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Feel the Burn! on Game and Player

Feel the Burn!

Zach Hines  //  July 31, 2008

Your health has its own Achievement Points.


t has long been held that gamers suffer from a stigma related to personal fitness. We are, to those who simply accept stereotypes, the people picked last in kickball and those who shrug our shoulders at sports in general. We eat potato chips by the palette, and drink energy drinks until our teeth fall out. We have a fear of sunlight and physical exertion. I think stereotypes are exactly what they are, stereotypes. While there are certainly those among us who work their thumbs more than any other part of their body, there are also those who prefer to work the whole body in the name of physical fitness.

One of my coworkers at the gaming company I work for has been a fitness nut for as long as he can remember, and his sister-in-law is a personal trainer. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I approached my coworker about getting me back into the gym. Our company recently moved to a brand new building, which among its many amenities has a brand new gym on the first floor. Knowing my coworker's background as well as having this new gym that only costs $10 a month for those work in the building, I couldn't pass it up.

Fitness: for all ages.
So my coworker with the help of his sister-in-law wrote me up a 5-day program that primarily consists of cardiovascular exercises as well as cardio-weight lifting. My goal isn't to get huge, but to slim and tone. The regimen they have me on focuses on keeping my heart rate up all throughout my workout. I start with core exercises, then I move on to some running, and I finish with some weightlifting that focus on a higher repetition count with lower weight.

In addition, I'm doing a better job of watching what I eat. So far I've cut out junk food snacks as well as soda, both of which are useless calories. I'm not on some insane diet, I'm just eating better. I must say that in my time that I have been doing so, I love it! One of the best things about working out, even before you see results, is the feeling you get from knowing you are making an effort. I leave the gym invigorated, not tired, though certainly sore (which is a good thing). I can't wait to see my body change over the coming months!

Why do I tell you all of this? It's simple. I would love to encourage my gaming brethren to get active. If you feel as though the visage of the stereotypical gamer applies to you, you have options. First and foremost, becoming more active doesn't have to involve expensive gym memberships. There is a world of options open to you to get in shape and feel better. I work in an office environment, though it is a gaming company, so naturally I love lists. Here is a list of things you can do to get active and feel better!

  • Get a gym membership (if you have the means to)
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
  • Walk to the store if it's close by instead of wasting gas
  • If you have a bike or roller-skates, use them for 30 minutes a day
  • Walk your dog
  • Jog or walk around your neighborhood
  • Do some pushups in the morning
  • Play an intramural sport
  • If it's a nice day, get outside
  • Take up yoga

The list goes on and on. If you have the drive to do so, there is a way to get in shape on any budget.

Start slow. The point
is to start, period.
Watch what you eat. I know we gamers love our energy drinks, Mountain Dew, and Cheetos. But, if you're sitting around on the couch for multiple hours playing a game while eating that stuff, you're not doing yourself any favors. If you must snack while you game, try low-fat pretzels or veggies. If you don't want to cut out soda, drink diet (though water is still better). Also, try not to eat late at night just before you go to bed, because it'll just sit in your stomach like a rock. Trainers who know what they're talking about will tell you that you do not have to give up food; it's about eating the right portion at the right time, and limiting yourself instead of indulging. It's not hard to make these changes, though it'll feel like it at first. Plus, you'll save yourself some money too.

Now, this is a gaming website, so we have to tie this into gaming right? Well, there are options if you want to meld fitness and gaming together. Games like Yourself! Fitness, for the PS2, PC, and Xbox as well as the new Wii Fit focuses on in-home exercises and can track your progress. Just keep in mind that Wii Fit is decidedly more a "game" than Yourself! Fitness in its approach. Even games like Dance Dance Revolution can get your heart rate up.

Don't forget to stretch, first.
The point is, you have options. If you want to get in shape, there are ways to do so. Whether it's very basic, or involved, you'll feel better after the first day because you'll know you're doing something better for your body. Also, do it for yourself. A lot of people make the mistake of wanting to get in shape for reasons that will only lead to a short-term change in lifestyle. Don't get in shape just to wear a certain item of clothing, or for someone you want to impress. Those motivations won't last, get in shape for yourself, and because you want to. That's the best way to make an exercise routine stick.

So, if you feel it's time for a change, consider what you've read here. Bear in mind, I am by no means an expert on anything fitness related. But I think you'll all agree that the things I've listed here can't hurt. If you have the time and money, try out a gym or two in your area, and make sure to get help if you're unsure how to use a piece of equipment. If a gym is too much for you right now, a good pair or running or walking shoes will certainly do the trick. Just make sure you do something. And don't let yourself get down if you don't see results right away, it takes time and effort. Instead, focus on the fact that you're making an effort. That'll keep you going in the beginning. Don't let another week go by in which you tell yourself that this is the week you'll get active again. I'm not saying you have to give up your games, or to kiss your favorite couch goodbye, but everything is better in moderation. Getting in shape doesn't just improve your body, it improves your outlook. You'll find that everyday life feels better when your active. So the next time your buddy suggests a Halo 3 shoot-a-thon, tell him that sounds great, after you finish your workout. Good luck!

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