Friday, 24 June 2011

Review: Wii Zumba­® Fitness

If you've been near a gym or a sports centre in the last two years, you can't fail to have heard of Zumba. If you don't know what it is, it's a fitness class based on the Latin American dances of salsa, merenge, cumbia and so on.

When I rejoined the gym towards the end of last year, I discovered that Zumba classes were almost taking over the old favourites of Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Attack. Having heard various good reports from friends, I decided to give it a go.

I did 3 classes. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy them but I came away feeling like a klutz and also that I wasn't working that hard. The teachers were great but they stopped between every track to teach the new steps. I was also a bit fazed by the people who turned up with those belly dancing hip scarves with bells on to one of the classes. After the third class, I reverted to a fail back position of Body Pump which I love and Body Combat. However, I've since had to give up Body Combat classes - strange as it sounds, it gives me a really bad back.

When I was offered the Wii Zumba Fitness game to try out, it sounded ideal. I could do all the dance moves badly in the privacy of my own home and be in control of the pace of the workout. I need to do some cardio so I was keen to give it a try.

The game comes with a Zumba fitness belt, which you use to place the Wiimote on your hips so that it detects your hip movements - with this being Latin rhythms, there's a lot of hip movement going on. Unfortunately, there's only one belt in the pack, although you can purchase extra ones if you want to have two players.

Moving onto the game, it has some extensive tutorials for all the different dances. You follow the instructor and they go green if you're mirroring their actions. I tried these first and found that I could manage the slower steps but as soon as the moves got faster, they would suddenly change and I couldn't keep up anymore. I would have liked a steadier increase in speed rather than sudden jumps.

Onto the game itself. You could if you wanted to choose which class you want at which level and start going. Or you could choose the Zumba party which takes you through all the different classes at different levels, starting with the beginners level. If you work your way through all the workouts, you finish with the Zumbathon, which lasts a whole 60 minutes. Eek.

I had a go at the first workout. Again, you mirror the instructor and she glows the same fetching green if you are doing it right. When you do that, you gain energy points which accumulates to a score at the end of the workout. There is a timer on screen so you can see how long you have left in the current routine but not the whole workout. I quite liked this, and the reminders to drink water in the gaps between the routines. Just don't tell them my water was actually cold tea, OK?

Again, I found as they added steps and moves, I lost track of doing it right. I was very glad that I wasn't being watched by anyone but quite often, when I thought I was doing it wrong, the instructor was the same green and I gained energy. Still, I don't think I was that brilliant at it - despite doing nearly all of the tutorials beforehand. I did however feel like I was working hard, harder than I felt I did at the classes I went to. In that respect, it's good - I can choose to work at that level and it's relentless so that I'm working hard even if I'm getting it wrong. Whether I'll ever get the moves right, I don't know. I never did dance lessons as a child which might be a disadvantage. However, I know I have reasonably good coordination from doing other classes like Body Combat and am capable of learning a routine. I think I may be a little bit too British and a bit self-conscious about all that hip wiggling you do. As you progress up through the energy levels, they add more dancers to build the atmosphere allegedly, but I was too busy concentrating on what to do to notice that much.

I did like that the Zumba party feature had a calendar schedule for doing the routines, although they did have rather a large gap between classes. I personally don't think you need so many days between routines, although you can go in and do the routine when you want.

I think this is a great game for someone who wants to get active but is tied to the home for whatever reason or needs to be able to workout more flexibly than going to class. Also, if you're a bit self-conscious, it will give you the chance to build your confidence before you joined the class. There is nothing quite like going to class for adding to your motivation - and it's great for Zumba, which feels more like dancing at a party than an exercise class - but I do realise some will want to feel more confident before they do classes, or just workout from home all the time. After all, it's a far cheaper option if you are paying £4 per class or more.

You can like Zumba Game on Facebook and follow on Twitter here.

The Wii format of the Zumba Fitness game has an RRP of £34.99 but you can normally get it for less. It is also available for Playstation 3 and Kinect for Xbox 360 platforms, RRP £39.99. 

(I was sent a copy of Wii Zumba Fitness game for the purposes of providing a review and have received no other compensation. All opinions are my own and are not affected by the aforementioned compensation)
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