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Exercising the RVer Way With Wii

As a full-time RVer for many years, I know how hard it can be to get proper exercise on the road and in our small domiciles. Oh, there’s the occasional hiking trail, walks around the park, and if you get lucky, swimming pools and exercise rooms. Some campgrounds, especially popular snowbird destinations, even offer water aerobics classes. Those are all good but regular exercise every day can be difficult on the road. In my job as a gate guard, it is even more difficult since I work 24/7 and can’t leave the gate.

Enter the Wii game system by Nintendo. I have played Wii bowling before at a couple of campgrounds but had no idea until recently how much more it could do. After looking at exercise equipment and discarding much of it as possibilities due to RV weight restrictions and lack of space, I started looking into the Wii which I had heard other RVers mention for exercise. What I discovered was completely astounding! Indeed, not only do they have interactive sports games to get the heart pumping and sweat going, they have numerous exercise programs that provide instruction, mentors, workout partners who won’t whisper embarrassing remarks behind your back or show off in front of you, lighter programs and heavier workouts, goals and tracking, encouragement, and a whole lot of fun ways you wouldn’t even imagine to burn those calories and work on specific areas of fitness.

My first purchase was the Wii system itself. There were three options. A new Wii U system costs around $299. Eek! I’m sure it is very nice but gaming is not really my aim and I don’t need all the options it comes with. I just want to get fit. The little add-on fit watch is kind of cool but I can get that with a Fit Bit if I really want it. The next option is to buy a first generation Wii used for only $79. That is a very good option. I found used Wiis available at Game Stop, Ebay, and jjgames.com.  There are around 1500 games out there for it including fitness games and they too can easily be found used at very good prices. With a full Wii you get internet access to play with others, removable storage for saving, menu updates, etc. How long the updates and Wii online will last is up in the air since Nintendo has discontinued the Wii. I opted for a third option, the Wii Mini. It is a Wii with all the extra goodies like internet and storage stripped out. I have no desire to use the Internet features and waste what little bandwidth I have with my hotspot MiFi. It’s smaller and sits horizontally rather than vertically which works well in my limited space. Due to the size, it is extremely portable. It also runs Wii games with built in memory to save games. It runs the Wii Balance Board though you will likely have to find one used. I like the red color of the Mini too! The Wii Mini is currently $99 and can be found at any Wal-Mart locked up with the other game systems. Both the used Wii and Wii Mini are good choices in my opinion. For the Wii, you may need to buy an additional Motion Plus sensor which is included in the 1 controller that comes with the Wii Mini. You may be able to get a package deal on Ebay for a used Wii with a bunch of controllers, games, Motion Sensor, and Balance Board included. I had some concerns about the Wii using the internet and running up a costly bill if a relief guard used it while I was on vacation elsewhere or if I have my grandkids over to play so for me that was a deciding factor.

Nintendo Wii Mini

Next, I looked around for the Balance Board and some fitness games. I found a board at Game Stop for only $14 in excellent condition. New it is $59. I knew I also wanted Wii Sports to practice my bowling. I was pleasantly surprised to find it also includes tennis, baseball, golf, and boxing. The sports alone really get my blood flowing and heart rate up so playing them is part of my daily exercise routine. If you hear someone in the RV next to you yelling to kill the umpire and “Bring me home, Jimmy.”, it is likely me next door. Fair warning, I am now listed as a pro in Bowling. Strrrrrike! 🙂 There is also a newer sports disk called Sports Resort that may be worth checking out.

Wii Balance Board

For specific fitness routines, I looked for Wii Fit Plus. Note the Plus version is better and contains more than the original Wii Fit. Wii Fit Plus contains lots of exercises for strength, balance, aerobics, yoga, timing, eye-hand coordination, and more for both beginner and advanced levels. The yoga and strength portions have numerous visual choices of exercises to choose from. You don’t have to do them all and an instructor does them with you. I avoid those that involve my bad knees at the moment. The other portions contain lots of incredibly fun games to help with your balance, body awareness, aerobics, and so on. Last night I flew like a bird flapping my wings over the bay to land on various stands in the water for points and finally landed on a ship. I got in a huge snowball fight with other kids and snowmen. (BTW, if you talk to Tommy’s mother, please tell her he threw first. 😉 ) I skateboarded. I ran an obstacle course. I used a Segway to pop beach balls. I got to dance with a group stepping on and off my balance board. I ran 1.7 miles through the countryside past windmills and waterfalls and without ever leaving my living room. I was in a bubble that I tried to navigate down a river past native villages without popping. I skied. I led a parade, bicycled through town, bumped my butt and hips into cushions, juggled, hula hooped, and more. It was F-U-N! What’s also nice is you can build and save a custom workout all your own. Wii Fit Plus also checks your BMI, weight, and balance through the balance board and tracks them for you. It can track exercise outside the Wii Fit Plus game as well through logging. The balance board is used in many of the exercises and games. Wii Fit Plus may also offer to help get you started on working on something it sees you have a problem with by suggesting an exercise to do. I LOVE Wii Fit Plus and I have the sweat stains to prove it! For those of you more reserved folks, there are plenty of just plain exercise routines so you don’t have to let your inner child loose if you don’t want to though I think you’ll be missing a lot if you don’t.

For a little more diversification to make sure I keep up the exercising, I checked out Gold’s Gym dancing disk and one of four Zumba dance disks courtesy of Ebay. Dancing burns a LOT of calories fast. While I’m not much of a dancer (more like an elephant in a china shop), I still like doing it. The Gold’s Gym program was good but not as good as Zumba. It uses the same Latin rhythms and moves but the steps are more complicated and the tutorials not as easy for us elephants. I love Zumba 2! It has dances for all levels and you can do them individually or as a whole class. The classes do multiple songs and dances and include a nice slowdown and stretch dance at the end. The better you mirror the actions of the dance leader, the more action occurs on the screen such as fireworks and whistles. The better you do the dances, the more the program unlocks. The dances are fun and let you shake your booty and ta-tas all you want.  The tutorials are excellent and can be run slow or normal speed to learn the steps. I just learned to Cha-Cha! One short class of 5 dances lasts about 26 minutes and burns around 260 calories.

I did find that I had to remove the extra rubber cover that came on the controller. While I like the feel of it, it interferes with quickly putting the controller in the Zumba belt you must wear on your hips (Be sure it comes with any Zumba disk you buy or can get it separately.). The rubber cover also interferes with shoving the controller in your pocket fast for other exercise programs.

What is also nice about using a Wii to exercise is that you can pause it by pressing the “+” key on the controller which is very important if someone knocks on your door, the oven bell goes off to beg for attention, or another truck comes to the gate.

Along with the Wii, you can add weights to get even more out of running and flapping games or other exercises. You can also add resistance bands to target specific muscle groups. I use a resistance band every other day to help build up some arm muscles since I don’t really have any. If you aren’t an elephant, a jump rope can make a nice addition to use outside.

In any case, you can still travel and stay or get fit in an RV. You just need to think smaller and virtually.

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