Pete Davison: Phase 1 Complete

Posted on September 27, 2011 by

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I’ve beaten Phase 1 of EA Sports Active 2 and while I may not be all buff and ting just yet, I like to think it’s helping. Of course, measuring actual results is more tricky, though a big part of the challenge in getting fitter is the psychological barrier of getting into it in the first place.

I could just step on the scales, but 1) we don’t have any and 2) I hate stepping on the scales as it’s embarrassing, even when no-one else is around. In my adult life I’ve never been a slight fellow (ironic, since I was skin and bones as a young kid) and it’s always been a bit of a hangup of mine — and all the more frustrating if the good habits you’ve made a specific effort to get yourself into (exercise, trying not to have KFC every lunchtime, that sort of thing) doesn’t appear to have an effect.

When I started doing the running a while back that, combined with some pressups and situps had a noticeable impact on my body. I’m not sure if I actually lost weight or not (for the aforementioned reason) but my body certainly changed shape. I had a noticeable waist for the first time in ages, and while I still had a horrible big wobbly gut, down the sides it was more noticeable that some of the bulk had gone.

When I started working every day again, the timing meant it was more difficult to squeeze in exercise, so following my 10K run in London back in May (May? I think.) I kind of fell out of the habit, which is why I picked up EA Sports Active 2. I already had the first one on Wii, but I’d heard the second one was much better in terms of how the programme was designed as well as motion sensors you couldn’t accidentally garotte yourself with, unlike the previous games Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo.

It’s challenging — and I’m working on the “Medium” intensity level at present — and there are some exercises which I dread coming up (particularly: foot fires, stride jumps and mountain climbers, aka to other fitness types, inexplicably, “burpees”) but doing the activities 4 days a week (sometimes more) is making me feel a bit better about taking positive steps to improve myself, or something. As I say, specific progress is somewhat difficult to measure when you don’t like stepping on the scales, but psychological progress is still progress, too — and while I still dread the loading screen for mountain climbers, I find I can get through a set of them without wanting to die quite as much as I used to.

Plus, of course, there’s trophies. While in a lot of contexts trophies and achievements bug me, here they’re used well to mark milestones in your training, as well as some “fun” ones marking good performance over the long term in some of the minigames. EA Sports Active 2 also really loves progress bars, and as any social game developer will tell you, progress bars are an excellent motivational system. As such, you have a progress bar for how far through the whole programme you are, a progress bar for an individual workout, progress bars for all the trophies, progress bars for your personal goals — it may sound silly but it’s one way of tracking progress that you can see — even if it’s mostly measuring dedication rather than improvement in your fitness.

From Thursday, I move on to Phase 2 of the 9 Week Program(me). I’m not sure what to expect. Phase 1 was pretty tough at times — I’m wondering what Phase 2 offers over and above this. Perhaps longer workouts? I hope it’s not longer sets. 55 mountain climbers in a row is enough to give me a headrush and make me want to lie on the floor for quite a while.

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