Focus On: Zumba

Zumba is a giant party. I fell in love with it about 4 years ago and since then, there’s been no turning back.

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In class, you spend the entire time dancing and it’s easy to forget that you’re actually working out, burning a crazy amount of calories and blasting fat.

zumba

What is Zumba?

Zumba is an aerobics fitness program that was created primarily by Beto Perez. Zumba originated in Colombia in the 1990s, when Beto forgot a CD for his aerobics class. He used one of his personal CDs (traditional Latin music) and taught a dance-style aerobics class on the spot. Zumba was born! Since then, it has become a crazy booty-shaking world phenomenon, with over 6 million participants taking classes each week. Zumba got its namesake from the buzzing of bees… Zuuuuuumba–it’s Colombian slang for “fast.”

  • Zumba is a Latin-style dance class (including salsa, merengue, cha-cha, cumbia, soca and samba), combined with hip hop and reggaeton, as well as international styles of dance like bellydancing, flamenco, Bollywood and African. Most classes should be about 70% Latin dances with 30% for the rest of the other fun stuff.
  • Many classes will utilize an interval style of training–combining slower dances with faster upbeat songs and songs dedicated to toning movements (arms, abs, legs).
  • The instructor will usually dance in front of the class, while the students follow along. Each song will repeat the same movements (for example the chorus of a song will usually include the same sequence), so that it’s easier to pick up. 

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    What to expect:

  • To have no idea what you’re doing at first. I danced for my entire life and was LOST for the first class. The best thing you can do is pick up the steps where you can, laugh, shake and have fun. It’s one of those things that the more often you go, the easier it gets. Remember, no one is there to judge you. Everyone is at the gym for a common goal and is usually too worried about what they’re doing to think about anyone else. Just have fun!
  • Some instructors will go over the movements before each song. Other instructors (like me) will just dance the entire time and yell stuff out to the class. Be ready for either type of teach.
  • To burn a LOT of calories. I typically burn 500-700, while some of my students with heart rate monitors have burned upwards of 1,000.
  • If you like dance cardio, get ready to become HOOKED!

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    What to wear:

    -Comfy athletic clothing and shoes. If you’d like, you can also purchase Zumba gear at Zumba.com. Some of it is super funky and a lot of it is fun and cute ;) Make sure to bring a water bottle (not optional) and a small towel (optional).

    Pros:

    -Fantastic cardio. It’s seriously one of the most intense, fun, calorie-scorching workouts I’ve tried, which is why I’m so in love with it.

    -The music! Sometimes the instructors will use songs from the radio with Latin flair (think the J. Lo/Pitbull song, or Shakira) or gems you’ve never heard before. The purpose of the music is to pump you up, and if you like Latin and international music, you’ll be a fan :)

    Cons:

    -As with any class, the instructor, their choreography and music choices make ALL the difference in the world. Anyone can get Zumba certified and you may find a teacher whose style you don’t like. Just like with other classes, try a few instructors until you find a class you love.

    Want to see what Zumba is really like?
    Here are a couple of videos:

    Have you tried Zumba before? What did you think?

    If you need help finding a class close to you, check out Zumba.com :)

    xoxo

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    Comments

    1. Zumba looks like so much fun, but since I’m one of the most uncoordinated people ever, I don’t know if I’d be any good at it. :P

    2. I used the be a Zumba judger – I’m terrible, I know – but I tried a class that was taught by one of my favorite yoga instructors, thinking she’d be able to get me into it since she always got me fired up for yoga, AND IT WORKED! I’m so hooked on it now, I’ve even shuffled around some of my schedule to make it to a zumba class or two – its just addictive and its true that you don’t feel like you’re working out when you’re doing it. Love love love it!

    3. I love Zumba and haven’t done it in about a year. The instructor I liked left our gym but mostly I stopped going because it got to be so freaking crowded and I was constantly getting stepped on by other people :\ Once I even got kicked in the back. I also have an issue of people encroaching on my personal space and in crowded rooms with limbs flailing, it just pushed me beyond my comfort level. I do hope to go back to Zumba :D I love to dance and really love Latin music, I just don’t like the crowd. Lol.

