It began as another game for Sarrina Phoenix. Her friend Shawn Benson brought the system home on June 10 and, six weeks later, the Nintendo Wii Fit is the first workout Phoenix has been able to stick to for more than a few days.
It began as another game for Sarrina Phoenix.
Her friend Shawn Benson brought the system home on June 10 and, six weeks later, the Nintendo Wii Fit is the first workout Phoenix has been able to stick to for more than a few days. So far, she has shaved more than 13 pounds and several inches off her body that she said weighed “nearly 300 pounds for a decade.”
“This is a gamer household. That’s what we do. It’s how we spend our free time,” said Phoenix, a real time analyst at NCO Group in Rockford. “The appeal was that it was something that we would already be interested in doing and then it’s sort of interactive. You have multiple choices, so it’s not the same tape over and over again.
“You can change what you do and you have to earn some of the things that you can by working out and spending time doing the exercise.”
Phoenix said she spent 10 minutes her first time on the Wii Fit trying out the balance, yoga and strength games. “The next day I did 12 minutes,” she said. Pretty soon, she was up to a 30-minute free step routine and now gets in an hour of aerobic exercise each day with a 30-minute routine in the morning and another when she returns home from work in the evening.
Phoenix said it had been at least 15 years since she had worked out before Benson, the assistant manager of GameStop in Beloit, Wis., brought home the Wii Fit and, initially, her motivation was competing with Benson for high scores in each activity.
“He was kicking my butt,” Phoenix said, “but that gave me some challenge and then, over the next couple of days, I would go in there and see if I could try to beat. Then we were leaving notes for each other. ‘Ha, Ha. I beat your score.’ That helped, too.”
She said that, because the system offered a varied workout at home, it eliminated the excuses she had for not exercising.
“It’s not a huge piece of equipment, so you can slide it under the couch if someone’s coming over,” Phoenix said. Plus, it’s in your living room. If you don’t want people to watch you, close the drapes.
“That was a big thing for me because, when you’re my size, jogging down the street has two problems. One, you have to get up and do it and, two, you worry about what other people you pass on the street might think of you.”
She also would have been intimidated trying to workout in a gym and the drive time to and from a gym would have cut into the amount of time she can devote to a daily workout.
Although she said she doesn’t see a weight loss every day, Phoenix said she knows she continues to make progress because she sees positive body changes.
“I had a roll right here that’s gone,” Phoenix said. “I had like three pooches in my stomach. The third one is gone and the second one is down to like an inch.
“You put on a pair of jeans right out of the dryer and you’re not like muffin topping over the side any more. It may not be cooperating with me every day, but in the long run it’s making a change for the right direction.”
Phoenix said the system’s coaching and feedback help keep her motivated and said 42 days, with two days off to celebrate reaching new levels, “is a record probably by about 40 days.
“I have a recumbent exercise bike that was a great theory, and I actually moved it from California to here. I think, if I was being really generous, I’ve spent a half an hour working on that thing in five years and I’m at 26 and a half hours of exercise in this system.”
Phoenix said the results she has achieved with Wii Fit have encouraged her to change her eating habits to a high-protein, high-fiber, low-calorie, low-carbohydrates diet, but she offsets it with a rewards program.
“The piggy bank that logs how many minutes you have accumulated turned a bronze color when I hit 10 hours and silver when I hit 20 hours,” she said. “At 20 hours, I took a day off and rewarded myself with french fries, which I hadn’t eaten in five weeks at that point.
“I’m hoping the piggy bank turns gold at the next 10 hours and, at an hour a day, I would be able to reward myself about every other week. The next time I reward myself, it’s going to be pizza. I really miss that.”
Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Wii Fit
What: An interactive video game that allows the user to choose workouts in yoga, strength training, balance or aerobics.
How: Wii Fit uses a balance board about the size of a bathroom scale to read the user’s movements and a hand-held controller about the size of a TV remote control with acceleration sensors that interact with an infrared camera built into the Wii console.
Features: The system allows the user to chart daily progress, check their Body Mass Index, set goals, chart activities and even enter exercise time not performed on the system. A first-time user will be asked to set a goal and choose a time frame for achieving it. The system will then provide feedback, give updates and offer encouragement toward meeting the goal.
The system also provides an on-screen trainer to lead the user through exercises and demonstrate proper form.
Cost: The Wii Fit costs $80 to $90. It requires a Wii console, which costs about $250 to $300.
Sarrina Phoenix’s Wii e-mail
When HealthyRockford.com solicited stories from local exercisers about their experiences with Wii Fit, Sarrina Phoenix was the first to answer. Here is her response, sent July 8:
“I’m writing about my Wii Fit experience:
“I start each morning with my Wii Fit. I was lucky enough to get one on June 10 and I have not missed a day since. To some that may not sound like much of an accomplishment. For me it has marked a huge change in my life. I have been nearly 300 pounds for a decade. I can’t even tell you the last time I worked out, or wanted to. I would dread having to do things that required walking “that far” and I would break out in a sweat just thinking about going up a set of stairs.
“The Wii Fit eliminated all the excuses I had before for not exercising:
1. The weather is bad (too hot or too cold). Now, I workout at home in a constant temp.
2. I don’t want to have to drive to the gym. I only have an extra hour in the morning. If I have to drive, that would limit my workouts to 20 minutes. I have two minutes travel time if I’m dragging my feet to the living room.
3. People do not need to see this body in exercise gear. I work out at 5:30 a.m. in my living room.
4. Exercise equipment takes up too much room. The Wii Fit will slide under the couch if you wanted to hide it out of the way.
5. Exercise is boring. The free step and the Free run you can watch TV or pop a video in. I turn on the radio to my favorite morning show and laugh during my exercise (when I’m not breathing too hard).
6. I can’t always get a full hour workout all at once. I can fill in five minutes here or 15 minutes there. The strength, yoga and balance games can fit in around laundry, while cooking, etc.”
“The first day that I got the Wii Fit, I did 10 minutes trying out the balance, yoga, and strength games. The next day I did 12 minutes. This morning I did a 30-minute free step that I broke up as 20 minutes at the slow warm up speed, 10 minutes at the fastest speed of free step, followed by eight minutes of boxing, one long distance run of five minutes and a 10-minute free run.
“I have lost 13.5 pounds this first month. My weight and my BMI don’t always go down. Those days, instead of getting discouraged, I just tell myself well, today you took X number of steps in the right direction. The X used to be 2,400 because that’s the number of steps you do on the slow speed of the 30-minute free step. Now it’s closer to 4,650.
“I’ve talked up my experience with Wii Fit so much that all my co-workers are on the search for one for themselves. It only takes 21 days to make a habit and this exercise system is the only one I have ever had become habit forming.”