'Sports Active' takes Wii the extra mile

— -- A new trend in video games that is gaining weight — and could help you lose some — is the virtual personal trainer.

The latest entry, due in stores in March, is EA Sports Active for the Nintendo Wii video game system. From the makers of Madden NFL Football and Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games, the interactive fitness program is being developed with the help of Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer, Bob Greene, and other experts.

Home fitness fits well with the Wii-owning crowd, which has grown to more than 12.5 million, according to the NPD Group. Nintendo's own Wii Fit program, released in May with a balance board and a virtual trainer that helps players with yoga, aerobics and muscle toning, is a top-seller with more than 2.3 million sold.

"Lifestyle sports is becoming more and more important to that Wii consumer," says EA Sports president Peter Moore. "It's great for people who can't get out to a gym or don't feel quite comfortable going to a gym."

The program ($60) has more than 20 exercises that work the upper and lower body (bicep curls, squats and lunges), as well as cardio (jogging in place with a virtual track on-screen). You can customize your workouts or let the virtual trainer create 20-minute daily workouts as part of a 30-day fitness challenge.

Two people can exercise simultaneously. Active comes with two Neoprene leg straps that hold the Wii remote during exercises, resistance bands and a nutritional booklet.

Active uses the Wii Fit board for some exercises (cardio boxing), but, Moore says, it's "a very different exercise workout than what you are currently getting with the Wii Fit."

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