist pump, then by golly, so did the fellow on the screen.

xbox boxThe games we played that evening, Kinect Adventures and Game Party: In Motion were unfortunately two of the worst games to come out for the Xbox Kinect. So my early impressions were not good. But the technology impressed me so much that I went and bought my own Xbox 360 250GB Console with Kinect. I bought games like Dance Central and Kinect Sports and I was much, much more impressed.

In many ways, the Xbox and Kinect are limited. The Wii still reigns supreme for party games. The PS3 is evolving into the platform of choice for serious gamers. But the Xbox is clearly staking an early hold on the best fitness and exercise games. I figured I’d start this Web site to help you choose the best ones.

And so XboxFitness.Org was born. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiences setting up my Xbox, as well as providing in-depth reviews of all the Xbox exercise and fitness games I can get a hold of; with game prices as high as $50 to $60, it’s no small investment, so hopefully I can provide you some good, unbiased reviews (unlike the reviews on Amazon and game sites which are often littered with “shills” paid by the gaming companies’ PR firms!). Feel free to leave comments with your own thoughts or with any particular games you’d like me to take a look at. Let’s have fun and get some exercise (oh gracious, if I start to sound any more like Richard Simmons, please smack me).