For as long as video games have been criticised for their sedentary nature, developers have sought to get players off the couch, encouraging physical movement through fitness style games. From the Power Pad to Wii Fit, Nintendo have been a leader in 'exergaming', but these experiences often feel more like gimmicks than serious workouts. In 2019, the introduction of Ring Fit Adventure looked to change that.
JAMES PARKINSON: In 1987, Nintendo introduced the Power Pad, a fitness accessory for the NES.
Power Pad commercial: You better get ready for the most challenging Nintendo system ever - the new Power Pad!
JAMES PARKINSON: The Power Pad was essentially a floor mat that would detect your foot movements, as you played games like Athletic World and Stadium Events, running and jumping on the spot.
Power Pad commercial: You are the game, you are the power!
JAMES PARKINSON: It was known as the Family Trainer in Japan and originally developed by Bandai, before Nintendo acquired the rights for North America.
JAMES PARKINSON: These were the very early days of exergaming - or gamercising, whichever portmanteau you prefer. It’s unclear just how much of the intention was actually about fitness, or just trying to offer more interactive experiences. But there are further examples of gaming accessories that promoted at least some physical movement, like Amiga’s balance board peripheral, the Joyboard for the Atari 2600 - released 25 years before Wii Fit. There was also the Roll & Rocker for the NES, another kind of standing board controller, that was apparently supposed to be a D-pad for your feet. And you can probably guess why that didn’t succeed.
JAMES PARKINSON: Now, Wii Fit was very successful, but being more about balance and strength training, you’re unlikely to break a sweat. It’s spiritual successor though, looks to be different.
Ring Fit Adventure commercial: Fitness for everyone and adventures that keep you moving. Ring Fit Adventure!
JAMES PARKINSON: Ring Fit Adventure has quickly become a best-selling hit for Nintendo Switch, and a brief search on Twitter or Reddit will turn up hundreds of results of people sharing their success stories from playing the game. But is this just another fad, or is Ring Fit Adventure a genuine tool to help us become more active and healthy?
JAMES PARKINSON: I’m James Parkinson. From Lawson Media, this is Gameplay, stories about video games and the virtual worlds that power culture and community.
[Atmos - Ring Fit playthrough]
Ring Fit Adventure: Please make sure you have the RingCon accessory, leg strap and left and right JoyCon ready.
James Parkinson: Okay, good to go...
JAMES PARKINSON: The first time I tried Ring Fit Adventure, I was not prepared. You know, I walk the dog every day and just try to be generally active, but I’m certainly not as fit as I could be.
James Parkinson: I’m just remembering, I chose moderate. This is already challenging enough for me at this stage, I think! Ab guard, okay...
JAMES PARKINSON: Yeah, working out has never been my thing. So, I’m probably right in the target market for a game like Ring Fit.
PETER FULKER: In my opinion, the target audience for the game is people who are new to exercise, or who, not specifically new but aren’t particularly comfortable going into the gym, don't particularly want to tread that path yet.
JAMES PARKINSON: This is Peter Fulker.
PETER FULKER: Hi, I'm Peter Fulker. I am a personal trainer. I have seven odd years in the fitness industry back in the UK as a gym instructor, and working with lifeguarding teams. And I recently started a YouTube channel involving video games and fitness, very much focusing on Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch.
JAMES PARKINSON: The biggest difference between Ring Fit and something like Wii Fit, is that Ring Fit Adventure is a proper RPG, structured around fitness.
PETER FULKER: That's where Ring Fit, I think, absolutely shines is crossing itself as a video game and a proper workout. The role playing game aspects are actually, you know, they're not subtle at all. Like, you've got the level-up system, you've got the skill trees, you've got the bosses, the fights, some rare enemies appear where you've got, like, limited amounts of turns to take them down and you get extra rewards, stuff like that. There's a lot of proper video game tropes blended in so perfectly. But also, you have got this real fitness aspect that I think anyone can take on.
