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Harmonixers Kick Off Dance Central Fitness Challenge

Leading up to the launch of Dance Central 2, a group of Harmonixers joined forces to participate in a Dance Central Fitness Challenge to get in better shape and improve overall health while having fun. As part of the fitness challenge the group has been separated into “Crews” for accountability and motivation. One of the guidelines of the fitness challenge is to make Dance Central or Dance Central 2 a primary source of exercise (that's where the fun part comes in). Participants are required to weigh in every two weeks and keep journals for progress tracking. After the first two weeks of Dance Central fitness, Harmonixers were asked to blog about their progress and share their current results and goals. Meet the Dance Central Fitness Challenge Crews below! Who do you think will be most successful?

BODY BY JAKE AND THE FATMAN Name: Jessa (HMXJessaBrez) Age: 23 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -3.2 Total weight loss percentage: 2.5% Goal summary: Off to a steady start! I’m exercising and eating in a way that I think I can maintain, so even though there’s no dramatic initial weight loss, I’m hoping I can continue at this pace. Strategy: I’ve discovered that working out about an hour after I eat gives me the most energy, so I’ve adjusted my meals and workout times to accommodate this. After failing for a week, I’m just finally accepting that I can’t get up earlier than I already do in the morning to work out. An hour after dinner seems to work best. Crew Strategy: There’s definitely a sense of not wanting to let each other down! We actually end up talking almost every day about how we’ve been doing and what our upcoming challenges are. We also eat together at our company lunches on Friday, which definitely keeps us on track. Having a buddy is super encouraging! Diet: I’ve impressed myself! Oatmeal and tea for breakfast, soup and an apple for lunch, trail mix or Greek yogurt for an afternoon snack, and I’ve been cooking healthy meals for dinner – lots of vegetables, egg whites, fish, and poultry! I have pretty severe hypoglycemia, which generally makes dieting really difficult, but I’m trying to battle it with protein (black beans, peanuts, tofu, and nonfat milk) instead of sugar. So far so good! Other Routines: I have Fencing classes every Tuesday and Irish Step Dance class (read: vigorous!!) every Wednesday.  I’ve also been doing an hour of Dance Central in the evenings four days a week. Plus, I walk my dog at least once a day for about half an hour, volunteer on the weekends (this past weekend I cleaned Dorchester Park for a couple of hours) and do a crazy kickboxing workout video on Sundays. I also walk about 30 minutes commuting every day. So I’d say I’m pretty active this fall! Fitness Tips: Find what you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy a certain work out (I was taking a kickboxing class that made me miserable; even had an asthma attack my first class and I don’t have asthma), you’ll do more mental harm than physical good. If you’re feeling unmotivated, just play your favorite Dance Central songs, even if they aren’t the toughest work out. There are so many ways to get active, so try them all until you find one that you forget is even exercise! Tell them how you really feel: I can tell that I’m lighter on my feet and more energetic at my fencing and dance classes, which is really encouraging. And I feel like my hypoglycemia is more in control than it was before I started dieting and working out –probably because I’m eating on a more routine schedule. I’m not even that tempted to break out of my diet right now, which is awesome! I’m hoping this is the case as time goes on. It’s always easy to start out strong, but staying the course is tricky, especially with so many pumpkin pastries everywhere!

Name: “Jake” (@juliusblaise) Age: 31 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -12.4 lbs. Total weight loss percentage: 4.2% Goal summary: Lose 45 lbs. or more. Strategy: Daily morning Dance Central session before my shower. For now, I’m playing about five songs per morning on Easy, learning at least one new routine per day. I’m trying to do this at least five days a week. I’m stepping up the difficulty on some songs as I get more familiar with them. Crew strategy: Win. That’s it, really. I hate to sweat, but I hate to lose more. Diet: I eat terrible things that are bad for me. Step 1: STOP THAT. Step 2: Lots of little bits of maintenance. Coffee served milk-only now. Goodbye soda, hello Polar Seltzers. Eat more salads. Don’t eat double cheeseburgers covered in mac-n-cheese, chili, and/or bacon. There are cheating days for sure, but if I can manage my day-to-day intake better, then I can fall off the wagon here and there and not worry too much. Other routines: Take the stairs, not the elevator. Drum whenever possible. That’s about it. Fitness tips: Doing anything is better than doing nothing. I was doing nothing. This is an improvement. Tell them how you really feel: Someone said I was looking thinner mid-way through week 2. It was a good motivator, but I really do want that double cheeseburger covered in mac-n-cheese

