The Wii Fit Workout: How I Got Exercise Into My Day

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Before we had kids, I was a runner. At first, I belonged to an all-women's gym, and once we moved, I would run in our apartment building's gym every morning. On nice days -- which are few and far between in soupy-in-the-summer-icy-in-the-winter Washington, D.C. -- I would run outside. There were some days when I'd go on two runs because I was crazy like that.

And then I had to stop running due to fertility treatments and then fertility treatments worked and I had to take care of the twins and then I was just plain lazy. The fact that I didn't return to running was mostly due to time -- I couldn't balance the rest of life and getting to a gym to run because we had moved yet again and lost the in-building gym.

Once I couldn't roll out of bed and work in a quick run before the shower, once it became an activity in my day, I just couldn't make it work. There was just too much to do and no time to do it in. So I gave up running for 5 years. 5 anxiety-filled years.

Because running, for me, is a stress reliever. It's a way to work out all of that nervous energy that builds over the course of a day. On days when I run, I sleep well. I feel calm. I'm less frazzled. Just as you wouldn't like the Incredible Hulk when he's angry, you probably wouldn't like me very much when I haven't used up all of my excess energy. There are only so many blog posts I can write, only so many loaves of bread I can bake in order to use it up. So, I needed to run.

But I didn't have time.

But I needed to run.

But I didn't have time and I didn't really have extra money for a gym membership.

But I needed to run.

But I didn't have time and I didn't really have extra money for a gym membership. And I really didn't want to run outside.

One day, when the twins were five, I went to a party and I met a woman. I asked the usual “what do you do” question, and she responded that she was a Wii Trainer. Which required more questioning on my part since at that point, the only time I had stepped near a Wii was at BlogHer three years ago when I virtually boxed a bunch of women and hurt my wrist in the process. Apparently, there are gyms where you go and stand in front of a television and play Wii Fit games as exercise.

I went home to Josh and we laughed and laughed.

And then I borrowed my friend's Wii Fit and I became one of those people.

And then it didn’t seem funny at all.

Then it seemed like a brilliant idea to go downstairs to the basement and take a little bike ride around Wuhu Island. And then take a 1.5 mile jog near the virtual water. And maybe go flying for a little upper arm definition.

We ended up getting one as a gift a few weeks later, but I use it so often that it would have been worth it to buy it on my own. The one-time cost of the Wii coupled with the fact that I can simply go downstairs, use the half-hour, and be done means that I can tuck it somewhere into the day. Plus, unlike a big piece of gym equipment, it takes up virtually no room.

The added benefit, which may reveal a loose grip on reality, is that I can totally lose myself in Wuhu Island. I love it there. I am so damn happy when I jump on my bike and start pedaling. I love it when you hit the 8 minute mark on the free run and the path opens up so you’re overlooking this gorgeous expanse of the ocean. I can get so engrossed looking at the scenery that I forget that I am in a slightly cold basement rather than a tropical island. Oh – and I love the architecture in town. It reminds me of Córdoba or Seville. I almost expect to see orange tree groves when I get to that little fountain in the center.

My current workout is to start with advance flying to warm up my arms, and then advance step four times (which takes about 20 minutes) to warm up my legs and wake up completely. Then I go for a 20 minute free run around Wuhu Island. On days when I am feeling lazy, I bike ride around the island instead (because it involves a walking movement vs. running). I run with my sneakers on and take it seriously.

So I'm back to running -- though it's more like three times a week vs. every morning (but that is fodder for a different post). And I'm sleeping better at night. And I feel like I've gotten back exercise in a way that fits with my current life. And that is pretty damn cool for a little machine.

Have you ever used the Wii to work out? What programs do you use beyond the Wii Fit Plus?

Photo Credit: Enfad.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.


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