JAMES PARKINSON: Ring Fit comes with two accessories; a leg strap, with a pouch for the left Joy-Con controller, and the Ring-Con, which connects to the right Joy-Con. The Ring-Con is basically a pilates ring - a flexible but durable plastic ring that you squeeze and pull. And all your movements are tracked by the controllers in-built accelerometer and gyroscope. When starting the game for the first time, it asks you for your age and weight, before recommending a difficulty level between 1 and 30. I started on level 14. Then it’s onto the main menu to select a game mode.
PETER FULKER: Ring Fit Adventure offers several modes. You've got the - the main mode is the adventure mode. Now this is essentially a role playing game story, where you're traveling around the world, the in-game world, you're taking Ring, who's, the ring is actually a character. You're taking the Ring to regain his powers and stop Dragaux. Now, Dragaux is a big, angry bodybuilding dragon. The world is turning purple for some reason, it's pretty great. But it's really fun, and you've got these different levels and they're very varied, different maps with different enemies that you can take down and there are specific moves that work against certain enemies. So you've got like four different types of movement. Now you've got your arms, your legs, you've got abs and you've got yoga. Now each of them will have a different style of movement. Obviously, arms is focused on the upper body, legs is focused on your lower body, abs is focused on your core. And yoga uses, like, your yoga style movements to, you know, very peaceful, a lot of breathing focus in there as well, to do the different attacks which have different damage and they can attack different enemies or multiple enemies at the same time. So there's a lot of variation there, like a lot of those standard role playing game tropes have been taken and turned into, turned into fitness basically. Like, even potions or, like, Phoenix downs that you would find in you know, like, your garden variety RPG. They have actually been turned into smoothies and soups and stuff like that. So it's really, yeah, really clever. You use the Ring-Con for basically everything.
JAMES PARKINSON: There are a few exercises, like the knee-to-chest, where you don’t need the Ring-Con. But for the most part, if you’re not pushing or pulling the ring, you’re holding it, so the game can track your upper body movements, and it kind of assists with correct technique as well. You also use the Ring-Con for navigating menus, which gives you some additional reps, and I found, helps to keep you in that exercise mindset. The exercises themselves are quite varied. You start the game with a small selection and unlock more as you progress, with the ability to swap them in and out as often as you like.
PETER FULKER: There's 43 different Fit Skills. So, Fit Skills being the different types of exercise that you can do. So, there's quite a variety. There's less variety on the upper body than there is on the core. Because a lot of your core exercises, anyway, you don't actually need weights, you're basically using your body's movement. So that's why there's a little bit less there. Going as basic as a squat, or like an abdominal crunch, to, you've got like the Bow Pull, which is really, really quite an interesting one, working you're working your back and your shoulders. You've got a couple of almost rhythm cardio based moves for your legs. So you've got something like, I think it's called the Ring Raise Combo, there’s the Knee Lift. It is getting you moving to a rhythm and you’re trying to match the rhythm, but you're working your lower body, you're doing like little squats, and jumps and stuff like that. The yoga moves, there's a lot of kind of flexibility training in there, especially with the warrior poses. Warrior Pose 3, specifically, actually almost simulates a single leg deadlift, which I was surprised that they were managing to pull that off because I was thinking, like, the deadlift is one of those one of those moves that is so integral to a lot of people's workout routines, like a standard workout routine, “how are they going to do that without weight?”, and yeah, single leg deadlift. So the Warrior 3 Pose, hits that on the head.
JAMES PARKINSON: And that’s the thing about Ring Fit. While you don’t get the benefits of weight training, and the cardio is just running on the spot, the game still manages to strike a great balance, and offers a genuine workout that’s comparable to more traditional home training programs.
PETER FULKER: There's a lot of crossover you know, squats, lunges, deadlifts, your upper body pull, upper body push. So like, yeah, vertical and horizontal push and pull. And your core movements, they're kind of certainly moves that generally make up the majority of the exercises that you would do in a real life workout. And Ring Fit manages to get most of them. The only one it can't really do is the vertical pull. Because generally, that's a weighted thing, so that's like a lat pulldown sort of move or a pull up. I'd say that probably the main difference between your standard workout and Ring Fit is that a standard workout is going to use, you know, it's going to use weight, whereas Ring Fit, you have to add the weight yourself. Or you don't do it with weight, which you know, depending on what your goal is, you may not need the weight.
