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Stay in Shape the Techie Way

Published January 29, 2007
Who needs a Wii when you have a Xavix! Sitting on my comfy couch watching The Biggest Loser with my wife, both my wife and I were exposed to the Xavix system. Jackie Chan went through the US with this mat that resembled something like Dance Dance Revolution. The kids in school were having a ball with this thing. Unfortuantly, the Xavix was on for literally 10 seconds and it has a difficult name to spell. With the help of Google, I was able to uncover the Xavix in all of its glory. Doing lots of research, as I often do with any purchases, I've checked out every review on the web and even the YouTube videos of people playing it. So I was convinced but I wanted to see one in person before buying one. I was in El Paso on a short vacation at my wife's parents and decided to go on a Xavix hunt. After exhaustingly visiting Kohl's (Xavix's website said that is where they sell it), Circuit City and Best Buy, my wife and I finally were directed to Toy ‘R Us which had a Xavix system for sale, but nothing on display. We looked at the box and liked what we saw, but still felt unsure of the whole process. Why is the Xavix so unheard of? We looked the Wii and felt that it has potential, but is not designed for fitness. The games can be played from the couch and I would likely wanted to play other non-fitness related things. So the Wii was out for us. The final decision to invest in the Xavix was due to Fry's awesome return policy. I purchased the Xavix Startup Kit with Tennis from Fry's Outpost.com for $100. In addition, to Tennis, I bought the Jackie Chan PowerBoxing and J-Mat titles. The total for the order was $250. They were ALL out of stock. Xavix Tennis xavix tennis The first piece to arrive at our doorstep was the Xavix Startup Kit with Tennis. I am a tennis player and having a way to play tennis during the cold winter months really interested me. Unpacking the kit revealed the Xavix console and two small plastic tennis rackets. Installation was a breeze. Wiring was a pain in the butt as usual. I always have all my plugs used up and always have to snake wires through my Seaman's entertainment unit. If you don't have lots of wires and things connected to your TV, this will be a breeze. I was up and playing in minutes. The graphics on the system are pretty bad. This does not bother me. How good do the graphics need to be to play tennis? What I do appreciate is that the tennis is played against someone that resembles a human player. You are not a cartoon player like in Wii Tennis. Game play is very easy except for one thing, timing. Once you get the hang of it though, it is a walk in the park. The physics are not 100% and you are most likely going to play very well compared to real tennis. Again, this is ok and I was actually fairly shocked how well the game reacted to various moves. Everything works just like real tennis. You can lob and you can cut, you can serve and you even run up to the net. Two-player mode is fun if you have the space. My wife is afraid I will whack her head and refuses to play with me in this mode. The practice modes are pretty much useless. I was expecting a ball machine contstantly serving and allowing me to play around. The practice modes basically allow you to practice something until someone messes up, then you need to go and restart it again. Not worth it. If you are looking for a workout, Xavix Tennis will get your upper body some tuning. However, I find that it is hard to break a sweat with it. The main exercise to tennis is the running and Xavix Tennis eliminates almost all of that. Bottom line is that Xavix Tennis is fun and great for the whole family, but cannot be replaced for an exercise routine. Xavix PowerBoxing About two weeks after tennis arrived, Xavix PowerBoxing entered out house. I thought tennis was a pretty good workout for my arms. Boy was I wrong. bailee powerboxing PowerBoxing comes with a special cartridge with special sensors on it and a pair of boxing gloves. The gloves are not full enclosure gloves, which enables your hands to breathe. The straps on the gloves make it a bit difficult to get one without help from someone else. I am able to do it, but the strap could use some better design. The game starts off with a demo that allows you to get right into it. I was dressed in a suit and tie when I first tried this out (no jacket). Boy was I sweating! The punching really is intense and definitely works out your arms and brings up your heart rate. In essence, PowerBoxing is designed for a well-rounded workout. First, I was asked to enter my name, gender and weight. I was then asked which mode I would like to participate in: Championship, Exhibition or Exercise. Championship mode puts you in the ring with contenders in order of difficulty. After you K.O. the opponent, you are put in front of someone a bit more challenging. There is also a practice mode that will weigh you in stars of skill. This is basically the same as the exercise mode but meant to be like the warm up to the big fight. Exhibition allows you fight any opponent you've already beaten. However, it does allow you to fight a couple without playing any championship matches. Exercise mode has four sub-games:
