HomeTechnologyNewsHow Nintendo Made Me Love Cardio – Geek Review

How Nintendo Made Me Love Cardio – Geek Review

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While there’s really no way to avoid breaking a sweat with a cardio workout, Nintendo taught me that this type of exercise can be a fun activity to look forward to rather than a torture session.

No one can deny the benefits of doing a little cardio. It helps us get stronger, supports our hearts and improves our mood. However, it’s no secret that many people hate cardio. It’s sweaty, back-breaking, exhausting work, or at least that’s what I used to think.

Creating a video game fitness routine at the center didn’t happen overnight. It started after some fitness trial and error when I was in college. Since then, my cardio sessions have evolved along with Nintendo’s moves from Wii to Wii U to Switch. While consoles have changed and new games have been added, my love of gamified fitness through Nintendo remains the same.

“Maybe Cardio is not for me”

A runner feels exhausted during an outdoor training session.
Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock.com

Like many college students, cardio was not at the top of my priority list, and frankly, I had tried and hated common heart-pounding activities like jogging and biking. As my bike and running shoes gathered dust, I figured cardio wasn’t for me. However, I knew I had to do something because I was starting to feel slower over time. That’s when I decided to get out of the box to see other active options.

I remember loving evening and weekend dance classes in elementary school, so I thought it would make sense to put on my dancing shoes as an adult. With a little help from Google, I found a local dance studio and decided to take the plunge by signing up for a class there.

It turned out that she still loved everything from ballet to hip-hop dancing, but soon there was a problem. Not with the activity, but with my finances. It’s probably no surprise that a college kid’s budget isn’t exactly compatible with taking regular dance classes in person. At the time, I did what anyone faced with this situation in the mid to late 2000s would do: I bought some cheap dance and exercise DVDs.

These relics now got me moving again and gave my wallet a breather, but they presented a new problem. The DVDs lacked the feedback of a face-to-face class. As someone who likes to compete with myself, I had no idea how I was progressing so I got bored pretty quickly. However, this was just a speed bump. Fortunately, it was 2009, which meant that the first Just Dance game had just come out for the Nintendo Wii.

“Okay, let’s try this Just Dance game”

10 Just Dance Wii game discs appear together.
Shannon Flynn/Review Geek

The good news was that I already had the Wii, thanks to my lifelong love of all things in the Super Mario universe. While the game wasn’t free, I figured I had nothing to lose except a couple of bucks. With that mindset, I picked up a copy of Just Dance and started playing.

There was no denying that the game’s motion detection wasn’t great, but other than that the game was just what I had been looking for. It offered up fun songs (hello Cotton Eye Joe and Kids in America) and different dance routines that provided just enough feedback to keep me interested while also helping me break a sweat.

The first version of Just Dance did more than get me moving and keep me moving. It also opened my eyes to other fitness-style games that used the Nintendo Wii’s early motion detection feature. Over time, my collection of Wii games and workouts grew to include titles like EA Sports Active, Fitness Boxing, and of course every new Just Dance variation that came out. I felt stronger and more energetic than ever, and I still wasn’t bored. It was a health and fitness miracle!

“I will never go back”

A cartoonist runs down a path through a field.

When the Wii switched to Wii U, I continued to move with the help of my old favorites, thanks to backwards compatibility, while adding new games like Zumba Fitness: World Party. Yes, the motion detection still wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t matter. I was having fun while moving and sweating.

When the Nintendo Switch came on the scene to replace the Wii U, I updated my console again. While the console has changed, my devotion to doing cardio with the help of Nintendo’s gamified dance and fitness options hasn’t. Today, I move regularly with the help of Ring Fit Adventure and Zumba: Burn it!

And as you may have guessed, Just Dance is still a regular part of my cardio routine. Yes, I know that the motion detection function still leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe they’ll perfect it one day, but until then I’m playing on the “honor system.” This means that I do my best to mimic and master the moves, even though I know I could probably pull off at least one “Good” or “Super” without so much effort.

It may seem unconventional to tell people that part of my exercise routine has involved a video game system for the past 14 years. However, despite what the fitness gatekeepers say, there is no right or wrong way to move (as long as you don’t get hurt, of course). Fitness can and should be fun. Otherwise, you will not stay with him. I know I’ve found what works for me, so I plan to keep Nintendo as my training partner for life.

nintendo switch

The latest version of the Nintendo Switch has an OLED screen that has deeper blacks for a more engaging portable experience and 64GB of internal memory (up to 32GB on earlier models).


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