What do you get if you cross an Olympic Gold cycling medallist with the latest sports flavoured video game from EA? EA Sports Active 2 for the Wii, the PS3, and Kinect, it turns out. We sat down with Victoria Pendleton to find out what the game is like and how she believes it can help you supplement your exercise regime.
“Whenever you wallpaper black you should always paint black stripes on the wall before you start”, Pendleton tells us, pointing to the shoddy work a decorator has done in the hotel in Central London we’ve met in for the interview.
“Well I’ve got black wallpaper in my bedroom at home. It’s matt black with a gold oriental pattern on it, I just thought that it was really nice”, adds Pendleton. “But apparently the guy that put it up told me that it was the most difficult wallpaper to hang”.
It’s a random aside, especially considering we are here to talk about what she thinks of EA Sports latest gaming title, but one that instantly tells us that Victoria Pendleton, Sports and Exercise Science graduate, Sprint World Champion, and occasional gamer sees the little things in life as important.
“I was Involved in the first EA Sports Active and this brings a more technical element to it”, Pendleton tells Pocket-lint, as she starts to describe some of the new features of the game.
“There’s a heart rate monitor, there’s more movement sensors to show what you are doing and that means you get more feedback on the activities that you do, like heart rate and calorie counts”, explains Pendleton, as she tells us why it's a better experience than the first outing from EA.
The game which is available on the Nintendo Wii, the Sony PS3, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 tries its best to emulate the powers of the Kinect, the Wii Motion controllers, and the PlayStation Move, without you needing to have those devices - therefore, more importantly, saving you from actually holding anything.
Sensory information like where your arms and legs are, and what your heart rate is in game is taken from two sensors on your arm, as modelled by Ms Pendleton above, and one on her leg that you can't see.
“I’ve got it on the Wii at home, but today I’ve been playing it on the PS3”, the cyclist professes. “I’ve played it on PS3 but not the Kinect. That’s fancy technology”.
The title features a number of different disciplines that basically gets you to run on the spot or jump up and down while giving you fun rather than boring tasks in the game.
One of Pendleton’s favourites, as you might have guessed, is the downhill mountain biking that sees you having to jump at the right moment to make the gaps and run as fast as you can on the spot to get up the hills as well as performing lunges to make yourself go quicker.
“The mountain biking is really good fun. It’s actually quiet hard work. The activities do give you a deep burn, and you start to sweat, it can be really hard work. It’s definitely a good workout”.
Pendleton, who is currently training for her next two big events of the year in Melbourne and Columbia isn’t, though, about to use Active 2 to supplant her training completely.
“It’s not going to replace professional training, but if you’re someone that has a busy schedule and you’ve got to fit in training around your work then this makes it possible. The thing I love is the feedback you get, something you just don’t get from a fitness video.” Pendleton tells us, admitting that she has tried fitness videos in the past.
“I’m all about numbers. What I do for a living all the numbers are recorded. I get my power output, my speed, my cadence, everyday. It’s all spread sheets and graphs. That’s part of my coaching. It helps me see where I am at and lets me set goals. So feedback is good”.
Having played the new game it's easy to see that while it won’t replace a good run or session at the gym it could help supplement your training if you can’t make it out of the house for some reason .
Pendleton agrees with us saying that she’s found you can make the game as easy or as hard as you like.
“Some of the core exercises are quite difficult. They are hard work. There is definitely a health benefit”.
Outside of the game, gadgets play a big part in Pendleton’s life, although if you were wondering what running app she uses, she doesn’t.
“I don’t do any cross training at all. I am not allowed to go running in case of injury. I am wrapped in cotton wool until the Olympics”.
So what gadgets does she use in her life?
“My bike's a gadget, everything at work is a big fancy gadget. We have a McLaren system that tracks all the data that comes in and then spits it out, but in terms of everyday gadgets I use my iPod nano a lot”.
Like many athletes, Pendleton believes in a good playlist to help her train, choosing a tempo and track selection to remove the boredom of sitting around waiting at competitions or when she is training to help her do better.
“My nano is really good for training, it’s small enough that you just tuck it out of the way”, Pendleton tells Pocket-lint. “I do a new playlist for every competition. I can’t bear to listen to anything from the past. At the moment it’s 30 Seconds To Mars, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters”.
But while Pendleton sits around waiting for her race, others on the team play Call of Duty, something that Pendleton admits she sometimes plays with them, and her brother back home.
“My brother's really into gaming. The only things I really play with him is Guitar Hero or Rock Band”, Pendleton says smiling. “It’s really good fun”.
As to whether or not EA Sports Active 2 will be adding itself to that rostrum of games, Pendleton doesn't think so. “It’s not a game, it’s more of a fitness program”.
And with that remark the interview is over.