Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: EA Sports Active 2 (PS3)

I purchased the EA Sports Active 2 towards the end of December 2010 and actively used it during January 2011. On average I did about 4 workouts per week (as recommended). Here's my review: (photos courtesy of DubyaKid)

The EA Sports Active uses three monitors (2 for the forearm and 1 for the right thigh) and one of them has a heart rate monitor. (However, I used my chest heart rate monitor as an addition, and I'll explain why later). This workout that I'm about to begin is part of a 9 week program that is already programmed. You can choose the intensity level (mine is on Easy for now) and it breaks down into three phases. This workout was the first of Phase 2. (You can also create customizable workouts, beyond the programs it offers.)


Each pre-programmed workout starts with some stretching. This is me doing Windmills.

Here I am doing "Knee Ups." I love that I stretch before hand and that the stretches somewhat get my heart rate going.

Rainbow Lunges - The Active 2 really focuses on the lower body such as Lunges and Squats. The good news is that you know they're coming because before each workout it shows you a list of what exercises your doing in that workout. Also, they list percentages of Upper Body, Lower Body, Cardio, and Core. So for this particular workout I had 30% Upper, 30% Lower, 20% Cardio, 20% Core. Some days are heavier in one area than the others.

Started off with Squat Jumps which are just what you think, a low squat and then a burst jump. The "trainer" does the movements and you mimic them, while a customized avatar follows the movements you do. The trainer prompts you when to lower and rise and gives you tips if you're "going too fast" or "not low enough." It's brutal, but helpful.

It integrates a hefty amount of weight lifting into the exercises. The good news is that it comes with a strength band (elastic band), the bad news is that it's crap. lol I recommend getting some weights like I have above. You can change the settings to show that you want to use weights instead of the band and it will change the characters settings.

Magically is tracks your movements, so if you don't squat low enough, pause long enough, or just try to "fool it" - it won't budge. That being said, you get what you put into it. It you do a half-ass squat, you're gonna get half-ass quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The amount of effort you put in is what you get out.
Each workout has a "Sports-related" theme. Some of them are boxing, soccer, basketball, mountain biking, etc. This particular one emphasized basketball and they incorporate exercises with challenges around basketball exercise. This is a passing drill.

I have to left to the right or left to catch the "passed ball."

Once I catch the passed ball I have to shoot it from the free throw line, which requires me to jump with my arms in the air. Here I'm getting ready to jump!

Don't be fooled, it's a tiresome workout. They also include cardio exercises (not pictured) such as sprints, jogging, jump rope, etc. It gets your heart rate going and your muslces are screaming.
They have many different upper body exercises that focus on biceps, triceps, shoulders, pecs, and back. Here's a seated row. Normally you would use the stretch band, here's my attempt to use the weights instead. (Didn't go over very well)

When I first started the exercises would consist of either squats or over head presses (Here is a combo of both). But as you get further and further into the program they "combo" them up, giving you more exercise and variety to the workouts.


More basketball and passing drills.

More Seated Rows and this time with the Strength Band (as they recommend).

Workouts drive me crazy!

Towards the end of the workout they do 2-3 "floor exercises" which usually focus on ab or core strength. Here I'm doing leg lifts which are seriously difficult. (You can see me grabbing the side of the mat)

I love planks! I started off hating these buggers, but after gaining strength in my core I love them. Here I'm doing bent side-arm planks. When I started the program a month ago I couldn't even get my hips off the ground, now I can hold for 20 seconds.


At the end of each workout are stretches. Here I'm doing "Leg Overs"


The music that plays during the stretches is very soothing and ambient, which helps with cooling down and breathing deeply. You can also add your own music to the program (which I've yet to try).
Leg Lifts. To help my poor sore Hamstrings.


I try to crack a smile after being SUPER tired.

They call these "Pretzels". I love them cause I crack my back every time. Plus it really stretches out the whole core.

Here they have me doing Heel Lifts as my last stretch, which requires me to do "Downward Facing Dog" yoga pose. Although the stretch is very effective in stretching the calves and shins, it requires some upper body strength and engaging the core. I sometimes question the reason of doing this one as a "cool down stretch."


Butt pic!




And now I'm done and tired. (& red-faced!)

So here's my Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  • Its short and sweet. Workouts take 20 minutes and then you're done. My TV is right next to the kitchen, so I can get dinner defrosted or waiting for it to cook while I'm working out (You can pause during workouts, restart them, or skip them if needed).
  • Each workout is different! They're never repeated, so each time you start you don't know the routine. You may be familiar with the exercises but each session will be different.
  • It baby-steps you through the whole process. Any new workouts start off with a "Show Me How" which details out how the exercise should be done, where hands, feet, head should go and where you should feel the stretch/burn.
  • The monitors are surprisingly accurate! I had one occasion where it was not registering, only to find out that I was wearing it upside-down! The heart rate monitor is very on target (although it also has a Con - see below).
  • You can track your "other exercises" and do "surveys" of your nutrition. It keeps track of all of this so that you can see how you're improving over time. (And keep accountable).

Cons:

  • While the workouts are 20 minutes, they don't count the loading screens in between which take too long in my opinion, and the heart rate monitor isn't tracking your calorie burn during these times. So that means when wearing my chest monitor I get about 250 KC burned where as the Active 2 Monitor only registers 150. That's a significant difference. After a cardio burn, such as running, jump rope, sprinting, high knees, etc. my heart is still pumping fast and I'm still burning calories!
  • You have to put it "scheduled" workout days and it requires four days a week. I'm not sure how or why they decided to make that the goal, but its unreasonable. Most fitness experts recommend a day of rest in between strength workouts. And if you're a Mon-Fri exerciser as most people are, its almost impossible to fit 4 days in. My solution was to move the "scheduled" days on a week by week basis. You can manipulate it, but imo, you shouldn't have to.
  • I wish it had a "replacement" exercise option. Some exercises either hurt or aren't my favorite, and you can remove them, but there's no option to add in other exercises to still keep it as a full workout.
  • Computer generated trainer isn't the best for demonstrating exercises. While they're very lifelike and the movements are pretty accurate, in some cases (like with Mountain Climbers), they don't mimic human movement very well.

Overall, its a great product and for those of you who don't frequent a gym and prefer home workouts (as I do). This is a great replacement. There's enough of a combination of cardio and strength training that anyone could use this as your workout each day. Also with the "customize workout" you can create workouts for just Upper body, lower body, cardio, etc. (Something I plan to do in the neat future).

DubyaWife tested, DubyaWife approved. ☺

I have about 6 more weeks of this program... I need to figure how to rewards myself!

4 comments:

  1. Great review! I agree with all the points. I guess with the non-recording, taking all the calorie burn recorded probably accounts for the RMR burn rate that is usually subtracted in LoseIt!

    Also most of the routines alter the main emphasis either legs and then upper body, so doing a day back to back, your still resting your emphasis from the previous workout. I've done two routines back to back to catch up on a missed workout. zomg. butt kickers.

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  2. Great Review! I have a jealous. I soooo want a Wii, but I guess I need to own a TV first huh? Loved the "half ass quads" comment!!!!!

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  3. Thanks for the great comments! And thanks for reading!

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