Workouts offer a Wii fit of frustration

Knowing that every year my New Year’s resolution is the same (to regain the figure I had at 21) this Christmas my husband thoughtfully provided a gift to get me going in the right direction. No, I didn’t find a personal trainer under our tree, nor did I discover a gift certificate for liposuction. Instead, Derek bought me a Wii Fit Plus.

Wii Fit is an exercise-themed game made by Nintendo. You step on a balance board and it measures your weight, tests your balance and tells you your fitness age. The Wii Fit Plus is an enhanced version of the original game. I think the “Plus” means extra frustration at no extra charge.

Our 10-year-old technology expert set up the system for me. Following the instructions, I stepped on the balance board. Within seconds a message flashed on the television screen: “Unbalanced!”

As if that weren’t offensive enough, what followed was worse. My Wii Fit age? Forty-nine. Since that birthday is still five years away, I’m afraid I’ve muttered some uncomplimentary things about my Christmas gift.

I felt better when I discovered I could create my own personal trainer. I named him Sven. He’s a little pale and pasty and his lips don’t move when he talks, but he says positive things like, “Wow! You’re good at that!”

Of course, he said that when I was doing the deep breathing exercise, but it’s nice to have one’s skills appreciated.

The feedback wasn’t as encouraging when I proceeded to some of the more strenuous activities. The program lets you play a variety of games to work on areas like balance, strength training and aerobics.

As my children howled with glee, I attempted to head soccer balls without getting beaned by panda bears or shoes. I missed almost every soccer ball, but was repeatedly struck by the objects I tried to avoid. I think it’s disrespectful for children to laugh at their mom when she gets hit on the head with a soccer cleat.

So, I stepped off the balance board to tell them that. When I resumed the activity, a message flashed across the screen, “I know you took a break during this exercise, but don’t worry, it will get easier.”

That’s just disturbing.

The kids stopped laughing when I aced the step aerobics workout. Jane Fonda and I mastered this routine in the early ’90s. They were also somewhat subdued when I demonstrated my Rhythm Kung Fu competency.

But then I tried Rhythm Boxing. My audience distracted me. If it had been a real match I would have been KO’d in the first 10 seconds. I didn’t fare any better at Hula Hooping, and the Yoga routine exhausted me. I decided to take a break for a couple days.

Not a good plan.

An even worse idea was checking my fitness age at 10 p.m. on Sunday night. The stupid game said I was 62! I’d aged 13 years over the weekend. I blamed it on my kids being home for Christmas break. Well, that and Christmas cookie consumption.

But I didn’t give up. Sven and I are working out every day and the kids aren’t allowed to watch. I just wish my Wii trainer would get a tan and some new exercise attire. Still, he seems pleased with my progress. Yesterday, he said, “Well, persistence isn’t a problem for you, now, is it?”

That persistence is paying off. My latest fitness age is 38! I may never again have the figure I had at 21, but I won’t stop until my Wii Fit Plus tells me I’m 29.

I wonder if I can get that on my driver’s license?

This column first ran in the Spokesman Review, January 7, 2010. Sven and I broke up shortly thereafter.  But I’m pleased to tell you we’ve reconnected and are back to monthly workouts.