The Dance Central Exercise Challenge


So based on the fact that I weighed myself a couple of days ago, and discovered that I weighed a totally awesome 199lbs, it’s time to start a new exercise regime. One that will involve a lot of dancing – and of course, a lot of Dance Central 2. Time to crack out my ballet shoes…

Wait, what? You exercise? Don’t make me laugh…

Yep, that’s exercise. Not diet. I figured out a while back that refined carbs are bad for me except in the morning; any other time of day and I can guarantee feeling like complete crud for several hours (and incredibly sleepy). If I stick to veggies and protein, I feel a lot happier and a lot more awake.

So I’m already shifting away from carbs, which will have an effect in and of itself. I’ve done experiments in the past and have determined that stimulants of any kind also have a nasty side effect on me – I don’t put on much muscle if I’m drinking coffee/smoking. I will over a very long time, but short term? Forget it. Doesn’t matter how often I hit the gym, and it doesn’t matter how heavy the weights are. I just stall out.

But that’s not the point of this. The point is twofold:

  • I’d like to be alive for my daughter’s 21st birthday.
  • I have high cholesterol, which should drop if I lose weight (I already improved it somewhat by dropping carbs… but it’s hard to do. Carbs are damn tasty). I generally refer to my blood as a “butter slurry”, which is occasionally combined with alcohol to make a rich, tasty pan sauce.
  • To post pictures of myself wearing a ‘wife beater’ on the intertubes.

What Kind of Exercise? Good Question…

Well, obviously at this point I need some kind of exercise program, and I’ve tried a few. Walking for several hours a day has lost me weight in the past… but that’s time consuming, and nearly impossible with a young, cute and adorable, two-year-old daughter. (I suspect that if she wasn’t quite so cute and adorable, I’d lose weight more easily, but that’s not an experiment I can do). Working out at the gym has the same issues. And frankly, without a gym buddy it’s impossible.

My good pal Aydin Ghajar, CEO of ThinkFuse used to be my gym buddy, but again… time has become a critical and annoying factor, especially since we no longer work at the same company and would have to commute to get to a gym… Although I’m sure if I had a gym membership I could convince him to go for a game of racquetball now and then.


This is Aydin – what a good looking man to have for a gym buddy. And yes, normally he always hangs out somewhere on the right hand side of the frame. It’s genetic.

So I need to find some form of exercise that I can:

  • Do consistently.
  • Do daily.
  • Doesn’t take too much time.
  • Is fun.
  • Preferably is family friendly/collaborative in some fashion.

What’s more, I need some science to help me. Because there’s no point doing any of this if my body’s not going to respond.


Yep, I’m going to science up this bitch to pimp my exercise routine. (My wife is currently spluttering loudly in her coffee, and pretending to be Eliza Doolittle to balance out the forces of the universe).


So recently, my wife Darci and I both got our DNA sequenced. Partly because it’s an awesomely nerdy thing to do, and partly because I’m gene-curious. will do this for you for $209, give or take, and it’s painless procedure. All you have to do is spit in a test-tube and mail it to them.

Did you know it takes about 5 minutes of annoying tongue-squishery and imagining roast beasts to fill a test-tube with saliva? Now you do.

Two weeks later, we got back our results. A handy-dandy list of everything we could ever care about that science knows (so far) (mostly) about our DNA.

Most of this is stuff you shouldn’t base your life on. Certainly, you shouldn’t say “well, I have 20x the regular chance of developing polka-dot purple spots all over my mid-thigh, so I should give up now” because your DNA profile told you – it’s still a very early science, and is just shy of leeching right now. But as time goes on it will improve.

But one thing I found fascinating inside my report was this little gem:


Which as you can imagine, made me incredibly happy to have some genetic validation for my… er… stature.

OK, so I’m lying, that’s obviously a poor photoshop job. (Or IS it?!).

Here’s the real one:


So… hey… I’m a likely sprinter. As someone who generally avoids sprinting at all costs, this was interesting to me.

What does that mean?

WhoGenotypeWhat It Means
Simon CookeCCTwo working copies of alpha-actinin-3 in fast-twitch muscle fiber. Many world-class sprinters and some endurance athletes have this genotype.


Hey! So I’m running a surplus on fast-twitch muscle fiber genes! Which means I’ve got less slow-twitch muscle fibers. (Darci has only one working copy, but that’s still better than a lot of people).

So if I’m going to exercise, I’d better target exercises which aim at my fast-twitch muscles. Because I’ve got a lot of them, and it’d be a shame not to use them.

Oh, and the other interesting trait on the list (penis size isn’t really on there, I’m not just lying to save face)… If I’m a smoker, I’m likely to smoke more. Well gee thanks there, Captain Obvious.

Fast Twitch vs. Slow Twitch Exercises

So what’s the difference between the two?

Well, if you’re running a marathon, or walking, or doing lots of low-weight, high rep exercises (10-15 reps before tiring), you’re using your slow-twitch muscle fibers. This is normally the kind of activity that people are recommended to do to lose weight. Well crikey. That’s not going to work all that well for me then, is it?

Now on the other hand, if you’re swinging kettle-bells around, sprinting, dancing, or using weights as heavy as you can manage for small numbers of reps (3-5), jumping jacks and probably sex, now you’re looking at fast-twitch muscle performance activites.

I would put more sex into my daily schedule, but that’s not a family-friendly activity. Instead, let’s go for dancing! That should fit the bill. Fun, educational, something the whole family can enjoy, musical, and not boring! Awesome!

And even awesomer… Dance Central 2 has a fitness mode! So I can track my progress. Excellllllent! (twirls moustache)

So Dancing It Is…

Yep, I’m going to give this a shot. The prescription is 30 minutes of Dance Central 2 per day, as often as I can be bothered – but at least 5 days a week.

That’s only 200 calories (give or take) per day, but to be honest I’m not a huge believer in the calories in=calories out equation, given that I didn’t lose any weight when following a strict weighed-out 1500 calorie a day diet and exercising with a trainer 3 days a week. I should be able to bump up my metabolism, targeting just the right kind of muscle fiber to get the most out of it for my DNA, and hopefully the weight should melt off. (Although I may put on muscle too, so fortunately I’ve got a scale which measures all that stuff like body fat %, water %, bone and muscle %).

My current weight: 199lbs.

Let’s see what happens!


(And a quick shout out and thanks to the awesome Harmonix/Dance Central folks – Tracy, Mike and Naoko and everyone else involved over there for making it possible for me to do this and enjoy it!)

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

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Gonzalo wrote on Saturday, October 27, 2012:

Dude, I started Dance central 2 execercise 1 week ago. Ive comebined it with more fruit and stop carbs alot, but im still having them. currently lost 2kgs. Let me know how it goes for you-

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