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Wii Will Clock You

Hey, kids! Don't be alarmed if your mother asks to borrow the Nintendo Wii to do some yoga or break into a simulated ski run. Nintendo's (Nasdaq: NTDOY.PK  ) Wii Fit hits stores today, and the video game giant is hoping that things shape up nicely as it cashes in on the fitness craze.

The $89 title, which consists of a balance board and Wii software, represents a bold new direction for the video game industry. The board, which tracks performance and calculates things such as your weight and body mass, is aiming to do more than just replace that treadmill collecting cobwebs in the garage.

If successful, Nintendo will once again broaden the reach of the video game industry. Nintendo DS titles such as Brain Age and Nintendogs -- as well as the hands-on nature of the revolutionary Wii -- have already redefined the diehard-gamer stereotype. Now the company wants to reach deeper still into the masses, even if that means making you sweat.

Rival console makers don't necessarily need to be alarmed at this point. Wii Fit's aim is to attract an entirely new audience to the gaming niche, such as those who want to work out in private. Fitness centers such as Town Sports (Nasdaq: CLUB  ) and Life Time Fitness (NYSE: LTM  ) cater to folks who are already in shape and want to stay that way. Besides, higher gasoline prices make the decision to work out at home all the more economically attractive.

And what about diet clubs? You think Wii Fit won't cause NutriSystem (Nasdaq: NTRI  ) , eDiets (Nasdaq: DIET  ) , and Weight Watchers (NYSE: WTW  ) to skip a beat, since their weight-management solutions rely on camaraderie and prepared meals? I beg to differ.

Sure, the success of Nintendogs didn't kill the local pet store, but Wii Fit offers a sensible fitness solution. The perpetual updates -- and encouragement -- from Wii Fit will likely be considered a cost-effective replacement to existing alternatives.

Nintendo's timing also couldn't be any better, especially with those high gas prices. So is Nintendo just perpetually lucky, or is it really that good? Deep down inside, you know the answer. Don't sweat it with your response.

More gaming Foolishness:

Nintendo is an active recommendation in the Stock Advisor newsletter service. You're welcome to read up why with a free 30-day pass to access all of its related content, including a lively subscriber-only discussion board.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can probably stand to shed a few pounds, so he's going to give the Wii Fit a shot. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2008, at 11:07 AM, craffle wrote:

    As a personal trainer, I disagree with the statement in this article that fitness centers "cater to folks who are already in shape and want to stay that way." Most of the new members that I meet are new to exercise or have had a long hiatus. According to IHRSA research, about half of new members will suffer some sort of injury during their first 6 months. More and more fitness centers address this by providing new members with orientations and support to avoid injuries (and cancellations) down the road.

    This product does address the person who, for whatever reason, believes it will be more comfortable, convenient or beneficial for them to work out at home. Or who keeps trying to find that one thing that they can stick with. As such, it will compete with the home videos and machines and programs that have been around for years. Hopefully it will be sufficiently engaging that it wont end up in the same corner or drawer or garage or basement as the Jane Fonda video tapes and exercise bikes..and gym membership cards. Let's face it, when it comes to fitness, most people have a hard time making and keeping their commitment, every little bit helps.

    Cary Raffle, MS Exercise Science and Health Promotion

    Certified Personal Trainer, Brooklyn and New York, NY

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2008, at 11:18 PM, Mary953 wrote:

    Wii Fit has a fun array of exercises and games that let you tone, exercise, and get fit without really realizing that you are "working out". Fitness centers have weights and machines, classes, trainers with knowledge, and extras like water aerobics that are never going to show up in anyone's basement (unless, of course, they can afford to simply buy a fitness club and bring it home with them). That's not really the point though, is it?

    As long as the kid in front of me at Blockbuster wants to see if the cards are Pokemon (Nintendo), and the local Target runs an ad on its Sunday circular (front page) that says "we will have Wii base units, full price, one per customer" and they are gone in an hour tops, and my nieces and nephews cling to their DS units - even if I don't know what that means, Nintendo stock sounds like Christmas bells ringing. Last Christmas, I got a Wii for my new son-in-law. It seems to have been the last in the city, I never felt more as if I was going to be attacked by the late teen and 20-something guys in the mall. It was like carrying raw meat past lions in the zoo at feeding time, very intense. Nintendo is cranking out winning hardware, software, characters, brands - the things that keep customer loyalty - especially when the products work. Gift giving (especially to ourselves) is a year-round activity and a company with so much to offer is of interest. If the Fool finds the balance sheet equally interesting, I like the idea of a gift to my portfolio.

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