Support Libby, click to buy via us...
Zumba Fitness is like a Latin-American-flavoured aerobics. The Zumba website tells me it is "an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow... calorie-burning dance fitness-party... that's moving millions of people toward joy and health".
I'm always amenable to the idea of incorporating odysseys of joy and health into my life. I probably have a few preconceptions about how I might acquire those things, but I'm also open to new possibilities: if a registered, trade-marked, worldwide fitness party can help out, I'll give it a try.
As it turns out, the Zumba game is not unlike Dance Central, in that it tracks your moves as you learn the different sequences. Although, because it's more focused on the general movement than getting the exact dance moves right, the Zumba tracker doesn't seem to mind if you're a bit uncoordinated.
Zumba is more about you getting a good workout. Main problem being that if you're trying to learn some steps and you can't get them right - and then the instructor speeds things up, as they are wont to do - it ends up feeling a bit like you're doing mental gymnastics to keep up.
While learning the Calypso, for instance, I had to work quite hard to: count which foot had to go where on which beat; remember to shift my weight; remember to shuffle sideways while I was doing all this; plus remember to send my hips and arms off in opposite directions. Plus the instructor hadn't really noticed.
Her: Your leg work is amazing! Look at you go! Me: Um. Did you really just see what I did? I think not.
Once you've learned the various steps (or even if you haven't), you can choose to go to a Zumba Party, a Zumba Class or to complete a Single Routine. These options go for various amounts of time (up to around 20 mins) and you will be reminded with screen and voice prompts to, for example, keep your foot on the floor, or watch your shoulder movement. When doing these, however, your instructor is simply showing you the moves. There's no feedback loop, though you can score points for getting the moves right.
If you were the kind of person who didn't like crowds, or who didn't feel comfortable dancing in front of other people, I'd say the Zumba game could work for you. You can set up your own weekly timetable of workouts, and there are Achievements to earn, according to how many steps you've mastered and which levels of difficulty you've reached.
The Kinect instructor will probably do the trick.
One of the fun things about the various dance styles that Zumba incorporates (Cumbia, Merengue, Belly Dancing, Tango), however, is their social nature. Or so my dancer pals tell me. Even the Zumba Fitness site mentions deep-rooted communities which can be built around this kind of dance, which is why, I guess, they provide an international search option on their website, so you can find "your nearest class".
But no matter. If you're looking for a physical challenge and you don't have time to get to the local class, the Kinect instructor will probably do the trick.
Just be warned: You may not meet the love of your life when you're Salsa dancing by yourself in your loungeroom. But maybe you will find joy and health. And, let's face it, Latin dance is probably a bit more fun than running on a treadmill.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: