Friday, April 3, 2009

Wii are exercising

Who'd have thought?

I have always refused to buy a major game console for my family (hears pin drop in the shocked silence). No, truly.

They were just coming out when my kids were little and my son showed a w-a--a-ay too slavish a fascination with them. I was quite sure that if I allowed one in my house I would never see anything of him but the back of his head, and have to wait until a pause in the game to a. feed him b. dress him. c. take him to school d. do anything without involving a major WW3.

So I refused. We would rent one as a special treat for his birthday parties, for the weekend, with his mates all sleeping over and playing multiplayer games of role playing, bang-em-up, shoot-em-up, hedgehog racing, coin collecting, barrel smashing, sword fighting etc. Then it would go back to the shop and I wouldn't have to deal with it on a daily basis.

My Mum bought him a Game Boy when he was 11, but he never had very many games because it was all too expensive and I had a small anti-global-corporation protest thing going on (do you think I have made Nintendo think twice about their anti-discounting policies? No I thought not, moral superiority notwithstanding).

Anyway, my kids used the computer freely, and played their various PC games which were all similar in their levels of violence, but I felt I could turf them off at any time with ease, and set appropriate time limits, which they have always accepted. My son graduated from Warcraft to Magic the Gathering, which used his brain slightly more and is a pastime he enjoys to this day. Steff is still engrossed with HSM, Harry Potter and now Twilight, and is pretty slavish about her Sims on her own laptop. She also got a DS a year or so ago, and buys her own games. We went on quite happily, having reached a compromise about people's lives not being dominated by game consoles.

Until... someone's birthday present was a game console. They nearly died of shock! But all squealed with delight.

I caved and bought a Wii. Essentially for the Wii Fit (if I'm honest). I wanted an interactive non-couch potato game that gave some opportunity for Steff in particular to add some physical activity to her life. And I thought it may give me a chance to add some too.

The assessment was a bit galling, but I am surprised to find it estimates my age as only 4 years older than I am. My BMI is of course extreme. Steff's assessment is a bit shocking as hers puts her at my age! But her BMI is underweight. Patty and Don are also a little over their age, but not by much. It was funny to watch Patty try some upper body work last night - he piked out on the second repetition of ten, and the trainer noticed he had gone away, she tried to bring him back but he went to bed! Don tried it out this morning and is intrigued by the possibilities and the goal setting - I can tell.
And I'm enjoying it too! Some tasks are easier than I thought, and we nearly wet ourselves laughing when I scored 100 on a few tasks first up and was told I was no stranger to exercise! Snort!

I used to be a professional dancer. Seriously. I stopped dancing because I had rheumatoid arthritis/fibromyalgia and I couldn't stand the pain any more. And I was bored with being a 'dumb blonde' and wanted to go back to uni and use my brain. I studied, got married, had a kid, got a new body, tried to dance again but felt really self-conscious of my wobbly bits. Then I had a second child and had a very different life to focus on. Then in my thirties I took up belly dancing and was inspired all over again, but it was an expensive hobby, and quite competitive, and I had other priorities and gradually stopped performing. My weight went up and up. Then down, then up. I went back to uni to eventually become a midwife. In year 2 of 6 years at uni I hurt my back. I am 'not allowed' to dance again. My surgeon would have kittens! Not at this weight, he said. He didn't even want me nursing, but I told him it was not negotiable.

I miss the physicality of dancing. The strength and grace. The dressing up and performing. I still have the posture and balance (mostly) but I am keenly aware of the loss of flexibility and range of motion, especially over the last 6-7 years since the serious back injury and surgeries. The daily pain in most joints continues. I can barely reach my toes to do my toenails, much less lay my head on my knees as I used to with ease.

I joined the gym at work. My assessment there showed I still had some good core strength and balance, the trainer was very surprised that despite my high BMI I could balance easily on the yoga ball and was relaxed doing it. He set me some exercises to do that accounted for my crook back and shoulder, and knees, and hips, and then wished me luck. I still pay a minimal fee but haven't been for a year or more, I kinda lost interest being by myself. I was anticipating using it for the showers when our bathroom is being renovated!

With the Wii, its kind of interesting to have a 'personal' gym and trainer, and it is focused on encouragement. But I was surprised to find myself keen to do it again this morning, only 12 hours after my last session! I work up a sweat doing a range of activities, trying most things over 30 minutes. I'm only competing against myself, but I am already seeing how to improve my scores - it seems I am quite motivated by improvement - aren't we all?

So now we all have little icon people who attend daily training at the Wii Fit channel. Day 2 and counting. After all my objections and principles, wouldn't it be hilarious/ironic if this a game console could return me to some semblance of fitness, and be the start of a new phase?


Fairlie said...

I love our Wii - particularly Wii Fit when it tells me my body age is ten years younger than my real age!

Wii is really revoluntionary in terms of games consoles...sure you can still play some sit-on-your-arse games with it, but we like the games that require a bit of movement. Tennis is a hoot.

Laura Jane said...


Sigh. Make a wish.

Janet said...

hmmm, maybe we should get one too. But only after the reno, says she making a quick excuse.. no room on our floor.

Natalie said...

Cool move Laura Jane.

Kel said...

hey. you could be me with your anti console approach and when they did get a console from someone else i just couldnt fork out the 90 odd yto buy new its our dvd player now. bad mummy...but we have talked about the wiii fit...hmm maybe we maight just do it. i would however dearly love a very pricey running machine. my idea of winter heaven!