Microsoft has been curiously quiet about Xbox Fitness. You would have thought they’d use the fact that it’s a free download to tempt people into purchasing an Xbox One. That said, who exactly would pay attention? It has had prominent placement on the marketplace, yet people seemingly glance over it because of what it is – a fitness game. And it uses Kinect, something many Xbox One owners, and gamers in general, said they were absolutely not going to use for any of their games ever, if they could help it.
But this is less of a game, than a fitness tool. While there are scores, and achievements and even challenges available, the real reward is what you put into it.
There are dozens of workouts available, from short ten minute exercises to full body workouts more than half an hour long. Perhaps the following names mean nothing to you, but these guys are the business when it comes to personal fitness home workout programs: Tony Horton and Shaun T – who respectively bought us Beachbody’s P90X and Insanity – and Jillian Michaels (of 30 Day Shred fame), who has been labelled as America’s toughest personal trainer.
There’s also celebrity fitness trainer Tracy Anderson, as well as Ten Minute Solutions and MOSSA, who aren’t quite as well known but are definitely ‘up and comers’. MOSSA for definite has the potential to be much bigger than it is, providing some of the workouts specifically designed for Xbox Fitness.
Many of the workouts are free, but there is the option of purchasing the entire workout program if there is one available. However, there are enough free workouts for every part of the body that if you didn’t want to spend the money. You really don’t have to – the range is already that extensive.
People complained about the Kinect being bundled with the Xbox One, but it certainly is essential here. A window in the top right hand corner displays a ghost of yourself, and this is integral to the experiance. In this one small box, your muscle groups are highlighted as you use them, giving you visual feedback on which muscles you’re using and how well. Thankfully the ghost of yourself isn’t the lumpy space creature games like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved provides, but rather slightly more tactfully svelte; because who wants to be reminded they’re a moose when they’re trying to exercise anyway?
Throughout the course of the workout, you follow the lead of the instructor while getting feedback from the app itself. If you need to squat lower, you’ll be told; if you need to punch harder, you’ll be told. If you’re doing a great job, a little man will pop up from the corner and shout “toasty!”
Ok, we made that last part up.
Certain movements when performed correctly show sparks or bright trails flying from your hands and feet, making you feel like the Harry Potter of the fitness world. They’re another indicator that you’re on the right track. A score multiplier fills up as you perform too, and for each drill or workout you also have community challenges to work against to motivate just that little bit more. Personal best scores are saved, so when you return to a workout, you can aim to beat yourself.
The workouts are fun, yet serious. You can dance, or lift weights (which are optional), take part in MMA style workouts or pummel the air vigorously. One workout by MOSSA left us feeling euphoric, and tired. And another by Beachbody left us feeling like we were going to fall down the stairs.
With a gold Xbox Live subscription, you not only have access to the free workouts, but also everyone on your Xbox One console has access to its features too. It’s early days yet, but we definitely look forward to future updates to the work out library.
The Kinect also measures your heart rate, which in the right light is pretty accurate. However, the estimated calories burnt are likely to be way out, especially if you use a proper heart rate monitor during your exercise. We were also under the impression that the Xbox One’s Kinect was going to be optimized for use in smaller spaces. In order to be correctly registered though, we found we still had to stand a good five feet away, or more if doing ground work.
If you have an Xbox One and an aversion to being watched by sweaty muscled people grunting loudly down the gym, definitely look into what Xbox Fitness has to offer. Aside the chance of accidentally stubbing your toe while moving furniture out of the way, what’s the worst that could happen?