This past August, I wrote an article talking about the weight loss benefits of the Nintendo Wii. My brother-in-law had kindly purchased it for my husband and I as a wedding gift and though I was a little nervous to try my hand at the coordination-challenging Dance Dance Revolution, I was determined to try.
This summer, I decided I needed a change. Due to the fact that the majority of my work involves me staying at home and sitting in a chair all day, I decided that I needed to incorporate some sort of workout regimen.
I am one of those unfortunates who despises workouts. I’ve never been especially coordinated and I dislike gyms. Secondly, (and most importantly) I have a hard time working out because I feel like I’m going nowhere. Sadly, I need to be entertained. Watching the Food Channel in my local YMCA while plugging away at that treadmill is not only cruel, but does little for me.
When I saw that my brother-in-law had included the game Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party along with the Wii console, I was determined to try to use it as a workout supplement, at least until I found something better. It wasn’t an easy change.
The core basics of the game are these:
As music plays, arrows move up the screen in time with the beat. You step in the direction of the arrows (Up, Down, Left, Right) and earn points that enable you to unlock other songs. If you miss enough dance arrows, your game ends.
The game features a Workout Mode, which enables you to either work out for a certain period of time or work out until you burn a certain amount of calories. Though excited, I tried to pace myself, attempting to burn 150 calories in a session, then gradually moving up.
Coordination, quick reflexes and an ability to listen to the beat are key, but your legs aren’t the only things involved in this game. With the Wii, Dance Dance Revolution also includes “Hand Markers.” In addition to the dance arrows, you must lift the Wii controller and nunchuk (basically, another controller for the left hand) to hit the hand markers whenever they appear on either the right or left side of the screen.
When I first discovered the hand markers, my first thought (besides several expletives) was, “I can’t do this all at once.” For a long time, I felt like the epitome of awkwardness. I would stumble about on the mat, feeling like I needed at least three legs to do the dance moves they were expecting me to perform. Meanwhile, my arms flailed awkwardly, elbows often getting tangled up on the cord that connected the controller and the nunchuk. Trust me, it is possible.
For a great deal of time, even Beginner and Basic seemed hard. So I did the smart thing: I stopped altogether. I felt that if I couldn’t surpass even the easy levels, then what was the point? Then I got mad–at myself and at the game. Deciding I wouldn’t let the game and my bad coordination get the better of me, I began again. This time, I haven’t stopped.
I have worked my way up to Expert and every day, I burn 400 calories in an hour. Are the weight loss rumors true? Absolutely. It’s odd to look down at my legs and see muscle instead of flab. My abs are quickly toning and my energy, once practically nonexistent, is out in full force all day long.
Some tips for Dance Dance Revolution:
Start slow. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a great deal of time to be able to move fast enough and with enough coordination to master the lower levels.
Always stretch before starting DDR. It is very similar to a dance aerobics class and therefore, you should treat it as such. Stretching properly will ensure safe and longer play.
Look at the levels like a puzzle. Beginner is the most basic level and includes the bare elements of the Expert level. As you keep playing and moving up levels, you’ll see the pieces come together.
Keep a glass of water close at hand.
One way to make the time pass quickly is to workout under “Battle Style.” By playing against the computer, you don’t notice the time and calories flying by. You’re too focused on beating your opponent!
Finally, as cliché as it sounds, have fun with it! It will take time before you start building up true weight loss, so don’t try to push it. Just enjoy the experience one day at a time.