Gamification Miscellaneous

Embracing the Gamification of Working Out: My Journey with Ring Fit Adventure

March 24, 2024

Discovering a Possible Game-Changer

As the world grappled with the onset of the pandemic, like many, I found myself confined within the walls of my home, seeking new ways to maintain both my physical and mental well-being. This quest led me to discover Ring Fit Adventure – a unique blend of gaming and fitness that transformed my approach to exercise and actually introduced the concept of “fun” into my workouts.

In the past I’ve talked a lot about gamification in order to make less enjoyable tasks more enjoyable. The best example of this is Duolingo, I’ve been practicing Spanish daily for 7 or 8 years now. The simple idea of losing a streak is enough to keep me practicing. While I’m not fluent yet I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the language and can understand a lot of spoken Spanish and have even read several novels in it now!

You may also remember a while back I logged may daily routine of Rocksmith. I would definitely say in the 100 days that I practiced it I got further with playing the guitar than I ever have, ultimately that one did not stick. It was a really cool concept but the game just didn’t hook me in the same way and for what ever reason I just set it down one day and never picked it up. Looking back, the game itself wasn’t really all that fun, which probably played a big role.

Enter Ring Fit

Ring Fit, with its engaging gameplay and fitness challenges, offered an unexpected yet delightful fusion of fun and exercise. I committed to using it two to three times a week, a regimen that felt more like a playful escape than a workout session. Turns out though, it’s surprisingly addictive. While the story line isn’t that interesting, nor are the characters, the game as a whole does seem to do a good job of making me want to play longer than I actually should. I am often prompted to finish for the day as it thinks I’ve gotten enough exercise but I still want to continue playing, which is a great sign.

The game’s design, which cleverly integrates physical activity into an adventurous narrative, kept me motivated though not entirely captivated. As I navigated through various levels, battling enemies with squats and lunges, I hardly noticed the time passing – a stark contrast to the often monotonous nature of traditional workouts where I find myself constantly glancing at my watch and telling myself “Just another 10 minutes, you can do it!”.

The Story

Overall the story for Ring Fit isn’t that amazing. I won’t spoil anything, but lets just say the story is just enough to keep you engaged, but not enough to really keep you coming back for more. You have the Ring character who acts as your guide, but often can be rather annoying, as you persue the big bad: Dragaux. Who is Dragaux, well don’t worry, you’ll get to see a lot of him. He’s basically the end boss of every world then gets up and flies off to the next one. But he’s definitely slightly more interesting than most of the bad guys you’ll be fighting.

Along the way you’ll meet lots of other characters. Each world has a store front with two familiar faces, they will give you quests and sell you what you need. You’ll often make new friend and companions along the way, but again none of it is particularily engaging and I’m struggling to remember their names or any key plot points as I’m typing this out.

Of course with it being a game they’ve weaved in all sorts of game like elements, such as collecting coins on each level that can later be used in the store to buy clothing, ingredients or shakes. You can also make your own shakes by squeezing them, this giving you a bit more excercise. The shakes themselves act as powerups in battle or can be used to revive yourself. You also have a skill tree that you can unlock new excercises and techniques as the game progresses, which actually works well for getting you to start off with basic exercises that get more difficult as your fitness and skill level progresses.

The Exercises

This is where Ring Fit really impressed me. I would not have thought you could get so may different exercises out of a flexible Ring controller, but yet you can. In addition to squeezing and pulling it there are many other exercises you can without the controller such as yoga poses, pushups, situps, and all that stuff. In the end you’ll find yourself aching after a 30 minute session, much more you’d expect going in.

Falling off the Wagon

With life being life, I eventually fell off the wagon with Ring Fit. In my case it was a fairly reasonable excuse, we moved to a new house and with that pretty much all my good habbits were disrupted. I stopped reading (previously I had been reading one chapter a day in Spanish), I stopped doing Ringfit and I stopped biking. All of those things I eventually got back into but each one took different amounts of time, and it was unfortunately almost 2 years before I picked Ringfit back up.

But I won’t beat myself up over it, as I said life tends to be that way sometimes. So in the end I was just happy that I did come back to it and get myself back out of that rut.

Unexpected Outcomes: Beyond Weight Loss

While I haven’t experienced significant weight loss, the impact of Ring Fit on my overall fitness and well-being has been profound. The consistent, moderate exercise sessions enhanced my stamina, flexibility, and muscle tone. Within just two weeks of starting to use it I was noticing muscles where it previously felt like there were none, most noticably in my chest and arms. So while I did not lose any significant weight I definitely did put on some muscle mass and since muscle is more dense it may have obscured the fat loss I experienced.

