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The Video Game Workout

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GAME: Pump It Up

LOST: 70 lbs.

Molina, 19, was an all-too-typical kid: loved fast food, didn’t move much. By the 9th grade, he hit 225 lbs. and “was pretty depressed with myself,” recalls the computer engineering student. “All my friends made fun of me.” Later, as a high school senior, he came across Dance Dance Revolution at a local mall. Players win points by following arrows and dancing on sensor pads in time to the song they’ve chosen. Spending five hours on the machine once a week, he began to lose weight. Last year he discovered a Pump It Up arcade machine in the Chuck E. Cheese (at right) near his home in Bayamón, P.R., and started playing four times a week “because it was fun.” Despite being surrounded by pizza, “I was losing weight without paying attention.” As his stamina grew, he challenged himself by choosing fast songs like Pink’s “Get the Party Started.” “That song is kind of painful—the steps are really hard!” At four songs for a quarter, a typical workout costs him $3. Now down to 155 lbs., he says it’s worth every penny: “I look better and feel better.”


GAMES: Dance Dance Revolution and In the Groove

LOST: 48 lbs. (him); 69 lbs. (her)

Bouncing in her Chippewa Falls, Wis., living room to an Xbox version of Dance Dance Revolution did more for the 5’2″ Sykes than help her lose 69 lbs. Sykes, 27, joined the forum for online DDR fans and met Quinn, 30, a 6-ft.-tall computer consultant in Brentwood, Calif. They began logging on for daily dance-offs. At a Washington, D.C., gathering of online gamers four months later, they met in person and decided they preferred to dance that way. Now living in Overland Park, Kans., the couple cook healthy meals and play four hours a week to slim down for their wedding this month. So who’s better? Says Quinn: “I used to be, but now she is, by 1 percent!”


GAME: Wii Boxing

LOST: 56 lbs.

“Exercise isn’t my thing,” Mills, 52, admits. “I don’t like to sweat.” After having a child at 40, the 5’2″ parenting blogger’s weight crept up to 184 lbs. over the next 10 years. When a friend had a stroke in 2007, Mills got scared. “She shouldn’t have had a stroke. I was the one who wasn’t taking care of myself.” She signed up at a Lindora weight loss clinic, near her Northridge, Calif., home, where counselors recommended walking 10,000 steps a day. But going outdoors was “miserable” in 100° heat, as was strolling the mall: “If I can’t buy something, what’s the point?” Instead she took up the family’s Wii game and tried boxing. Jabbing the air and ducking virtual punches, Mills found she could happily pass 20 minutes a day, three days a week. Perhaps a gym wouldn’t be so bad, she thought. Soon, Mills made an appointment with a trainer and now works out on the elliptical and lifts weights four times a week. “The Wii doesn’t replace a gym,” she says, “but it’s a fun way to get started.”

Even a novice dancer can burn 360 calories an hour

Met playing DDR online—now engaged!

Air boxing can burn 296 calories an hour!