Between you and me, I’m more Jolly Green Giant than Green Goddess. So when Microsoft called me up to ask if I’d like to check out their range of Xbox 360 Kinect sports games with Personal Trainer To The Stars™ Matt Roberts, I told them I’d be washing my hair that afternoon. Then I realised it was my duty to hold my stomach in, don Lycra and check out these games for you, dear readers. It had nothing to do with the fact I might see Matt doing a few lunges. No way. Honest.
A few days later, I arrived at Matt’s gym in The City (one of four he runs, with regular clientele that include Naomi Campbell, Natalie Imbruglia and Trudie Styler aka Mrs Sting). I was quick to point out that I get out of breath grating cheese, but this appeared to fall on deaf ears, as Matt whisked me straight over to the Xbox loaded with Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012, £19.99. Oh dear.
Well, actually, it wasn’t that bad. Using the Kinect Motion Sensor was initially frustrating – it didn’t always seem to recognise me and it wasn’t clear where I should be holding my hands to scroll through the menus. But once I’d navigated to the Bootcamp class, I was a happy gym bunny. An on-screen ’instructor’ is there to show and tell you exactly where to hold your body, and because you can also see yourself on screen, it’s easy to spot where you’re going wrong. Of course I also had Matt to encourage me through the five minutes of lunges, squats, jogging on the spot, side kicks and so on, but when it was over, I felt I’d had a good work out and, importantly, I’d exercised the bits I’d meant to be exercising. With more than 90 hours of different routines to choose from, I don’t think I’d ever get bored, either.
Next it was over to Kinect Sports, £19.99, and Kinect Sports Season Two, £29.99. Matt says he plays these with his family, and that although it’s not as tough a workout as Your Shape, it’s a great way to get everyone off the sofa. We enjoyed games of beach volleyball (Kinect Sports) and tennis (Season Two), and I was hugely impressed at how responsive the games were, particularly the tennis, where my flicks of the wrist produced some impressive spin. Working through the menus seemed easier, too, particularly as you can use voice commands to make selections on Season Two. Here I am giving it a go – if you’re squeamish, look away now.
Nicely warmed up, we tried out UFC Personal Trainer, £27.99. The UFC bit stands for Ultimate Fighting Champion – not a job title I imagine I’ll have any time soon. But wait, this is amazing. I’m punching. I’m kicking. The frustration of the printer not working/the train being delayed 20 minutes/Boy About Tech keeping me awake with his snoring is melting away. And it’s simple to follow the series of jabs, blocks, kicks and shoulder rolls. Hark at me – shoulder rolls! Games like Hit The Mitts make this even more fun. You can choose from four UFC Fighter training partners. I pick Dan Hardy because I think he might look like Ton Hardy; he doesn’t. Dan is very motivating though, so much so that Matt has to drag me away. He’s desperate to have a go at Dance Central 2…
I certainly don’t have the, erm, moves like Jagger and it doesn’t help that I haven’t heard of half the tunes on here. I mean, what is a Chingy or Ciara or Petey Pablo? I do have a good boogie to Born This Way by Lady Gaga, and again, I find that the XBox is great at showing me where I’m going wrong. However, on reflection, I think Dance Central 2 is a younger woman’s game.
GIRL ABOUT TECH’S VERDICT If your kids have an Xbox 360 with Kinect, from £235, I’d highly recommend you treat yourself a couple of these games, pack them off to bed early, and have a go. Dance Central 2 and the Kinect Sports games are fun, but if you haven’t got the time or budget to hit the gym and want to get fit, I’d recommend UFC Personal Trainer and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012. They’ll have you working up quite a sweat, and because the Kinect motion sensors can analyse your every move, you’ll soon know if you’re doing it wrong and be able to correct yourself.
Special thanks to the lovely Matt, who you can follow on Twitter @mattrobertsPT.