  • Punch Fast - a punching bag
  • Panel Toucher - used to help with movement
  • Punch the Red balls - balls pop out of a machine and you hit the red ones
  • Combination training - Simon Says for boxing All of the exercise routines are challenging and I am still trying to get certain goals met. The exercise modes are nothing compared to the activity you get from actually being in the ring. I definitely need to shower after a few matches. PowerBoxing is fun and I recommend it with one caveat: I am having issues with the responsiveness of the sensors. Sometimes the wrong hand triggers, the wrong move goes, or other oddities occur. Sometimes moving a different distance or holding your hands differently makes things better. It's just a bit flaky compared to the other games. Xavix J-Mat
    Jackie Chan really takes a central role in this game. The game comes with a mat with 4 sections horizontally. To work out the arms a little, the game comes with two one-pound hand weights. After installing the batteries, the game is ready to play. Just like the PowerBoxing game, you are prompted to enter you name, gender and weight. This is used to calculate the amount of calories you burn and track progress over time. The following modes are available:
  • Step Lively - an aerobic exercise that Jackie Chan leads the class
  • Vigorous Step - you must jump on the right pad on the beat
  • Jackie's Action Run - you run down a street and jump over, avoid and kick things
  • Dash - see how many steps you can take in 10 secs
  • Reflex - see how fast you can jump when the trigger is pulled The J-Mat is awesome. The senses worked almost flawlessly. The workout is amazing and a lot of fun too. I really thought I would not use it as much as the boxing because it seemed a little "girly." This was not the case. The moves are hard and the workout is far better then I get from Tennis or PowerBoxing. My wife and I find that we like the Vigorous Step the most, then Step Lively, then the Action Run. The Dash and Reflex are really only fun when you have friends over and try to compete with them. We did find that there was one issue. We use the mat on carpeting and after as we worked out, the mat would move to the front of the room. This made is hard to do some moves, as we had to relocate the mat during a session. My wife came up with a novel idea to put Velcro pieces on the bottom of the mat to prevent it from shifting. It works perfectly! She really has a mind for problem solving. We decided to market it and call it Xavix J-Velcro :) Last Thursday, I did a 40-minute session with lots of hard levels. My heart was pounding. I really got a great workout. I highly recommend the J-Mat. Conclusion Xavix, albeit hard to spell and find, is a really exciting platform for fitness. The games we got were the top three contenders for most exercise. At the top, the J-Mat works you out aerobically - the best kind of workout there is. It is mostly a lower-body workout, but the when the hand weights are used correctly; this can be a well-rounded exercise tool. The PowerBoxing is aerobic too and focuses on your upper body; the problems with the sensors are very frustrating and I hope I am doing something wrong because it is a truly great game. Tennis is really fun and easy too. Don't use it for a workout! It is a great game for getting off the couch and is fun to play against friends and family. If you are looking for something to get you off your couch and don't want to hang your clothes on it to dry, I recommend the Xavix. If you are looking for more exciting games with better graphics, try the Wii. It is worth noting that the Xavix does have other games including Baseball, Bowling, Fishing, Golf and a Scale. For more information on these, please see http://www.xavix.com/ and http://www.xavixstore.com/
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  • Ronnie Schwartz is the CTO and founder of RustyBrick, an agile web & mobile development firm that creates effective applications and focuses on finding the right balance between time to production and software quality to get clients in front of their customers quickly and effectively. Ronnie brings over twenty years of innovative design, programming and management expertise to the table.

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