Posts Tagged ‘sports’

A Geek Watches the Olympics

September 2, 2008

I am not what you would call a sports fan. I’ve never watched the Superbowl, couldn’t tell you who won the World Series last year and generally would prefer to poke a stick in my ear rather than listening to any kind of sports discussion. I didn’t grow up in a sports watching family since my dad never watched sports nor did my grandfather (unless you count horse racing but that was more about the monetary rewards rather than any love of sports).

Strangely enough though, I always look forward to the Olympics. I’ve come to think of the Olympics as an event for people who generally don’t like watching sports. Although I think they have gone a little crazy adding sports that I don’t thing are really Olympic in stature (BMX Racing? Ping-Pong? Trampoline?), it’s fun to watch the best of the best in every country come together to compete every four years. And while I generally enjoy the Winter Games more than the Summer Games (maybe because I was born in a blizzard?), the Beijing Games have been riveting.

I will fully admit that this is because I been hit hard with Phelps mania. I don’t ever recall watching the swimming finals in Olympics past but I have been glued to my television all last week. Often before the Olympics, the media will pump up certain athletes as the sure to be stars of the games only to see that them crack under the pressure. And the Beijing Games have certainly served up their share of disappointing athletes. But Phelps has been amazing. I managed to watch all but one race live (I missed the nail biter race that gave him the 7th gold because someone who shall remain unnamed wanted to watch Psych instead. Grr Argh!). Sometimes he won by wide margins, other times by freakishly close ones but watching someone actually achieve 8 gold medals straight in one week makes me believe that Phelps must be part fish.

But besides Phelps, watching athletes like Dara Torres, Jason Lezak, Ryan Lochte, Aaron Peirsol, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin has kept me up til the wee hours most nights (why NBC decided to save most key events until after 11 pm is beyond me). And when Jason Lezak came from behind to crush Alain Bernard in the 4×100 medal relay had me jumping off of my couch like an actual sport fan would. And I’ve been reading the sports pages instead of tossing them aside like normal.

But I know as with every other Olympics, once the closing ceremony is over and some athlete makes their debut on the Wheaties box (Phelps have a deal with Kelloggs so the field is wide open), I will once again eschew anything sports-related for my traditionally geeky pursuits. Which I guess is how it will be until the Vancouver Winter Games roll around in 2010. And then I will become a temporary sports geek once again.

Seeing Wii-sults

August 19, 2008

Back in my mid 20’s, something odd happened one day. Suddenly, and seemingly without warning my pants didn’t fit. I had just bought these pants and immediately assumed I had gotten the length/width sixes mixed up. But that theory was throw in the trash when I checked the tag. I guess I really was an adult since I was finally upsizing. I knew (and was told by several slightly older co-workers) that once I gave into upsizing, there was no going back. I was going to become one of those guys whose belt looks like it was swallowed by his gut. The battle was on.

My first course of action was joining a group of co-workers in an after hours Tae Bo group. Not being the most athletic person, I was nervous. After all there was kicking involved. But it was pretty fun and despite my lackluster kicking ability, I picked it up fairly well. The group atmosphere helped and the only drawback was having to stare at Billy Blanks sweaty crotch. Soon people were telling me that it looked like I lost weight. I didn’t see any “real” results. My pants were still weren’t going on any easier and eventually the group, much like my old pants, disbanded.

I was losing the battle. I began skateboarding and got a second job that required a lot of walking. I figured these combined efforts would stem the tide. Unfortunately they didn’t. Occasionally I would try to go back to Tae Bo or use my girlfriend’s treadmill but I never did either for very long. Eventually I got used to having to go up a size each year until I cut myself off and then got use to wearing small pants.

When I heard the Wii Fit I didn’t think a lot about it at first. The concept seemed a natural fit (no pun intended) for the Wii. The whole basis of the Wii seemed to be getting people off the couch and moving while still playing fun video games.

Even the game it is packaged with, Wii Sports, can make you break a sweat. As time went on though the idea Wii Fit seemed to grow on me. After watching an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto on the Nintendo Channel, I was convinced. According to him, the point of it wasn’t just to lose weight but to actually make you aware of your body and what you are putting in it and also to create discussions about it among families. Listening to Miyamoto made me a believer and on May 21st, I woke up early and got in line at the Nintendo Store at 8 a.m.

When I got home I immediately put in the disk and got on board. After the first workout I started to think that I might actually lose weight. Just a few minutes into Hula Hoop® and I was starting to break a serious sweat. The push-up/plank exercise made my arms sore and the yoga seemed to be stretching me. I prefer to believe that this was happening because it was a good workout and not because at that point walking from the couch to the kitchen was a considerable distance for me.

The other reason I thought this would work was that I liked doing it. Thanks to a friend my step aerobics class was filled with the cast of The Office, I felt ridiculous doing Hula Hoop®, and when things aren’t goofy fun (like Strength Training) I enjoyed trying to get the high score. Soon enough the scale started saying I was weighing less. Even more amazing, the number kept going down. Here it is 3 months later and I’ve lost 10 pounds. The last time that happened I had a stomach flu. So it seems to be working. And I’m not the only one. There are countless blogs ( like this one or this article) of people tracking their results.

But there’s something else going on here. Much like the Wii console itself, Wii Fit seems to becoming a sort of pop phenomenon. It’s already being used to aid in rehabilitation (or Wiihab). It’s been at the center of controversy. Plus this video has become such a hit on YouTube that Nintendo felt the need to deny it being a marketing scheme launched by them. Playboy has even posted similar videos on their website.

Is this the future or exercise? Are gyms obsolete? Is it just a way for fat ass gamers to become a normal shape? All I know is I have to go buy a new belt.