CHRISTINE THE CUPCAKE LADY Name: HMXcj Age: 27 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -3.4 Total weight loss percentage: Almost 2% Goal summary: I’m psyched I lost some weight, but super disappointed that I didn’t play any Dance Central. I mostly walked outside or on the treadmill more often, including taking my dog for longer walks. I’m looking forward to getting in some serious Dance Central sessions before the next weigh-in. Strategy: I’m hoping to take my dog for longer walks and squeeze in DC playtime in the morning before work. Crew Strategy: I'm a one-lady crew due to a dropout, so my new crew strategy is to bake tasty cupcakes to bring into the office to tempt the other crews. Who said fighting dirty wasn't allowed? Diet: I went to a wedding with tons of amazing appetizers that I couldn’t avoid, but also managed to eat more veggies during the two-week period. Other routines: Chasing after my 5-month-old puppy is a workout! I’ve also been walking more – getting off a T-Stop early to squeeze in a walk or taking an extra lap around the block with the puppy. Fitness tips: Squeeze in exercise when you can, whether it’s doing a lap around the office before a meeting or dancing like crazy during a freestyle section in Dance Central.

MYSTERY MEN/WE GOT NOTHING Name: Captain Good Times Age: 27 Pounds gained/lost since last weigh-in: 0. Nada. El Zilcho. Total weight loss percentage: 0. As we learned in math class, zero divided by any other number is always equal to zero. But you can’t divide anything else by zero, because that makes your brain hurt. It’s important to keep this straight. Goal summary: Since graduating from college I’ve put on about 10 to 15 pounds. They have overstayed their welcome and I’d like to show them the door. My wife is also looking for a new avenue for regular exercise, so I’m excited to have a way for us to exercise together which is more social than going to the gym and running on the gerbil machines with your headphones on. Strategy: I wanted to start by using the first two weeks as a baseline period. In order to start making healthy changes, I needed to understand where I was starting from. So, for the last two weeks, I’ve been keeping a record of what I eat, how much, and when, and keeping track of what sort of exercise I get over the course of the day. Now that I’ve got data, I’m ready to start making changes and tracking the results. I want to start on two parallel tracks: (1) reducing calorie intake and (2) adding Dance Central playtime for 30 minutes a day, three days a week. We’ll see how that works, and make adjustments from there. Crew strategy: Find what works. Do it. Diet: As I’ve been tracking what I eat, I’ve noticed that I’m pretty good about eating healthy meals. The damage I’m doing is between meals – too much snacking. That seems like the obvious avenue for attack. Rather than trying to snack less, I’m going to try to focus on making smart substitutions. Club soda instead of Coke. Pita chips and hummus instead of tortilla chips and salsa. Etc. Other Routines: I walk to work rather than riding the bus. It’s actually something I really enjoy – the trip is about 40 minutes and it gives me a chance to enjoy the fall weather, listen to some audiobooks, and decompress on the way home from work. It’s a nice reminder that you can get good exercise during your normal daily routine.

Name: JS Age: Undisclosed Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -5.2 Total weight loss percentage: 2.5% Goal summary: Lose weight Strategy: This past Sunday I planned to play Dance Central for at least half an hour as a workout. It didn’t work out that way ‘cause the whole family wanted to join in. My six-year-old son insists on dancing to Lady Gaga. He has a full cast on his right arm, which means he can’t bend his elbow; however, it doesn’t slow him down, and his other limbs do well enough for him to get a good score. His eight-year-old sister loves to Dance Battle, and my wife also joined in. She wasn’t happy when I beat her at a battle, and she insists I have an “in” since I work at Harmonix. Everyone had a blast, and it was much more fun than a solitary workout. Crew strategy: See above.

THE GREAT DIVIDE (Maintaining weight) Name: Milo M. Age: 25 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: - 5.3 Total weight loss percentage: 3.4% Goal summary: I plan on losing another 4.7 pounds before maintaining a weight. Strategy: Eating the right amount instead of eating terribly. I'm allowing myself about 2000 calories a day, which is just shy of what a person my height/age/weight/ needs to maintain themselves. By eating right and dancing whenever I can, I believe I can reach my goal in another month. Crew strategy: We're going to start dance sessions. We’re hoping to have sessions twice a week and will bump it up to three times a week later on. Diet: I'm simply trying to eat right. Using a calorie counter helps a LOT. I went to the Topsfield Fair and binged on fair food (weakness for funnel cake) so I made sure to dial it up the next day in front of Kinect. Other routines: Next week I'm going to try to swim twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays before work. I used to swim in the morning all the time and it really boosts me up for the whole day. It's a great no-impact exercise, plus I don't have to deal with sweaty clothes. I think I'll also cut the elevator out of my day, opting to climb to the seventh floor instead. Fitness tips: Cut soda out of your diet completely. It's a lot of calories. If you're a fan of partying on the weekends, keep in mind that 12oz beer packs about 150 calories. Three beers gets pretty close to the calorie count of a meal! Hard drinks are just as bad, an 8oz martini can pack 200 calories!