    4. I haven’t done it in a while but I love Zumba too! I have a hard time keeping up with the moves and footwork at first but once I do it a few times, I get the hang of it. The instructor definitely does make a difference. One class I went to was taught my 4 different instructors who alternated and I thought that was great because they all brought something different. I also think it’s a great form of exercise for people who don’t like the gym!

    5. Honestly, I’ve always been initimidated by dance cardio- including zumba. It looks really fun though so maybe I need to shed my fear! :-)

    6. Nicole P says:

      The first one looks very Bollywood- and Bollywood is my favorite dance. I am always so intimidated to do group classes because of not knowing anyone and my size.

    7. I absolutely LOVE Zumba!! I wish our gym offered classes more frequently. I totally agree that the teacher’s style makes a big difference…you should make a Zumba workout dvd! :) I would buy it.

    8. I love Zumba! Best workout without feeling like you’re working out. My best friend teaches it and I’m hooked! I used to feel a little silly shakin’ my booty.. but now not so much! <3 And just so ya know.. you're even more adorable with the lil' baby bump!

    9. We’ve done Zumba in gym class with the vids, and it is HARD CORE. They have Zumba at my gym but I’ve never gone..now I think I will!

    10. I hate to admit that I’ve never done Zumba! I know, what am I thinking. I need to change this and every time you post about Zumba, I seriously feel this I haven’t Zumba’ed pang of guilt rush over me. I need to jump on the zumba train :)

      Thanks for the post on it…the Pros just sold me!

    11. LauraLoo says:

      You’re an inspiration! Any suggestions for Zumba DVD that really gets the sweat flowing?!

      • Fitnessista says:

        check out youtube- it’s free and there are so many videos! you can mix and match and make your own class :)

    12. Really appreciate the Zumba post! I’ve definitely heard lotsa “buzz” but still didnt really understand what it was. Looks like fun!

    13. I’ve always been a little hesitant to try zumba since I am pretty bad at picking up steps….but it does look dun from those videos! I may just have to give it another try!

    14. In one sentence…I am DYING to try this workout.

      I have a gazillion friends that take Zumba classes and they’ve fell in love. I just need to do it. :)

    15. I wish I could get up the guts to do it, but I know I’d feel so stupid attempting it in a class setting! I am very self conscious and never danced in clubs or anything because I am too self conscious and feel ridiculous when dancing! No matter if it’s all women and they all weigh 200lbs like me.. I’m a chicken. Maybe I’ll pick up a video to try it until I can at least get SOME of basic steps down and then maybe attempt a class!

    16. I haven’t found a Zumba instructor that I love yet…I had a really hard time catching on…I don’t know if it was me or them, but I don’t tihnk I’m cut out for it!

    17. Would you recommend Zumba to someone that is completely uncoordinated and has two left feet, aka me :). I have always wanted to try some sort of dance inspired class, but I have been too scared. My husband is in the Navy and we just transferred to Jacksonville, Fl and he is going on an 8 month deployment shortly, so I want to try something new while he is gone. Do you have any recommendations on great places to try different classes or gyms in Jax?

      • Fitnessista says:

        i haven’t tried any classes there :/ if you like bikram though, you HAVE to take rob’s class at bikram yoga jacksonville. he’s incredible

    18. I’ve tried it before, I had fun, but it took me like 15 minutes in to feel comfortable doing it. I haven’t tried it since then, but I’m also not a member at a gym right now, I just go to the university right now since I’m a student.

    19. I LOVE Zumba! I started taking a class a couple of years ago and finally this year got my Zumba license. I am teaching 4 classes a week – it’s such a great release! Added with some resistance training, I now have the best body I’ve ever had! It’s such a great workout. I’m even going to Zumba convention next week!!!!
      For everyone who is worried about being uncoordinated – don’t worry! You will do great. My favorite people in the class aren’t the ones who dance the best, its the people with the biggest smiles.

    20. Zumba is so much fun! I’ve taken a few classes in the past at a local dance studio, but unfortunately, they don’t offer it anymore. Great way to burn calories – the time just flies by!

