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Dance your abs off: Zumba Fitness Core is coming

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Zumba Fitness Core for Wii

A third Zumba game is coming this fall!  Zumba Fitness Core has been announced for Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect (but not PS3 or Wii U).  It looks like much the same shimmying with new music and moves.  Song list is yet to be announced.  The Wii booty belt will return, and Kinect’s version will add a community feature and voice controls so you can shout out your love for Zumba.

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How to use DDR to work on your balance

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for Playstation 2

A while back, I wrote a post about how you can get a fun and unique core workout using DDR.  This  time, we’re going to use the game as a fun little balancing exercise that you can do whenever you have a spare ten minutes, or just need to take an all-important break from sitting.

I got this idea while watching a “knee training” workout by Mark Verstegen, on the sportskool on-demand cable channel.  I’m a big fan of Verstegen’s Core Performance book series, in which the theme is that your body moves as one integrated unit.  Thus, if you’re having knee problems, it could be that your hips or other joints and muscles aren’t doing their jobs, and need to be retrained to take the load off your knees.  The many hours of sitting that people do nowadays is causing not just obesity, but also tight hips and “lazy” glutes.

One exercise in Mark’s workout consisted of hopping back and forth over a line, without letting the other leg touch the ground, and another exercise consisted of hopping from one leg to the other, pausing for a second each time to get one’s balance.  I thought, “that looks like a job for DDR!”  So I tried it out on the Wii game DDR Hottest Party 3, after shutting off the jumps in the options menu.  (This is on the main menu under Options and Individual Options.  You might also want to turn on Cut to get rid of faster steps.)

I played Lessons 1, 2 and 3 – all beginner level songs, but just by making a “rule” that only one foot could touch the floor at any time, they became quite a challenge!  Beginner songs are actually a little harder than “basic” songs when played this way, because they have fewer steps, causing you to have to balance on one leg longer.

This is a fun way to enjoy beginner-level songs (I like those “Lesson” songs) and if you have the PS2 or Xbox DDR games, you can use Edit Mode to craft a balancing workout for other songs as well.

Another core workout for Wii: Active Life Outdoor Challenge

We are in the heart of the “snowmageddon” zone – 2 major blizzards in 4 days – so not only do we have to do our workouts indoors, but I need to strengthen up my muscles for shoveling 40-plus inches of snow.  I already spent several hours on Monday shoveling around my street, and my shoulders, butt, abs and arms are still aching.  So until I can get out and shovel again, once the high winds and whiteout conditions have died down, I’m working out my core with Wii.

This is one time I regret not having a balance board s0 I can enjoy wintery games like the We Ski or Shaun White series.  So instead I’m escaping to the tropical setting of Active Life Outdoor Challenge.  This is a superb exergame for the whole family, and some of its mat minigames are great for those shoveling muscles.

Three that stand out in that category are the kayak game, the mine cart game and the pipe slider game.  In the kayak game, you just stand on the mat and vigorously “paddle” with your remote down a raging river.  In mine cart, you pump the remote up and down to power your cart through a twisty mine, and whenever there’s a curve in the track, you have to lift one foot off the mat and balance on one leg while pumping.

Mine cart game (images from Gamespy)

But the biggest upper body workout of all is the pipe slider.  In what is maybe unique among mat games, you have to sit on the mat and bang on the arrows to push your sled forward through a pipe.  Think of pushing your sled down a not-so-steep hill.  Your shoulders and arms will burn!

Pipe slider game

Special honorable mention goes to the mountain boarding game, which requires you to not only stand on the mat and steer by stepping on the arrows, but also whenever a tunnel appears, you have to “duck” into the tunnel by leaning over and striking the mat with one hand.  This getting-down and getting-up is fantastic for the whole body.

Active Life Outdoor Challenge is nothing compared to the REAL outdoor challenge awaiting me outside my door, but it’s a fun way to get myself prepared for the real thing.  To everyone else in the blizzard zone, best wishes and stay safe!

How to get a core workout with DDR

Dance Dance Revolution is a great workout for your legs and cardiovascular system, but did you know you can also play it in a way that works your middle?  It’s very simple:  use your hands instead of your feet!

Now just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy.  I highly recommend starting with Light or even Beginner.  But it’s very easy to adapt to your core strength.  You can start out on your knees (like knee pushups) or even with your legs completely tucked under you.  As you get stronger, try getting on your toes; it’s easier to begin with your feet spread apart, just like in a pushup progression.  I usually do the menu selection on my toes, then switch to knees for the song itself.

Give it a try!  It may look funny, but it sure is a lot more fun than tons of crunches.

List of active games has been added

Since Walk It Out appears to be the last exergame to be released for a little while, and lots of folks who got Wiis for holiday gifts are asking around for games that help burn off the holiday feasts, I added a page (look up over the header) that lists all the active and fitness-related home console games I know of.

I haven’t tried all the games (I wish!) but I’ve written about many of them on this blog, and if I hear of any new ones, I’ll add them to the list.  (Right after I posted, I realized I’d completely left out the Eye Toy series.  Shows how good my Eye Toy experience was…)

Exergames have certainly exploded in the ten years since DDR arrived on the scene and gamers started wondering why their extra flab was disappearing.  It’s now in a genre of its own, and there should be something on that list to get practically anyone moving and grinning.

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