One of the most common trends for New Year’s resolutions involve the words “exercise” and “more.” However, with COVID-19 ravaging the country yet again, you probably either can’t go to the gym or at least have a very good reason to ditch. Fortunately, if you have a Switch, there’s a surprisingly effective solution that – in my personal experience – has served me better than going to the gym in the first place.
The question of how best to exercise during quarantine caused Ring Fit Adventure to completely sell out as the US entered lockdown in mid-March – much like the Switch itself. Fortunately, Ring Fit – which only came out in October 2019 – is back in stock. For now.
But that’s great news for you. If you like video games enough to be reading this website, chances are that Ring Fit’s central motivational conceit will work for you. As the title suggests, Ring Fit’s workouts take the form of an adventure game – you battle monsters, level up, and gain new skills as you advance through the game. The main baddie is the ultra bro-y Drageaux, who just oozes all the cliches about toxic workout culture.
Is the story a bit corny? Sure. Does Ring, your guide, get a little annoying? Yeah. Am I finding exercise fun for the first time in my life? YES.
One of Ring Fit’s greatest strengths is that it is very aware of toxic workout culture. Its tone focuses on helping you set goals for yourself and celebrating your victories, big or small. “You’ve done 100 squats with us? Holy shit, that’s awesome!” Or something like that.
But the game’s greatest asset actually makes it arguably better than the gym – unless you can afford a personal trainer (and who can, especially these days?) Because I don’t know about you, but in the absence of someone with more knowledge guiding my way around Planet Fitness, I was just hoping I was using the machines correctly and targeting the muscles I was hoping to target.
Ring Fit is the closest thing to a personal trainer I can realistically achieve right now, financially or COVID-ly. The game separates its workouts into four main categories: legs, arms, stomach, and yoga. Ring will give you helpful tips on how to maintain correct form and how to breathe correctly. Meanwhile, an animation will illustrate how the exercise should look and show the exact muscles you’re targeting.
It sinks in way better than those highlighted muscle pics on the average gym’s machines. The game even gives you muscle pop quizzes from time to time.
The individual exercises in the game are called “Fit Skills” – things like squats, yoga poses, arm presses, etc. Ring Fit will give you access to harder exercises as you level up – meaning, as you’re physically ready to handle them. Because of this mechanic, and the excellent job the game does of helping me target the muscles I want to, I’ve found myself noticing actual physical changes in my body.
Hell, I’m even developing abs! Me, who ran the one of the slowest miles both in my middle and high school gym classes! ABS! And I’ve had more intense, glorious muscle sores from 15 minutes of Ring Fit than from an hour or so at the gym.
Ring Fit encourages you to work out for between 10 and 20 minutes a session (in total movement time, not total gameplay time, a brilliant distinction that the game makes). Honestly, I’ve found doing these short-ish sessions five times a week more effective than my previous New Years’ resolution, which was to go to the gym for an hour or so three times a week.
The one shortcoming of Ring Fit is cardio. The courses in adventure mode can be pretty short and unsatisfactory for those who just want to run a mile or two, straight-up. However, there is a makeshift solution in the game’s custom mode, which enables you to build your own workouts. If you string together enough jogging courses, you’ll be able to get in the run you desire. Or, you know, you could just run around the block if you’re able to.
Personally, I feel like Ring Fit has shown me how to take care of myself. I’ve actually learned from it. So unless I develop an unexpected craze for bodybuilding, I’m not even sure when I’ll want to go back to the gym.