Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez during the 1990s.
Zumba involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music. The choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo. Squats and lunges are also included. Zumba Fitness, the owner of the Zumba program, does not charge licensing fees to gyms or fitness centers. Approximately 15 million people take weekly Zumba classes in over 200,000 locations across 180 countries.Over the years the cardio-centric Zumba classes have grown to also include specific programming for children (Zumbatomic) and seniors (Zumba Gold), along with classes in the water (Aqua Zumba), resistance training classes (Zumba Toning) and circuit classes (Zumba in the Circuit, at Curves fitness centers). There are also Zumba DVDs and interactive video games.
Zumba is a fitness program that combines Latin and international music with dance moves. Zumba routines incorporate interval training — alternating fast and slow rhythms — and resistance training.
An aerobic activity, Zumba can count toward the 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity recommended for most healthy adults by the Department of Health and Human Services. Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, keeps excess pounds at bay, strengthens your heart and boosts your mood. If you enjoy Zumba, you’re also more likely to do it regularly — and experience its benefits as an aerobic exercise.
As with any exercise, if a certain movement or position hurts, try to modify the workout to avoid the aggravating activities. Also, anytime you’re training with resistance, remember that proper technique is important. Don’t get so caught up in your dancing that you forget proper form.
How It Works
Grooving to the beats of salsa, flamenco, and merengue music feels more like a dance party than a workout, which is exactly what makes Zumba so popular. The Latin-inspired dance workout is one of the most popular group exercise classes in the world.
The high-energy classes are set to upbeat music and feature choreographed dance numbers that you might see in a nightclub. You don’t need to be a great dancer to feel welcome in a Zumba class. With the tag line, “Ditch the Workout, Join the Party,” the classes emphasize moving to the music and having a good time, no rhythm required.
There are several different kinds of Zumba classes, from Aqua Zumba workouts to classes like Zumba Toning that incorporate weights for additional calorie burning and strength training. There are even Zumba classes for kids.
Working up a sweat in the 60-minute classes burns an average of 369 calories — more than cardio kickboxing or step aerobics. You’ll get a great cardio workout that melts fat, strengthens your core, and improves flexibility.
Intensity Level: Medium
Zumba is an interval workout. The classes move between high- and low-intensity dance moves designed to get your heart rate up and boost cardio endurance.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Many of the dance steps used in the routines emphasize the hips and midsection to help strengthen the core.
Arms: No. Traditional *Zumba classes do not target the arms. Specialized classes like *Zumba Toning use weights to help strengthen and tone the arms.
Legs: Yes. The jumps and lunges that are parts of the choreographed movements help work the quads and hamstrings.
Glutes: Yes. You’ll feel the burn in your buns while you move to the beat.
Back: No. Though the workout involves your whole body, it’s not focused on your back muscles.
Flexibility: Yes. The dance moves were designed to enhance flexibility.
Aerobic: Yes. The high-and low-intensity intervals make *Zumba an excellent cardio workout.
Strength: Yes. Traditional *Zumba workouts emphasize strengthening the core, while *Zumba Toning and *Zumba Step workouts incorporate weights to build muscles in the arms, legs, and glutes.
Sport: No. The classes are not considered sports.
Low-Impact: No. The classes are high-energy and involve jumping, bouncing, and other high-impact moves.
What Else Should I Know
Cost: Yes. You’ll need to sign up for classes through a fitness center or buy *Zumba DVDs to follow the choreographed steps.
Good for beginners: Yes. *Zumba emphasizes moving to the music and having fun regardless of your fitness level.
Outdoors: No. The classes are offered in fitness studios.
At home: Yes. You can buy *Zumba DVDs and follow the dance workout at home.
Equipment required: None, except for your sneakers.
*Zumba is one of the most fun and versatile fitness crazes to come along in a long time. Classes can be geared for just about any fitness level. Though most *Zumba involves high-impact moves like bouncing and jumping, it can be modified to meet your needs.
If you want an overall strength training program, look for a *Zumba class that incorporates some light weights for your upper body.
You can start slowly if needed, or you can dance your heart out if you are in great shape. If you just love to move your body to the music, then *Zumba is for you.
Talk to your doctor before joining a class if you have been inactive, have any medical issues, or take any medicines, just to make sure *Zumba is right for you. And talk to instructors before class about your fitness level and any health conditions you have so they can suggest modifications.