What if I told you there was a gym in downtown Toronto where you can work out for free? And no, this isn’t some sketchy, broken-down gym with rusty equipment, but a recently-opened two-storey building across the street from Eaton Centre, where you can walk in without signing up for a membership and start burning calories.
Okay, I lied a little bit. What I’m describing isn’t strictly a gym; what it is though is the Xbox 360 Kinect Experience, a showcase for the public to try out Microsoft’s new video gaming sensor device. By tracking your movement with a specialized camera, the Xbox lets you play games by literally moving your body: waving your arms, stepping with your feet, jumping into the air, and even dancing.
The best part? it’s free, it’s fun, and it definitely gets your heart rate rising and body sweating. The Kinect Experience gets you to play video games and work out at the same time. It’s exercising without realizing that you’re exercising; it’s staying fit and having fun all at once.
Now, if you’re not a hardcore gamer, you may think this isn’t for you. However, you’d be surprised at how quickly ambivalent bystanders jump into a Kinect game after watching someone else play for a round or two. In fact, the very helpful staff I spoke with at the Kinect Experience told me that the majority of visitors are actually casual gamers and non-gamers, people who like games they can quickly pick up and play without having to study intricate commands or wade through multiple menus. They also enjoy the social atmosphere at the showcase, with DJs spinning on weekends and crowds cheering at Kinect boxing matches or dancing as a crew to the game Dance Central.
The Kinect staff guided me to the ten or so Xbox gaming stations and got me to try each of the six games available for demonstration. They included sports (bowling and table tennis), rafting, racing, and dancing games. The games were all easy to learn and play within seconds. Before I knew it, I was punching, jumping, and moving all over the place, getting exercise without even knowing it. I imagine that I’d have even more fun if I were playing with friends as my teammates or competitors.
After an impressive and satisfying time at the Kinect Experience, I highly suggest that you invite some buddies and head down to the showcase before it ends on December 1st. You’ll definitely enjoy yourself, and you’ll even burn some calories—who said working out can’t be fun and free?
207 Yonge St., just north of Queen St.
By TTC: exit at Queen Station, and then head north on Yonge St. until you see the Kinect building across the street from Eaton Centre.
By car: parking close by will be tricky to find. Eaton Centre provides a parking garage but it is expensive. Trying finding a parking spot on Victoria St.
- Monday to Wednesday: 3p.m.-8p.m.
- Thursday: 3p.m.-9p.m.
- Friday: 1p.m.-11p.m.
- Saturday: 11a.m.-11p.m.
- Sunday: 11a.m.-6p.m.