For those looking to tone their bodies and get in shape, nothing beats going to gym or getting a one-on-one session with a private trainer. But for those who cannot afford it or would simply prefer something different, fitness video games are a great alternative that give players an interactive workout experience at home and surpass what a DVD workout can provide. The latest in this trend of fitness games is Adidas miCoach, which showcases popular athletes and allows users to track their progress using other miCoach services and products. Its concept is great. Its execution, however, is lacking.

As its name suggests, miCoach features several athletes, who will be coaching you through their workout plans tailored to different training needs. You can follow along to what routines Dwight Howard does to prepare for a basketball game; train hard alongside Eric Berry, or practice speed exercises with Tyson Gay. Each athlete has been digitally captured and appears on-screen alongside you guiding you through each exercise. They will also chime in on occasion with advice on how you can improve your form or to tell you to push harder. However, we wish some of these athletes had shown more enthusiasm when giving advice. A monotone drill instructor isn’t always the best motivator.

Developed by: Lightning Fish
Published by: 505 Games
Genre: Fitness
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
What works: Impressive and in-depth workout plans, great fitness tracking system
What doesn’t work: Spotty motion and voice recognition, excessive menus, lack of customizable workouts

Likewise, game’s arduous navigation system might also deter you from getting a workout in because, to be honest, you’ll be doing enough swinging of your arms for it to be considered a workout. miCoach is fully dependent on the Kinect sensor, so you can’t use a controller at all even when editing your gameplay settings or personal information. Once you start a workout, you need to rely on the game’s voice controls to pause the game and then tell it what you want to do. Unfortunately, the game won’t always hear you correctly, especially over the dubstep that plays during workouts. Other Kinect fitness games do offer controller-based controls, so it’s surprising why miCoach doesn’t, as it only adds to the frustration even before you start sweating.

As with most Kinect fitness games, much of your success with each exercise will be at the mercy of the sensor and its ability to track your moves. For the most part, the Kinect sensor does a good job, but there are times that your reps aren’t counted accurately. We found ourselves doing the same motion a few times before it actually counted as one rep, so we actually ended up working twice us as hard in some workouts simply due to this fault. A chime plays when each rep is completed, but you really won’t know how many reps you have left unless you directly look at your screen and see the number. This isn’t helpful when you’re on the floor with your head turned away from your television.

When it comes to what you’ll be doing, miCoach gives you enough workouts and plans to get you training like your coaches. You can select pre-made plans to focus on depending on what sport you want to train in. While the game has sports athletes and sports-related workouts, anyone looking to tone their body and burn some calories can utilize any one of these programs and see some results. Each plan has different exercises depending on what you’re training, but we found it interesting that you’ll sometimes see ones requiring dumbbells or a medicine ball. The game even asks you to select how heavy your dumbbells are to calculate how many calories you will burn and how much strength you’re gaining overall. But if you don’t happen to have this equipment, you’ll be forced to skip many of these exercises because there is no way to edit a workout plan, which is quite a bummer when you simply want to focus on one or two particular exercises.

In addition to workout plans, miCoach also lets you hop into quick conditioning sessions and sports minigames. While the main plan tracks your progression over a long period of time and creates a calendar plan to follow, conditioning gives you further exercises to do during an off-day and includes mini-games to break up your workout. These games are fun the first few times you play them, but play them enough and you’ll discover how flawed and ineffective they are. Shooting an imaginary basketball, for example, isn’t the same thing as shooting a real one, nor will the sensor capture your precise actions, so sometimes you’ll make the shot by accident or miss when you’re really trying.

One great thing about miCoach is how it integrates already available miCoach software to further enhance your workouts outside your living room. All of this is optional, of course, but you can always sync your Xbox Live account with a miCoach account on the Adidas website and track your stats anywhere you go. Of course, if you don’t already own miCoach peripherals, like the dumbbells and medicine ball, these added features aren’t going to help you much.

While fitness games like UFC Personal Trainer give you a variety of options to cater a workout to your needs, miCoach simply gives you plans for you to work with. This is great in some parts because, as any coach should, workouts guide you through what you need to be doing to improve your athletic skills, especially in sports. However, this also limits your choices. miCoach may offer plenty of professionally created workout plans, but its spotty controls and lack of polish mar it from being the go-to fitness game for anyone looking to get in shape.

About The Author

Giancarlo Saldana is Blast's Gaming Editor. Follow him on Twitter @giansaldana to read his daily musings about the world of video games.

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