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Bored of Your Isolation Workouts? ‘Just Dance,’ Baby

Ubisoft rhythm video game ‘Just Dance 2020’ combines dancing, working out and looking like a goober in the best possible way

Since quarantine, aka isolation, aka life-pretty-much-always-at-home, aka whatever-the-fuck-we’re-calling-it-these-days started back in March, I’ve been on a quest to figure out how to stay in some semblance of shape. 

I began, as a Total Recall-obsessive does, with an Arnold Schwarzenegger bodyweight workout; I mean, who knows more about cheap, no-gym workouts than the guy who couldn’t even afford a pillow for his first apartment? After I got tired of that, I ran stairs at home, did workouts with milk jugs and paper plates in my living room and tried exercising in front of the TV.

Eventually, though, I got bored once more. And so, I started going for long walks around my homebase of L.A. — really long walks, through historic neighborhoods with their beautiful Tudor- and Craftsman-style mansions that more than kept me visually stimulated. But because 2020 has made it impossible for any of us to have nice things — and more to the point, because the West Coast has morphed into Mordor the last three weeks — going outside for more than two minutes is now bad for my health. And so, I was back to square one.

Until, that is, I remembered I owned a Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo is good at a lot of things — like role-playing games and party games — but they’re arguably best at fun, yet exceedingly simple games. Games like Just Dance 2020, where you get points for successfully pretending like you have rhythm by completing dance moves to pop music, which checks both the fun box and the simple box. It also just so happens to be a pretty good workout. 

So when the smoky L.A. air started choking out any chance of me and my girlfriend getting outside again for the foreseeable future — my phone is basically one unhealthy air quality warning after another these days — I figured it’d be worth it to find out whether Just Dance could take its place among the rest of the hodgepodge workouts I’ve attempted over the last few months.

In terms of your moves, a sense of rhythm is preferred, but not required. Basically, it’s totally okay that I look more like I belong at an Enchantment-Under-the-Sea dance than the club. In fact, the Switch’s controllers, called Joy-Cons, track the movement of your hands while you dance, but not the rest of your body, leaving you to decide how “into it” you really want to get. (Still, I’d advise not allowing your significant other in the room to watch, because odds are you’re going to look like quite the doofus dancing by yourself to Doja Cat’s “Say So.”)

Personally, I got into it enough to go full Urkel and sweat through a shirt in the process. Per my old Apple Watch, all that movement allowed me to burn 254 calories in just under an hour, across 20 songs. Hey, not bad, considering!

Happy Dance GIF by HULU - Find & Share on GIPHY

Admittedly, the music is hit-or-miss — prepare your mind/body for a whole lotta Top 40. For most people, I suspect, that’s probably just fine. I found it, however, to be “a lot,” and while you can purchase more songs, I wasn’t going to pay for what appeared to be more of the same.

On the positive side of the ledger, one of Just Dance’s best features are its Daily Challenges — dancing to three solo songs in one day, for example, earns you “Mojo,” the in-game currency that can buy you more music and access to additional features. You can also dance to curated playlists (so you don’t have to stop dancing to pick a new song), join in-game events and compete against other Just Dance(rs) online in case competition gets you going.

I didn’t really mess with a lot of that, though. After all, I came to do one thing, and one thing only: Dance, and get sweaty in the process. And if you’re stuck indoors like me, or just bored of air squats and push-ups, Just Dance 2020 is as fun a workout as you can have dancing to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” on repeat.