I’m going to put this out there – I am in no way a gym person. I’ve never spent time at a gym nor do I have any intention of joining one. Don’t get me wrong – I still stay as fit as I can, but I just prefer to do it in the comfort of my own home, rather than at a gym. Not surprisingly, once motion-control gaming came out one of the genres that sprung up were these ‘at home’ fitness games that you could enjoy at home whilst still toning and shaping your body. The first generation of these games turned out to be mere distractions, with cartoon avatars and little or no actual benefit. As time progressed and the games added things such as resistance bands and heart monitors, the appeal of the games grew slightly, but they still didn’t provide a thorough enough workout to be taken seriously. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved tries to reinvent the at-home fitness routine by harnessing the power of Kinect and putting you in the spotlight.
The first and rather obvious thing about Your Shape is how natural everything feels. Thanks to Kinect, you simply navigate around menus and selections with a quick wave of your hands or feet. There is nothing to hold or strap on to your body – all your do is stand in front of Kinect and begin your routine. And rather than be represented by an avatar, your actual body shape is projected on the screen, thanks to Kinect’s all-seeing camera. The fact that you can actually see yourself on screen not only makes the game more comfortable to play, but you’re then able to instantly see where you are going wrong with each exercise, thanks to a superimposed white skeleton that appears when you have to execute a move. Even though your body looks more like a blob of orange jelly, it’s still much better than using an avatar.
Prior to actually starting the game, you need to setup your profile by answering a few questions such as your age, weight, and current level of fitness. The system then ‘scans’ you in for two reasons. Firstly, it captures your height, arm span, shoulder width and other measurements to add to your profile. Secondly, it uses these measurements to customize the menus so that they are within your reach at all times. After you’ve been scanned, you take a brief (but quite energetic) fitness test which has you doing a few basic exercises to measure your fitness level. The game also talks you through the elements of the GUI, as well as talking about important aspects of gameplay which I’ll come to later. Once your fitness test is completed, you can then start with any of the three sections of the game.
The first section is called Personal Training, and is where all available exercises and routines are displayed. When you first start the game only a small selection of exercises are available – as you do well in each exercise, more advanced ones become unlocked. This is a good idea as you don’t want to jump straight into advanced activities and risk injuring yourself. Personal Training has a long list of exercise routines to follow, and there is a brief description of how long each routine lasts, and which part of the body it targets. There are even certified routines from Men’s Fitness, which incorporate dumbbells for a more advanced workout. The range of routines available means that even people who’ve never been to a gym in their life can start off slowly with the easier routines and then work their way up.