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Dance Central Fitness Club Success Stories: Holly

For one Dance Central fan the game didn't just give her a hobby back; it helped her get her life back.

I’ve loved performing since the age of 5. I participated in ballet, music, and theater, and suddenly that was all taken away from me. A combination of genetics and prolonged childhood trauma had triggered an illness that would slowly start to take away my mobility.

When I was 14 I was diagnosed with a rare nervous system disease that largely mimics lupus and multiple sclerosis. Seizures, muscle spasms, sudden fatigue, poor circulation, intense joint pain and inflammation – all of these symptoms began to pull me away from everything I loved as I struggled to even get through a day of school without collapsing or crying out in pain. In the decade to follow, I lost much of my dexterity, had no muscle tone, and struggled to walk even a block without my left femur painfully popping out of my pelvic socket. Every movement was so labored, as if I were wading in molasses. My rheumatologist told me I could control some of my condition's symptoms with regular exercise, but the process of building muscle was so intensely painful that there was almost no hope I'd ever be able to move normally again, much less be in shape.

I felt trapped in my own body. I also put on an extra 40 pounds.

Like many who struggle with their weight, I was unwilling to start the physical therapy process in public at a gym or at a therapist's office. I was embarrassed by own image; I couldn't bring myself to even take walks unless it was at night. So when Dance Central came along, I of course got very excited. As someone with former dance training, I could immediately see how realistic Dance Central was in terms of routines and overall dance instruction. The thought of dancing again was like a dream come true. I longed to at least be able to have a basic level of mobility, if not downright get in shape.

From the moment I turned on Dance Central, everything I'd hoped for came true. The pain, embarrassment and difficulty (and frankly, boredom) of working out had kept me from improving my health time and time again, but I knew that a return to what I love – in the privacy of my home – could maybe see me through it. I was hooked from the first time I nailed a performance and felt myself once again successfully memorizing a string of moves and not missing my mark. Any artist or performer can understand the thrill of having emotionally connected with a medium of self-expression and the cathartic experience it can have on your soul.

I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not – I cried. It was as if my whole life had been missing a giant puzzle piece and I'd just found it. Within a few weeks my mobility was vastly improving, my joints were no longer popping and dislocating, my back pain drastically reduced, and I even saw an improvement in my blood circulation. Most importantly, I was feeling well in both body and mind. Up to this point this was something I had never been able to achieve.

Since December 2010 I've lost 30 pounds that I can attribute solely to Dance Central. Whereas there was a time I could not stand up long enough to even do the dishes without mind blowing amounts of pain, I'm now successfully able to walk up to four or five miles a day and run a mile-and-a-half without stopping – something I could not manage even before my illness.

Imagine if your basic levels of mobility – your ability to do little things like walk a city block, use a pair of scissors, or carry groceries to your car – were robbed from you for a decade and a half and then were given back to you through the gift of a game. You'd feel all the joy I feel, too. Dance Central didn't just give me my hobby back; it helped in giving me my life back. It gave me the option to get physically fit – on my own terms – in a fun and addictive way that transcended even the worst of my symptoms. Harmonix has no idea what it’s achieved. I'll never be fully cured of my condition, but Dance Central has put me on the path to being as healthy as I can be.