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Archive for October, 2012

Review of Harley Pasternak Hollywood Workout for Wii

Harley Pasternak Hollywood Workout by
Platform: Wii
3 of 5 stars – Your chance to work out with real trainer to some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities.
by ,
Written on October 29, 2012

harley pasternak hollywood workout review for wiiYou may not have heard of Harley Pasternak before, but if you’re a fan of Lady Gaga, Jessica Simpson, Hillary Duff, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Megan Fox, or Robert Pattison, you’re familiar with his work. Pasternak is the personal trainer to all of those celebrities, helping to keep them in the shape they’re in.

Harley Pasternak created the “5-Factor Fitness program” for his celebrity clients, who needed to fit in their diet and workout routines in the middle of their busy work while on tour or on location away from home. His solution included eating simple meals that used 5 ingredients 5 times a day, and doing workout routines in 5-minute sets. In 2005 he published his book, 5-Factor Fitness: The Diet and Fitness Secret of Hollywood’s A-List, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout is the video game version of his diet and exercise program for the Wii.

I admit, I groaned a little when I hear there was yet another “virtual trainer” Wii title. We’ve seen a string of pretty awful Wii exercise games with “celebrity trainers” from Jillian Michaels to Jenny McCarthy. Recent entrants such as Get Fit with Mel B, UFC Personal Trainer, and Fit in Six have gotten a little better, but overall it doesn’t seem like there’s been a lot of improvement in the genre since the first (and still one of the best titles) My Fitness Coach. They all tend to fall along the same patterns: a collection of standard calisthenics routines that are strung  together, with some virtual trainer shouting out generic and repetitive phrases like “way to go” and usually some spotty Wii remote tracking. The games usually also have a built-in “workout tracker” that tracks activity within the game itself that usually go unused.

For the most part Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout tends to fall along the same lines, although there are some improvements worth noting.

When you start the game you’re greeted with a catchy beat as the game loads, followed by the voice of Harley Pasternak welcoming you to his Hollywood Workout. As with many games, you start by creating a profile; I really wish there were some centralized way to do this so you don’t have to do it over and over again for every game, but that’s less Majesco’s fault and more something that Nintendo should really be working on.

You type your name and tell the system if you have a Wii Balance Board. If you do, it can measure your weight right away. If not, you’ll enter it manually. From what I can tell, this is all that the Balance Board is used for.

You can use hand weights during the exercises, or you can further pad Harley’s pockets with cash by buying what they call a “signature Harley Bar” (alternatively, you can just use a metal pipe or something you have around the house).

You’re then brought to the main menu. You can choose from the following:

1) Complete Programs. There are basically three “Complete Programs” you can choose that correspond to beginner, intermediate, or advanced. They come in 5 or 10 week lengths. Your choices are:

  1. Light Body Toning (5 week or 10 week). Ease your way into the Hollywood Workout with this program. Don’t worry, you’ll still achieve some great body shaping and toning!
  2. Getting Red Carpet Ready (5 week or 10 week). Get that body red carpet ready with this program. This intermediate program includes the exercises contained in the previous program, plus a few more.
  3. A-List Celebrity Workout (5 week or 10 week). My most intense program! This program adds even more exercises and engages your entire body for maximum activity. Hollywood, look out!

2) Single Workouts. These are 25-minute workouts you can start right way, which have warm up exercises, cool down exercises, and typically 3 individual workout routines in the middle that each last, you guessed it, 5 minutes each. Your choices are:

  1. Surf ‘n Sand – Like to surf or paddleboard? Get that body ready to ride the waves with this workout that includes Reverse Flys, Lunges, and the Superman.
  2. Super Hero – What does it take to prime your body for a life of fighting crime? Find out with this workout that includes Hammer Curls, Jump Squats, and the Superman.
  3. Diva in Training – You’ll be able to dance the night away after mastering this workout that includes Chest Flys, Skater Lunges, and Side Bends.
  4. Swimsuit Season – Never wear your favorite swimsuit anymore? Let’s change that with this workout that includes Lateral Raises, Hamstring Curls, and Side Bends.
  5. Sports Athlete – Get a leg up on the competition with this workout that includes Push Ups, Skater Lunges, and Bicycle Crunches.
  6. Lose That Baby Weight – Get back to that body you had before the kids with this workout that includs Tricep Kick Backs, Deadlifts, and Seated Twists.
  7. Beach Body – Don’t be afraid to show off that beach body with this workout that includes Lying Tricep Extensions, Squats, and Crunches.
  8. Strut The Runway – Get ready to wear your favorite skinny clothes again with this workout that includes Shoulder Presses, Hamstring Curls, Crunches.
  9. Action Movie Star – Do you own movie stunts with this workout that includes Hammer Curls, Jump Squats, and Double Crunches.
  10. Upper Body Burner – Strengthen that torso with this workout that includes Shoulder Presses, Lying Tricep Extensions, and Chest Flys.
  11. Sexy Legs – You’ll love showing off your legs after doing this workout that includes Lunges, Deadlifts, and Squats.
  12. Ab Toner – Feel that burn in your core! This ab-strengthening workout includes Bicycle Crunches, Double Crunches, and Seated Twists.

