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Boot Camp: EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge (Week 1)

10:00 PM on 07.12.2009 // 8BitBrian

When you take a look at me, I don't seem like someone in dire need of a diet or an exercise program. Clocking in at 6'2" and 184lbs, I come off as a bit lanky to most people -- but the truth is, I've got a lot of fat that manages to pack its way into inconspicuous spots, and frankly, I could stand to get rid of it. Not only that, it wouldn't hurt to build up some muscle -- although I'm not expecting EA Sports Active to turn me into my counterpart here at Destructoid.

So, I decided to take Active's 30-Day Challenge in an effort to see what sort of change the game can really help with. Since changing your body for the better isn't solely about exercise, I'm doing this in conjunction with Toshio Okada's Sayonara, Mr. Fatty!, a book I've raved about over on Japanator. I really encourage you to check out the review, and the book itself -- it's not solely about dieting, but for putting the reins on any part of your life that you wish to control.

I hope you'll follow me over the next four weeks as I attempt to change myself for the better.

For this first part, I'd like to tackle my first impressions with using Active, especially when compared to Nintendo's super-seller, Wii Fit. Packed with a leg strap and a resistance band, Active takes a much more...active role in your exercise routine -- sweating and moving about are the key focus of the training software. I've gone ahead and stuck myself on the high-intensity track, so by the end of each day, my muscles are sore and I'm in desperate need of a shower.

When I boot the game up, I'm put in a very passive position: the game asks a bunch of questions about what I've eaten each day, what sort of activities I did outside of exercising, and then it moves onto the main event. Once I'm doing the 30-Day Challenge, the game chooses which exercises to put me through over the course of about an hour, running me ragged in an attempt to build up a good sweat. One of the first things that I noticed in the game, though, was just how positive it was. Active would praise me whenever I did activities right, and would do its best to encourage me when I was screwing up.

Active avoided using terms like "overweight" or "obese" anywhere in its dialogue -- terms that Wii Fit was more than willing to label you with right off the bat. For someone who's sensitive about their weight, and isn't quite ready to head out to a gym, having an exercise title label you that quickly can be damaging and discouraging. With Active, when I was doing things right, it would praise my form and dedication, and when I was messing up rather badly, it would suggest that I go ahead and check out the instructional video it had on the exercise. The latter wasn't the most encouraging thing, but it's still better than how Wii Fit would treat me. Sure, it's just ego stroking, but when it comes to exercising, and as someone who isn't the happiest with his body, I think it's necessary. Otherwise, what point is there to just being berated when you screw up?

So, on to the program itself. Active puts the player, at least in the case of the 30-Day Challenge, in a very passive role: one where the software pre-selects the types of exercises you'll be doing in order to a set group of muscles each day. For example, my exercises earlier today had me running, doing high-kicks, jumps, lunges, jump lunges, and other exercises focusing mainly on my legs, with a few chest presses and bicep curls to work on my upper body as well.

The other major difference I noticed in this first week was that Wii Fit puts a lot more emphasis on a slow, steady, and controlled exercise, where form is the biggest priority. Active, on the other hand, is more intent on having you move about, and will try to correct your form when you're in the middle of the exercise. I found that in ones where I was screwing up, I'd naturally fall into the correct method of doing things after a day or two. But still, that could easily lead to injuries, all in the name of getting the blood pumping.

Within this first week of exercising, I've found myself really looking forward to exercising every day with Active -- I have to say, I'm impressed thus far. There are certainly some flaws and drawbacks to the system, but I'll be talking about that next week. It's still pretty early in the training process, but I can say that I feel a bit more energetic each day by including this exercise. If you've got any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll be sure to address them next time.

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