Did you hear?...Wii Fit launches to much ado, wait lists

When was the last time a piece of fitness training equipment of any kind had full-page ads in national media announcing when it would go on sale -- with blogs buzzing about sell-outs? Right. Never. Well, until now. Wii Fit may be preparing to trounce all over much of what's on the market for getting fit -- and could be poised to be the "fun" way to train that all those inactives in the United States (and, in this case, the world) need to actually be active.
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When was the last time a piece of fitness training equipment of any kind had full-page ads in national media announcing when it would go on sale -- with blogs buzzing about sell-outs?

Right. Never. Well, until now.

Wii Fit may be preparing to trounce all over much of what's on the market for getting fit -- and could be poised to be the "fun" way to train that all those inactives in the United States (and, in this case, the world) need to actually be active. Wii Fit (pronounced "we" for those who have lived in a dark cave of late) already launched in some countries, including in Europe on April 25, with Woolworths in the United Kingdom racing through its stock at a rate of 90 per minute, according to some online news reports. Said one blogger in response, "Wii Fit shortages are sure to happen at this rate." There is even a Wikipedia entry for Wii Fit (click here to see that).

According to the GoNintendo blog, Gerry Berkeley, Woolworths games trading manager, said, "This is a revolution in computer gaming. For a game not targeted at gamers to sell in numbers like this is unheard of and is genuinely changing the market. Woolworths stores still have stock left at this stage but some stores will run out today and others will sell out tomorrow morning. We are talking to Nintendo about securing extra stock and doing everything we can to ensure this happens in the event of a sell out."

A shortage? An international clamoring for fitness gear? Oh my. What are "wii" waiting for?

In Sunday's paper, for example, Wal-Mart ran a full-page ad on the inside back cover of the national supplement, Parade: "Say hello to Wii Fit." Target devoted a full page to Wii Fit and related gear (a Wii system, extra Wii Fit games, TV screens, etc.) announcing Wii Fit would be available at 8 a.m. on May 21. Are we actually going to see lines at the door for a piece of fitness equipment? We can only hope. Of course, it doesn't hurt that owner Nintendo planned a $40 million marketing campaign. But if that's what it takes to get people interested in something that will get them fit, more power to 'em.

Basically, the Wii Fit uses Nintendo's motion-sensing technology and a wireless board to engage users in various fitness activities, from running and jumping, to balancing, yoga, dance, pushups or sports such as skiing. The sky's the limit really in what it can prompt a user to do. It can even monitor body mass and weight for additional motivation or help you simply balance your muscle use, strength and ability. The beauty is, Wii Fit is within the reach financially of the masses at less than $100 compared to other outstanding exergaming technologies that unfortunately have been limited to corporate users such as clubs or community centers because of cost.

SNEWS® watched video clips of some of its fitness games recently (click here to see a few on the USA Today website as well as to see that paper's story. You can go here www.nintendo.com/wiifit/launch/ to find out more details at Nintendo's website.

Wii Fit was developed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Nintendo mascot Mario, who came up with Wii Fit as he became more interested in his own fitness and health. He told USA Today in a May 15 story, "When I design games, what I am trying to do is find a way to take something that is fun or entertaining from something I have experienced and to bring that to other people so they can experience that same degree of joy."

Joy it may bring. We can only hope it will get people smiling as broadly as all those folks on the website -- and that it will get them interested in fitness too.

SNEWS® View: Despite what we believe some may think, this is not the industry's enemy. In fact it could serve to get people more fit and therefore get them interested in additional fitness equipment and training, as well as simply an active and healthier lifestyle that includes a combination of going outdoors or staying indoors, depending on their mood. Wii can't wait to sii what Wii can bii.

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