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Dance Central Fitness Club Success Stories: Annette

I’m just days away from turning 25 and for someone my age I like to think I’ve accomplished quite a bit in my life. After tons of hard work and years of struggle I’ve finally achieved a career that allows me to be constantly immersed in my favorite pastime – video games – and have landed a dream job at a game development studio I’ve followed ever since my addiction to Frequency when it first launched back in 2001. Harmonix has not only given me the opportunity to work in a field I’m passionate about with some of the most incredible people I have the honor of calling my colleagues, but has also helped me overcome another facet of my life that I’ve struggled with for years – weight loss. Even though I’m at risk of sounding like a late night infomercial with this post, I can honestly say thanks to Dance Central I am inching closer to reaching my fitness goals than I ever was before.

Now for the backstory: Once I hit my teen years I plateaued at around 140 lbs (lowest I ever got to was 136) and couldn't have been happier with my small frame, especially considering that my diet was absolutely terrible and I spent far more time sitting in front of my favorite video game consoles as opposed hitting the gym. How I miss that youthful metabolism!

Then came my first year of college where I was taking 18 credit hours, had a full-time gig and a long commute to and from school. My activity levels were at an all-time high and then slowly dropped off with each passing year. By graduation I packed on some weight from late night pizza orders and incredible bar specials, but figured I could burn it off relatively quickly – and thankfully I did. A short time after college during my summer internship I was back to normal and maintained a healthy weight for about a year as a working professional. Until...

...something mysterious happened. With no change in diet or slump in activity I started packing on the pounds. And I ignored it. I figured it was some sort of fluke that would eventually pass and I'd be back in my size 8s in no time. Nope! The weight gain wasn't explicitly brought to my attention until I hung out with a friend back in Dec. 2009 and took pictures of the weekend's events. I was absolutely appalled with what I saw. I couldn't even recognize myself. I was up about 30 lbs.

I went to see my physician and after several blood tests and specialist referrals, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which explained the rapid weight gain. My specialist emphasized the importance of weight loss to avoid other health risks involved with the condition, but made it clear it would be tough. She said as someone with PCOS I'd be lucky if I could lose 12lbs in a year, even with proper diet and exercise. A year! Most people lose 12lbs in three months. As you can imagine I really didn't like those odds, thus began a weight loss competition with colleagues at my previous gig as part of our New Year’s Fitness Plan in Jan. 2010. With P90X and a strict diet I lost 10 lbs in about two months.

Then I had shoulder surgery.

A breakdancing accident in college led to a dislocated shoulder that I left untreated. Said shoulder kept slipping out of place at random and was a total nightmare to deal with for five years. After seeing several orthopedic doctors, one brilliant (and handsome) man set me up for an MRI and explained that with the tearing in my shoulder socket I had a 95 percent chance of dislocation at any time. Needless to say my shoulder needed to be repaired, which led to months of minimal activity and physical therapy after the surgery in April. I did try running daily for some time since it obviously didn't require any arm strength, but that only helped maintain weight. I needed to lose weight.

After a few months I started easing myself back into my P90X regimen, but weightlifting was too hard on my shoulder. At that point I started another Beach Body program, Insanity. While I didn't follow the program daily (shame on me) I was still able to build body strength and stamina, rehabilitated my shoulder to some degree, and dropped a few pounds in the process. Then, like with any home fitness video, I got bored. Once fall finally rolled around, I got my hands on a Kinect and Dance Central. With Harmonix behind the project I knew as a longtime fangirl of the studio that the game could do no wrong. As someone who used to record music videos as a teen and mirror the routines to teach myself to dance, it was a match made in heaven (and was easy on my shoulder since there’s no controller to wave around as additional weight!).

Dance Central and its calorie counting capabilities quickly went from a fun activity with friends to part of my daily routine as I selected songs to specifically work certain areas – “Body Movin’” or “Don’t Sweat The Technique” for cardio, “Evacuate The Dance Floor” for arms, “Pon de Replay” for core, “Poison” for legs, etc. I’ll play anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. Even though friends were wondering how a dance game could possibly get me into shape they couldn’t argue with my results. (see before and after picture below). By Christmas I shaved off another 10 pounds (with proper diet, of course). I finally found a fun fitness activity that keeps my heart pumping every morning and keeps my jeans from getting to be too snug! Plus with regular DLC I can constantly keep routines fresh as I go after five gold stars every single time.

I joined the Harmonix Community Team just over a month ago couldn’t be happier to be working with a franchise that has helped me lead a healthier lifestyle. In just a few weeks I have already clocked dozens of hours with Dance Central 2 as part of my job, and though I can’t reveal much, I can say there are routines this time around that will give you one heck of a full body workout. Plus with the ability to create playlists you can assemble a custom song list for the ultimate calorie burning session, which is definitely one of my favorite new additions to the game. I am now just about 10 pounds away from reaching my fitness goal and once Dance Central 2 drops in October I’m heading straight for the finish line!

-HMXamgo (Annette Gonzalez)
Community Manager, Dance Central