By Llee Sivitz
Play video games and lose weight? It sounds unlikely, but it's true.
The New York Times Magazine calls two video game imports, Konami's Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) from Japan and Andamiro's Pump It Up from Korea, "video game workouts."
Nadina Pryor, 12, watches a screen for cues as she moves on the Pump It Up! Don't Stop Dancing! machine at Gameworks at Newport on the Levee.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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These games, popular on both coasts for several years, now are taking the Midwest by storm.
Chris Rettig, 33, of Colerain Township, first tried the video game workout 11/2 years ago.
"I decided to try it once, and I've been doing it ever since," he says. He has lost nearly 90 pounds.
The games are simple. Select a song from a collection or "mix," and choose a level of difficulty or "number of steps." Mount the game's platform - made up of four or five 6-inch squares - and face the video screen.
As the music plays, arrows appear and scroll up the screen, indicating which squares to tap with your feet. The greater the difficulty, the quicker the arrows scroll and the more confounding the sequences become.
Mr. Rettig concedes you can play just for enjoyment or to work on a dance routine, but he does it for the fitness aspect.
"I definitely get a workout," he says. "To me, it's very much like step aerobics."
He plays at Greater Cincinnati
video and game arcades one or two days a week, for one to two hours at a time.
If you play, right away you'll notice that the games challenge your eye-foot coordination. You may feel silly at first, but it's fairly easy to pick up the game.
The game will keep score. You also will know how you are doing (as will the crowd that has gathered around you) via the "perfects," "greats," "goods," "misses" and "boos" that appear on the screen after each tap.
You also can play the games at home. DDR works with PlayStation and Pump It Up has a PC version.
Christine Julian-DeBaltzo, 35, of Columbia Tusculum, purchased DDR so she and her 10-year-old stepdaughter could exercise together.
When she saw DDR, she says, "a light bulb went off and I thought, `This is perfect because it's something any kid would enjoy.' "
She bought two platforms or "hard pads" (under $250) so she and her stepdaughter can play at the same time but at different "steps" and with individual scoring.
"I can do this with her and not feel like I'm sacrificing my own workout," she says.
Places to play
Dave & Buster's, Springdale - Pump It Up.
Fun and Games Galore, Eastgate Mall - Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).
Gameworks, Newport on the Levee - DDR and Pump It Up.
Jillian's, Covington - Pump It Up.
Paramount's King's Island Amusement Park - DDR.
Tilt Arcade, Florence Mall - Pump It Up.
Tilt Arcade, Northgate Mall - Pump It Up. Wonderpark, Forest Fair Mall - DDR.
Eastgate 4.5 Tournament, Fun and Games Galore, Eastgate Mall. Noon-6 p.m. Saturday. 575-0018.
On the Net
www.ddrfreak.com - National DDR site. Game locations, song lists, step charts, FAQ, tournament schedules, photos, purchasing info.
www.ohioddr.com - DDR in Ohio. Chats, events, locations.
www.pumpxtreme.net - National Pump It Up site. Game locations, step charts, chats, news.
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