JAMES PARKINSON: One of the most surprising things to me about Ring Fit is the way the game is regularly checking in with you about how you’re feeling. Most games want us to keep playing as long as possible, but Ring Fit Adventure will occasionally show you a prompt, asking if you want to finish your workout for the day and turn the game off. Along with daily health tips, feedback on correct posture and the all-important warm ups and cool downs, it feels like the game is really trying to guide you through healthy routines and forming good habits.
PETER FULKER: Yeah, no, absolutely. It's, I actually found it quite surprising myself when it came up, ‘cause I was like, “I'm not tired”, but wait a minute, I'm possibly not the exact target audience for the game. So if you're working out with a personal trainer, and visually, they'd be able to tell if you needed to rest, or if you if you needed to wait a little bit, or if you were okay to keep going. Whereas you don't have that element with Ring Fit Adventure. So I believe it's every 10 minutes, it'll ask you to cool down or say, “hey, are you okay to continue working out?”. At which point you can say, you know, “yeah, I'm fine to continue working out”. But it will then say, “hey make sure to have a drink”. You know, it's really good at actually providing - almost providing that personal trainer service without it being personal. Because they know that people may not be - they may just want to keep playing the game. Which is fine, which is fine, you know, it is a video game, but it is a workout, first and foremost. And it definitely treats itself very seriously in that case, which yeah, I think it's fantastic. And I think it's really commendable and absolutely, yeah, go for that mission to get people into fitness.
JAMES PARKINSON: The game also has some really cool features to help you workout at your own pace, and track your progress.
PETER FULKER: So the game is very good at tracking progress, actually. It records every single rep that you do, and you can actually find a rundown of every single bit of exercise that you've done through Ring Fit, which is really good. Now there's a level rating, so the difference between level 20 and level 30 is - 30 being the maximum - is that you'll be doing another, you know, depending on the exercise, you'll be doing another 10 reps of it. Some of the exercises, you're doing 60 reps of, or 50 reps of, something like that. Whereas at level 20, you're only doing 45 or 50 of them. So that's a way of regulating the difficulty for it, you can choose how hard you want - or basically how many reps you want to do.
PETER FULKER: It will tell you the amount of kilometres traveled or the amount of calories burned - it's not you know, we know that they're not quite accurate, it is a rough approximation. And that's okay. I think the more important thing that it records is your actual active time. Because that one, we know it's accurate because it's to do with the movement on the Joy-Con's, it's to do with the pushes of the Ring-Con. You know, your actual active time is very important, that's a better indication of how hard you're working. Especially at that more casual or beginner level. Just being able to say, “hey, I was actually moving for an hour, I was working out for an hour, whereas yesterday, I was only able to do 45 minutes”. That's a really important metric to take into account at that level, which yeah, I think on that side, it is enough. As far as calories and distance traveled, when you're doing the cardio goes, it's not quite so important, but the actual active time moving is definitely a good one to take into account.
JAMES PARKINSON: Along with the Adventure Mode, mini games and the Multi-Task mode are great ways to fit more exercise into your daily routine. The Multi-Task mode is actually really smart. Once activated, all movements of the Ringcon will be tracked while the game isn’t actually running, so you can watch a movie for example and get in a few extra reps of your favourite exercise.
JAMES PARKINSON: Since its release in October of 2019, Ring Fit Adventure has sold several million copies and people are connecting with the game in some really powerful ways. Supportive communities have formed in places like Discord and Reddit and the range of success stories is honestly inspiring. A common thread is stories of weight loss, with people sharing their before and after photos and celebrating their personal achievements. And it’s incredible to think that a video game has the capacity to motivate people in such an impactful way. Players are changing their diets and other lifestyle habits and thinking more positively about exercise. Then there are people with very different, but equally impactful experiences.
MEAGHAN HELMS: I started doing Ring Fit regularly. And as I did, I was still looking at the scale and I was realising that I was gaining weight. Which is really ironic, because I know a lot of people do Ring Fit to lose weight. And so I was wondering what, I was like, “hmm, I must be doing something wrong”. But as I thought about it, I kept doing it anyways, because I realised how much energy it was giving me and how much better I felt. And it's funny because I'm not a gamer, and this is, like, life-changing for me.
JAMES PARKINSON: This is Meaghan Helms. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. And she came to Ring Fit after struggling with anorexia.
MEAGHAN HELMS: I will start off by saying my weight issues, typically, I would say they stem from control issues. So, in college when I would feel out of control, whether it was a big paper coming up or the end of the semester or when I was getting my Master's degree, it was pretty much throughout my whole Master's because that was a stressful time. But then in 2017, I had my second child, and she was born with a congenital heart defect. So she was in the neonatal intensive care unit at our hospital for about a month - she had open surgery, open heart surgery about a week into her life. So obviously, I didn't have any control there for a month. And then we brought her home. And it was kind of this thing where, during the surgery, they had had to break her sternum to get to the heart. And so we had to be super careful with the sternum. And it was just a lot going on that first year. And so I needed something that I could control, or at least have the illusion of control. And like I said, it was hard enough with the two kids to be able to have time to eat, but now with a - she was then two and a half year old - and a new baby, it was almost impossible. And so as I saw the scale going down, I was realising, “oh, this is something that I can control”. And at first it wasn't completely deliberate. But then I realised that I felt, I felt when I looked in the mirror, that I was achieving something. And I'm not exactly sure what my end goal of achieving was, I didn't have this weight that I wanted to get down to. And I was actually never hospitalised for it, thank goodness. I did get under 100 pounds at one point, and that was not healthy at all, but I still would look in the mirror and say, “it's not enough”.
MEAGHAN HELMS: I was getting, I had started to get very frequent headaches. And so my doctor sent me to a haematologist, I believe, and they did a complete blood panel and my white blood cell count was below average. So they did MRIs, they did all of these things, they couldn't find anything abnormal. And well, I think the haematologist realised that I was anorexic, and she was asking me a little bit about it. And she said, “that's probably where the frequent headaches are coming from. You're not getting enough new nutrition. You're sleeping a lot, you're not really doing much of anything”. And she realised that, my therapist realised it before I did. And I was always, kind of bitter at her that she would weigh me before each session because I was like, “that's none of your business”, but obviously it was. But I just was very much in denial about the fact that I may have an eating disorder, and I definitely had body dysmorphia disorder because when I would look in the mirror, I would still see someone who needed to lose weight, no matter how unhealthily skinny I got. So yeah, I think everybody around me saw that. And I was probably the last one to see that.
JAMES PARKINSON: When Ring Fit Adventure was released, Meaghan’s husband picked up a copy of the game. Meaghan didn’t think much of it at first - partly because she’s not really into video games, but also because she’s always had a difficult relationship with exercise.
MEAGHAN HELMS: My family has always been into sports, into athletics. My dad is a football coach. My mom was a basketball coach, my brother played football at University of Florida. My little sister played golf at University of Southern Carolina and then Vanderbilt. So very, very much of an athletic family. I played basketball in high school, that's about as far as I went. We did lots of conditioning, we did weightlifting. But I mean, it was just gruelling for me, while my family was all about, “hey, let's go work out, this will be a fun family activity”, I was just not not one of those people. So I was kind of the black sheep of the family in that sense.
MEAGHAN HELMS: But I was a bit of a rebellious kid. I was the middle child, if that tells you anything. And I did love playing sports. It's just, it was the conditioning - because for me, you It was just, “why are we doing this?”. I mean, I understand that there are long-term benefits of this, but I need the short-term benefits. I need to see how this is working right now. And so if I'm running laps, running sprints doing that stuff, I can't see the benefits right away. So that's just not really my thing. But when I got into the games of basketball, like, I was all about running and you know, just playing the game, and even, like, playing just pick-up games of tennis, that would be my type of exercise because I'd be exercising without, you know, thinking like, “oh, I'm running here, I'm doing this, I'm actually sprinting”, and that kind of stuff. So when I did exercise, it always had to be for a purpose. I could never just go to the gym and go on a treadmill for 45 minutes. That was just, like, honestly, I was like this is hell for me. We actually have an elliptical in our house, also. And I went on it one time. And I was like, “okay, I must have been on this for 20 minutes”. And I looked and it said I’d been working out for three minutes and I was like, “you know what I'm done, I can’t just run in place for that long, so that just wasn't for me.
James Parkinson: How much pressure did you feel from family to, you know, be a certain way?
MEAGHAN HELMS: It was really interesting, especially in college. When I would come home from college, my parents would always comment on my weight, whether I had lost a lot - my mum would say, “are you eating enough?”. Or if I had gained more weight, my mum would say, “okay, you've gained weight”. And at that time I never realised that she was saying it in a good way. To me, I heard, “Oh, you've gained weight”. Whereas, when I would come home and I would be skinny, and she was asking, was I eating? She was also concerned that I wasn't eating enough and that I wasn't doing healthy habits. And so then when I would come home and I would be - I would have gained weight - then she was actually telling me that I look healthier. But she didn't come out right and say that, so I always just took it as, “Oh, I gained weight, I guess I should probably lose this again”.
JAMES PARKINSON: The turning point for Meaghan, though, arrived when she finally decided to try Ring Fit Adventure. How that turned out, after the break.
JAMES PARKINSON: There’s a common stereotype around gamers that we’re all lazy and inactive, which obviously isn’t true. From observing the Ring Fit community in places like Reddit though, it seems to be far more common for existing gamers to give Ring Fit a go, than non-gamers. But Meaghan Helms is an exception here. Not only is she not big on working out, she never showed much interest in games. In spite of that, Ring Fit Adventure was different.
MEAGHAN HELMS: My husband's birthday is in October. So he got it for his birthday. He is a big gamer. And he heard that Ring Fit was coming out, and I had heard nothing about it, but he keeps up on all of these things, so he got it. And he was playing it and I would watch him play it. But at that point, I was still losing weight, still in the, “I don't have any energy phase”. So he would ask me often, if I wanted to play it, because as I would watch him, I'd be like, “okay, I mean, this looks interesting”. You're not just running on a treadmill, which is awesome. And I was just - every time I wanted to - I was just like, I just can't muster up the energy to do it. And so finally, I tried it a few times and I ended up liking it. I started at level, difficulty level, I think 14, which is fairly low, but you know, I just wanted to do it just to kind of see what it was like.
James Parkinson: What do you think it was about the game itself? You know, just watching your husband play it, what was it that said to you, like, “I need to try that”.
MEAGHAN HELMS: I think mental health wise, I would look at it and say, you know what, that is - like when he fights the monsters - I would get super into it, like, “get ‘em, get ‘em, get ‘em, you can do it!”. And so it was that kind of thing that I would get into. And then he would have to run or there's one where you fly or whatever, and I was like, “okay, whatever, get to the monsters, I want to see you beat them!”. And that's where you have to do the exercises, that's the difficult part. But I almost got like this secondary high off of seeing all these monsters defeated, and I was like, “this is this is awesome”, like, “I kind of I kind of want to try that”, just because I think mental health wise I needed - and I didn't realise this - I needed a way to get my frustrations out in a healthy way that wasn't starving myself or anything like that. And that was all unconscious. But when I saw him playing it, I think it was the battles, and it was the storyline for me also, just how you meet some people throughout and they walk you through exercises, they help you and then - I mean, I'm not gonna spoil the game for anybody - but then just to see the progression of those people over time is really interesting also.
