During a time when going to a public gym isn’t an option, consumers have been looking for other ways to stay in shape. Even outside the context of a pandemic, it’s easy to see why people want to exercise from the comfort of their own homes, without the need for expensive equipment. That’s where Nintendo Switch comes in. While the hand-held console hybrid is known for its fantastic action adventure games, platformers, and indies you can take on the go, it also has a robust lineup of fitness games designed to keep you healthy and active.
Some are specifically marketed as fitness games, while others simply utilize motion controls to keep your heart rate moving. The point is that there are many to choose from, ranging from casual play to more intense workouts. Since there are so many options, we’ve decided to take a look at the very best games on the system that feature some sort of workout mechanic. These are the best fitness games for Nintendo Switch.
Jump Rope Challenge
Before we get into the more intense games, let’s first take a look at Jump Rope Challenge, a title that leans into simplicity in its design and UI. In this game, all you need to do is perform the number of jumps that correspond to a certain day. Each day, you have a goal, which can be adjusted to suit your needs. The game uses the motion sensors in each of the Joy-Con controllers to track your movement, and you must actually jump to match what’s happening on screen.
You’re also timed during each session, so you can use that to track your progress and to beat your best times. What’s neat is that you can also play with another person for some added fun. The best part is that Jump Rope Challenge is free and can be downloaded from the eShop right now. Interestingly, Nintendo originally intended for this game to be available for a limited time only, but the company walked that back and the game is now available “until further notice.”
Thanks to all players of #JumpRopeChallenge for recording 2.5 billion total jumps! As new jumpers are joining, the free download will be available until further notice and will not be removed from Nintendo #eShop on 9/30. pic.twitter.com/P9g7dXmmZe
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 30, 2020
Mario Tennis Aces
You might not think of this as a workout game initially, but since Mario Tennis Aces can be played with motion controls (known as Swing Mode), it’s easy to work up a sweat during matches. While it doesn’t 100% mirror playing real tennis, it’s a convenient alternative, allowing you to play with another person in a competitive setting.
This game is great because it’s approachable — meaning players of all skill levels can grasp the idea of how to play, especially when using the motion controls since they’re so intuitive. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to use motion controls during the story or outside of Swing Mode, but what is available is still a fun experience that will keep you moving on your feet.
Read our full Mario Tennis Aces review
Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise
Let’s move on to a game that very much does primarily focus on fitness — Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise. As a sequel, Fitness Boxing 2 keeps in line with the main formula established in the original, with added features such as better motion detection and more characters to choose from. The premise is that you must perform the actions that are given to you on screen, such as jabs, straight punches, uppercuts, and so on.
You perform these actions to the beat of the music, so it’s sort of like a mix between a rhythm and workout game. The songs in Fitness Boxing 2 are mostly unlicensed covers of familiar tunes along with a few original tracks. Later on, the game mixes in ducking and weaving, which adds to the challenge. Being a fitness game, it has a progress tracker that makes note of the number of punches you’ve thrown and other milestones you’ll want to be aware of.
Just Dance 2021
The Just Dance series has been around for a while thanks to how approachable it is, while still offering a great way to get a solid workout. In Just Dance 2021, that idea continues and includes a few new added features such as the Quick Play mode, which throws a random assortment of songs at you. Much like many of the games on this list, in Just Dance, you must match the on-screen dancer’s choreography while utilizing the Joy-Con or a smartphone app.
The gameplay is solid and has attracted a wide audience, but the licensed song list is what keeps players around. For Just Dance 2021, you have tracks by artists such as Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and Eminem. For the most part, the song selection is composed of tunes that have been released within the past couple of years, meaning younger audiences will still find enjoyment. But there are a few older hits, too, like Randy Newman’s You’ve Got a Friend in Me from the Toy Story film. Just Dance 2021 is yet another entry in the long-running franchise, and it’s well worth your time if you’re into pop music and want to get an easy workout.
Once again, we’ve got a game for you that isn’t inherently focused on fitness but can be used to stay in shape. ARMS is one of Nintendo’s newest intellectual properties, a fighting game that sends you into one-on-one battles against the AI or other players. The idea is that you can literally “throw” punches and control their trajectory to land a hit, while your opponents attempt to dodge and weave away.
Your character has long arms (hence the name) that you can control and use to outsmart your opponent. You can move the left and right arms independently, and when you use the game’s intuitive motion controls, it’s easy to get some exercise even if you play only a couple of rounds. While many other games on this list simply have you perform a workout routine, ARMS is competitive, with more of an emphasis on victory than achieving certain goals. The nice thing is that you can take a break from using the motion controls and use a traditional button scheme if you get tired.
Read our full ARMS review
Zumba: Burn It Up
Going to an actual Zumba class right now is probably not possible, so why not try the next best thing? That’s what you get with Zumba: Burn It Up for the Nintendo Switch. It works a lot like Just Dance but is intended for an audience focused on fitness rather than a casual market. It still features a list of songs for you to dance to along with stats that pertain to your performance, such as calories burned and overall technique.
The moves you’re required to pull off are lot more complicated than the simple choreography in the Just Dance series, so it’s best to have at least some experience if you plan on taking on the tougher routines. Zumba: Burn It Up features lots of different tracks and intensities, great for users of most skill levels. The great thing is that, even if you aren’t matching the moves perfectly, the fact that it requires so much of you will still result in a hearty workout.
While Sports Party doesn’t ever hit the highs of something like Wii Sports, it’s got a similar concept, which is great for most players. Sports Party is a collection of sports games that utilize motion controls. The options available are Frisbee, Jet Ski, Basketball, Golf, Skateboarding, and Beach Tennis, and they can be played in a local competitive setting. Once again, you don’t have to utilize the game’s motion controls, but having them available is a nice option if you’re looking to break a sweat.
Of course, these games are much more fun with friends, and thankfully, the local multiplayer works well. In terms of intensity, this falls somewhere between ARMS and Just Dance 2021, which is great for those looking for something that will get you moving without knocking you off your feet. Plus, the variety in game types is a standout in Sports Party, even if they aren’t as fully fleshed out as you might’ve hoped.
Ring Fit Adventure
Finally, we have to discuss arguably the best fitness game on Nintendo Switch (and quite possibly of all time), Ring Fit Adventure. This is probably the best example of gamifying a fitness experience due to its smart design. For starters, it comes with the Ring-Con (shown above), which is an elastic plastic ring that can be pulled and stretched in many directions. You use this to interact with the game by moving it around, pulling on it like a bow, or squeezing it together to build strength.
What’s really cool, though, is that it’s also a turn-based RPG. That’s right — each stage features various creatures that are all color coded. The colors correspond to different move types, and you deal more damage to those enemies if you perform moves that match their color. Between battles, you must run in place to mimic traveling across the level, and as you do, there are numerous coins to collect along with other useful items.
With enough coins, you can buy healing items or drinks that allow you to deal more damage. Tying everything together is the game’s smart fitness tracking system, which tells you how many of each exercise you’ve done while documenting your progress across each day. It will recommend an intensity that is suited for you based on your performance, and you can adjust it on the fly. As you make your way through stages and defeat enemies, you earn XP, which grants you additional health slots, more moves that deal more damage, and other useful perks.
The best part is just how well Ring Fit Adventure blends its turn-based RPG mechanics with its fitness formula. It’s designed in such a way that doesn’t feel gimmicky — perfect for those who play lots of video games or even casual users. So many fitness games simply implement motion controls to get your heart rate going, and while that works, the game design in Ring Fit Adventure is what will keep you around.
Read our full Ring Fit Adventure review