EA Sports Active: Personal Trainer
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-10-15 Wii Sports E (Everyone) EA Sports

Since the launch of Wii Fit, the Wii has seen quite a few exercise and fitness related titles. My most recent experience is with EA Sports Active: Personal Trainer, but before I start I must say a few things.

First, I am not keen on exercise. I spend my working days on my feet, walking around and carrying things all over the store, so by the time I get home, I have no energy left whatsoever to exercise. Neither on the weekends, since those are my days off and they usually involve "domestic triathlon" such as doing laundry, scrubbing, dusting and sweeping.

Second, I wasn't too keen on Wii Fit either (ok, fine, I'm a fat cow, have the balance of a drunken whore, and trip up the stairs, but I don't need a reminder!), and quickly got bored of it. Yoga was ok, but with my fantastic sense of balance, most of the time I'd land on my ass attempting whatever position.

And yet I found myself facing the 7-headed monster that was the cheerfully orange EA Sports Active box, wondering what kind of names it would call me and how many times it would make me fall.

EA Sports Active: Personal Trainer comes bundled with a leg strap and resistance band. You securely place it around your thigh and stick the Nunchuk in the little pouch. This is how the game will track your lower body movements in activities such as dancing, kicking or squatting. The resistance band is used for upper body workouts, and you must assemble it before use. Nothing complicated, just attach the black straps to the orange band to create handles.

Before you begin, you will need to create a Fitness Profile. Here you will enter your gender, age, height and weight. No cheating, because this is what determines your exercise program according to the calories you want to burn. Then you can customize your avatar (no bubble-like Mii here) by selecting body type, skin tone, hair style and color, clothing and accessories (hat, glasses), your shoes, your personal trainer. Name your avatar and you will have your Fitness Journal ready for you.

The Fitness Journal tracks your exercise progress, gives you feedback, shows you the medals you have earned and lets you access the checklist. The checklist has some quizzes that you can fill out regarding your nutritional habits (how many soft drinks you had, how many meals) and other activities you may do and at what intensity. Domestic triathlon is an activity after all!

You can create your own custom workout program or follow one of the pre-set programs, in the difficulty setting of your choice, for how long, focus on upper or lower body, and if you want to workout with a friend - although for this you will need an extra accessory pack.

The 30 Day Challenge is your motivational tool. It will help you set goals and follow a customized program that works for you, while the calendar shows you what days you can rest on and what days you must workout on. You don't have to commit to the 30 days if you don't want to, but the challenge can be extended up to 90 days. The game is very flexible in terms of what you want out of it.

Activities include "serious" workouts such as cardio boxing, bicep curls, running, squats and lunges, and some "fun" exercises like dancing, volleyball, in-line skating, baseball, tennis and basketball. There is always a video demonstration for each exercise so that you get familiar with the movements you have to do.

On the positive side, EA Sports Active: Personal Trainer isn't the 7-headed monster I thought it would be. There is quite a bit of customization to it, which helps in making the experience more fun for the user, be it through the likeness of an avatar, choice of music to listen to, and flexibility of the workouts. Your trainer is always pretty encouraging as well. Furthermore, I am not constantly falling off the balance board attempting whatever yoga position, since I can pick what I want to do (no cardio kick-boxing with balance board, that's for sure!).

But on the negative side, the controls seem a little bit off, the resistance band looks pretty "cheap" (I was afraid it would snap at any moment) and re-adjusting the length for someone else isn't as easy when the knots have been pulled tightly so many times during a workout. It would also be much easier to exercise without the cord that connects Nunchuk and Wii-mote, so if you can afford to get a wireless adaptor for them, I'd recommend it.

While everyone may tell you "this doesn't replace a real personal trainer who will always give you feedback and tell you if you're doing it wrong", it certainly is an alternative to an expensive gym membership. But you still need to commit to the game, and that's where my real problem is: incentive.

Sure, there are a sort of "achievements" and medals to be earned for completing all your exercises. But after a long and tiresome day at that annoying retail day job, coming back home to cook and clean up a little, I barely have the energy to do anything anymore. The incentive there is being able to pay all the bills, and on occasion, save up some money for something fun. However, I will still be doing my domestic triathlons on the weekends, at least they still count for something! And the incentive? A nice and neat house, fresh-smelling clothes, and sparkly floors.