Punching the Air

I have never been a sporty dude. Not even back when as a kid I did practice some sports (I’m technically a Judo blue belt!), it’s never been a big passion or drive. Later on in life, I never had the time and energy to get into exercising (and competition, I could hardly care less).

So obviously between a full time office job and other life obligations, I live a sedentary life

Enter the COVID

Starting with the Italian lock-downs, I started to work from home (I live in Switzerland, but just beyond the border, and many colleagues are Italians crossing into Switzerland to work: we converted very early to 100% WFH, luckily), so I basically go outside only for groceries.

Which means I’m even more sedentary: my commute is literally a handful of meters now (either from my room, from the bathroom, or from the living room, you chose)… I realized I needed something to keep me moving a bit, and hopefully reduce a bit the stress (it’s amazing how much stress changing your life routine can make you accrue… not to mention worrying about the world).

Fitness Boxing on the Nintendo Switch

I’ve never been much of a console guy, but had lucked into a cheap Nintendo Switch and have been loving it: between Zelda and Okami and others I’ve played on it a bunch, docked to my TV. So when I saw Fitness Boxing had a free demo, and considering all said above, I went… Oh well, let’s give it a try!

The demo is a bit short (it will only last you through 3 or 4 days of exercise, IIRC), but I decided to bite the bullet and buy the full game.

The game in a nutshell

Following the tradition already established by the Wii, with its motion-tracking controllers, Fitness Boxing requires you to use the JoyCons detached from the console, one per hand, gripping them in your fists. Once the exercise routines start, no button is ever used, only your movements, so there isn’t much to learn, interface wise.

Here, I’m hitting my first Jab in a “combo” seuence

The game is basically “cardio boxing” training (or whatever it’s called): you have a music track to keep your rhythm, you follow the instructor, and have to perform some type of movement (a type of punch, a duck, or a step, basically) at the right time (that is, when their icon hits the “Target” area while moving up: there is one track per hand). It’s a rhythm game, in a nutshell, only instead of pressing the right button at the right time like in bust-a-groove you have to perform one of a set of “boxe moves”.

The moves get introduced gradually when you follow the “daily training” (which you should), and the on-screen trainer (by default, an athletic lady called Lyn), with an opportunity to practice the single move, and then during the exercises they are called out and also performed by the trainer, working on the background of some dance remixes of various pop tunes (frankly, the music is kinda bad, but what’s important is the beat, that helps you keep a steady rhythm).

As you progress, the game evaluates if you were on time (and also kinda checks if you performed the right move… though it’s far less precise at that) and gives you a 1-3 star rating on the exercise. From time to time, you get rewards, which include unlocking new tunes, new trainers, and clothing/accessories sets for your trainers.

Impressions

As far as games go… there isn’t that much there, there: there’s a 2 player “vs mode” I never tried, and you can do more exercises than the normal “daily training” routine, plus there’s a bit of tracking of your weight (if you input it), and some other stats. But that’s really not the point.

The point is that it’s a nice motivation and excuse for doing a bit of exercise at home: if you are starting from scratch like me, expect to be sore for a couple of days after every new move is introduced. Daily (or at least frequent) training here pays off, because it removes the “stiffness” much earlier. It’s half an hour for a normal training slot, btw, so it doesn’t require a ton of time: it’s always Stretch, then a short exercise, then a longer one, then a shorter but faster one, and then Stretch again.

It’s just enough to get me sweating (profusely!) and wheezing (a bit less, after a while), without too much exertion.

Impressions after a few months

I’ve been exercising with Fitness Boxing for a while now… even if my regularity has been on-and-off: after more than a month of daily training, I had a long pause because I didn’t feel well enough, and so on. But I’m back at it: a regular training regime, even one as light as this, does help a lot to ease stress, and judging by the clear improvements in my performance (easier movements, faster, stronger) it does improve your physical wellness.

Don’t expect a comprehensive training, or a full substitute for the gym if you are used to go to one… but it’s much better than nothing!

For people looking for a similar tool, but with more potential for a comprehensive training, I’d suggest looking into Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure, now that it seems to be back in stock.

Oh and… if you try Fitness Boxing and find it appealing, I’d advise you to get some fingerless training gloves, to have a better grip on the controllers and most importantly to protect them from sweat!

MG Crossbone X2 Ver.Ka

I gotta say… this is an old gunpla design and it shows, a lot!

YARRRR!

I love the Crossbone, so I like its looks, but many of the connections are quite loose: I had to tighten the bicep/shoulder peg (bad idea to begin with) otherwise the weight of the weapons would probably pull off the arms.

And, I had to mask and paint all the yellow trim on the shoulders (that was Chiara’s steady hand, actually!) and weapons, because they’re molded completely in dark blue (or grey, which is wrong anyway). The yellow is not quite the right tone, it should be more orange, but I decided this was enough (it’s not bad for brush painted details).

This specific model’s signature weapon should be a long handheld cannon but… honestly it looks very boring, I prefer the ver piratey saber and “flintlock” pistol.

So, to sum up… I still love the Crossbone even if the kit is a bit disappointing in its engineering. I would welcome a 2.0 of the whole MG line… and to people considering it I’d suggest only getting the MGs if they are fans of the model, otherwise choose the RG which seems to be very well engineered.

Bureaucracy with a human face

On the left sign, under the canton colors, the names and direct phone numbers of the employees.

One of the things I noticed coming to Switzerland as an Italian, and something that really surprised me, was how personal the relationship with the “bureaucracy structure” tends to be.

Most of the times in Italy one dreads the prospect of interacting with bureaucracy at any level, because it always feels like you are going against a Brazil-like faceless leviathan that not only you can’t relate to, but will screw you up if you did anything remotely wrong, losing a ton of time in the process (assuming you don’t get a fine, too). Many institutions barely have a public contact phone, and it generally goes to a call-center that is either always overloaded (and you get endless horrible hold music) or basically unmanned (the phone rings and rings and rings… And nobody picks up). Or both! Like, you get past the IVR and then the call goes to an unmanned phone. And you will probably interact with different people each time, never really getting to know the person that’s working on your case… The person you are interacting with is probably not the one, either.

Here in Switzerland, the names of the people that work in public offices is written on a sign by the front door, with their direct phone number and email. Yes, really.

Taxes? If you are Swiss, or have been living here for a while, you get to do your own taxes (and there’s a free multiplatform software to help you, my Italian and American friends! And yes, it works quite fine on Linux too!), but that’s not all. You are assigned a “tax person” from the Canton, and they will be your single point of contact: they are the person that will check your filing, will ask for clarifications if you wrote something that doesn’t check out, that you can call if you have doubts about some deductible or another, or whatever. Again… Yes, really!

The whole feeling is much more… Human. And, yes, quite odd.