Weighing the future of video game fitness

Two weeks after embarking on a quest to determine whether Ubisoft's Your Shape Fitness Evolved for Xbox Kinect — a fitness-simulation program, which displays your image on the TV screen and tracks your movements in real time while you follow a virtual personal trainer — will negate the need for gym memberships in the future, my verdict is in.

And the answer is no.

Despite Your Shape's advanced technology — a Kinect sensor measures your height and limbs and then projects a digital image of you, albeit not a very flattering one, on the screen as you work out — it can't compete with the experience and results of working out at the gym with a trainer.

For starters, Your Shape doesn't gauge your level of fitness, strength and flexibility as effectively as a real personal trainer can. To develop your profile, the game asks a few standard questions — age, weight, gender and lifestyle — whereas at the gym, I underwent a full hour of initial testing in order for the trainer to precisely capture my fitness level.

Although Your Shape offers a good variety of cardio, sculpting and toning classes, working out in my basement in front of the TV just can't substitute having a real trainer continually motivating me to bend deeper, push harder or do one more rep.

In fact, I began to feel somewhat like a robot in front of the TV screen, whereas during my one-on-one sessions at Toronto's Pure Fitness, certified personal trainer and registered dietician Nanci S. Guest continually pointed out, when I was ready to give up, that the last rep should be hard to finish - that's when you know you're creating change in your body. Half the battle of working out is mental, after all, and it certainly helps to have someone right beside you pushing you along the entire way through.

Nanci also asked me to keep a food diary, recording everything I put into my mouth for one week. I automatically become more careful of portion sizes and unhealthy foods I was consuming when I had to actually track it all.

Having a personal trainer at the gym also kept monotony at bay. No two sessions were alike. Nanci would constantly change up the sets, reps, weight and exercises, which kept my interest but also provided results, since muscles burn more calories when they're being challenged with something new and unfamiliar.

On the upside, Your Shape, allowed me to workout in the convenience of my home when my baby was napping, without having to organize babysitting. However, if you're not fitness inclined, Your Shape certainly won't motivate you to get off your couch. I see it more as a complement to the gym for fitness buffs, but certainly not a replacement.

In the end, those last 12 post-baby pounds still loom, but I feel stronger and have more stamina after two weeks of working out with Nanci and Your Shape. The road to post-partum weight loss may be longer than I anticipated, but the end is now in sight.

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