Don't call Heath Bell fat. He'll take it to heart.
After his video game called him obese last year, Bell strove to prove it wrong. The 6-foot 2-inch 220-lb pitcher is slated to close games for the Padres this year and replacing Trevor Hoffman, a San Diego legend and the all-time saves leader who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in the off season, will be no short order. So it was during a five-month stretch this year that Bell picked up the Nintendo Wii Fit. He originally bought the game for his three kids so they wouldn't become couch potatoes. They didn't. Nor did Bell.
The game enables users to do a wide range of workouts including yoga poses, strength exercises and aerobic routines. Then there are games like Hula Hoop, Bell's favorite. Despite being a video game with cartoonish avatars, Wii Fit is no slouch when it comes to pulling out some sweat. "This is a whole heck of a lot harder than what we do in spring training," Bell says.
He worked four to five times a week in 30 to 60 minute sessions, which sliced a full 25 pounds from the pitcher's frame. But beyond the slimmer waist that resulted from all the Hula Hooping, lunges and balance games like snowboarding, Bell says it was a great way to improve his balance and strengthen his core—both of which are essential for a pitcher. And, since Wii Fit uses balance and weight information to give players a measure of fitness called the Wii Fit "age," it can also keep a veteran ballplayer young at heart. Recently, the Wii told Bell his age is 28. Now he just hopes that carries over to the mound.