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Hands on preview of 'Zumba Fitness Core' on Kinect for Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii

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I recently previewed Majesco Entertainment's “Zumba Fitness Core” by Zoë Mode, which is headed to Kinect for Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii this fall. Zumba Fitness blends world music and easy-to-follow choreography into an effective total-body workout. Zoë Mode is known for their history of successful music-based games such as “Sing Star," along with one of my personal favorites: “Chime.” Together, the result is a winning combination in “Zumba Fitness Core.”

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Zumba Fitness is one of the largest selling video game fitness franchises with over 7 million copies sold to date, second only to 'Wii Fit.” Unlike other fitness titles like “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved,” “Zumba Fitness Core” is the first and only game in the genre that gives its users a complete core workout.

Watch video: "Zumba Fitness Core" trailer

“We asked Zumba fans what part of their body they wished they could improve the most, and we received an overwhelming response of their core,” said Lisa Roth, the Executive Producer of Zumba Fitness. “So in Zumba Fitness Core you'll be able to party your abs off.”

One of the main attractions of “Zumba Fitness Core” is its convenience. If you have a very busy lifestyle and don't always have the time to get out to the gym then you can easily play it at home any time you have for it.

“Zumba Fitness Core” features 33 dance styles like salsa, merengue, and mambo with 13 new styles added. There's two new tutorial modules: Samba and Bollywood, for a total of six style tutorials. There's 45 pre-set classes to choose from on the Kinect version (30 for Wii), in three different intensities: Low, medium, and high. Workouts can be done in 20, 45, and 60 minutes increments and playing “Zumba Fitness Core” for an hour can burn up to a 1,000 calories.

One can choose to take a core class or a cardio class, and there are 40 songs on the disc. Six celebrity Zumba instructors guide players through each of the routines: Beto, Tanya Beardsley, Gina Grant, Kass Martin, Loretta Bates, and Nick Logrea. Xbox 360 players can work out with a second player, while Wii owners can dance with three of their friends. The Wii version includes a Zumba Fitness belt to put your Wii Remote in.

“Zumba Fitness Core” introduces community goals. “Zumba is all about community. With community goals, players can unlock new content together. For example if everyone on Xbox Live burns a combined 10,000 calories in a given week, then they'll unlock that week's new fitness video,” said Roth. “There's going to be tons of new fitness tips and videos for players to earn.”

“I'm a horrible dancer and have never been to a real fitness class,” I shyly informed my hosts.

“That's ok because “Zumba Fitness Core” is a program for everybody,” explained Liz Buckley, the General Manager of Zumba Fitness. “There's a detailed learn the steps mode, and after you've used the game for a while you'll have built up the confidence needed to go out and attend a real Zumba class.” Each copy of the game conveniently includes a URL where players can download a free seven day LA Fitness pass. Xbox players can find participating local gyms through an in-game option.

I played the Kinect version of “Zumba Fitness Core” alongside Melissa Chiz, the Zumba instructor featured on the box art of the game and co-host of the “Exhilarate” Zumba DVD collection. Melissa has starred in music videos with artists such as Pitbull, Ricky Martin, and Jennifer Lopez. She's also appeared in “Maxim” and “Men's Fitness.”

Thanks to the tutorial (and some guidance from Chiz), I learned several different salsa and cumbia dance moves. The tutorial allows you to slow down or speed up the moves while also providing feedback about where your arms and legs should be. Unlike “Dance Central,” there isn't a focus on hitting hundreds of exact moves. Instead, it's all about constant movement. The game's motion queue displays upcoming routines. Each song has a few different dance sequences that you'll repeat several times, just as you would while following a fitness instructor during a real class.

“The most important key to learning how to Zumba is the placement of your feet,” Chiz explained to me while we were playing the song “Surf to the World.” After you've mastered the footwork of the dance sequences “you can worry about the rest.”

Once I picked up some basic moves like the “two-step” from the game's tutorial we hopped into full songs. I was surprised by the wide variety of music included, including Bob Marley.

The game rewards players with positive reinforcement. You're able to earn stars by accurately following the instructor throughout a song. Perform perfectly, and you'll get “euphoria,” resulting in dynamic camera angles and special effects. There's even a progress tracker which records all of your workout statistics, from calories burned to technique score.

I had a lot of fun performing the dance moves, which had me moving all over the room. Before I knew it, I'd played through four songs. The best part of “Zumba Fitness Core” was that I'd forgotten I was even playing a fitness game. I laughed my ass off performing DJ moves during “Dancing with Myself,” and after earning three stars from the last song and a high five from Melissa Chiz I found myself breathless and sweaty. My body was a little sore the next day, but I'm looking forward to learning more dance moves with "Zumba Fitness Core" later this fall.

“Zumba Fitness Core” will be available in October of 2012 for an MSRP of $39.99 on the Nintendo Wii and Kinect for Xbox 360. You can find more information about the game at www.ZumbaFitnessGame.com and pre-order it here from GameStop.com.

For more information about Zumba Fitness programs, products, or to find a live class, visit www.Zumba.com or follow Zumba on Facebook and Twitter.

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