January 21, 2013

Healthy Gaming Diary: Week 2

EA Sports Active 2 Feature

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Dear Diary,

EA Sports Active 2 BoxartIt’s the beginning of week 2.  I guess I’m really doing this, aren’t I?  While it’s only been a week, I actually felt that I ‘needed’ to do a workout tonight.  Since last week was dedicated to Nike+ Kinect Training, this week begins a new program. It may be older than most of the titles in this project, but it still packs a great workout: EA Sports Active 2.  This program is just over 2 years old already and, unfortunately, it shows, not only in graphical prowess but the Kinect tracking technology is quite outdated compared to last week’s Nike+ Kinect Training.

The one thing that EA Sports Active has over all the other Fitness titles out there is the addition of a Heart Rate monitor that constantly tracks your heart rate during the workout.  I really wish other fitness titles did this too because heart rate is something everyone should track during a workout.

I had used this title back when it first released in 2010, but decided to start the program again from the beginning.  There are two programs to choose from: a 3 week cardio program, or a 9 week full body workout.  I chose the 9 week full body workout to get a good variety of drills from the title.

The 9 week program is “Designed by certified personal trainers, the EA SPORTS Active 2 9-week program provides total body conditioning using progressive exercise. It provides a fitness roadmap to help keep users motivated and on track of their fitness goals. Additional mini-programs will also be available to add on, keeping workouts fresh and inspiring.” – EA

Today’s workout was around 25 minutes long and I was sweating up a storm by the time I was done. Unlike Nike+ Kinect Training that gives a small rest period between drills, this one just goes from one drill to the next. The only break received is during the load time for the next activity.  Unfortunately, the Kinect tracking is subpar compared to titles created today and does not show an actual representation of me on the screen. The upside to that is that the avatar on screen is in way better shape than I am!

As I did last week, I have set up the program for 4 days this week.  Wednesday will be day 2.  I’ll dive more into the types of drills then.  The workout today was intense and sweat inducing, but I feel great!

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Dear Diary,

Active 2 screen 1Day 2 of EA Sports Active 2’s 9-week program and I’m ready to move on to another title.  There were several times today that the sensor completely stopped the workout and told me that I couldn’t be found so I’d have to log in again.  Fortunately it didn’t leave the workout and simply continued where it left off but this was quite frustrating.  Additionally, I found that floor exercises aren’t actually tracked at all.  To test this, I did nothing for a couple reps of a pushup and it still continued to count advance the rep count.

Today’s workout included several running drills followed by squats, squat jumps, a few pushups, soccer goal-tending, more running, more squats, bent over rows (with weights), lateral rows (with weights) and a proper warm up and cool down period.  Honestly, today felt very similar to what was done on Monday so the variety factor isn’t quite apparent yet.

I have to question the order in which some exercises are placed. For example, today found the drills moving directly from jogging, straight into reverse lunges, followed by lunge jumps.  All three leg drills one after the other.  By the time I started the lunge jumps, I was completely wiped.  Unlike other more precise programs, like last week’s Nike + Kinect Training, this one doesn’t track movement very precisely, so a simple jump was all it takes to ‘fool’ the program that I was doing the proper drill.  It may be cheating, but there was no way I was going to do 45 proper lunge jumps after doing a run around the track followed by 16 reverse lunges!

There’s still two more days to go with this program and I will stick to it. I would really like to see more variety in the workout and more full body stuff rather than a concentration on legs which these past two days have been.  In today’s workout, of all 29 drills, only 5 of them worked the upper body (pushups, 2 types of rows, and 2 types of crunches).

Perhaps it was my mood that caused me to truly dislike today’s workout. I’ll see how I feel when I come back to it again on Friday.

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Dear Diary,

Active 2 screen 2Well today the program seemed to mix things up a bit more by adding in more upper body routines.  Unfortunately these routines consisted of the same two drills: Bent Over Rows and Lateral Rows.  These two exercises were repeated three times each during the course of 26 drills.  The rest of the routine included more running and jogging, followed by a whole lot more jumping, whether it be forward and reverse jumps or side to side jumps. Regardless, there was a great deal of jumping going on tonight.  Fortunately, EA Sports Active 2 took pity on me tonight and decided not to do repeated lunges.

One new “fun” drill was added tonight where it usually puts games such as soccer goal tending or dodgeball: a Boxing Heavy bag. While this type of activity is usually somewhat fun, the Kinect sensor was having trouble deciding if I was actually punching or not.  Additionally, with some of the punching spots located lower on the bag, I was required to squat down and then punch.  EA Sports Active was having a whole lot of trouble sensing that I was squatting and punching at the same time.  With these sensor troubles, the routine became less of a fast paced aerobic workout and more of a slow and simple punch, punch, squat down, punch, punch, stand up, punch routine with no speed allowed else the action not be recognized.

Even though I completed the 30 minute routine, I am finding that I really don’t enjoy this program at all.  I keep wanting to go back to the more intense but enjoyable Nike+ Kinect Training.  One more day left in this week’s Healthy Gaming project and I will probably say goodbye to EA Sports Active 2 for good.  Now its time for more water.

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Dear Diary,

Oh, you have got to be frakin’ kidding me!  Today’s workout consisted of the following activities one after the other with no breaks:

  • Fitness Trail (jogging, high knees, high kicks)
  • Squats
  • Squat Jump Repeats
  • Split Squats x16
  • Split Squat Jump Repeats x30
  • Mountain Biking (a combination of squats, squat jumps, and high knee kick running)
  • Squat Holds (holding a squat for 20 seconds)
  • Squat Jump Repeats x30
  • Alternating Reverse Lunges
  • Split Squat Jump Repeats x30
  • Fitness Trail – Sprint
  • Squat Jump Repeats
  • Squats
  • Squat Jump Repeats x30
  • Split Squats x16
  • Split Squat Jump Repeats x30
  • Mountain Biking
  • Squats with Knee Raises
  • V-Sit Crunches
  • Reverse Crunches

Is this program trying to kill me?  At the beginning of each workout, it breaks down the day’s routine into percentages for 4 different body focuses. Today was supposed to include 39% legs.  Does that above-listed program look like only 39% legs?  Try 100%!

Honestly, it is programs like this that really turn me off of exercise altogether.  I had to stop the program at least 3 or 4 times today just to catch my breath and let my legs recover. For a program that is supposed to be a full-body workout, this one concentrates way too much on the lower body.

I don’t think I’ve ever so desperately wanted a workout to be over.  Now that it is, and this week is done, I can honestly say I will never return to EA Sports Active 2 again.  It’s a good thing this fitness game isn’t available anymore, and the online servers are no longer active, because I can not recommend anyone use this over something like last week’s Nike+ Kinect Training.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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One Comment

  1. HumbleOpinionizer

    This is a year late, but I’d advice sticking to custom workouts, rather than the built-in ones. I seriously doubt the routines were designed by experts – the pacing is horrible. But with custom routines, the workouts can both be sensible and rewarding. I say this primarily because this is one of the few sensible fitness options on the PS3, and anyone who doesn’t plan to buy a Kinect shouldn’t be discouraged by the issues that the game otherwise has. Put in the effort to try out the individual exercises separately, on your own time, figure out what the right pacing for each custom workout would be, and the results would be worth it. Tough, but on the PS3, you don’t have many better options.

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