Shoot for shape with exercise video games

Shoot for shape with exercise video games

The top selling video games in the world so far in 2012 aren’t shooter games, as some of us would have guessed. Nope. They’re fitness games.

In North America, the No. 1 game is actually a dance game. Just Dance 3 for the Wii has been the top selling video game in 2012 so far. To date, Just Dance 3 (Reviewed Nov. 10, 2011) has sold more than 7 million copies since its October 2011 release. It’s estimated that worldwide, gamers spend 23 million minutes per day playing the game, dancing to 7.5 million songs daily!

The third, fourth and 10th spots on the list of top sellers for 2012 are also fitness games: Zumba Fitness for the Wii; Zumba Fitness 2, also called Join the Party, for the Wii; and Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 for the Xbox 360 Kinect.

If you’re not shaking your groove thang with a video game; apparently you’re all alone. The zumba craze that has swept the nation’s workout studios has meringue-d into private homes via gaming.

Zumba is slang for “fast” and was created to emulate nightclub dancing to a Latin beat. Slow and fast rhythms get dancers pulsating and grinding to dance styles including cumbia, merengue, salsa, reggaeton, mambo, rumba, flamenco, and calypso and salsaton.

Both Wii games offer an authentic zumba experience – music, moves and all. The first game released in 2010 was so successful, developers released Zumba Fit: Join the Party in November 2011. In February of this year, a version for the Xbox 360 Kinect was released – Zumba Fitness Rush. The big differences between the two Wii games is additional dance styles Axe, Indian, Latin Pop, Bellydance and Pasodoble, as well as a calorie counter and celebrity instructors, available in the latest version.

There are nine different dance styles, routines, three levels, a dance party and best of all, tutorials. For those of us who have stood at the gym watching the zumba classes, intimidated by the seemingly intricate dance moves, these tutorials are confidence boosters. Male and female instructors demonstrate the dance moves like rumba, for example, repetitively and slowly. By the time the tempo speeds up, the move is mastered. Of course, you can always repeat the tutorial as often as you need. I did.

Both zumba fitness games require a zumba belt, which securely holds the Wiimote, detecting your movements. The belt comes with the games. Get the package, costing approximately $40 inclusive of the game and belt, or order the belt for $10. For fitness and fun, the cost is minimal.

I’ve never found the Wii movement detection to be faultless, and it’s not with the zumba games. However, scoring on a zumba game is really not critical; as long as you’re sweating, you know you’re winning. And you will sweat when doing these high-energy, fast-paced games. Keep water and a sweat rag handy. Wear appropriate shoes, too.

The second fitness game that the world seems to be playing, or rather getting in shape with, is Your Shape Fitness Evolved for the Xbox 360 Kinect costing $45-$50.

Motion is more critical on this game and more sensitive than with the Wii because the game actually projects you and your movements on the screen right next to the instructor so you can compare yourself. The sensor works best if you wear tighter clothing. Still, if you want perfect calorie counting and scoring, it’s not going to happen. Use sweat production as your metric and consider yourself a winner if you need water and a sweat rag.

“Shape” is a more hard-core, traditional “boot camp” type workout but also includes yoga, tai chi, hula hoop and cardio boxing, among others. Enter your weight, age and other vitals and then pick your level and routine. You can’t customize your workout but you can choose the type of workout based on your goals – weight loss, muscle conditioning, de-stress, etc.

Let others shoot for zombies — you can shoot for shape with these workout video games.