Exercising at Home: Zumba Dance for Tablets

Tech Test Lab Review

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Product: Zumba Dance
Price: $4.99 (also available for Android)
Rating: Weak Recommend*

Zumba Dance aims to bring the popular fitness-as-dance experience of a Zumba class onto iOS and Android devices, utilizing a tablet's front facing camera to track the user's body movement and theoretically issue feedback like a class instructor. The mobile app version is the latest edition of the popular property, previously seen gyrating its way across consoles. But does this mobile edition keep pace with other fitness apps, or is it out of breath?

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For those not familiar with Zumba, it's an aerobic exercise program revolving around dancing, incorporating Latin-infused dance styles, including hip-hop, salsa, and reggaeton. The routines are very energetic and generally pretty fast-paced in execution (thus elevating the heart rate), providing a cardiovascular workout. 

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The Zumba Dance app offers users the option to play a single song, take a class, learn the steps, track Zumba app fitness activity, make a Zumba fitness plan, buy stuff, and find a real life Zumba class nearby. The app supports multiple profiles on one device, which is great for those looking to share the app and splitting up the cost. The program is split into three options: long class, short class, and a custom playlist. Only 6 tracks are included with the $4.99 app, so the music can become stale very quickly when played regularly during workout.

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As one may expect,  Zumba's design is quite colourful and the music characterized by an energetic bouncy rhythm. Amusingly, the animated instructors look a bit odd, kind of like robotic human bobble-heads, which can be a bit distracting while trying to follow their instructions. 

Players must mimic the on-screen instructor's movements with little vocal instruction about how to execute moves (some songs include lyrics which guide movement, so make sure to have external speakers on) and without any onscreen text guidance either. When a player misses the mark, a purple shadowy figure appears on the right hand side, illustrating the steps again. But the shadowy figure's arms and legs are difficult to clearly make out from a distance, making the additional instruction mostly useless. Because user movement tracking requires players to stand and move from a distance, getting a closer look of the shadow dancer proved difficult. When a move correctly executed, there are fireworks, with Hot bars and stars awarded. 

Unlike some other fitness programs I've tried, I feel the learning curve with Zumba is extremely high due to the fast paced routines, requiring quite a bit of scaffolding if you don't take Zumba classes in real life (instructional videos are available online). This need for instructional handholding for new users is where the app falls short for new users. 

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I found after a few songs I gave up trying to properly do the moves disheartened as a new user. For example, with another dance-style game like Dance Central, it's easy for players to see what they're doing wrong while learning new moves, and how to fix it. There's no such instructional mechanism in Zumba Dance. New user's best bet is first starting with the Learn the Steps section of the app, but this requires leaving the fitness class or song and going through a tedious process of mechanically tapping through each of the steps without verbal instruction or feedback, either positively or negatively. 

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Think of Zumba Dance's $4.99 price as a "sampler". With only 6 tracks available, it's clear the intention is to sell additional various class groups for an additional $9.99, and $24.99 to unlock the full 43 tracks, a pricing scheme not made clear until purchased. Is it worth the price? I would venture a "no", although for $4.99 you can get a good idea of what the app is about and make the decision for yourself, especially if you're already acquainted and comfortable with the Zumba program.  

In theory, Zumba Dance could be a fun way to get a dash of aerobics through dance at home. But the lack of instructional guidance and cumbersome form of step-by-step learning made too much of a challenge for this new user. Perhaps it's best suited for those already acquainted with the moves and seeking an app version of their workout wherever they go.

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Pros: Mobile Zumba experience, single song options provide quick dashes of cardio.

Cons: Difficult to follow along for those new to Zumba, only 6 tracks included with the $4.99 purchase, clumsy user experience.

Our Ratings:

Strong Recommend
Recommend
Weak Recommend*
Don't Recommend

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by the manufacturer for testing and review purposes.

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