If you’re fat, Wii Fit isn’t it
I remember the exact day I quit playing video games. I was diligently training my virtual character in The Sims by having him lift weights, practice piano, and play chess. It took actual time to do this; I had to sit there at the computer while my little guy made himself a better sim-human. Fun. It didn’t take me long to recognize the irony of the situation, and as soon as I did, I was finished with video games.
Video games are fine when they allow the player to live out some fantasy, like being a war hero, a rockstar, or a pro football player. I get that. Ideally, we’d work hard to achieve said fantasy in real life, but I get it. Learning to be a Guitar Hero is a lot less work (and hurts your fingers a lot less) than learning to play a real guitar. But when you’re standing in your living room literally swinging a virtual tennis racket or pretend-bowling like the Wii allows you to do, there’s a pretty obvious question that it seems nobody’s asking.
Why not actually — gasp — do the stuff?
There’s a real public tennis court down the street, and for ten bucks you can roll a real bowling ball into real pins and wear real bowling shoes and eat real bowling alley pizza. It’s a little harder, and you can’t do it in your underwear, but trust me, you can do it.
And that’s where I’m going with Wii Fit. It absolutely kills me to hear my wife’s friend say she’s dying to get a Wii Fit for Christmas so she can get in shape. With Wii Fit, you’re doing less effective versions of the same stuff real people do in real gyms in real classes. And don’t give me price. Wii Fit might be a little cheaper than a few months’ membership at a posh gym, but you can spend the 89 bucks on a pair of running shoes and get 500 miles out of them. I’ll let you decide which would do more to change your life, the miles or the microchips.
But my point with this post isn’t to construct a bulletproof argument against buying the Wii Fit. It’s to point out the distinction between really wanting to get in shape, and really wanting to buy something so that you can get in shape.
It’s the same with all the infomercial fitness equipment: If only I had the AbRocket, the Gazelle, or that thing that Chuck Norris sells, I’d get in shape. It would be so easy then!
But the immutable fact remains — exercising is hard. Nothing is going to change that, no matter the cost. Once you get used to it, it gets easier, and eventually it’s fun. But if it’s lots of fun from the very beginning, like I imagine Wii Fit is, then something’s wrong. If whatever you’re doing is really working, it won’t be quite so much fun, because it will hurt. Sorry, that’s how it is.
It’s so much easier to spend money than it is to really make a change. As New Year’s approaches and you think about change, note whether your proposed change depends on buying something first. Or finishing your last pack or case or bottle. Or even waiting until the earth crosses an arbitrary starting line to begin its next trip around the sun. When change lasts, it’s because you’re so sick of living the other way that you refuse to do it another minute. You hit a threshold, it suddenly becomes more painful to keep doing it than to change, and then you change. You throw out your cigarettes or you go for a run.
You don’t wait. You don’t buy a video game. You just change.