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Off the top of our heads, we can’t name a single other rhythm game--or any video game, for that matter--that teaches the player the fine art of burlesque dancing. That’s just one of the many dance styles available in Zumba Fitness Core, the Kinect/Wii workout disguised as a dance party. If you’re like us, you don’t see a six-pack when you look down--but this game/exercise hybrid will whip your abs into shape, whether you’re ready for it or not. It also gives you a halfway decent excuse to train yourself (or your significant other) to dance in the comfort of your living room.
If you’re not familiar with the Zumba fitness movement led by Alberto “Beto” Perez, it’s an exercise class-turned-worldwide program that encourages bodily health through choreographed dance. The rhythmic moves started out Latin-inspired, but branched out to include a wide array of dance styles for a total of 33, ranging from reggaeton, samba, and cumbia to bhangra, ballet, and belly dancing. Instructors under Beto’s tutelage have become something like fitness celebrities, and many of Zumba’s star instructors have been included in Fitness Core, via playable characters and unlockable video vignettes.
The gameplay itself is comparable to Dance Central, but with longer sessions, nonstop positive feedback, and fewer licensed songs. You’ll have the same per-limb feedback as you follow the groove of the onscreen dancers, with the encouraging “Nice,” “Hot,” or “Zumba” ratings of your performance. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more rigorous than a standalone song, you can boot up 20-, 40-, or 60-minute workouts geared for cardio or core exercise. Unbeknownst to us, built abs are good for more than glamour--they also promote correct posture and a healthy back.
Each workout is ranked by intensity, so you can decide if you want to work up a quick sweat or put your abs through a grueling trial in the name of fitness. At the higher end of “difficulty,” you’ll be burning around 1,000 calories an hour. Customizable classes let you choose your favorite styles, and you can set long-term goals (hours worked, calories burned, etc.) that you can share with Xbox Live buddies for some communal endeavors.
Zumba Fitness Core takes the exercise past a mere DVD, letting you improve your dancing skills with moment-to-moment feedback and tracked stats as you strive for long-term goals. For those in search of a rigorous Kinect workout (complete with 34 achievements, natch’), this might be the preferably private dance routine that’ll give you the same fitness results. If you think your abs could use some toning, or you just want to practice your dance moves, you can pick up Zumba Fitness Core for Xbox 360 and Wii this October.