Fitness Circuit review

Fitness games are inherently very difficult to review. Everyone has different fitness needs and there’s a ton of fitness games currently on Switch vying for attention. Zooming out even further, there are the likes of Nike Fitness on Netflix, YouTube fitness channels, and things like Peloton and Apple Fitness. Fitness Circuit certainly has its work cut out if it’s going to find an audience.

Firstly, I think the idea behind it is a sound one. Ring Fit Adventure is great. The resistance ring and exercises are a genuine workout, and after using it consistently I did start to see a change in the definition of my muscles. Unfortunately, it also takes a long time. Between the world map, making potions, and running around the levels, the time you spend exercising can turn out to be only half or a third of the time you spend playing. It worked great in lockdown when I had time to kill, but since it’s become much more difficult to find time for it in my daily routine. Before you Ring-heads come at me, I know there are pure fitness modes, but they’ve never really stuck with me.

Fitness Circuit has an admirable goal – to cram in a full workout in under 15 minutes. In theory that should make it a lot easier to fit into your day. As you probably gathered from the name, Fitness Circuit uses Joe Wicks-style circuit training exercises to get your heart rate pumping.

You control an avatar called a ‘runner’. Fitness Circuit makes a big deal out of these. They’re voiced by famous anime voice actors, and you can upgrade their costumes. I guess it’s possible that this kind of unlocking system could motivate some people, but I am not one of those people. I never cared when my runner got a new costume. What I care about are my costumes, and if I can fit into that T-shirt that stretches a bit too tight these days.

The reason for the runner, though, is that each exercise you do is mapped to an event that the runner is competing in. For instance, there’s a rowing set and a climbing set. As you complete the action, the runner moves along the course. If you do the action correctly enough times, then you make it to the end.

This is where the first problem comes in. It’s the same problem that these games have had since the Wii – the tracking isn’t quite perfect. Sometimes you perform a move and it doesn’t quite register. I found myself changing so that the action registered, even if that mean doing the action in a compromised way. This goes double for the actions that required a kick, as there’s no leg-strap compatibility here, so no movement your leg makes actually gets registered.

The second problem is that if you do all the moves correctly, you end up completing each course in 25-35 seconds, rather than 45 seconds. By working out correctly, I reduced the amount of work that I was doing. Which sounds great, except that the entire point of the game is the work.

Finally, we hit the biggest problem. The game didn’t make me sweat much. Even choosing the ‘challenging’ difficult didn’t make me feel as knackered as I should have been. In fact, all the difficulty levels do is increase the number of sets needed.  They don’t make the movements harder. Between each set of 6 ‘events’ you get a break. I skipped the break every time. I never needed it. And I’m not particularly fit. I’m not sure how valuable it is to do arm curls without any weights.

Some people may get a good amount of use from Fitness Circuit and getting people moving is a fantastic goal. The other massive benefit to Fitness Circuit is that it doesn’t require a subscription. We wouldn’t be a UK publication if we didn’t acknowledge the cost of living crisis currently raging.

I think if you are considering this game, though, I’d recommend you give some YouTube channels a go. Joe Wick’s The Body Coach channel has loads of free workouts and whilst I find HASFit to have the vibe of an alien wearing human flesh, others swear by them. Sure, the YouTube channels won’t track your movements, but I’m not sure how helpful that actually is.

In fact, one thing that Fitness Circuit has convinced me of is that the Holy Grail of fitness games that I’ve been looking for may never exist, and all the promises of tracking and data might actually be getting in the way of my fitness journey, not helping it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you eat, and actually just doing some movement. Maybe you don’t need a console at all.

Published by Spike Chunsoft, Fitness Circuit is out now on Switch. A free demo is available to try.