Get a gamer workout with Nike+ Kinect Training or NBA Baller Beats

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

NWCN.com

Posted on March 8, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 2:13 AM

Statistically by this time of year most people have dropped out of their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or to exercise more.  You may have never started, hurt yourself from over doing it, decided the gym was too expensive or too far, or just completely forgot. 

If you have become a statistic, it’s never too late to get back on track.  One easy way could be in your home right now, connected to your TV - your video game system.  It can do a lot more than fight aliens, spin blocks, and navigate mazes.  With all three current systems able to do some kind of physical interaction, getting up off the couch, moving around, and getting in shape is a lot easier.  I’m going to look at two games that do this on the Microsoft Xbox Kinect; Nike+ Kinect Training and NBA Baller Beats.

Nike+ Kinect Training

Nike has long been a force in fitness and training on the cutting edge, so it is really no surprise that they would take advantage this new technology.  The Kinect is the perfect marriage for Nike’s + Training system.  It's also very easy to set up.  The biggest hurdle is having enough room for the Kinect System.  Microsoft recommends having a space about 6 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet deep.   I will add that you want to set up the Kinect so that it sees all the way to the floor, since some of the exercises have you seated or lying on the floor.  Nike+ Kinect Training asks for your general information; gender, age, height, weight, and your goal.  You are given a choice of three goals, strength, tone, or weight loss.  All this information will allow the game to tailor your workout to you.

Since I need to lose a few pounds, I chose weight loss.  After entering all the pertinent information it will have you do a brief assessment workout to determine how fit you are now.  I thought I was going to die.  It's been a long time since I worked out.  After the assessment is over it gives you your Nike "Fuel Print" which includes a bar for your fitness level and one for athleticism level.  I was a surprised by the fact that even though I was winded, out of shape, and had not done a proper workout in years, I was fitter than most men in my age group (40- 49).  You are also able to compare these stats with other age groups (I found I was also fitter than most men 30-39 and close to being as fit as a 20-29 year old).  It asks how often you wish to work out and which days. Nike+ Kinect Training wraps up this initial session by showing you your calendar and what you will be doing each day. 

Once your assessment is over, you can register with Nike+ so you can take advantage of the complete training system on their web site and other Nike+ products.  To be honest the assessment kicked my butt so hard, I decided I would actually start my workout the following Monday.

Monday came and I loaded it up.  I got a final choice who would be my "personal trainer," Alex Molden or Marie Pervis.  Both are Nike certified trainers, not some athlete or star hired to help sales.  I chose Alex (though I can change to Marie later if I wish).  My first workout focused on cardio.  The exercises were varied from the traditional to yoga.  It would present the trainer on one side of the screen and a silhouette of me on the other.  Alex would show me how to do an exercise and then give me a countdown clock. 

As I would do the exercise, Alex would cheer me on or tell me to fix my form.  I found this refreshing from other exercise games I've tried since they never really pointed out what I was doing wrong other than moving out of the Kinect's sensor range.  Speaking of sensor range, if you are doing the exercise properly, but the Kinect isn't reading you properly because your workout space might not be ideal, you can tell it to turn tracking off.  Otherwise Nike+ Kinect Training will think you stopped and move on to the next exercise or rest period.  After the workout was over, it told me how many calories I burned, showed me my Fuel Print again and told me what I would be working on next time, in this case some strength training.
 
And so it went.  My workouts are exhausting, but I feel like I am making some progress.  My biggest problem is motivating myself after years of being lazy, although I'm slowly coming around.  After three sessions (about a week) I have lost one pound so I am encouraged to keep it up.

For more information on Nike+ Kinect Training see their web site.
 
Kinect Play Fit

A side note for the Nike+ Kinect Training: It also works with an app Microsoft rolled out for the Xbox 360 called Kinect Play Fit.  Think of Kinect Play Fit as a helper app for encouraging you to workout.  It keeps track of calories burned and other stats from a range of games and fitness programs that use the Kinect.  It also has achievements that further encourage you to keep up your fitness workout.  It also allows you to compare these stats with people on your Xbox friends list to see how you stack up against each other.

NBA Baller Beats
 
While Nike+ Kinect Training is mostly a pure workout style game, it's not the only style of game to get you moving.  NBA Baller Beats is a workout that is more game than workout.  It's also the only video game I know of that comes with a real basketball.

NBA Baller Beats has you doing essentially basketball dribbling drills to music.  It is one part Rock Band and one part Dance Central.  You choose a song, place to play, and a skill level (rookie, pro, and baller).  The scroll lane starts and you dribble the basketball in time with the balls as they scroll down screen.  At certain points in the song you'll also have special skill moves that scroll down.  These skill moves include things like crossover dribbling, dribbling between your legs, pump fakes, fake passes, etc.  Dribbling in time and performing the skill moves gives you points, the skill moves also provide multipliers.

While I definitely do not “have game” it was a good workout on its own.  The box says it will improve your ball handling skills and I can see that happening over time.  Just like any other rhythm game the more you play the better you will get.  There is a section where you can practice the skill moves to a generic beat.

Speaking of beats, the music in NBA Baller Beats is good.  Tracks lean more towards rap, hip hop, and funk, but there are rock, alternative, and dubstep tracks also.  So you can find Missy Elliot, Run DMC and LMAFO nestled in with Queen, Skrillex, and Them Crooked Vultures.
 
If NBA Baller Beats does sound like something you would like to try I would first ask, "Do you already have good dribbling skills?"  Though it was a long time ago, I did play basketball in junior high school.  Even so, while playing NBA Baller Beats the basketball got away from me quite often.  Thankfully nothing got broken, but it does provide some food for thought.

Both Nike+ Kinect Training and NBA Baller Beats provide a great workout.  Nike+ Kinect Training is more of your traditional workout, while NBA Baller Beats is a game that gets you moving.  I can recommend either depending on what you are looking for, your personal style and fitness level.
 
If you don’t have an Xbox Kinect there are other programs out there for other systems.  I have reviewed some of them and have linked them here for you.  So stop being a statistic, get up, and get moving.


For more information on NBA Baller Beats see their web site.
 

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