Category Archives: Exergames in the news

Zumba’s secret sauce: “Electrifying joy”

Zumba is one of those things, like yoga or “Game of Thrones”, that’s hard to explain to the uninitiated. But one thing’s for sure, it’s a Zumba world and we just live in it.

I first became aware of this when I posted way back in 2009 about the mere possibility of a Zumba video game coming to Wii. That lil’ post on my fledgling blog began getting hits by the hundreds, and is still my most popular post ever.

Then, shortly after I got the game, my first-grader came home and said her teacher wanted to borrow it. I thought maybe they were looking into Zumba for the PE program or something – no, she wanted to try it for herself. Then I started attending weekly classes, at the behest of another school mom, and discovered the “high” of a roomful of people gyrating to Pitbull and shouting “I Love Zumba!” It’s like a cross between a dance party and pep rally, with a little exercise thrown in.

A recent article in Advertising Age talks about how Zumba went from just another infomercial to every-freaking-where (even on my drive to the beach, along roads surrounded by cow pastures and corn fields, there are roadside popsicle signs advertising Zumba classes). The chief marketing officer for Zumba explains that basically, they’re selling the joy of movement rather than the no-pain-no-gain of traditional workouts. He’s also not above self-parody:

“We want to craft an archetype of a Zumba enthusiast. If a yoga enthusiast is a tofu-eating, patchouli-smelling person, the Zumba enthusiast might have the baggy cargo pants, drive a Jeep Wrangler and rip up her clothing,” he said. “We’re in the business of building a community.”

Well, I don’t have a Jeep and the only time I rip my clothing is if I fall down, but this middle-aged mom will take baggy cargo pants over tight yoga pants with no pockets for the pedometer and mp3.

The article says Zumba wants to increase their TV presence, and already they made an appearance on Biggest Loser. Here’s the Zumba clip from TBL:

That clip says a lot about Zumba’s mass appeal. Too many group fitness classes kinda want you to be already thin and fit before joining. With Zumba, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like; just get out there and free your mind and body. If your baggy pants get even baggier, that’s just a bonus.


Artificial heart gets field-tested with DDR

If I was outfitted with an artificial heart, I’d want to test it out with some arrow-stomping cardio.  That’s what a young woman did, according to this press release from MarketWatch.

After receiving the high-tech heart, and during the months of waiting for a donor heart, the 21-year-old spent an hour a day playing DDR in the hospital.  (Just what every hospital needs, a DDR machine!)  She is now transplanted with the real thing, and credits the artificial heart for keeping her healthy in the meantime.  I think a certain video game deserves some props, too.

Future successor to Walk It Out: Rebound It Out?

ExerGame Lab posted this cool video from a Japanese university, showing a rebounder used in a Walk It Out-style game. The video shows how it works, with infrared sensors under the rebounder picking up the foot movement (possible use for Kinect?) and making the exerciser walk forward, backward or even fly by jumping in the virtual world. Adding the ability to go airborne would be a fantastic upgrade to the game!

Study: exergaming may have more benefits for seniors than “traditional” exercise

Dame Helen Mirren stays young with Wii (via Jezebel)

Another good reason for older folks to get their (exer)game on:  as reported in The Atlantic, a study at Union College found that a group of seniors who rode exercise bikes equipped with a Cyberbike-like video game, gained better executive function and a lowering of progression to dementia than a group of seniors riding exercise bikes that weren’t equipped with video games.

There was the same exercise frequency, intensity and duration between the two groups – but the exergaming elders performed better on memory tests than the non-gamers, and I bet they had more fun, too!

Helen Mirren (partially) credits Wii Fit for her “Best Body of the Year”

Amazing results can happen if you work diligently enough at making your Wii Fit avatar slim and smiling instead of flabby and frowning.  66-year-old actress Helen Mirren was voted “Best Body of the Year” in an L.A. Fitness poll, beating out contenders like Jennifer Lopez and Elle Macpherson, and according to Shape, she gives credit to “regular walks with her dog and playing on the Wii Fit”.

Even though the sexygenarian actress was hot long before video game consoles were even marketed, and she’s also a paid celebrity endorser (see video above) – good for her!  I don’t have Wii Fit, but there are lots of great Wii fitness choices out there for all ages.

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