JAMES PARKINSON: And before she knew it, Meaghan was playing Ring Fit every day.
MEAGHAN HELMS: I started and, you know, it was a few times a week. And then I got really into it. My husband, who had been doing it since October - not every day - but he'd been doing it since October. I started to catch up to him because he was at a higher difficulty level and I was at a lower difficulty level but still, I started to catch up to him in levels, until he was in the final level, and I was on the second-to-final level. And I was like “argh, I'm gonna let you finish first”. So I went back and I tried to finish the other levels that I hadn't finished yet, until I let him finish first, and he was really thankful for that. But because I had started playing every day, I had gotten to that point where, wow, like, I really just fell into the routine of it. And it wasn't a conscious, “Okay, I'm gonna do this every day”, and it's never a drudgery for me, which is so interesting. And I always realise also, I can just do, like, I can just do 10 minutes of exercise if I want to. Or there's some days where I go for 45 minutes, and it's really cool because the decision’s up to me, how much I go and how much I don't, so.
James Parkinson: Did you find yourself, you know, repeating levels a couple of times in a row just to get more exercise, and not necessarily progress in the actual story of the game, but like, “I just want to have another session, so I'll go back and do that level again,”?
MEAGHAN HELMS: Absolutely, yes. And different levels have different things. And so absolutely, I would go back and I would say, “hey, I liked this part of this level”, or “this level, I know has carrots”, and carrots are a main ingredient that are hard to find, but they're very important for some smoothies! So I would go back and harvest those. And also on some levels, there are people who ask you to do things. So some of them would be, “okay, run through this forest and make it to the end in 60 seconds”. And I kind of like those because, I mean, it really got me moving, it did cardio, it did those kinds of things. And so I would go to levels that would challenge me in that sense.
JAMES PARKINSON: This was in early 2020 and the global Coronavirus pandemic saw Meaghan mostly staying inside with the kids, and so the game really became a way for her to manage her mental health and create good habits.
MEAGHAN HELMS: It actually became an outlet for, like, frustrations and angers and all of that. It was like, “Okay, Mummy needs her time”, and my time included, I need to get some of my frustrations out. And so, I felt better than I had in so long, I had energy to play with my kids, I had energy to do all the things I needed to do around the house. And in order to play Ring Fit, I needed to be taking in calories, so that I could actually do the game and the exercises and all of that.
MEAGHAN HELMS: I have also struggled with drinking in the past and I think Ring Fit has also helped me with that. That’s one of the things, like, to help wind down after a day where it's just drudgery after drudgery, it’s you just kind of want a glass of wine. And so for me that I would have that. But when I had those days, where I would drink a lot, and then I would wake up the next morning, and this is when I had started to do Ring Fit regularly, I just felt like crap, and I would be like, “but I still want to do Ring Fit”, you know, even though I just am not feeling it right now. And so I would realise, like, “tonight, I don't want to feel like crap, I want to be able to do Ring Fit and feel really good in the morning”. And so I have changed my drinking habits to only drink on Saturday nights. So it's actually really helped me in that area also. For me, it was just, you know, since I'm starting to feel a lot healthier with the Ring Fit, then I want to feel healthier and in more aspects of my life as well.
JAMES PARKINSON: Meaghan’s persistence soon began to pay off in a physical sense too. She was getting back to a healthy weight and even seeing some muscle definition.
