Thursday, 16 June 2011

NewU: Fitness First Personal Trainer-Does it work?

As I approached the end of my third year at University, I had started to notice that three years of alcohol and takeaways had taken their toll on my body. I hastily decided that enough was enough-I would ditch the rubbish food, reduce my intake of alcohol and start to fight the flab. Naturally, being a gaming girl, I opted for the video game alternative to gym exercise-the excellent Wii Fit and the accompanying Wii Balance Board. Wii Fit and it's predecessor, Wii Fit Plus did, combined with a balanced diet, help me shed almost 3 stone of weight over the next year or so, but after excessive use, the exercises got a little stale. Step forward my next Wii fitness purchase, NewU: Fitness First Personal Trainer.

NewU was put together by the team behind the gym and fitness equipment company, Fitness First. Automatically I felt that this would be a great help, as surely these people know what they are talking about when they are putting together exercise plans, right? Thankfully, it appears so. You begin New U by firstly entering your name, age and weight. The name will purely be used to identify your fitness profile, while the age and weight will be used to determine your exercise regime. After entering these simple details, you will then be prompted to choose two aims that you wish to achieve through exercising. Here you can choose to aim to look good (general body toning), dropping a dress size (again, another general body tone), flexibility (which involves a pilates and yoga focus), yoga, loosing weight for celebrations (a tough all-body workout), and general getting fit for sports and activities. I believe that the exercises vary, depending on if you are male or female also.After selecting all of this, you can then choose your on-screen personal trainer from a short list of a few men and women. Clicking on each one will bring up their photograph and a short bio, but in all honesty, I don't think it matters too much who you choose-they all seem to do the same. Finally, choose your location. You can choose to virtually exercise on a beach, in a field, a gym 

So, you've chosen your two aims-what's next? Well everything has been set up, so now it is time to exercise. Click the workout section to access today's workout. From here you will have a 20 to 25 minute workout which focuses on the first of your goals. The second set of exercises, if you choose to select them once you have finished workout one, will then revolve around your second aim. The more you pump into your regime, the harder your exercises get, and before long you will notice that you've worked up quite a sweat. Just to warn those who are not used to exercise on a regular basis, this is much harder than Wii Fit. I found that when I first started using this, my muscles were really aching for a day or two after completing some exercises. Regular use is recommended so that your body gets used to the exercise regime, otherwise you may find yourself nursing a few aching body parts!

My two goals were looking good and yoga, as I wanted to work on all areas of my body, but then finish my exercising with a more relaxing set of yoga exercises, designed to stretch your body and gently tone. I found that the Looking Good goal allowed me to work out consistently on cardio themed exercises for about 20 minutes. Thankfully each workout begins with a few warmup exercises, so I did not find myself crippled with a stitch halfway through the set. However, as the set goes on, you will definitely feel the exercise working on your body. The Looking Good goal seemed to favour lunges, crunches, sit ups, twists and shadow boxing, which definitely helped me to work up a bit of a sweat. The Yoga set generally involves a lot of stretches, some of which test your ability to balance, which if I am being honest, has never been my strong point. Each exercise uses either the Wii Balance Board or the WiiMote to complete them, and you can easily follow along with your on-screen trainer by the use of beep noises and a bar at the top of the screen that tells you when it is your turn to complete the next action. Unfortunately at times the game will not register when you have done some exercise moves though, which rather frustratingly decreases your score. I found that this was particularly true with the WiiMote, but I felt like these exercises were benefiting my body, so I have persevered with this slight drawback. 
The exercises are excellent on this, and I strongly recommend switching your goals quite a lot, especially at first as it will allow you to experience more of the exercises that the other goals incorporate. 

At the end of it all though, although I do feel rather sweaty, my heart is not thumping madly. It seems like just enough exercise without going overboard, and as it is all over in a matter of 20 minutes or so (if you only stick with one workout set-40 to 45 if you do both), it can be completed quickly after work so that you can then spend the evening relaxing. 

The exercise section of the disc also allows you to view your exercise regime for tomorrow, and check up on your progress. The progress statistic section really allows you to feel like you have achieved something-especially when you start to notice that hours have started to stack up in a considerable amount.

NewU has a nice addition in the form of recipes and meal plans. This section can be used to plan your healthy diet from breakfast, in-between meal snacks, lunch and dinner. The great aspect about this section is that you are able to customise which foods in each food group you enjoy eating. Therefore, the recipes and weekly menu has been fully customised to suit your food needs, rather than disappointing you with food that you would never dream of eating. As a balanced diet combined with exercise really is the most successful way to lose weight and tone up your body, this section is rather useful to those who are worried about what food they should be avoiding during their health kick.

NewU: Fitness First Personal Trainer is an enjoyable and interactive fitness game for the Wii. The ability to fully customise your exercise regime to cater for your needs means that this is a much more personal way to exercise than you would get from just watching a fitness DVD. Sometimes it will not register that you have completed certain parts of an exercise, which is frustrating as this will then lower your rating shown at the end of the exercise, but in all honesty, it is worth persevering with it, as the exercises are very beneficial. I continue to use this regularly and have noticed that my body has toned up quite significantly. It also feels like a much more hardcore workout than Wii Fit, which I love, but my body seems to have got used to the exercises so much now that it is not doing too much to benefit me anymore. For those interested in graphics, they're not overly amazing, but they're not awful either. There is a slight fuzz around the on-screen personal trainer who has clearly been put against a blue-screen background, but the graphics are not overly important here-it is the actual exercising that counts. If you want something to vary from Wii Fit from time to time, then I highly recommend giving NewU: Fitness First Personal Trainer a go. 

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