D is for...DDR
For those who are as yet uninitiated into the wonder that is DDR, this acronym stands for Dance Dance Revolution. It's an active video game that we run on Playstation. And, it's FUN!
This game first entered my consciousness a few years ago when a friend and I passed by an arcade in the mall and saw people playing DDR inside. It just looked like such an interactive and exciting game. As arrows move by on the display screen, players move their feet about the dancepad, and try to hit the arrows. Hitting the arrows scores points. We bravely tried it ourselves, but didn't do so well (extreme understatement). Still, I had the DDR bug after that.
Seeking to know more, my Internet research revealed many articles about using DDR as an exercise tool. In fact, it seems that some of the more forward-thinking school systems in various parts of the US are actually using DDR in gym class, to the great delight of students.
Based on what I was reading online, I learned that a usable setup would include:
- Playstation or XBox to run the game (shockingly enough, we didn't already own one of these!)
- A TV for video display (we were able to use an old one we had lying around)
- The DDR game disc (there are quite a few game versions to choose from, though not always readily available in local stores)
- At least one dancepad
It took some budgeting, but we eventually got all of these items and set them up in my daughter's area of the basement. We started with one dancepad, but quickly upped it to two. This allows us to do synchronized dancing and have a little friendly competition. One of the pads is thick, which my daughter likes because it cushions her legs during the movements, and one is the flat and uncushioned version which I like, because I can feel the floor beneath my feet and feel more capable on it. For games, we chose DDR Extreme II and SuperNova (our favorite of the two).When we first got everything set up, and learned how to play, we used it almost daily. Now that I have a Planet Fitness membership, I don't use it as often, but still like it quite a bit. And, when my daughter has a group of friends over, they invariably end up doing a little DDR together.
To push myself to improve, I usually try a dance on Level II a few times until I get a "rainbow bar" and AA* score, then up it to Level III. (We don't even bother with Level 1/Beginner because the slower the song, the harder it is to get it right; faster is actually easier.) By learning the moves at a Level II, I can usually stumble my way through the next higher level. This seems to be the only way to learn how to manage the blur of arrows coming at you as you progress in difficulty.
My daughter is very good at DDR, but I can definitely beat her on several of the games (which I consider to be one of my major accomplishments). Our favorite thing to do though, is the synchronized dance...it's just so cool to be doing all of the steps together.