Name: Thrasher Age: ? Goal summary: I'm not playing Dance Central for weight loss, but I have been dancing a ton because I'm in a ton of upcoming shows! Strategy: When I'm not in the office I've been dancing, stretching, twisting and turning in just about all of my spare time. Despite having a horrible tummy bug right now (it's been going around the office) I feel pretty damn good. I bought new pants this past week and was surprised to find that my regular size was actually too big (yay!). I’m not quite down to the next size yet, but it's pretty heartening. Also, one of my performance costumes went from fitting to being too big to use (and needing a quick replacement) in a matter of a few weeks. Yay! Crew strategy: See above. Go Great Divide!

ILmatic Name: John Drake (HMXJohnD) Age: 27 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -5.8 Total weight loss percentage: 3.1 Goal summary: This first two weeks, I was trying to play Dance Central at least every other day for an hour. With New York Comic-Con in the middle, I think I hit that average! Strategy: I've found that if I try to play at the end of the day at home, I sit down to take a break and then never get back up. I've been trying to schedule time to get playing and not take a break until I'm up and dancing. I find once I get going, it's easy to play for an hour! Crew strategy: Annette and I have been traveling together, which is one of the easiest ways to slip and over-eat or under exercise. We've been good at encouraging each other and keeping each other honest! Diet: I've been trying to eat a piece of fruit for breakfast, a small vegetarian lunch, and then a reasonable (but unrestricted dinner). Schedule on the road has made it hard to regulate meals, and it's hard not to over-eat when you've been on your feet dancing for nine hours! Other routines: I've been running 6-9 miles twice a week, but this week I gave that up in favor of long work hours and insane days of dancing! Fitness tips: Annette has convinced me to do pushups in every freestyle section. I'm seeing more definition in my arms, but it also really wears me out quick! Tell them how you really feel: I think, overall, I feel better. I’m excited to mess around with Dance Central 2 fitness features (playlists really do help you just plow through), but the amount of work we have makes it hard to keep momentum going! I hope, with the game being out, that gameplay will bring me back into the fray!

Name: Annette G. (HMXamgo) Age: 25 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -3.6 Total weight loss percentage: 2.4 Goal summary: I’ve been actively working toward my weight loss goal for the past year-and-a-half and have steadily lost weight over time (read about my experience here). I’m 10 pounds away from my goal and am hoping Dance Central and a healthy diet will help me get there! Strategy: Between regular hour-long Dance Central sessions at home and long hours dancing on show floors at conventions my fitness strategy essentially involves what is required by my job – which is ok by me! As for my strategy, I initially attempted to play DC in the morning, but I’m not much of a morning person, so it’s all about late-night dance workouts! Crew Strategy: John and I have been traveling so it’s been great having him around to help me keep my meals in check. We’ve also encouraged each other to stick around after work for DC2 dance sessions in the office. Playing with a other people definitely makes it easier to get through long fitness playlists! Diet: Greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast, small healthy lunch (soup/salad combos, usually), and some sort of salad and protein (usually chicken) for dinner. My biggest weakness is the White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks, with a calorie count that eats up a large part of my daily allowance. Working on cutting this out of my diet. Other routines: I occasionally pop in videos for interval and athletic training, but finding the motivation to do those is tough. Dance Central is the only thing that’s gotten me to look forward to working out every day. Other very small ways I’ve been keeping active that can certainly add up include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off a few bus or train stops early for a longer walk home, or if a location I’m headed to is two miles away or less I’ll just walk, etc. Fitness tips: I’ve told John and a few other folks around the office that I either do pushups or squats during freestyle sections in DC1 songs. Super effective. That's just one way to keep moving during routines. Also, start off at a level you're comfortable with and keep working your way up! If Dance Central songs on Easy are your jam, start there and keep working toward higher difficulties! Tell them how you really feel: After surviving New York Comic-Con with John I realize my stamina has greatly improved as I can now dance at least 25 consecutive songs in Dance Central before feeling winded. My coordination and balance have improved as well (I noticed with spins and freeze poses in the game -- big improvement). Prior to working at Harmonix three months ago I’d play through 10 songs and my body would call it a day. Progress!

THE BO$$ SQUAD Name: Big Cent Age: 31 Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in:-0.2 Total weight loss percentage: N/A

Name: T-Money Age: 40s Pounds lost/gained since last weigh-in: -0.8 Total weight loss percentage: 0.6%

Learn more about this mystery crew in our next fitness update! Jake is in the lead with a total weight loss percentage of 4.2 percent! It will be interesting to see if he keeps his lead next weigh-in!

Stay tuned to over the coming weeks for more progress blogs from these Dance Central Fitness Challenge members! Want to get involved? Share your own Dance Central Fitness Challenge progress and tips on our official Facebook page, in the forums, or tweet @Dance_Central on Twitter with the #DC2Fit hashtag.