Health & Fitness

By Amelia Mularz

I used to be a quiet neighbor. But lately there’s been a lot of bumping, quite a bit of grinding, a touch of hooting and hollering, and a ton of Missy Elliott coming from my apartment.

No, I’m not throwing all-night raves. Those are just the sounds of my new workout plan, thanks to Dance Central 2 for Xbox 360. Launched this past fall, the latest technology in at-home dance gaming has inspired in me a whole new desire to break a sweat and bust a move.

I’ve played other interactive dance games before, like Just Dance for Nintendo Wii. But there’s something a bit more mind blowing about this one. First off, there’s no remote, which is totally liberating for a dance game (remotes really cramp my style). The game works with a hi-tech device called Kinect, which hooks up to your Xbox 360. Kinect tracks your movements using a camera and infrared sensor, so you’re free to move as you please. I had a friend over the day I set up my Kinect and as we watched our images appear on screen, we both turned to each other with our jaws dropped. “This is the future!” she said. I couldn’t have agreed more.

There’s also the choreography and music selection that makes Dance Central 2 the best thing to happen to me since I put Tetris on my iPhone. The folks behind the game hired big names in the dance biz to create the heart-pumping routines. One such name is Frenchy Hernandez, who has worked for MTV, BET and VH1, not to mention Snoop Dogg. Not just fodder for a video game, these are moves you’d actually want to do in public.

The dancing is equally matched by the music. We’ve come along way since the tunes in Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers (not that I didn’t love the jams in Bowser’s castle). The soundtrack to Dance Central 2 features artists like Bruno Mars, David Guetta, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, to name a few.

As a workout, Dance Central 2 offers some serious cardio. While you can get your heart rate up in any mode (there’s “Perform It,” which gets you dancing right away, “Dance Battle,” which lets you challenge a friend, and “Crew Challenge,” where you attempt to impress a dance crew with your moves), there’s a specific “Fitness Mode” that works best. You’ll dance for up to 50 minutes uninterrupted and the game will track calories burned. Plus, you can even create a custom playlist to keep you inspired.

In fact, the “Fitness Mode” is so much fun, I got 10 girls to work out after a night of boozing during a bachelorette weekend. Some of the ladies even dressed in 80s-inspired aerobics outfits to up the anti.

As for my neighbors and all the raucous coming from my apartment, not one person has made a complaint. I like to think it’s because of my newly toned thighs and endless energy, as I bound up the stairs to my fourth-floor abode, has rendered them speechless.

Originally published February 2012
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