Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too. ~~Lawrence Bixby

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oui, We Wii

I’ve had a Wii tucked away for a while now. I got it last fall, thinking it would be a great way for me to get some exercise at home in an entertaining way. I’m not a gym type AT ALL, and finding any kind of exercise that keeps me interested and motivated has been a lifelong challenge. And now that my mobility is so compromised, it’s even more of a challenge. There’s the warm water therapy pool that I can’t seem to get myself to; there’s chair yoga, but every time I do it I grieve for the wonderful yoga sessions I used to have when I could stand and balance and get up and down from the floor without major assistance, so I end up in an emotional puddle half way through each session.

When I first got the Wii, I set it up and tried out a couple of games. Bowling was fun and gave me a bit of upper body exercise and some balance challenges. Then I chose tennis. I went through a period twenty (or was it thirty??) years ago when I played a lot of tennis and racquetball and loved them to bits. I was even pretty good at the racket sports. So Wii tennis it was. I played a few games, being careful to strap the remote to my wrist so it wouldn’t go flying across the room. Liza was very curious about what I was doing and nudged closer and closer to the edge of the couch. I was getting good! And then SMACK! with a brilliant backhand I hit Liza in the face with the remote about as hard as I could. She let out a yelp and cowered in the corner, crying, in obvious pain. I thought I must have broken her jaw or at least knocked some teeth loose. I was devastated. I think I was more traumatized than she was; I held her and sobbed. Laurie had to comfort me (though she was confused at first – when I told her I’d hit Liza she thought I meant Liza’s Wii avatar, not the real dog!). So every time I thought about a Wii session, it’s triggered a bout of PTSD. At least that’s the excuse I’ve been using. (Liza was fine, by the way - I'm sure she had a headache, but no lasting effects. Although, brain damage could explain some things....)

Due to some rearranging in the cottage, we got rid of our clunky old TV and bought a new flat screen, the idea being it’s fairly portable, we can use it in the house or the cottage, and it’s just right for the Wii. The first week or so I was delighted to be able to view Netflix movies by streaming them through the Wii. Laurie asked me every few days how it was going with the Wii (she frequently encourages and subtly prods me to exercise). I’d run out of excuses. I pulled out the discs, dusted them off and played a few games of bowling, baseball and yes, even tennis. (Liza curled up in the corner of the couch, far away from me and my antics.) There’s nothing really skillful involved in these games, but it does give me some upper body exercise – I can do them sitting or standing. But I can see how losing interest in these games wouldn’t take very long.

Enter: Wii Fit, which includes a balance board and four training modes: balance games, aerobics, strength training and yoga. The board, which you stand on while doing the body tests and exercises, "talks" to the Wii console to measure things like BMI, actual age, weight, balance and posture. I had some trouble with the initial setup – it kept asking me if I was fidgeting while it was trying to get a reading. Fidgeting? No, that’s my normal way of standing. (I don’t think the Wii knew I was using a cane to stand either.) I was finally able to hold still long enough for it to get the information it needed. Then it put me through a battery of balance tests, which I’m supposed to do daily to track my progress.

I was exhausted by this time, so haven’t gone on to do any of the actual exercises, but I’m looking forward to that hula hoop! I was curious if there was information about using Wii with disabilities. I was happy to find these posts by a woman who has some direct experience with it – she explains some of the limitations and demonstrates modified exercises with the balance board.

I think it would be really cool if someone developed a Wii disc specifically for people with disabilities.


Tiffin said...

I got an X-Box for Christmas. Number Two son used it to demonstrate the exercise game to me, at one point leaping into the air and coldcocking himself on the I-beam in the basement family room. It kind of put me off the whole thing, so I hear you sister, I hear you. If the couch could move so I would have room to flail around, I might give it a go.

They need discs for middle-aged doofuses too.

DeEtte said...

It sounds like you're the person to develop a Wii disc for people with disabilities, Terri. Go for it; you're the computer geek. Don't you like a challenge?

dohlink said...

I like your idea of Wii Fit for people w/ disabilities...and add seniors, arthritics, slow to move, and recovering. I actually purchased Wii Fit for Dummies which provides lots of info that the box doesn't.