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Dance Dance Revolution Exercise – Yes, A Video Game For Fat Loss

Guest post by Faizal S. Enu

There are a lot new weight loss ideas, methods, and concepts emerging in the fitness industry. About every third day the featured article in Yahoo!News is about weight loss, and there are absolutely a lot of effective ways to shed the fat. If the Yahoo! articles were accurate, everyone would be skinny by now, but most of the stuff you see is either hype or scientific puffery.

I know this because I myself have been working on fat loss. After injuring my back and shoulder, I was holed up for a while. Not being able to lift heavy or participate in sports, my weight ballooned from 182 to 233 lbs in a matter of months. After months of physical therapy, I was able to get back to the gym and the weight slowly started to come off. I was even able to work up to getting my DragonDoor Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) certification.

It has been nine years since the my injuries, and the weight keeps coming off. The fat seemed to just drop off EVEN FASTER after I accidentally discovered a video game. What was the video game?

  • Wii Fit, …….yawn, NO!
  • Biggest Loser……..HELL NO!

Shockingly, it was Dance Dance Revolution (also known as DDR). Before you laugh or dismiss this, allow me to explain why it works and more importantly, if your weight loss has stalled, why you should give it a shot.

1. Melts the Butter

At a high level, DDR weight loss straight up burns fat like a blowtorch. While a lot of current weight loss products tout not working as hard, high level songs on Expert mode burn 30 calories/90 second song — about the same as Max VO2 kettlebell snatches or a 400m dash. This has been verified with the heart rate monitor.

DDR exercise

Amazingly, all the DDR tournament competitors are skinny. Put DDR in our high schools and take the fast food out.


2. Dynamic Balance

This one is kind of hard to see with an untrained eye, but because the movements in DDR are very fast (3-4 changes of direction/second), the game places high demand on dynamic balance, or staying stable WHILE THE BODY IS MOVING. This is the type of balance that is useful in sports and daily physical activities. How do most trainers train balance? Stationary balancing on unstable surfaces, which is fine for therapy, but I find it doesn’t translate to sports very well and makes your athletes stiff.

3. Multidirectional

In Dance Dance Revolution, you move in eight cardinal directions, rather than one or two. This makes is vastly superior to treadmill running and spin classes in balanced movement and injury prevention. Also, there are many movement types: stepping, hopping, jumping, tapping. You are work much more than just the mucles that flex and extend the hips and knees. Given these facts, I strongly recommend every big-box gym sell two treadmills and replace it with a DDR console.

4. Form Follows Function

When it comes to weight loss, people forget this very important fact — your body will change to better handle the demands placed on it (Specificity Principle). It pays to be light on your feet when playing DDR. How do you get lighter on your feet? By getting lighter. If your training is stationary, there is NO REASON TO MAKE YOUR BODY LIGHTER. Ruminate on that for a bit….

5. Precision, Accuracy, and Objectivity

The scoring system in DDR is set up so that it is meaningful. Simply put, you get points for how closely each of your steps matches up with the steps in the song. Each step is graded by one of the following: MARVELOUS, PERFECT, GREAT, GOOD, MISS. Add up all your points for all the steps and there is your score. Since the evaluations are generated electronically, they are precise and accurate. Since no humans are involved, the score, as well as your progress, are measured objectively. Everybody plays by the same rules and is judged by the same standard.

The score is the score…accurate and objective. No internet pissing matches.

6. Works Well with Others

Unlike other cardio programs out there like running and spinning, DDR “plays” nice with other programs, even strength programs. Even though I have lost ~60 lbs., I still deadlift over 450 lbs and incline dumbell press with 90s or 100s. Another side benefit of DDR is that it gives you great feedback on the status of your Central Nervous Systems (CNS): If you are slower in triple taps or double jumps, chances are your CNS is fried. I sometimes use DDR to determine exercise intensity in the gym.

7. Agility Training

This is a big one. In the gym, I noticed trainers using agility ladders to make their clients more agile. Now any trainer who is actually an athlete knows how useless they are. With agility ladders, you encourage your clients to look down with their eyes and pick up their feet. With DDR, you are encouraged to keep your head up and keep your feet low. Which do you think is a better application for sports? Use agility ladders if you want your face sat on in field sports. Play DDR if you want to do the sitting.

8. It’s CHEAP

$40-60 for a game and dance pad. In my consultation sessions, sometimes I just want to say “Get Dance Dance Revolution/Hottest Party 2, play it for 15-20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 2 months and see what happens.”

9. The Most Important Reason: overweight people are not playing it

This one might upset some people, but that is not my intent. When I see someone killing it at DDR SuperNova in the arcade, there is an extremely small probability that the person is overweight. One of the things that got me into DDR, and it was the same thing that got me into Russian kettlebells, was how athletic and graceful the people who were playing were moving.

In many cases, their bodies and their movement were positively changed by DDR. I am one of those people that follows what successful people do. When it comes to anything, success leaves clues. Usually in fitness, success is just a matter of wading the morass of junk to find what works. I have found something that works, and has worked for many others. If you are struggling, you owe it to yourself to give Dance Dance Revolution a shot.