3) Fitness Tracker – This part of the game has four options.

  1. Workout Journal tracks workout days, time spent, calories burned, “Harley Points” earned, weight loss, and average reps per session averaged over days, weeks, and months. This is a great feature if you’ll be using this game exclusively for working out, but as I’ve said on many occasions, I wish Nintendo and everyone who made Wii games could figure out a way that workouts done across different games could be counted toward a centralized tracker (similar to what Microsoft did with KinectFit).
  2. Second, you can measure your weight at any time by going to Personal Data with your Balance Board.
  3. Exercises shows a list of every individual exercise, how many reps you average, and how many total reps you’ve done in the history of playing the game.
  4. Finally, Accomplishments are the typical kind of “badges” you see in games like this where you can collect rewards for hitting certain milestones, from completing all the exercises to performing 60 minutes of cardio to jumping enough distance to leap over the Empire State Building to Climbing high enough to scale up out of the Grand Canyon.

4) Multiplayer – this option supposedly lets you create challenges against other players. It’s not immediately apparent how to use this feature–when you select “Create Challenge” it tells you  “To play this multiplayer mode, please add some Wii Friends to your Address Book”. It took me a while to figure out that my “Address Book” is a little-used feature (at least for me) in the “Wii Message Board”. Unfortunately after I added Wii Friends to my Address Book I still got the message. After wasting about 15 minutes trying to figure it out I gave up trying to figure out how to use this feature.

I thought I’d try out a Single Workout. I chose Super Hero.

The workout starts with a video of the real Harley giving his  “insider” explanation of how he designed the workout. It would have been nice if he could have named names (“Lady Gaga loves this workout…”), but of course to get the permission and the licensing for those would have made this game about ten times the cost. Instead, he provides the story behind the workout in a general way, replacing superstar names with words like “my client”.

Despite the general nature, something about Harley filming these video snippets for each of the workouts definitely made it seem more “real” and more like he’s really your own personal trainer. Of course if you play the game over and over again he’ll start repeating himself a lot, but overall I’d say it feels more personal than anything Jenny McCarthy or Mel B ever did.

As with other exercise games, you’re then sent to a screen where you see a creepy animated version of Harley. Behind him are two ladies in workout garb who’ll be doing all the exercises with you. The animation is not bad in that you can see a pretty good representation of the proper form for each exercise.

You start with warm-up exercises and then proceed to the aerobic and calisthenic exercises. Nothing you haven’t seen before in other exercise videos and games, you have jumping jacks, squat jumps, ice skaters, and so on. There are only 30 unique exercises through the game, but put together properly they are very effective. Here’s a full list of individual exercises:

