Last month, I started playing Ring Fit Adventure on Switch as a way to stay fit without getting run over by the heat of summer. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did: after taking a day or two to get used to the exercise motions and the wacky characters, I was hooked. The game quickly became a habit, and even something I looked forward to at the end of every work day. I’ve now put a total of 18 days into the game, which isn’t nearly as much as I’d like. (Pesky things like “doing the dishes” and “moving my sister into college” kept getting in the way.) If you’re curious about how Ring Fit really works or just want to see how many squats I can do, keep reading!

Progress so far

Though the story isn’t really the reason why you play Ring Fit, there are a few twists and turns, so I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible. After 18 days of progress, I’m roughly level 50 in the game. I’ve reached world 7 and have done a couple hundred reps of most of the exercise moves. My roommates have yet to get back into it and challenge me, which I wish they’d do. For me, the game is less fun when you don’t have meaningful competition to compare yourself to (in a healthy way, of course). I’ve unlocked a variety of exercises, and the game told me on my most recent day that I now have at least one in every muscle category, which is cool. I’ve picked out my favorites – which are usually the easy ones, of course.

One thing I don’t like about Ring Fit‘s progression is that certain exercises get less powerful as you go on. Each exercise has a power level, which corresponds to how much damage it does in battle. From what I’ve seen so far, this power level stays the same, even as you gain new exercises with higher power levels. As enemies become stronger and bosses pose more of a challenge, it becomes harder to justify using old exercises in favor of new ones. This is the game’s way of forcing you to change up your moves, but it also means that if you really like a particular move and want to keep using it in battle, the game will be significantly harder for it. Sometimes you’ll get new versions of old moves, like the wide squat upgrade to the regular squat, but it’s not quite the same.

Feeling the burn

One thing I noticed as I racked up more days of workouts was that I got sore – seriously! In my first few days of playing, I got a little sore, but it was nothing a hot bath couldn’t fix. As I progressed further in Ring Fit and the worlds started focusing on particular areas of the body, I started feeling achier and more sore than usual. The Ab Guard move in particular, where you push the Ring Con into your stomach to block enemy attacks, made my abs sore for two days – which I suppose is how you know it’s working. I’m not surprised that this one made me sore: you have to do it multiple times in every battle and there’s no alternative, making it one of your most frequent workout moves.

Later in the month, I had a period of time where I wasn’t able to work out for three days in a row. When I came back to the game, I happened to start in an area where leg moves had an advantage over every enemy, so I did a ton of those. After my cooldown stretch, I noticed that my left thigh was super sensitive and painful on the back. Turns out that in my enthusiasm, I had pulled a hamstring. Oops! I took the next day off from working out and made sure to keep it still. (It really hurts to climb stairs when you have a pulled hamstring.) After a little bit of rest, I was ready to get back into it, though I was disappointed that I couldn’t avoid more leg exercises in an abundance of caution for my thigh.

Making big moves

In between Ring Fit‘s usual jog-and-fight-enemies levels, there are a variety of fitness minigames that you can play to break things up. Each game gives you a bonus if you achieve a certain rank, usually B, and there are high-score boards to encourage competition between you and other players. I played these minigames for the bonuses, but I wasn’t super enthused by them; I found the main game to be a lot more fun and engaging.

One of the things that made the minigames less fun than the regular levels was the sensitivity of the Ring Con. Some of the minigames require quick motions or unusual angles, and the Joy-Cons just aren’t able to sense position that quickly. In one particular game, I had to lean to the side to avoid bombs and collect coins. The time it took for my character to follow my own motion meant that I had to bend over extremely quickly and bounce a little to get the game to recognize that I was far enough to the side to avoid the bombs, which doesn’t seem like good form. I’ve started avoiding the minigames in particular, though they’re good for a change of pace or if you need to collect more money or smoothie resources.

It’s not just the minigames that have sensitivity issues. Some of the main game’s exercise moves, particularly certain yoga poses and the ab-focused Hip Shake, aren’t always recognized by the game. Though the Ring Con was specifically designed for these sorts of activities, the Joy-Cons were not, and it shows sometimes. It’s frustrating when I have to jiggle the Ring Con during a yoga pose or do a few extra Hip Shake reps to get it to register my motion. You can always elect not to use these moves in-game, which makes things better, but I shouldn’t have to do that, you know?

Overall, my experience with Ring Fit continues to be a good one. The exercises are fun, the progression is satisfying, and based on the amount of popping and cracking my body is doing, I’m using muscles that I’ve rarely used before. Even on bad days, Ring Fit and the act of exercising genuinely make me feel better, and I look forward to progressing further at the end of every day. I’m not sure how many worlds there are or how long the story goes on – the title screen says that the main story is a “long-term fitness program”, but doesn’t elaborate beyond that – but I’m hoping that it keeps going for quite a while longer, because I’m having a ton of fun. If I, a person who’s never been able to do a proper squat in her life, can make it to 300 squat reps, you can do it too!