Cut up your gym membership card, fire your personal trainer and cancel that Jenny Craig food order. If you want to get lean in 2009, perhaps you should start with a video game console.
If your New Year's resolution is to lose weight, fitness-themed games could get you more excited than Richard Simmons at a short-shorts sale.
OK, this isn't exactly a new phenomenon. We've seen dancing diversions such as Konami's Dance Dance Revolution games for many years now, but the "exer-gaming" trend really took off with Nintendo's Wii Fit ($89.99) when it debuted last spring, thanks to its collection of aerobic exercises, stretches, yoga lessons and minigames for the Nintendo Wii console. Included with the disc is the Wii Balance Board, which resembles a white bathroom scale that measures your weight and senses your movement when you stand on it.
More than a dozen other fitness games have launched since, all designed to trim a waistline. Even the sexy star of the reality TV show The Biggest Loser hosts her own exercise game. Majesco's Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009 ($39.99) dishes workout regimens, expert advice and stretching cool-downs while you follow along on the Wii Balance Board. While the graphics aren't anything to write home about, this is a good purchase for weight-conscious players who already own Wii Fit because the Wii Balance Board is required.
While not compatible with the Wii Balance Board, Ubisoft's My Fitness Coach ($29.99) for the Nintendo Wii is like having a virtual trainer on your TV. Your coach in the game, Maya, motivates you and teaches nearly 500 unique cardio exercises, strength training, yoga and more.
The Nintendo DS version, called My Weight Loss Coach ($39.99), includes a pedometer you can clip on while walking around your home or city or on the treadmill that counts your steps and imports the data into the bottom of the portable player. You can set various goals to reach and are rewarded with amusing stick-figure animation, unlockable games and other goodies.
Video games are also helping players eat better. Atari's What's Cooking with Jamie Oliver ($29.99) for the Nintendo DS leverages the famous U.K. chef's name to serve up a digital cookbook with hundreds of recipes to tackle in your kitchen.
Ubisoft's Gourmet Chef ($29.99), on the other hand, lets you master the art of French cooking through dozens of missions. You can use the Nintendo DS stylus pen to cut, mix and cook 70 authentic meals as you cater to 20-odd types of customers (including food critics) and work your way up to become top chef at a high-end restaurant.
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