  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Crunches
  • Deadlifts
  • Double Crunches
  • Hammer Curls
  • Hamstring Curls
  • Jump Squats
  • Lateral Raises
  • Lunges
  • Chest Flys
  • Lying Tricep
  • Push Ups
  • Reverse Flys
  • Seated Twists
  • Shoulder Presses
  • Side Bends
  • Skater Lunges
  • Squats
  • Superman
  • Tricep Kick Backs
  • Ice Skaters
  • Jog
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Trunk Crosses
  • Jump Rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Punches
  • Side Shuffles
One thing I found a little odd at first but which I grew to like is that Harley doesn’t just do the exercises with you–he’ll talk throughout the routine and at some points he’ll get up and walk around. At first it threw me off, as I was focusing on him while doing my reps. But as I thought about it, this way it felt more realistic, as if I were in a “real training session” with Harley. After all, in a real training class your trainer rare gets on the floor and does all the exercises with you as you’re doing it. There are little bits of humor, where Harley will join you for a few reps and then get winded and stop. As long as you keep focused on the two ladies behind him, who are doing the exercises continually, you’ll be fine.
While he’s walking around and talking he’s verbally providing very precise details of why you’re doing the exercise, what the proper form is, what’s happening to your body, what you’re feeling, and other helpful information similar to what a real personal trainer might tell you during exercises. In this sense, it was one of the more realistic “personal training sessions” I’ve experienced in a video game.
Granted, as with all videos and exercises it does get repetitive. And the game doesn’t quite have the “elements of fun” that I think a great video game exercise program should have. Instead, it’s a fairly dry and routine set of reps.
One all-important question is, of course, how is the motion detection? I’d say it’s decent, probably as good as you can get at this point for a Wii game. At some points in the game you’ll hold the Wii remote in your hands, at other points you’ll need to put the remote in your pocket with the buttons facing forward and down (if you have a pocket). It tended to be on the hypersensitive side; I had a number of false positives any time I twitched. But overall I’d say I wasn’t terribly disappointed with the motion detection. Granted you’re on the “honor system” to some extent in that it’s easy to “cheat” by just twitching the remote at the right times, but of course, what’s the point in doing that?
Overall, I’d give this game 3.5 stars out of 5. It’s really nothing special, but then again it does a pretty good job of capturing Harley Pasternak’s exercise philosophy and regimen in a video game. If you’re already a Harley fan, own his books, follow his diet, and enjoy his appearances on morning talk shows, I’d say this is a worthwhile purchase, especially at the low price of $30. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a game that balances fun and exercise, I’d still go to games like the Just Dance series or Exerbeat that are on our Top 10 list.

A couple Wii U Deluxes at Walmart!

They’ve been out of stock at Best Buy, Gamestop, Toys R Us, and just about everywhere else you can think of, but I’ve noticed that in the last few days there have been a couple Wii U’s at Walmart. If you’ve been trying to pre-order, check them out.

Here’s a link to the Deluxe Console. As of this writing they’re sold out online but a few locations still have store pickup available:

Nintendo Wii U 32GB Deluxe Console w/ GamePad & Nintendo Land, Black (Available for Layaway at your Local Wal-Mart Store)

Here’s a bundle that had been available, but it’s going in and out of stock:

Nintendo Wii U Solution Bundle w/ Customer Choice of Wii U Game and Controller

Finally, here’s a link to Walmart’s page for the regular Wii U, although this has been out of stock for a very long time.

Nintendo Wii U

Check these links from time to time, as Walmart has been the only retailer that seems to have any kind of Wii U’s available at all. Good luck!

Wii Balance Board at K-Mart for $50 – Hurry!

If you’ve been putting off getting a Wii Balance Board, there’s a huge clearance sale at K-mart right now. Click here to check it out.

Nintendo Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board at K-Mart

Here’s why this is a great deal: the Wii U is going to fully support the Balance Board (in fact, one of the titles that will be coming within the first few months of release is Wii Fit U, a completely retooled version of Wii Fit. You can wait to buy the bundled version at an exorbitant price, or you can just buy this balance board on clearance and buy the Wii U Fit game when it comes out.

But hurry–these kinds of deals usually last a blink and then they’re gone.

Wii U Fitness Games at Launch

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Lots of things to report, including the results of my lose-weight-before-my-wedding plan, as well as several new Wii game reviews. Hopefully I’ll have some time in the next few weeks to catch up on my blogging!

In the meantime, I just wanted to give an update on the Wii U. It appears that Wii U launch titles are finally available for pre-order at Amazon and Best Buy, including a number of promising fitness games, including:

ESPN Sports Connection:

Just Dance 4:

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013:

Wii Fit U

As of right now, pre-order links for the console at Best Buy and Gamestop are still showing the units completely sold out, but keep checking. While Amazon appears to have sellers who are selling, my best advice is NOT to buy it from them, as they’re price gouging. If they’re asking for more than $299.99 for the basic (white) set or more than $349.99 for the deluxe (black) set, they’re asking too much. If you’re willing to wait a few weeks, chances are there’ll be plenty in stock by then and you won’t have to pay the exorbitant markups.

The conspiracy theorist in me originally thought that Nintendo might be artificially holding back on inventory in order to create huge demand for the product, but I’ve since heard that they really do have production limitations with their new touch-screen controllers which is keeping initial supplies low. This makes sense–they probably don’t want to invest the resources to completely fill demand on day one, and then be stuck with excess capacity afterwards.

Early feedback on the system is that it’s “surprisingly powerful”, which bodes well for Nintendo as far as making a dent in market share as Sony and Microsoft both sit on the sidelines milking as much as they can out of the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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