Then I remembered: I played that goddamn Red Bull ice skating game last night.
You're going to think I am nuts but I swear to God I have added mass on my biceps doing nothing but swinging my arms for a solid 90 seconds like one of those cymbal-banging monkey toys. That's both the genius and the foolishness of Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect, which I don't recommend as a game, but I can say provides a hell of a workout. For me, anyway.
I'm about 215 pounds and you can see a nice spare tire under my sweatshirt in that video above. But my routine has gone from six straight races to now nine, so I can say this thing has improved my cardio, however modestly. And then there's that manly bulge I feel—in my biceps, you stupe—when I take a shower afterward.
The video explains how you play the game: Swinging your arms supplies the skating motion; swinging them faster accelerates you. You'll need to crouch, block, and jump to get around certain course features.
I probably don't need to be in a skater's crouch but I instinctively do that anyway, so why the hell not. I'm sure it's possible to play this game and win with less effort, but I don't want to know that, either. What I want is to believe that this, plus a warm-up and cool down with Fruit Ninja Kinect, will give me a Men's Health body in 30 days.
As a game, you have to remember this is a $5 title through the Xbox Live Marketplace. You always race as yourself, the AI racers are all the same and always terrible. You can easily defeat them once you learn how to time your jumps and the turbo start. The courses are interesting, but you're racing the same five, and the only online feature is racing against a ghosted friend's time.
Here's why Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect works for me: It takes full advantage of my approach to an arcade racer, which this is, technically speaking. Whatever the maximum speed is, I want to go that fast at all times. I sit on the trigger. Well, here, sitting on the trigger is flailing your arms like goddamn crazy. And if that's what it takes, I do it without question.
Right now I race the four courses in which I am lowest ranked in "Event" mode, which gives you a preliminary heat and a final back-to-back. I'm getting about 15 seconds of rest in between heats, 30 to 45 between events. Then I race my best course in a single-time trial.
So, fitness science experts, what's the call. Is this really doing anything for me? Placebo effect only?