I have used Dance Dance Revolution to shed about 35 lbs. If your weight loss has stalled, there are a lot of great reasons you should give it a try. It has worked for me and a number of others. It is cheap, fun, and can be done at home. It is a great adjunct to whatever fitness program you are doing. I cannot recommend it enough.

About the author

Faizal S. Enu, RKC (faizalenu@yahoo.com) is a Strength Coach, Weight Loss Consultant, Boot Camp Leader, and Kettlebell Instructor based out of Tampa, FL. Faizal teaches at Xtreme Athletix (Tampa, FL) and Core Fitness Solution (Madeira Beach, FL) and also provides private training and online fitness consulting.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Faizal S. Enu, RKC April 28, 2011, 8:19 am

    Josh, thanks for providing me with the honor of guest posting on your blog. You have one of the best!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 28, 2011, 8:46 am

      Thanks Faizal, it’s a great post. Anytime.

  • Paul April 28, 2011, 11:36 am

    I posted this comment on the DD forum…I hope I don’t get banned:
    “Great article, I’m convinced to get one for myself. I started judo recently and was thinking about getting an agility ladder to help with footwork. The point you made regarding having to look down at the ladder would hinder a person on the field since they want to keep the head up. I could also see this being helpful in getting my feet quickly in position for throws.”

    • Josh Hanagarne April 28, 2011, 11:52 am

      LOL. My fingers are crossed for you, comrade.

      We actually bought a DDR pad a couple of years ago after my brother got hooked. And like most things he gets good at, I was furious that I couldn’t beat him at it. I agree with everything Faizal has said here. It’s an incredible workout, but that won’t surprise anyone who has ever watched a serious dancer and thought “Holy cow, I bet that’s hard.”

  • Todd April 29, 2011, 6:44 am

    My kids have this game… I hate it. I’m too uncoordinated to play, and just feel like a big ol’ goof. I’ll stick to deadlifts. 🙂

    • Faizal Enu April 29, 2011, 9:10 pm

      They are not mutually exclusive. Keep deadlifting and doing DDR…..

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2011, 9:51 am

      Todd, start dancing while holding a barbell at lockout.

      • Faizal Enu April 30, 2011, 4:37 pm

        Josh, try it with a weighted vest (15-30lbs). Brutal. I have done it with a double kettlebells racked.

        I am working on an e-book for a KB/DDR program for fat loss…

  • michael May 2, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Do you play on the wii? My kids have a wii, but I can not figure out what I need to buy?

    • Josh Hanagarne May 2, 2011, 2:58 pm

      Michael, I have it for the Wii. I think it’s available on every system.

  • michael May 2, 2011, 3:42 pm

    So you can buy the pad separate? Do you use the hand controllers as well? Thanks

    • Josh Hanagarne May 2, 2011, 4:04 pm

      Whoops, good question. We bought a dance game called “Hottest Party” I think. The pads we bought separately. I think there are versions now where you use the hand controllers more intensely, but I’m not sure. The game we have has an option, but it’s not fun so we never messed around with it.

  • Faizal Enu May 2, 2011, 4:33 pm

    I will answer this, because I have 4 Wii version of the game.

    If you buy an original version of the game, it comes with a Dance Pad. That cost will be around $60, but you can find it for $30-40 on sale. If you have multiple players or you need a new dance pad, you can get another one for $20 (the Wii supports 4).

    If you are just buying the game, you can get it for $10 used) to $29.99 (new).

    As I mentioned before, there are 4 versions of the game for Wii
    * Hottest Party
    * Hottest Party 2 (My favorite)
    * Hottest Party 3
    * Dance Dance Revolution
    ==> There isn’t a ton of differences between the versions. Same but different. I will say that only Dance Dance Revolution has a good hand controller version, the others suck. Use the Options button to turn it off.

    • Kitty November 12, 2011, 11:51 pm

      Actually there’s one small difference that might matter. In hottest party 1, you can’t turn off the hand markers. This matters to me because 1. the hand shakes don’t also get tracked well by the game, so if you’re very competitive or perfectionist like me, it will drive you nuts to shake that stupid controller and not see it recorded, and 2. it can really throw you off from your feet, which might be a good challenge, but combined with reason one, makes me climb the wall.

  • Faizal Enu May 6, 2011, 8:39 am


    I have gotten a number of responses from people wanting to get started on DDR. Did you know that 66% of the people that run get injured. DDR is much better balanced.

    Thanks again for the opportunity.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 6, 2011, 9:25 am

      That’s awesome. I thought you might. Any time, pal.

  • Thomas Jackson May 16, 2011, 4:28 pm

    Just a suggestion to anyone wanting to try this out – the wii version is pretty suboptimal, as far as the DDR games go. I’ve been hooked on them for years now, and longtime DDR fan will tell you that the playstation 2 is the much better version. supernova, supernova 2, ddrmax 1and2, ddrextreme2, all of these have awesome setlists of music, and the later ones actually have a workout mode built in where it calculates your overall calorie burn based on your weight and what you’re playing.

    seriously, fi you’ve got a old playstation laying around hit up amazon and get supernova 1or2, and / or extreme 2 or max2. they will not disappoint.

