Fitmodo Shape Up Challenge: Using Video Games To Improve Fitness

We're at the the end of Chris and Mark's four-week Shape Up playthrough. What have they learned over the past month? Did either of them gain any muscle or lose any weight? And who the hell are you to determine what constitutes a push-up, anyway? All will be revealed in this final chapter!

For those who missed the previous entries in this series, Shape Up is a fitness game for the Xbox One that attempts to make exercise as fun and addictive as gaming. This is achieved via a variety of physical mini-games that minutely track your movements via the Xbox One's Kinect sensor.

Over the past month, Lifehacker's Chris Jager and Kotaku's Mark Serrels have been battling their way through the goal-orientated Quest Mode which challenges players to complete three intensive 15-minute workouts per week.

Last night marked the final Quest Mode session, which brings us to this conclusive roundup. Is Shape Up for you? Is Shape Up for anybody? Read on to find out.

Mark:

So Shape Up. What to say about Shape Up...

Shape Up, at its root, is really a thing that helps us to not make an excuse. That's what all fitness accessories and fitness DVDs are really. Can Shape Up convince people to not sit on the couch and eat KFC? Is it something that'll stop the rot? Give people a reason to throw down and beat an obnoxious virtual trainer at his own game? (Mainly push-ups and squats and running really fast on the spot.)

I think it totally can. Anything can really. The thing is, for me, I've already found my Shape Up. I've already found the thing that makes me eat right, exercise, train and avoid bad food. For me that's Rock Climbing. For others it's pushing weight, dance, soccer, swimming — whatever floats your proverbial boat.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I totally think there's an audience out there that will take a game like Shape Up and go full tilt. Me? I found it a little more difficult. I feel like I couldn't quite make Shape Up work within the context of my own fitness goals and my own fitness schedule. I felt as though it was difficult to motivate myself when my mental strength was already being allocated for different exercises I was doing long before Shape Up came along. Motivation, I think, is a finite thing.

So I've already found my thing. Bully for me. Plenty of people haven't. Plenty of people are looking for the perfect excuse to exercise. There's no reason why a game like Shape Up can't be that excuse.

Chris

Fear and trepidation. These were the primary emotions that swirled through my heart when I first embarked on this mission... quest... thing. As I explained back in Part One, fitness games just aren't my cup of tea. The same goes for exercise in general.

In fact, I'm a firm believer that humanity's ballooning obesity rate is just evolution in action. The developed world neither hunts nor gathers. Instead, we run aimlessly on treadmills like image-conscious mice; desperately chasing a physique that serves no pragmatic purpose.

Anyone who does this is dragging the species in the wrong direction; like a tetrapod trying to re-enter the sea. In short, we're supposed to be fat blobs and should learn to embrace it. As an added bonus, the subsequent drop in life expectancy will help to keep the population under control. Everybody wins!

Er, that was a joke there. Seriously though, it is my humble opinion that traditional exercise is for masochists and narcissistic nutjobs. But not Shape Up. Shape Up gets a pass.

It's hard to hate a game that makes your offspring's eyes light up in a mixture of glinty determination and sparkling glee. Of all the video games that were released this year, Shape Up was probably my daughters' favourite — and I actually let them play cool stuff like Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

The colourful graphics, constantly changing mini-games and firm emphasis on fun are all perfectly tailored to the under-ten set. If your kids still aren't old enough to be jadedly cynical, Shape Up could be the perfect introduction to exercise. (No! Feed 'em Big Macs instead! Etc.)

In addition to delighting youngins, Shape Up proved to be surprisingly addictive during my month-long exposure. Well, maybe that's too strong a word. It was somewhere between addictive and tolerable: Addicerable? In any event, I found myself enjoying the game more than a gym-o-phobic had any right to.

Consistently beating your personal best, taking on new challenges, noticing improvements to your overall form: these are all things that you'll experience with Shape Up and the sense of accomplishment is nothing short of glorious. Maybe those fitness fanatics aren't so crazy after all.

At my final weigh in, I'd managed to shed over three kilograms despite not changing my diet in the slightest. I'm actually contemplating another four-week quest; if only to finally win that sadistic push-up challenge. Or at the very least, get to the end without collapsing into a blubbering heap.

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