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Xbox Fitness: Tested

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There's sweat all over the floor. Not all of it's ours.

A ridiculously good looking American is bouncing around energetically on a flat screen television while a Lycra-clad fitness buff mimics the actions in the flesh. "Come on, you can keep it going!" affirms the American. Suddenly his top has disappeared, as have the tops of all the other fitness guys who were dancing about behind him. "Great job!" Thanks. We were only watching.

We're being introduced to Xbox One's fitness offerings, a host of workout programmes, including P90X, Insanity (both terrifyingly masculine) and Anchor Bay, that will be available for free for all those who purchases an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Each of these programmes has been tweaked and tuned to make the most of the new Kinect sensor - and it was much more than the Zumba class we'd expected.

As the model fumbled about on the living room floor, the Xbox One gave readouts of her pulse. "What wizardry is this?" we asked. Apparently the Kinect is able to detect micro-fluctuations in your skin, calculating your pulse to within a startlingly accurate 2-3 beats per minute. Fancy physics algorithms were also at work to show which muscle groups she was using: as the model bent and stretched, a ghostly on-screen silhouette glowed appropriately to indicate just how well she was using her core (very, it turned out). In turn, if she slacked off, messages would instruct her as to how to improve her form.

All of this sweating was converted into a set of points for our plucky demonstrator. Should you want to, you can challenge your friends to beat your score on various videos - think of it as Guitar Hero but with a yoga mat. It works you very, very hard if you're willing to follow its instructions, and the idea of challenging your gym buddy to outscore you on a half-hour martial arts session does have a certain appeal to it. He might beat you at Battlefield 4 every time, but how good is he at burpees?

In all honesty, we wouldn't buy an Xbox One for purely on the basis of its fitness programmes. Very few people will. But it's an interesting addition to the console's line up, and one that will come as a pleasant surprise to those who invest in a Gold subscription - even if your wife/girlfriend/mum makes more use of it than you do. If you've ever wanted to get fit but didn't want to cram yourself into a gym full of protein addicts, the Xbox One might be your best alternative.

Xbox Fitness will be available Christmas 2013

(Images: Microsoft)

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