‘Zumba Fitness: Core’ Review

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Game: Zumba Fitness: Core
Developer: Zoe Mode
Platform: Xbox 360 with Kinect
Achievements: 13 out of 34, 305/1000 points

Ah, Zumba – the word brings to mind sweating, swaying bodies, pink underwear, flailing limbs, and heart break. This year has flown by and it’s hard for me to believe that I only just reviewed the original Zumba Fitness: Rush by Zoe Mode a short 9 months ago. Now here we are with the weather cold, holiday songs on the radio, violent elbows filling the air, and a new Zumba game, Zumba Fitness:Core to review.

Doing this review actually hit at a great time for me, as my wife and I have been using a couple of different methods to meet some end of year fitness goals. We’ve been using the Gorilla Workout app on the iPad, the Jillian Micheals Ripped in 30 workout video, and regular old gym time. Zumba Fitness: Core was easy to work into our routine and provided an excellent contrast to the things we were doing.

To recap, for those unfamiliar with either Zumba or the Zumba Fitness line of games:

Zumba is the latest fitness craze to sweep the nation in the last couple of years. Zumba combines multiple booty-shaking Latin dance moves into a fast, high-intensity workout. The fitness routines in your typical Zumba workout can incorporate moves from merengue, salsa, reggaeton, rumba, flamenco, calypso and salsaton, among others. If that sounds like a lot of different dance steps to learn…it is. The intimidation factor for a novice to walk into a Zumba session is quite high as the steps can come fast and furious and you’re left, like me, in a whirl of arms and legs and definitely not shaking booty.

Not much has changed moving from Zumba Fitness: Rush to Zumba Fitness: Core. The same problems have not been addressed in any significant way. Similar to most of the dancing/fitness games available on the Kinect, players are asked to mirror dance moves performed by onscreen avatars. Whereas the moves in the Dance Central games are presented in a fairly granular manner via a copious amount of cue cards, the Zumba Fitness games show the first moves of the series of dance routine in a 1-2 second video clip. After that? You’re on your own, sucker. Even with the relatively more frequent “Enhanced” cueing, I often felt lost and my best efforts to flawlessly Samba through a routine would devolve into flailing limbs.

The central draw of this new game is that the new moves ostensibly work your core. According to this quote from Jeffrey Perlman, Chief Marketing Officer, Zumba Fitness, “It is the only party around where you don’t have to bring a six pack, but you may just walk out with one.” I’ll just leave that there.

Let’s just say that if I had to depend solely on Zumba Fitness: Core, I would never find the fridge where the six packs are stored. Playing Zumba Fitness: Core emphasized to me the effective workouts presented in Gorilla Workout and the Jillian Michaels’ video. While the workouts in both of them provide no direct feedback, they have a laser focus on working specific body areas and provide detailed information on exercise form. Watching Jillian Michaels’ stalk her gym floor and point specifically at her trainers and saying, “Don’t do this!!” is impetus enough for good form. The Gorilla Workout makes up for its utter lack of personality with plenty of video clips demonstrating specific moves, information on the targeted body parts, and short, dense workouts. At the end of a workout session with either of these methods, I left without a doubt that the targeted body areas were effectively worked out.

The problem? Neither of them is very fun.

For all of its faults, Zumba Fitness: Core is fun.

Even when I was lost and staring at the television wondering exactly how I was supposed to move my arm there while putting my foot there, I had a smile on my face. It’s in the, for me, rare moments of cohesion where I am on rhythm and looking exactly like the instructor that I think, “I’m awesome.” Let me repeat, for rhythmically challenged me, those moments were rare, but kept me coming back for more. The Zumba instructors do a lot to inject personality into each of their dance routines and I grew to look forward to specific instructors (Beto and Kass Martin, I’m looking at you!) and dreading others (Gina Grant’s routines always lost me).

Oh, how I longed for the instructors to tell me if I was doing the moves right! I wanted Beto to correct my form, Kass to applaud my well engaged abs, and Gina to point and laugh as I flailed my arms. According to my Zumba-ing friends this doesn’t happen in real, live Zumba classes either. Well, except maybe the last one.

Overall, this is a fun exercise video that provides an energetic aerobic workout with some player feedback. While, the game purports to be focused on working your core, the lack of specific instruction reduces the effectiveness of a targeted body area workout. For the most part, the new arenas, dance routines, and instructors in Zumba Fitness: Core felt like a solid expansion pack to Zumba Fitness: Rush. If you had to only pick one for your resident Zumba fanatic, I’d opt for Zumba Fitness: Core just for the new content, but ideally Zoe Mode will release a version that combines both games.

A copy of this game was provided for the purposes of this review.

Jerry Nguyen loves videogames. He loves playing them, reading about them, and talking about them. Videogames have helped teach him about problem solving, patience, and persistence. In college, he got his BA in English Literature and dabbled enough in Computer Science to get a BS degree too. After college, he decided he needed more letters after his name and went to graduate school to study neuroscience. There, he fell in love, made several new friends, and played videogames. He also waited in line for the midnight release of the PlayStation 2. To actually get his PhD, he had to end his dalliance with World of Warcraft. After graduate school, his life changed with the birth of his first daughter. Now, he and his wife have two bright daughters and precious time to enjoy videogames. He is trying to teach his daughters to love videogames as much as he does and is always on the lookout for excellent games that he and his daughters can enjoy.

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Jerry Nguyen loves videogames. He loves playing them, reading about them, and talking about them. Videogames have helped teach him about problem solving, patience, and persistence. In college, he got his BA in English Literature and dabbled enough in Computer Science to get a BS degree too. After college, he decided he needed more letters after his name and went to graduate school to study neuroscience. There, he fell in love, made several new friends, and played videogames. He also waited in line for the midnight release of the PlayStation 2. To actually get his PhD, he had to end his dalliance with World of Warcraft. After graduate school, his life changed with the birth of his first daughter. Now, he and his wife have two bright daughters and precious time to enjoy videogames. He is trying to teach his daughters to love videogames as much as he does and is always on the lookout for excellent games that he and his daughters can enjoy.

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