MEAGHAN HELMS: And so I finally stopped stepping on the scale every single day, because I realised that it just wasn't helpful, because I felt myself gaining muscle. And when I looked in the mirror, I still had some issues because I was gaining weight. But I realised that my arms especially - my arms and my face, especially, looked a lot healthier. My arms actually had some muscle to them. And my face wasn't as gaunt and thin and I just didn't look as sickly. And I think the breaking point for me was when my husband looked at me and said, “you look so healthy. And I mean before you looked, I mean, you look like a skeleton. And now you just look so healthy and I can't believe it.” And I just thought, “but I've gained 10 pounds, like you realise…”, and he's like, “you needed to”. And I think that's when it hit me like, “okay, so it's not like, I have to weigh 80 pounds for people to think that I look good or I look a certain way”. And still, like I said you know, when I look in the mirror it’s “I’ve got to work on this and that”. But then I stop myself, and especially since I have two little girls, I don't want my five year old to see me stepping on the scale every day. I don't want my five year old to be looking at herself in the mirror every day, thinking, “wow, I wish I could change this, I wish I could change that”. Because she is really perceptive, she's five, she understands those kinds of things. And as I was Face Timing, with my sister, and then later on with my mum, they both commented on how good I looked. And I was just like, “this is very interesting”, because they hadn't consulted each other at all. And my mum did not say, “you've gained weight”, my sister did not say, “you've gained weight”. But they both said, “wow, you look really good”, and “you look really healthy”. And my mum said, “the last time I saw you, I was worried”, and I was like, “oh okay, this is starting to make sense.
MEAGHAN HELMS: So, it gives me a sense of purpose throughout all of this. It gives me a way to get out some frustrations and anger. It gives me a way to exercise without just doing the treadmill and the elliptical and those sorts of things. Because when I was losing weight, like I said it was about control. And Ring Fit gives you that kind of control. Like I said, I started at difficulty level 14. I think I'm at 20 now. So you can change those sorts of things. You can choose the exercises you want to do. There's places you can just run, and so sometimes I end up running like two and a half miles and that's so great. And sometimes I end up running like .04 miles but I've done 100 squats and like 20 leg lifts, and all of that. So, it combines all of it. But it's also in a video game form, where it's a lot of fun because you have to do these exercises to defeat monsters, or to get certain ingredients for smoothies that will help you to level up or those kinds of things. So it's changed my life tremendously. And I have stepped on the scale, I think twice in the last week, and it's been steady at exactly the place where it needs to be. And so it's not like I just keep gaining weight until I'm going to be 200 pounds. It got me to a healthy weight. And I think that I will be able to stay there because now that I'm in a routine, I'm doing that and my calorie intake has been normal, has been healthy. And so I think that now that I’ve got to this healthy weight, and if I keep up this regimen, I'm gonna continue to be healthy, I'm going to continue to have more energy and it just, it feels so good.
JAMES PARKINSON: One of the hardest things about getting into a workout routine is just staying motivated enough to keep it going. And even though she was seeing results, Meaghan says it was also the story element of Ring Fit that kept her engaged.
MEAGHAN HELMS: This is different for me. And it's different because I'm not only moving my body but I always want to find out what's next in the storyline. And so when I'm starting to get to the end of a level, I think to myself, you know, I want to get to the next level just to see, kind of, what this one what the next level is going to be about, and the storyline for the next level, and how the citizens in the town of the next level are doing. And and so for me, the storyline was a huge part of it. So now that I'm on the extra levels, the storyline isn't as much of a part, but I'm still going through it, because I just really enjoy it. And I can always go back to those other levels, also. Which, I really appreciate that Ring Fit has done that, where you can choose which level you can go back to. And it just, it's the storyline that has kept me going the, I mean, like I've been praising the whole time the positive effects of what it's done in my life and also it gives me a break from the kids for a little bit, you know? I mean, they can be around they could be asking me questions, but they know that I literally can't answer if I'm doing it because when I'm doing those leg raises, like oh, I cannot breathe, so forget asking me for anything, go ask your dad.
JAMES PARKINSON: Meaghan also told me that her perception of exercise has changed. She says she's more open to doing a traditional yoga or pilates class, or even a spin class that allowed her to go at her own pace. And it’s also shifted her outlook on what it means to be healthy.
MEAGHAN HELMS: It has definitely made me more hopeful for the future. I thought when I was probably at the peak of my anorexia, I was depressed and there's a feeling when you're depressed that this is never going to end, and it's just going to feel like this forever. But then I started doing this, I started getting more energy, the depression slowly subsided and I don't feel that hopelessness anymore. And I know the way that body chemistry goes, it's probably going to come back but there are things I know that I now have more tools to be able to get out of it. And this is definitely one of them, and it's also helped me to eat healthier and eat more. Because if I don't eat breakfast then I'm not gonna have enough energy to do the Ring Fit around 10 or 11am. It's definitely given me a more positive outlook and has made me very, very hopeful for the future.
JAMES PARKINSON: A huge thank you to Meaghan Helms for sharing her story, and thanks to Peter Fulker. He is Master Trainer Peter on YouTube, go and check him out. Peter has lots of tips for Ring Fit, whether you’ve been playing the game for a while or maybe you’re a beginner, and this episode has encouraged you to give the game a try. A special thanks also to the Ring Fit community on Reddit.
JAMES PARKINSON: And for the record, I have stuck with my own Ring Fit adventure. At the time of recording, I’m up to Level 20 and I’m really enjoying it. I think if you approach the game with a positive attitude, you’ll definitely get something out of it.
JAMES PARKINSON: Now, of course Nintendo aren’t the only company to have delved into the exergaming category. The likes of Sony, Konami and Microsoft have all had their various attempts at combining fitness with video games. But what if your standard games console actually prevented you from playing, unless you were exercising at the same time? That story is next on Games Archive, just after the credits.
JAMES PARKINSON: Gameplay is a production of Lawson Media. This episode was written and produced by me, James Parkinson.
JAMES PARKINSON: The Gameplay theme was composed by Breakmaster Cylinder, our artwork is by Keegan Sanford, and other music, from Blue Dot Sessions and Breakmaster Cylinder.
JAMES PARKINSON: Now, if you’re enjoying the show, one small thing you can do to help us is to go and tell people about it - leave a review for Gameplay on Apple Podcasts, share the podcast on Reddit or gaming forums and tell your friends about us. All of that stuff makes a genuine impact on the show, in bringing in new listeners.
JAMES PARKINSON: You can stay up to date on the show by following us at gameplaypodcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And I invite you to come and join us on Discord - we have a really wonderful community there, where people come and discuss the show, and chat about everything gaming. You’ll find the direct link to that and much more on our website, gameplay.co.
GAMES ARCHIVE SEGMENT
JAMES PARKINSON: When you think about fitness video games, your mind probably immediately wanders to the big hits, like Wii Fit, maybe Dance Dance Revolution, or now, Ring Fit. These games are what you get when traditional video game companies seek to create fitness experiences. But what if you could use serious workout equipment when playing games instead?
JAMES PARKINSON: In the south of England, one company has been producing exercise equipment for gamers for over 10 years. They’re called Gamercize. But rather than a fitness style controller as an input device, Gamercize produces traditional fitness equipment, like a stepper and other exercise machines that connect to your regular console. You play your games like you normally do, but using the exercise equipment is what sends power to your controller. If you stop moving, the game pauses or your controller stops working.
Gamercize News Clip: Kids from Grass Valley are representing Team USA, and they’re taking on Team Derby, England in video game soccer - and they’re working out while doing it.
Gamercize News Clip: They have to exercise to power the Xbox! They have to continue on - this is a stair-stepper, they’ve got exercycles and the rowing machine as well.
JAMES PARKINSON: Gamercize equipment is definitely on the extreme end of the scale, although it does let you customise your difficulty level. And I guess if you are trying to incorporate more exercise into your routine, but don’t want to lose out on your gaming time, this might be an option to consider.
JAMES PARKINSON: I’m James Parkinson, thanks for listening.
• Master Trainer Peter on YouTube
• Nintendo's Ring Fit Adventure is a legit workout - and exactly what I need
• You're Gonna Break a Sweat Playing Nintendo's Ring Fit Adventure
• Ring Fit Adventure Takes Steps Many Exercise Games Don’t to Include Players With Disabilities
• How a video game helped me reclaim my body after having a baby
• Ring Fit Adventure development & beta images (Twitter thread via @PushDustin)