Know your anime strength.

You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not feeling particularly healthy while writing a review for a fitness game (darned summer cold…ugh). I was feeling much better when I was playing the game, so let’s have at it. Our entry today is Fitness Circuit from Spike Chunsoft US, and, as a fun and fitness entry, it’s nothing to sneeze at (sorry, couldn’t help it).

If you have not used an exercise / sports training “game” like this before, Fitness Circuit’s answer to the big question is yes, you can make a fitness game and have it end up being fun and effective. It uses “super circuit training,” which it describes as “… a workout method that alternates aerobic and strength-building exercises to efficiently burn calories, increase endurance, and improve muscle strength in a short period of time.” And how it does this is pretty unique.

You may have seen commercials for devices which step you through a workout routine while you can see either yourself, an “instructor,” or both. With Fitness Circuit, you get a real-world motion silhouette and a trainer avatar. The difference is the avatar isn’t doing what you’re doing. While you may be marching in place, doing squats, doing knee-ups, etc., the avatar is running an obstacle course, rowing a boat, or some other beat-the-clock competitive event.

This is the twist where the exercise becomes a game. The silhouette is showing you what you are supposed to be doing, and the better you execute the movements, the faster your avatar gets to the finish line. The game knows what you are doing from the accelerometers in the Joy-Cons. How closely your movements match the timing of the game will determine how fast your avatar moves.

So, here’s the first little aside; you can play this game either on the TV or on table top, but the game will require that the Joy-Cons are not attached to the Switch. It’s a good idea to use the security loops, just in case you get enthusiastically into the swing of things.

Let’s talk about avatar visuals. There are six options: three male and three female. You can do some customizing with your avatar for stuff like hair color, eye color, outfit, and so on. There is a small degree of anime unrealism with some of the body proportions; the legs are a bit longer than normal human proportions, but it isn’t so exaggerated to be distracting.

The movements are mostly realistic as well. There are minor glitches, like ponytails that don’t flop around in a natural manner or hands that seem to pass through legs when marching. Again, not so noticeable as to be distracting or ruin the game, so no real concern there. The voice work for the avatars does a good job of getting the whole “voice matches the face” feeling, so well done there.

Customization has a place for your personal info. It is basically limited to your height and weight, which calculates BMI (body mass index). While this measurement is mostly helpful, there are limited circumstances where it may be a bit off the mark.

I enjoyed the flexibility of the game (more on that in a bit) and being able to get in a workout at a moment’s notice in the comfort of my home.

The other side of my personal schedule means I am in the gym three days per week working on a little cardio, but mostly using machines and free weights for strength training. If you are using a weight training regimen, you might build enough muscle mass to tip the scales, as it were, into fooling the BMI measurement into thinking you still have a couple pounds to lose. Personally, I prefer the visual tests; if I look healthy and my clothes fit well, then I’m happy enough, even if some measurements say I should drop five more pounds. (To be honest, I should probably lose the extra five anyway.)

Now for the important parts –working out. You can play Fitness Circuit by yourself anytime, but the game also has a multi-player feature so you can work out and compete against up to three others. You can use canned workout routines or you can create your own set of exercises. There are several cardio and strength training moves from which you can choose.

You can even select custom difficulty levels by indicating how many sets of each move you want to perform. Each of the moves will have a one to three-star difficulty rating, so you can take it as easy as needed. It is worth noting that the game does come with a health advisory at the intro screen—please read it. It is always a good idea to be very aware of your limitations when getting into an exercise routine. The last thing you want is to overdo something and end up hurt. As an additional way to help keep you safe, the game will offer you the option to do some warm up and cool down routines to help your body cope with the workout and recovery. The basic routine the game suggests is just ten minutes of workout per day for three days per week. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you do the exercises faithfully and enthusiastically, you will get results.

I tested the limits of what the game would recognize as “participation” and found out you can sit in an easy chair and barely move your arms and still get the avatar to run the race. That’s the same with most motion-based exercise games, however, so you just have to be disciplined enough to take the workout seriously. And even with that minimal motion, I could tell my heart picked up a few beats per minute. Once you really get into the game, you will work up a sweat. There are no weights, but all the motions use the major muscle groups, and gravity is quite enough to provide a good workout.

Fitness Circuit is available now in the eShop. If you want to have a little fun while getting some exercise in, this game is a good option.