Each week intrepid reporter Rachel Grunwell will try out a new form of exercise to bring you the lowdown

What is it?

A personal fitness training programme that plays through an Xbox 360, complete with a motion-sensor, that connects to your TV.

What's needed? Xbox 360, Kinect motion sensor, Nike+Kinect Training disk, and workout gear (or you could exercise in your PJs as you do this at home!).

The experience: I've got a new man in my life, a super-fit, muscle-bound and tattooed bald bloke named Alex. And he gets my heart racing.


But Alex is only real in a virtual sense. He's a personal trainer who appears in my lounge if I switch on the Nike+Kinect Training programme.

To start, I key in my weight, height and other particulars. Then Alex takes me through a physical assessment (I copy his moves) so the sensors can pick up my ability and also if I have any injuries or weaknesses. Then, Alex designs a programme just for moi. It's amazing how intuitive it is. So I can't fib to Alex that I'm some super athlete. He knows exactly how short and inflexible I am. He knows my lack of physical ability also. I choose the option to get toned, rather than stronger or leaner (but in reality I'd take all three, thanks!).

It doesn't take long to get familiar with the gaming control and swiping my hand correctly across the screen to operate it. I soon figure out I have to stand in a particular spot in my lounge so the sensor can track me and calculate my efforts.

Alex always gets my heart rate up, like a real-life personal trainer, getting me to do dead bugs, butt kicks, rapid response jumps, hip circles and airplane warriors (where you kinda mimic an aeroplane).

Each drill is pretty quick and snappy and Alex always demonstrates the moves so I can master them. If I don't get them right he sorts me out pronto. For example, "Lift your left knee, not your right one!". He knows every move I make and also plays hard ball by not counting my reps that are not perfect, so there's no slacking.

Alex also knows if I outdo my personal best on a drill and gets all excited, saying "good job" and "nothing's going to stop you today!" What gal wouldn't lap up all this attention?

I like that I can pause a routine, which also happens instantly if you leave the room as the sensor can't track you. It's handy for when I need more toys or morning tea for my baby Finn if he's "working out" with me. This reminds me of other bonuses, there's no babysitter required when you see this personal trainer, nor wasted travel time getting to a gym.

The sensor can be a bit temperamental sometimes though, particularly during floor exercises when it loses sight of me, and the program momentarily stopping because of this can affect the flow of a routine, but it's easily sorted - I pop up my head back into sight.

The workout is, of course, a solo experience - despite the virtual gym-goers in the background of Alex's "gym" which make me laugh. So there's no one to distract me or give a toss about my bad-hair day.

After each workout and after I've had enough of Alex, I can flick a switch to get rid of him (and what girl hasn't wanted to do that to a bloke or two?). But overall, I reckon Alex rocks. He makes me sweat, and swear a little of course, but he gets me moving.

How much? The Xbox, Kinect sensor and programme is about $400 (it plays on your TV). But keep an eye out for bundle deals heading into Christmas.

Worth it? This personal trainer is on-hand at any time, and is cheaper than a real personal trainer or yearly gym membership. But you have to stay motivated to keep switching him on.

Try it: If you already have an Xbox you can download a demo version from Xbox Live or Xbox.co.nz. If you're thinking of getting the console visit a retailer and ask to try before you buy.

Rating: 9.5/10