Normally, I wouldn’t touch a Kinect game with a ten foot pole, but throw in a fitness angle and you have my attention. I know many games have employed this tactic in the past, but for some reason, Nike+ Kinect Training looked legit ever since I saw gameplay videos at E3 2012. The premise is this – let the game evaluate your fitness using the Kinect sensor, and depending on your strengths and weaknesses, it creates an exercise plan for you. It also takes your goals into consideration while making this plan, so if you want to shed that extra fat, it’ll hook you up with an apt cardio routine, while if you want to improve endurance and stamina, it’ll come up with an appropriate workout as well.
It sounds good on paper, but a whole bunch of annoying issues crop up if you don’t have an obscene amount of space to play with. I have a sufficiently big room and had allocated a decent amount of space for the game, but even that was less. It’s like this game expected a room the size of a freaking football field. So after experimenting with my set-up a bit, moving furniture around and precariously balancing the Kinect sensor upon my TV, I was good to go. Or so I thought.
During the evaluation, the game expected me to do all kinds of exercises to gauge my strength, endurance and flexibility. Standing in one spot and banging out ten squats was no problem, but when it came to the more explosive workouts like burpees or starbusts, I started banging into furniture, and nearly broke my bedside table. Nearly two prices of broken furniture and a few bruises later, I decided to skip the rest of the evaluation and get on with the program. It sucks that I had to do so, because Nike really prides itself on this evaluation, and claims it’s taken them nearly two years to put together.
Once I got past the initial awkwardness of wrestling with space, things became a bit better. Even then, the game would frequently fail to capture my movements or position. This meant I had to keep moving around till I was where the game wanted me to be or the workouts wouldn’t start. Then there were times when I had to bang out extra reps just because the Kinect didn’t pick up my movements. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is quite an annoyance.
Once my program began, I was given a choice between Marie Purvis or Alex Molden, two Nike-certified trainers, who would be my guiding force throughout the game. I liked Alex’s energy better, and so after muttering a quick sorry to Marie, it was onto my first workout. Being from an American football background, most of the drills Alex came up with were engineered towards building up my explosive strength, so there was a mixture of high-knees, push-ups, starbursts, jumping squats, burpees and lots more thrown into the mix. These bodyweight exercises are really good for athletes or anyone practicing combat sports, where bursts of energy and explosive strength are required. For the Cardio days, he devised a 20 minute workout that made me spew sweat from all parts of my body. It wasn’t pretty. I consider myself a pretty fit person, but Alex’s circuit routine kicked my ass all over my living room.
The more I performed these drills regularly, the more I could feel my stamina and endurance increase. My gym workouts were getting easier and my legs, something that I personally consider the weakest part of my body, were making substantial gains while squatting and lunging. Even my core, something I don’t work out on too often, was getting tougher with Alex’s workouts. If, for some reason, you don’t want to stick to the game’s designated program, you can choose a quick workout while adjusting the difficulty and the time frame accordingly. These are perfect for those short 30 minute workout sessions.
So would I recommend Nike+ Kinect Training? Well, it would have to be a resounding NO if you have space constraints. This game is really designed for large spaces, and considering you literally have to jump in all four directions, make sure there’s nothing of value close by. I would also never recommend a game as opposed to let’s say joining a gym and going about doing things the conventional way, but if that’s not possible, this game is a good substitute. Even if you’re a seasoned gym rat, it provides some rather interesting full body workouts/circuits that could breathe some life into your existing cardio routine.