Xbox Fitness is Microsoft's Latest Xbox One Exclusive

I haven’t been shy about saying that Microsoft’s Xbox One needs some pretty serious selling points if it’s going to compete with the cheaper PS4. With all their policy reversals, Microsoft pretty much ended up with a very similar system to their rivals in the end. The biggest differences? The price, the peripheral that’s the cause of the price (Kinect), and each console’s exclusive games line-up.
I think Xbox may have something extremely attention grabbing on their hands in the form of the newly announced Xbox Fitness. It’s both an exclusive and proof that the Kinect may be worth its extra cost. Xbox Fitness has recruited four well-known trainers with even more well-known fitness programs to craft a workout experience specifically for the Xbox One and Kinect 2.0.
There’s Tracy Anderson from Metamorphosis, Jillian Michaels from Ripped in 30, Shaun T. from Insanity and Tony Horton from P90X. The “game,” if you want to call it that, will launch before this holiday, and will be free for Xbox Live Gold members for a year. After that, the app will require a subscription, but I’m not yet sure how much it will be.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a big home fitness guy that this really appeals to me. I’ve done both Insanity (well, half of it) and P90X (all of it!) in the past year, and programs like these are great for me when I’m working from home. This isn’t really the place to post progress pictures, but trust me, they work if you stick with it.
The obvious question is why someone like me would use this when I already have the necessary videos. Well, as seen from the demo below, the new Kinect is put to good use here, measuring heart rate, correcting your form, and I believe even counting reps. Now that is pretty cool, and it’s something that Sony’s PS4, even with the new sold-separately camera, can’t fully replicate. And honestly, even with other exclusives like Ryse, Killer Instinct, Dead Rising and Forza, I think this could potentially be more important than any of those in terms of what it offers that its competition doesn’t.
Gamifying fitness seems like a joke, but apps and other games have been doing this for a long time, and if Xbox Fitness can partner with programs that people have proven to use and like already, they could really have something here. A program that uses Kinect to keep track of all your vital stats, your improvement over time and even things like your heart rate with minimal effort from the user is pretty incredible, and very useful to someone like me.
I also have a hunch this could attract a lot of people who wouldn’t normally try one of these programs, and they might give it a shot to A) test out their new Kinect which they probably aren’t using for much else, and B) be able to see real time feedback about their progress. It sounds small, but gamifying anything, fitness especially, can be highly motivating.
Whether this does the opposite, and makes fitness enthusiasts buy a video game system, is probably a tougher road. The Xbox One still costs $500, and while the feedback is cool, most highly involved fitness people probably already are able to keep track of their own stats and vitals just fine, and won’t need to spend that much to do so.
Kinect has had dance and fitness games for years, which have always been the most useful titles for the device, but I think in the case of Xbox Fitness, they’ve finally evolved into something that people might actually seek out, or that avid gamers might try when they wouldn’t have otherwise. Having the app be free for a full year really helps with that, as it’s not a title they have to go out and buy.
My biggest problem is still the fact that I simply don’t have the living room space to properly use a Kinect, even the new version that allows you to be closer to it. I have perhaps four feet of space between the edge of my TV stand and the beginning of my couch, and I’ve done enough P90X to know something’s getting broken, either in my apartment or my body, if I try to do its involved moves in that little box. But hey, maybe in my next place.