Sweating it out with shape-altering games

It’s that time of the year when the line for an elliptical machine at your local gym stretches a bit longer thanks to freshly motivated folks’ who’ve resolved to start 2013 by shedding pounds and shaping up. Why wait to work out — or even leave your living room — when you can get your heart rate up at home with these recently released fitness games?

Platform: Xbox 360
From: Microsoft

“Nike+ Kinect Training” (Mi- crosoft, for Xbox 360, $49.99) is probably the closest you can get to a personal trainer coming over to your place without added ex- pense or intimidation. Brought to you by the swooshy shoe- maker, “Nike+ Kinect Training” is essentially a four-week exer- cise program centered on three goals: get lean, get strong or get toned.

The camera-based Kinect sys- tem does an impressive job de- tecting motion in personalized cardio drills. The graphics and

interface are slick, and the vir- tual trainers are actually helpful, though their repetitive prere- corded motivation will eventu- ally become as tiresome as that grunting meathead at your gym’s free weights.

Platform: Wii U
From: Ubisoft

“Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013” (Ubisoft, for Wii U, $49.99) is the only fitness title out for the Wii U since Nintendo has yet to unleash a “Wii Fit” for the new console. While this edition of “Your Shape” smartly utilizes the GamePad for navigation, it un- fortunately requires a Wiimote to track movements, and there are no Wii Balance Board fea- tures.

The Zen-heavy routines in “Your Shape” feel less intense but more diverse than the “Nike+ Kinect” workouts, and the game awards currency for exercising, which can be used to buy stuff like new songs and vir- tual gear. It’s clever inspiration. However, holding a remote while working out feels like a big lunge backward for the genre.

Platform: Xbox 360
From: Microsoft

“Dance Central 3” (Microsoft, for Xbox 360, $49.99) isn’t tech- nically a fitness title — and that’s exactly why it just might be the best one out there. The third it- eration of the popular Kinect choreography series features a revamped fitness mode that can stealthily track calories burned as players shake what their mama gave ’em to hit songs.

The new fitness feature also allows wannabe Ushers to set weekly goals and program playlists of varying styles and lengths. (I preferred getting funky with the “cardio groove” list.) “Dance Central” isn’t as

comprehensive as “Nike+ Kinect Training” or “Your Shape,” but it’s a fun diversion when those games’ virtual trainers boil your blood.

Platform: Xbox 360, Wii
From: Masjesco

“Zumba Fitness Core” (Ma- jesco, for Xbox 360 and Wii, $49.99) is the latest entry in the cha-cha-sweat empire’s interac- tive catalog, combining several different dance styles into ab- busting workout classes set in ridiculously silly locales, like next to a waterfall or aboard a yacht. The Kinect version isn’t as pol- ished as “Dance Central,” al- though it’s more extreme.

You’ll feel the burn to the game’s wild soundtrack. Unlike the expected hip-hop-and-pop flavor of “Dance Central,” the kooky tunes in “Zumba Fitness Core” range from Latin cheesi- ness (Enrique Iglesias’ “Bail- amos”) to refreshingly eclectic (Grace Potter and The Noctur- nals’ “Paris”). It’s a must-buy for fans of the gyrating franchise who own a Kinect.