I also noticed a difference in overall comfort when not working out. What I mean by that is I was starting to notice that after sitting all day (for work) either my lower back would be sore, or often my butt from sitting on the chair. Since I was getting up often enough or stretching these issues were starting to get worse. But when actively using Ring Fit I notice these problems just all go away as I get more exercise.

But more importantly, Ring Fit rekindled my enthusiasm for physical activity. The game’s approachable nature removed the intimidation factor often associated with exercise, especially after a prolonged period of inactivity. As someone who can often be self conscious I didn’t have to worry about getting all gross and sweaty around other people, or people watching me exercise (except maybe my wife) as I got to do it all from the comfort of my home.

A Gateway to Broader Fitness Horizons

The most surprising outcome of my Ring Fit adventure was how it paved the way for a return to the gym. The confidence and physical readiness I gained from my at-home workouts made the transition back to a gym environment less daunting and I felt myself wanting some extra exercise to compliment Ring Fit’s workout. This was a big step for me as I had not had a gym membership in 15 years let alone went to one with any regularity.

I’ve also noticed in the spring when I get back into biking it takes me less time to get back into biking shape. Previously I would start each spring only being able to biek short distances and after going several times a week all summer I would slowly increase my distance to a 10k loop. And then by the time I got that on farm status fall would start to break into winter and it would be too cold to bike, and I’d put it away in the garage again for another 6 months jut to start the cycle (no pun intended) all over again. No longer do I feel like my winter months will be spent gaining weight and getting out of shape like the years of past.

Today, I complement my Ring Fit sessions with a couple of gym visits per week or workouts in VR (I’ll be writing a whole other post on working out in VR, don’t worry). This blended approach keeps my fitness routine diverse and engaging, allowing me to reap the benefits of both structured gym exercises and the dynamic, fun elements of Ring Fit.

But What About My Diet

I feel like it would be a disservice to skip over this part, even though I’m sure you are more interested in Ring Fit than a diet. And to be clear, so was I. I think that was one of the bigger issues is I did not change the way I ate, I just added some exercise to my life. While that was great for improving my overall cardiovascular abilities and easing some aches and pains related to being out of shape, it doesn’t really get you far when it comes to weight loss.

To achieve any significant amount of weight loss you will need to not only incoroproate exercise into your life but also change the way you eat. So do not take my lack of signficant weight loss as a hit against Ring Fit, as I take the blame for that one.

A Few Criticisms

Ring Fit is a great game, but like anything there’s room for improvement. One thing I would have liked to have seen is some sort of a daily streak mechanism, or something that rewarded you for exercising more often. As it stands you can literally not play for 2 years and when you start back up it does not say anything different, not even a “Wow, welcome back! It’s been a while!” There needs to be something to get us to keep coming back, even if it’s some free rings (the in game currency) or ingredients for smoothies.

I also felt it lacked any sort of competitive elements. While I’m not a hugely competitive person I can see some people being really driven by it and things like being able to complete time trials or even game gyms against random online oponents would be a fantastic addition.

I also was a bit surprised that the game doesn’t really track or monitor your goals. It asks you your age and weight when you first start playing but never again does it suggest weighing in again, or updating that information. Now I realize it doesn’t dcome with a built in scale like Wii Fit did, and maybe not everyone owns one, but I don’t see any harm in adding the ability to track your weight loss. In fact, it just seems… obvious. I’ve seen stories on Reddit of people losing significant amounts of weight and the game would have never rewarded them in any way for that as it simply had no way of knowing.

Reflections and Moving Forward

Looking back, I realize how Ring Fit was not just a stop-gap measure during the pandemic but a transformative tool in my fitness journey. It got the ball rolling and had a snowball effect that lead into me getting more active in other areas of life, which is everything I could have hoped for. It demonstrated that fitness could be accessible, enjoyable, and effective, even in the most challenging times.

In a world where our fitness options are vast and varied, Ring Fit stands out as a testament to the power of innovation and adaptability in maintaining our health and well-being. For anyone looking to add a fun, engaging element to their fitness regime, I can’t recommend it enough.

I am hopeful there will be a sequel, I think we are long overdue for Ring Fit 2. But I now start to wonder if we will ever see one now that The Switch is nearing the of it’s lifecycle. It’s more likely if we see a sequel it will be on their next platform. But in any case, there are numerous other fitness games worth checking out and most do not require buying any additional hardware like Ring Fit. Many even have demos available, so check them out!

Remember, the journey to fitness is personal and ever-evolving. Whether it’s through virtual adventures, traditional workouts or a combination of the two, what matters most is finding joy in the movement and celebrating the small victories along the way!

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