The Wii as a Low Cost Gym

When a foot injury (and bitterly cold weather) recently sidelined me from my regular running routine, the doctor suggested that I find some low impact exercise to see me through my recovery time. Biking was out, at least for a while, because biking in sub-zero temperatures holds no appeal for me. I was already doing a lot of yoga and pilates as cross training to give my body a break from running, but I get bored if I have to do the same things over and over again. Doing the same pilates and yoga DVD’s every day, without being able to go out and run to break the monotony was likely to make my recovery seem much, much longer.

So, I gave some thought to joining a gym. I thought that maybe some exercise classes and a variety of machines would keep me entertained and in shape while my foot healed. Well, when I found out that a gym membership in my area would cost me about $600 for a year (including enrollment fees), I got serious about finding something else to keep me entertained. I looked into exercise DVD’s but found that, while they were cost effective, most of the ones I rented were either too short to be challenging, boring, or too hard on my injured foot. And, as I noted above, if I have to do the same exercises every day, I tend to get stir crazy. With DVD’s, once I’ve learned and mastered the routine there’s no more challenge. It becomes rote exercise. So I looked for some more alternatives.

We already owned a Wii and the Wii Fit Plus and balance board. I’ve never gotten much of a workout with Wii Fit. It’s fun, but not heart pounding exercise. However, I knew that there were a lot more exercise titles out there that supposedly gave a better workout than the Wii Fit, so I set out to do some research. I found some titles that sounded promising, so I rented them to see how I liked them before shelling out big money. The ones I decided to buy were bought used or paid for with gift cards to reduce my overall price. I spent about $115 on fitness games and some accessories (such as heavy resistance bands) to outfit my new “Wii Gym.” Had I paid retail, I would have shelled out about $224. (Remember, this did not include the purchase of the game console or the Wii Fit because we already owned those.) It was relatively expensive to start up but, unlike a gym membership, I don’t have to renew next year and everything I bought is mine to keep.

I find that I get a decent workout with most of these games and some are actually challenging, especially when done on the “hard” level and with extra resistance. The ones I like the best are EA Sports Active and the sequel, More Workouts. I also like Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout, The Biggest Loser, and My Fitness Coach. The benefit to Wii exercise for me is that there’s a competitive aspect to it that I enjoy. I like trying to beat my past performance and having goals to set and meet. I also like that there are lots of exercises and difficulty levels to choose from. It keeps me much more interested than a DVD which never offers more exercises or harder levels.

Like with any other type of exercise, you get out of Wii exercise it what you put into it. If you do every exercise on “easy” and you cheat by just moving the remote and not doing the exercise, you won’t get the benefits. Likewise, if you just turn it on and work out for ten minutes, you won’t see much benefit, either. You have to commit to putting in the times, challenging yourself, and pushing harder when things get too easy. But you have to do that in a gym, too, if you want to see results.

The bottom line is this: If you already own a Wii, outfitting it with some exercise games and supplies can be a less expensive way to get some exercise than joining a gym. Plus, it’s fun, satisfies the competitive urge, and you can go at your own pace and do it on your own schedule. Is it a substitute for hard core exercise? Probably not. If you want to really build muscle and endurance you’re probably going to have to join a gym, take up running, or start putting in fifty laps in the pool every day. I’m looking forward to the day my doctor clears me to run again because I miss that challenge and, as fun as the Wii is, I know it’s not a substitute for that kind of workout. However, if you’re looking for something to get you started exercising, to use as you recover from an injury, or to supplement a harder routine, exercising on the Wii can fit in nicely to your routine for a lot less money than a gym membership.

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5 Responses to The Wii as a Low Cost Gym

  1. Princessperky says:

    Wont help you with a foot injury, but we have outdoor challenge, and extream challenge borrowed from a friend, it is fun challenging, and silly, so no real feel like you are working out. I think both were around 40 new? I didn’t pay for them so not sure, anyway trying to complete a challenge is totally a workout, from 5 minutes to 20 (or more if you keep failing – like I often do)

    You can of course aim for more than one set to fill longer workout times.

    I mentioned it for less serious folk interested in winter workout.

  2. Aryn says:

    I didn’t buy any accessories for my Wii. Since it’s been pouring for a week and I’m too much of a Californian to walk to the gym in the rain, I’ve just been Wii boxing for 25 minutes every night, and then doing tennis for my warm-up and cool down. It’s not quite as effective as the elliptical, but I certainly work up a sweat and work my arms.

  3. Aaron says:


    Please try the EA Active series before dismissing it. A lot of people when they hear “working out with the Wii” equate that to Wii Fit. Wii Fit unless you do the long runs and boxing and really put a lot into those won’t do you much good. The EA Active series is in another ballpark compared to how strenuous Wii Fit is. It’s not even close.

    I will say this though about EA Active – the resistance band provided is a joke. If you want the strength exercises to work, go buy a set of resistance bands for $10 that actually have resistance. Wal-Mart sells a Gold’s Gym adjustable set for I believe $10-15.

    The other good thing about EA Active is it does not require the Wii Fit Balance Board, keeping the cost of using a Wii for working out to just the console and a set of better resistance bands.

  4. Sandy says:

    Sorry to hear about the injury. I recently bruised my rib doing lunges – hate getting older!

    Anyways – I accessorized my Wii like you wouldn’t believe! I have all kinds of straps and stuff I use with it. The fact that I have to hold the controllers drives me nuts sometimes but not biggie. One thing I got I definitely suggest for you when your foot gets better is NGR Shoes. Those bad boys weight like 2 lbs extra per foot so when I go my exercises it kicks butt! (just remember to weigh yourself with them off! ha ha)

  5. EF Cussins says:

    We got the Wii for Christmas and shortly after the first we got the Wii Fit Plus. It is great. We use it because we rarely have time to go to the gym.

    It makes for great family time with exercise.

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