5 New Ways to Make Exercise Fun

This tech-infused gear will get the whole family to exercise without even realizing it.


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Just Dance 2018

Just Dance 2018

Photo courtesy of Just Dance 2018

Photo courtesy of Just Dance 2018

Whether you dream of being Beyoncé’s backup dancer or can barely do a two-step, you’ll still burn calories while goofing off. Choose from 40 new tracks (like “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars or Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”) and follow the fancy footwork of an on-screen “coach.” Even if you don't impress your teen, at least you’ll amuse them.

Justdancegame.com, $60 (available for all major gaming platforms)

Our tester
Hattie Hayes, editorial associate

The setup process
I tried it on the Nintendo Switch. This was the first dancing game I’d played with the Switch Joy-Cons, and it was much easier than playing on a Wii or a motion-capture system. You can also use a smartphone to control the game, but we didn’t try that. The fear of accidentally throwing my phone across the room was too much!

Favorite aspect
Put together a playlist of the songs you want to dance to, and it automatically plays them one after the other. You could dance for an hour or two nonstop—which is exactly what I did!

Something unexpected
You can pick your own difficulty mode, or play in “Just Sweat” mode, which is fitness-focused and tracks calories burned.

Area for improvement
In the 2018 edition you can unlock songs from previous games, which was exciting. However, it’s too bad that the database of all the old songs and new exclusive songs, Just Dance Unlimited, is a subscription-based service.


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Activ5

Photo courtesy of Activ5

Photo courtesy of Activ5

Match muscle with your kids by using this pressure-sensitive palm-sized device to make a puppy jump ever higher or a tiny skier race to the bottom of a mountain. Just push on the gadget—between your hands, for example—and it senses your strength and sends data to an app on your phone, which coaches you through a variety of game-based exercises. (We love the multi-player sumo wrestling game but it requires two devices). Extra credit: Use the app to squeeze in an isometric desk workout or something more intense by placing the Activ5 under your foot while in a squat, pressing it against your chest in a crunch and more.

Activ5.com, $120

Our tester
Dana Einsidler, junior designer

The setup process
It was SO easy. The app walks you through what to do step by step, and there’s a little pamphlet.

Favorite aspect
How portable it is! The device is so small it fits in my bag. I may not always have the space to do a full body workout, but hypothetically, I can do arm workouts on the train. So convenient!

Something unexpected
I was surprised that a little gadget like that can actually provide a sense of weight resistance! Cool! There was also a huge variety of workouts for different goals/environments.

Area for improvement
Some of the moves aren’t so easy to do on the go. For example, if the move requires me stepping on the device while I’m on the train I just won’t do it. Germs!


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ROXs 2s

Photo courtesy of ROXs 2s

Photo courtesy of ROXs 2s

Depending on the game, the ROXs 2s sensor lights up and makes sounds when it’s shaken or hit (for example, as a soccer target) or scans playing pieces (say, as part of an obstacle course). Place it anywhere—at the bottom of a slide or even strapped to a tree—and it links to an app to play preloaded games or your own made-up contests. Tagging a ROXs 2s after swinging through a row of monkey bars makes for a tough arm workout! Fitness levels are adjustable, and kids can compete on their own or in groups.

Playroxs.com, $99

Our tester
Paula Prado, art director

The setup process
It took a few tries to connect the device to the phone.

Favorite aspect
One of the game options was to hide the chips and whoever found the most in a short period of time was a winner—my kids enjoyed beating the machine’s time.

Something unexpected
The battery ran out very easily.

Area for improvement
More types of games would be great. There are three or four game suggestions, but they could have developed them and made them more complex. If you bought two sets, that would probably also a lot more fun and have way more possibilities than one toy.


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Sprint Vector

Sprint Vector

Photo courtesy of Sprint Vector

Photo courtesy of Sprint Vector

Pair any VR gear with your PS4 and you’ll run, climb and fly alongside your Sprint Vector avatar. Without leaving the living room, you’ll work up a sweat, get your heart pumping and experience a rush of adrenaline as you race to the finish line in an out-of-this-world galactic setting. From space kids to street sharks and disc jockeys, there’s a character that will inspire everyone in the family to move.

Playstation.com, $30

Our tester
Kaitlyn Pirie, associate health editor

The setup process
I was lucky enough to test this out at VR World, so I didn’t have to set anything up. However, if you have your own PS4 and VR gear, it shouldn’t be difficult.

Favorite aspect
When I was a kid, I remember trying to imagine what it would be like to actually be a character in the Super Mario games I played. Thanks to Virtual Reality, Sprint Vector brought that childhood wonder to life—and made it a really fun experience.

Something unexpected
I was so surprised by how much I was sweating afterward! You’re moving your body the whole time, but it doesn’t feel like exercise.

Area for improvement
The fine folks at VR World did a great job of explaining the game to me, but it seemed like it could be confusing to learn on your own. A teenage kid might be helpful in this case!


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Edge-Board

Edge-Board

Photo courtesy of Edge-Board

Photo courtesy of Edge-Board

Challenge everyone to a plank contest with Edge-Board’s Space Invaders type game and you’ll be amazed by how long you can actually hold the move—not to mention the extra muscles it works with side-to-side motions! This upgrade from the old-school ab roller can be used with hands or feet for lunges, pike-ups, hamstring curls and more. Download the accompanying app and set your phone on the trainer so it can sense movements and lead you through an array of exercises. Then track strength and endurance improvements through the app.

Modmov.com, $69

Our tester
Darcy Jacobs, executive editor

The setup process
It was difficult to get the handle screwed on.

Favorite aspect
The size. It’s perfect to store in a small space. It also doesn’t make any noise, which is great for an apartment. Plus, it helps you focus on an area that’s hard to do properly on your own—core strength.

Something unexpected
It is hard—in a good way! Not hard to follow the exercises, but quite a challenge for the abs and core area. Before I could even use it my 13-year-old grabbed it and said, “Let me try.” Then she gave me corrections and laughed at my form. She dances so her core is solid but she still found some of the exercises a challenge and now wants to use it herself. I’m going to make her my personal trainer for the Edge-Board.

Area for improvement
The instructions could use some tips for assembling the handle—it is just a line drawing on the box top.