Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wii Fit–I love it, I hate it

So we got a Wii fit this winter– part of trying to keep moving in the long and cold months of Minnesota hibernation. Mostly I'm the only one using it. 

Wii-fit is the 5th best-selling video game EVER,  selling over 18 million copies as of March 2009.

What I like: 

Hoola-hooping, stepping, boxing, some of the strength exercises, seeing my husband and daughter's Miis while I hoola or jog. Its here, its easy, I can jog on my little trampoline (that I found for M at a park with a "free" sign) and watch TV at the same time. 30 minutes go by pretty fast.  There are new games to learn, I can challenge myself to beat my scores on balance games, or slalom etc.

What I hate:

The obsession with BMI (see photo.) You can only track your progress based on weight and BMI, and if you are even an occasional reader of this blog, you'll know how I feel about the inaccurate and incomplete picture BMI can give.

It shames people in the name of motivation, which studies show actually makes people less likely to engage in healthy behaviors and eating. One online author scoffed at a Mom complaining  that the Wii called her teenage daughter "fat." The author replied, "Well someone has to!" Actually, no they don't. 

I'd like to track my progress by how often I exercise, or my stamina. For example, I'd like to set a goal that I exercise for 30 minutes 4 times a week, but it won't let me.  It just keeps asking me for a "body test" and rates my success based on my weight. I always skip the "body test" as I don't believe focusing on weight as an indicator of health or benefits of exercise is advisable. 

It gives pseudo-medical advice. Center of balance, posture, goals suggested for BMI etc. Its less than useful in most instances. 

It interrupts the flow of exercise to give you "tips" and ranking. Its annoying. I probably just need to figure it out, but I'd like to do a series of one or two minute games without having to stop in between to play with the menu or skip over "health tips."

Bottom line, I enjoy it, but I am armed with enough medical knowledge and familiarity with the data that I can let all the weight-talk bounce right off me. Would I ever let my daughter use it? No way. I would never recommend any young person, or person who is not completely and totally comfortable with their bodies and wellness anywhere near this thing. It tries to do the right thing, and parts of it work (I'll keep using it) but overall it suffers from the flaws that the rest of our weight-loss and diet-obsessed culture suffer from.

What do you think about your Wii-fit? Considering getting one? Has this post influenced your decision in any way?


  1. I was actually just thinking about gettting a wii to get us through our winter months. I never pay attention to BMI it is just as irritating to me as you. So outta wack. If we do it to it will be to just have fun in the winter and ignore the other stuff.

  2. the other games for Wii are fun for kids, and you do get off the couch, even if its just bowling or tennis. Only the Wii Fit talks about BMI...

  3. Great post. I too own a Wii Fit and love the activities! I am concerned with the "pseudo medical" advice and wish there were options to opt out of the BMI tracking (if there are I haven't figured that out). I too express concern with the potential triggers for this may cause for not only adults but children as well. Thanks for writing about this!

  4. Presumably you have to enter your height for it to calculate your BMI - perhaps you could subvert the BMI measurement in Wii Fit by putting in a height of 9 feet tall or whatever the tallest measurement is? :)

  5. We did that! My neice was over and I added several inches...