Even though EA Sports Active 2 was much more expensive than the other two Kinect exercise video games at $90, I chose EA Sports Active 2 for my Xbox 360 Kinect because it offered the most serious approach to exercising, and I wasn't disappointed. EA Sports Active 2 comes with both a heart rate monitor and a resistance band. I used the resistance band for one exercise session and hated it, but EA Sports Active 2 will let you program in your own hand weights instead, which is what I currently use.
I wouldn't call EA Sports Active 2 a fun approach to exercising, although it does have some fun game-like exercises intermixed with squats, lunges, running, push-ups and bicep curls. Dodgeball, Cardio Boxing, Step Aerobics, Mountain Biking, and Soccer Goalkeeper offer a nice break to let me catch my breath again and let my heart rate fall to a more realistically sustainable 135 bpm from the high intensity burn of 165 bpm. But the Kinect sensor doesn't allow for much cheating in these exercises as it mirrors my every body move on the television. If I don't squat low enough, I don't get credit for the exercise. However, on those horrifically hard split squat jumps of which I can currently do 5 out of the 30 required, I can get away with doing very fast alternating reverse lunges (split squats without the jumping) to complete the exercise and receive the credit for it.
Figuring out how to adjust the heart rate monitor properly on my arm is the toughest part of the daily set-up for EA Sports Active 2. I discovered that if I place the little green light directly over one of the blue veins on my forearm, I'm much more likely to get an accurate heart rate reading during all of the different exercises. EA Sports Active 2 keeps track of how many calories I'm burning based upon the intensity level of my heart rate. When I started the program, I chose to do the nine week fitness training course on Medium, but after two weeks of four half-hour sessions per week, I hated the program because it was just too hard for me in the intensity level and I quit playing for awhile. After Christmas, I started the nine week fitness training course again, but on Easy this time. By the third week, I had already accomplished 1, 000 squats to win the achievement award there. I currently have logged in over 13 hours of exercise sessions, 33 miles of virtual travel, and 3, 400 calories burned.
The Achievement Awards that are offered for the Xbox 360 Kinect version of EA Sports Active 2 actually do keep me motivated to keep with the program and reach the next accomplishment level. Awards are offered for how many calories are burned, how many hours of exercise have been accomplished, and how many repetitions of the exercises have been done. The nine week fitness training program focuses on lower body, upper body, cardio and an overall mix respectively, but it is weak on the core development and abdominal toning. I can develop my own customized work-out out of the more than seventy different exercises that are offered, but the nine-week course is plenty of exercise for me right now, and I'll work on toning the abs later. Those seventy exercises are mostly just variations on the basic lunges and squats for the lower body, variations of running in place and jumping for the cardio workout, variations of curls and lateral raises for the upper body, and variations of planks, push-ups and crunches for the core, but there's certainly some variations of these standard exercises that I enjoy doing much better than others.
I actually need a lot more cleared space in my living room to be able to play EA Sports Active 2. Standing ten to twelve feet away from the Kinect sensor with bright overhead lights on tends to give me the best results. But I still have trouble getting recognized on the half plank to side plank exercise and I frequently quit out of that particular exercise rather than suffer the frustration of a stalled video game. If you're in generally good shape, I would recommend EA Sports Active 2 to take you to the next level in your work-outs, but I don't recommend EA Sports Active 2 for anyone who isn't seriously committed to getting in shape.