Yipli fitness gaming mat review: A fun option for home workouts in the times of COVID

Looking up ‘Gaming mat’ on Google when I was told I’d be receiving one to review only threw up images of funky mouse pads for gaming laptops/computers, and given I’m a PlayStation diehard, I was pretty certain I wasn’t getting one of these. And what I received was something I’m sure even you’ve never seen before – a fitness mat that incorporates gaming. It’s named the Yipli fitness gaming mat, and it does exactly what it says on the label.

With new variants of the COVID-19 virus coming at the world thick and fast, millions are still largely confined to their homes, and since we’re all working from home, fitness has witnessed a sharp fall on the list of priorities. It’s because of this that the Yipli gaming mat is more relevant now than ever. It’s essentially a yoga mat containing motion sensors that can track over 40 body movements when you play the games designed specifically by Yipli for users of the mat.

The Yipli gaming mat incorporates motion sensors that can detect over 40 different body movements. Image: Tech2/Amaan Ahmed

Measuring 182.9 cm in length and 61 cm in width, the mat – which feels fairly high-quality – occupies a reasonable amount of space in a mid-size living room. It weighs 1.5 kg, which isn’t too heavy, but may be a little taxing for the aged to lug around.

It features a black box sporting translucent Yipli branding that lights up when you switch it on using a small circular button on the left of the box. The button on the review unit itself seemed to be somewhat temperamental, refusing to register inputs occasionally, which meant multiple presses were required to switch the mat on/off. The light in the box changes colour as per the state of charge of the mat – green between 30 to 100 percent, orange between 30 and 10 percent, and red when it’s under 10 percent. However, there’s no way to see the exact state of charge of the mat at any given point.

Up to two players can use the gaming mat at the same time; arrows in the middle denote specified areas of play. Image: Tech2/Amaan Ahmed

Charging the mat fully – which has a 1,500 mAh battery – took less than two hours, and every charge results in a run time of anywhere between six to eight hours, which is also what Yipli claims.

To start playing, one needs to download the Yipli app on their smartphone, create an account, sync the mat to the app and then choose from over 16 games developed specifically for the mat to download and install on your phone. The setup process is quite smooth and hassle-free, and you should be able to have the mat linked up with the app and the games ready to play in no time at all. As per a user’s liking, they can use either the phone as the display for the games (Yipli bundles a phone stand with the mat), or hook it up to a laptop/PC screen via a charging cable. You can also choose to cast your phone screen onto your smart TV.

Colour of illumination in the box changes depending on the mat's state of charge. Image: Tech2/Amaan Ahmed

I found it easiest to get going using the phone as the display for the games, as starting up and getting right into it is the most seamless this way. And immediately, I could see the appeal – the games themselves may be fairly basic, but they focus on putting the user through specific workouts.

Each game has a different theme, and while I didn’t try them all out, I did experience Joyful Jumps, Mat Beats and Skater. The first of these makes you run and jump, the second needs you to match the beats of a song by stepping on different parts of the mat, and the last one makes you skip and dodge obstacles by stepping and jumping on the mat.

In practice, the mat works really well – it registers all inputs fairly accurately, and once you get the hang of the game, you’ll be hooked in no time. So much so, that you may end up getting a little carried away and pushing yourself a little too hard – and that was a concern I had with Joyful Jumps, which essentially lets you run and jump endlessly. Because there are no stipulated long pauses between rounds, you could end up tiring yourself out pretty quickly.

You can choose to cast the game from your phone onto your smart TV, but it is a little laggy. Image: Tech2/Amaan Ahmed

I managed to gas my unfit present-day self out after 10 minutes of playing the game. This is great to rein in kids on a sugar high, but adults may end up being too hard on themselves because these games won’t tell you to back off for a bit. You can also play with a second person on the mat, with a set of arrows denoting specified areas for multiplayer use. By adding profiles of any relatives/friends who also use the mat on the Yipli app, users can keep track of their fitness scores on the virtual leaderboard.

Casting the game on my smart TV made it a more enjoyable viewing experience, but the games themselves tend to lag just that little bit when you do that, and that means you end up making plenty of mistakes. And while the mat itself feels reasonably durable, the light tread on the underside of the mat is likely to wear out over extended durations of running and jumping on the mat, post which grip could be an issue on floors that are inherently slippery.

Light tread on the underside of the mat likely to wear out with prolonged use. Image: Tech2/Amaan Ahmed

However, all said and done, the Yipli fitness mat is a novel offering that serves a purpose more important than ever. If you cannot go to the gym and don’t feel like stepping out of your home, the Yipli gaming mat ensures you don’t have an excuse to not work out. If you buy it from Yipli’s own e-store at present, you can get the mat for even cheaper, as it is priced at Rs 4,999, a full Rs 2,000 less than it costs on Amazon.

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