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I’ve now been at home for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and there’s no clear end in sight to the situation. Those of you who know me or have been reading the blog for a long time will be aware that I’d been exercising daily – and quite intensely – for the last few years. I wrote about what motivated me to get moving and lose weight last year, after a spate of tweets on social media where I saw people struggling with their body image and motivation.

Lockdown has of course put an end to the intensity and regularity of my exercise, which has been a severe blow to me both mentally and physically. My first idea was to use YouTube exercise routines, but there’s so much out there that it became overwhelming; I couldn’t settle on any that I was comfortable with either.

I’m a member of PureGym and used to attend their local gym daily. Since they closed, they’ve offered their video workout routines – usually only offered to members who pay for ‘Extra’ membership – for free to all. However, having tried a number of these out too, I’ve really struggled to find any that work for me; it may sound silly, but I struggle a lot with co-ordination – likely due in part to my autism – and the routines often had more than one exercise which I just couldn’t do, which made me completely lose motivation for completing the routine as a whole.

Running in the ‘real world’ isn’t an option for me, given that I also struggle to maintain a steady rhythm outside of my pace being regulated by a treadmill or cross training machine.

So what options did I leave myself with? Surprisingly, there’s been a few games – that I already had – which I could make use of.

Firstly, Just Dance 2019. Not being able to afford to upgrade to the latest release (currently Just Dance 2020), I’m still playing the 2019 version, but by all accounts it seems the only difference is in the selection of songs included with the base game – a tiny fraction of the songs available via Just Dance Unlimited, which I am subscribed to anyway.

One of the cool features in Just Dance 2019 is the Sweat Mode, which activates a calorie counter and even a countdown timer for the current song. When activated, it’ll keep counting your calories as songs are played. It’s a really good way to give yourself a chunk of aerobic exercise and you can work to either time or calorie targets depending on how long you have or how much you want to try and burn. It’s been invaluable to have Just Dance available for a quick blast every day or two and I’d highly recommend it as a way of having fun while getting a reasonable workout.

I’ve got Wii Fit too – and Wii Fit Plus – but what I’ve actually been using was the last of the Wii Fit series, Wii Fit U on Nintendo’s ill-fated Wii successor, the Wii U. Thankfully I already had this, as prices have skyrocketed during lockdown – both for the software and accompanying hardware such as the Wii Balance Board. I had a minor panic getting the Balance Board working, but once I got it connected to the Wii U there was no stopping me! I hadn’t made much use of Wii Fit U before, and had only been a briefly obsessive user of Wii Fit many years ago, so it’s been good to get to grips with what it offers.

Wii Fit U is a brilliant piece of software that has an absolutely massive range of exercises and routines, which puts it ahead of Just Dance – it’s a lot more versatile and varied, so you feel that you can do a lot more than just aerobic exercise. There’s Yoga poses and routines, which I was surprised to find. There’s some exercises that feel a little imprecise or insufficiently unresponsive with the control methods used, but on the whole it’s an excellent way of keeping active. There’s plenty of routines to use, but also individual exercises can be ‘played’ and tracked as much as you like. There’s a calorie counter too, but it doesn’t seem particularly accurate to me – especially as many of the exercises feel a lot more intense than many songs in Just Dance, yet the calories seem to be tracked in a more precise manner in UbiSoft’s dancing game.

The body test – which measures BMI – has also been a welcome tool for goal setting and ensuring that I’m not straying too far from where I found myself pre-lockdown.

There’s an official Wii Fit U pedometer available and I’d always intended to pick one up to complete the set and be able to track more activity than just that in the game – but unfortunately, these have also seen price rises over the last few months as people start to blow the dust off their machines and do the same thing I’ve done in getting reacquainted with Wii Fit U.

One thing I initially wanted to do was to get hold of Nintendo’s Ring-Fit Adventure for Switch, but this has succumbed to low stock levels and ridiculous price gouging – making it pretty prohibitive in terms of cost. Hopefully we’ll see official channels restocked soon, as – from what I know – Ring-Fit Adventure is an excellent evolution of the Wii Fit formula, with a lot more in the way of gamification and more accurately targeted exercises.

None of this has quite been able to match the routines I’d been used to at the gym, but it has at least allowed me to do more than I would normally have been able to. Though I’ve lost a lot of ground in terms of my general fitness levels since lockdown began, having access to games that have allowed me to increase my levels of physical activity has been an absolute godsend – and I’m very thankful to have them.

Have you been finding new ways to keep active during lockdown? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Cool article.
    We’ve been using Fitness Boxing on the Switch to great effect. The initial investment was a bit steep, but our bodies have been truly transformed by playing the game as often as possible. The great thing is, it’s got strength and fitness training and if you’re tired of the song selection, you can simply switch it off.
    Good luck with your fitness routine for the rest of the lockdown period. Best thing you can do is take care of your physical and mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

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