  • Nickie May 16, 2011, 4:45 pm

    Just thought id say, if your having trouble getting started, playing the arcade version is alot easier. The mats are way more stable and they have arm grips at the back if you start off lacking in coordination. In Australia it costs $1 a game, unsure about America but it isn’t expensive. Also, dont be afraid to ask some of the expert players tips – how to do crossovers / gallops etc. Everyone is happy to help because we enjoy seeing people improve 🙂

    • Brett May 16, 2011, 6:10 pm

      Nickie, we’re using a commercial grade multiplayer machine dance system called iDANCE2, made in Sweden. We’ve installed this in a professional gym as part of the Group Fitness Aerobic timetable. We have a massive projected screen, the pro audio system used for all Les Mills and BTS classes and an air conditioned room for all classes 🙂 Members are startled when they see a class but curiousity is getting the better of many of them and we now have 7 classes a week and near full classes every day. This is the first of its kind in Australia and this is just the beginning 🙂 Check out our Facebook page for pics etc – Exergaming Australia (product/Service).

      • Nickie May 17, 2011, 2:54 am

        Wow thats amazing! Makes me want to live in Tasmania! Hope you guys make it big so i can play DDR in the gyms up in Queensland 🙂

  • Lyn Santiago May 16, 2011, 4:48 pm

    I believe that DDR works!!! tried it for a month,so far lost 3 lbs,trying to do it everyday for 30-60 mins. we’ll see 🙂

  • Brett Farias May 16, 2011, 5:10 pm

    This is true. I have been playing DDR for more then 5+yrs. DDR does give a workout and a half. I weighed 220 and went from 220 to 190 playing DDR. Playing tougher songs and harder songs over time does the trick too. Shockingly I don’t play it as often no more but I will say this that DDR does work as a exercise idea. If you go to the arcade put those quarters in and D-D-Dance, or buy the game for whatever console you have, buy the mat or metal pad (can get online) and sweat your heart out.

  • Kuri May 16, 2011, 5:16 pm

    You’re right! I wasn’t even trying to lose weight and still i lost like 5 kg when I first started.
    Plus, it’s real fun!

  • Austin May 16, 2011, 5:19 pm

    DDR worked for me. I was a fat kid before I started playing. Lost 20lbs over a summer when I was 16 and can shuffle like a pro now. 23 now and I still kick ass at it!

  • charene adams May 16, 2011, 6:27 pm

    I got hooked the first time i tried DDR in an arcade in the mall…now whenever i can go to the arcade and play i do…you burn off ALOT of calories..i have it for my Wii but the soft pads suck…looking for a cheap metal pad and i may take the above users advice and get the ps2 DDR

  • Bambi May 16, 2011, 7:17 pm

    I do have to say since beginning playing DDR a month ago. I have dropped a pants size. Just wish the American version had better music….Ke$ha is not my cup of tea

  • Faizal Enu May 16, 2011, 8:01 pm

    My GF got me the Xbox versions of the game and will try them out. Also, I am working on making my own metal pad for under $50.

  • Brett May 16, 2011, 9:53 pm

    You can also get a FREE DDR program called Stepmania (from the same site name). It has a HUGE following around the world, it’s open source and has a vibrant forum and support network. Stepmania hooks up to your PC as well, so you don’t need a console, and it has a HUGE library of songs. If you want, you can also input your own songs and make your own steps 🙂
    There is another Free program from the Czech Republic called Everstep (http://www.everstep.cz/), just press ‘translate’ in google it works well enough with some humours translations. Everstep allows multiplayer with up to 8 people!

  • Brett May 16, 2011, 9:56 pm

    If you wanna see some fun videos of us using Machine Dance throughout Australia in a multitude of events, have a look at our Youtube site: http://www.youtube.com/user/ExergameFitnessOZTV

  • Landon May 16, 2011, 10:34 pm

    It’s funny because a few weeks ago I was talking to my brother about how good DDR would be if you’re going for weight loss. And what do ya know, this article pops up. It’s a great game that has proved a workout in my life. I love it when I haven’t played it in a while and I play about 2 or 3 songs and I’m completely worn out. Then a month later, after having played it regularly, I could play for hours straight. Plus, it definitely boosts esteem when you finally get that double or triple-A you’ve been striving for.

  • Jamie February 1, 2012, 11:49 pm

    Tell me about it I used to play Ddr 6 hours a week up untill 3 years ago,I used to weight 72 kg and almost 2 m tall played for 9 years from the 1st mix till 8th..My buddies and i reached a freestyle lvl of game play but then i got married and work got hectic and i stopped i weight now 110kg and Im not as fit as I used to be but when I do play once in a while(1 every month) people are amazed at this huge guy playing a double maniac so light on his feet…mind you one game tires me out now