    21. I love Zumba. And I totally have you to thank for it!! I had never heard of Zumba before reading about it here and you encouraged me to go try it. It is so much fun and such a great workout since it doesn’t feel like one!

      Hella decale is one of my favorites. My instructor’s routine is a bit different and it totally kicks my butt!

    22. Weird, I was just thinking of Zumba today!

      I have never done it, I really want to, I just do so much as is. :)

    23. I tried Zumba a couple months ago and I really liked it! I like any class where you don’t even realize how hard you’re working because you’re having so much fun!

    24. Oh my goodness…watching that first zumba video makes me want to do zumba again SO badly. It’s so true about the teacher; the first time I tried zumba was last spring when my husband and I moved to the west coast. Little did I know that my first zumba teacher would be my best! Moving back to the east coast and trying it again this past winter, I realized that the one from the west coast was SO good and I wished I could go straight back to her. I guess I need to find one here I really enjoy, because I’ve only done it a few times this year and kind of gave up on it. I initially LOVED it and would do it ALL the time, given the right teacher!! :D

    25. My roommate and I tried the Zumba DVDs a while ago but gave up pretty quickly because we had no idea what we were doing and felt like idiots. After reading your post though, I am motivated to try it again!

    26. Zumba is my LOVE! I’m an instructor, and it is hands-down my favorite group fitness class to teach. Great post! As I know you’re quite the Lulu lover, I’ve found (for me) that their unlined Studio pants are amazing for Zumba! So fun. :D

    27. I tried Zumba once and really liked it, but man is it a butt kicker — in a good way! I’m going to check out another class next week and try to go regularly. I miss dance classes.

    28. I did Zumba for the first time 2 weeks ago! It was really fun, but I felt so out of my element! I’m so not a dancer, so it was definitely different for me. But still super fun. I think I will take the class every now and then. I haven’t been able to lately, only because it’s conflicted with my work schedule…but it was fun!

    29. I for sure need to check Zumba out! I used to dance to, and I miss it so much. I will be looking into classes in my town! Thanks for the info Gena!

    30. Confession time: I don’t love Zumba. I love to dance and was really surprised that it didn’t work for me. Maybe it was the instructors I have had. However, I am totally open and willing to give it another chance :)

    31. mi-an d. says:

      hola! i absolutely love zumba!!! it’s so fun!! and you burn so much calories!

    32. I’ve never tried it but i would like to! I am always dabbling in different forms of exercise so I think I will need to give this it’s fair turn soon as well.

    33. I love Zumba! I don’t know what it is like ‘over there’, but here in NZ the quality of venue varies a lot. You need to find a class that runs in a dance studio or in a gym that has a dance studio. Most gyms here jumped on the Zumba bandwagon and started running classes in their regular rooms, which are carpeted. Trying to Zumba on carpet is one way to wreck your knees pretty quickly, even with dance footwear on. I wear dance sneakers (Bosch), which are ideal as they have a pivot point for those twisty bits, but you need the correct floor.

      • Fitnessista says:

        most gyms here have wood floors but you’re right, carpet isn’t a friend for joints

        • queenoffitness says:

          two words carpet gliders….they are little sweat band things you put around the top of your shoe to help you glide across carpet. OR you can just use painters tape or duck tape. IT WORKS. i might be the only one to say this but i actually prefer to zumba on a low nap carpet. tile floors and sometimes gym floors get so dang slippery if there are a TON of people in class, AC isn’t effective, humidity from both outside and from all those hot bodies in the room. this becomes a huge safety hazard. i was visiting my parents last week and went to azuka’s class (the japanese girl in the zumba photo with beto above) and by the end of class everybody was ice skating on the floor. it was so dangerous and it majorly affects your workout because you can no longer go ballz to the wall or do any of the movements!! i have carpet in my basement and practice zumba choreo down there all the time. no problem with my knees.

    34. Today was my first ever Zumba class! We did it as part of my Staff training and it was so much fun!! I likely would have never tried it because I only ever hear of/see older people going to the class and I thought I wouldn’t fit it, but I LOVED it!! Worked up quite a sweat too :)

    35. As a fellow Zumba instructor, I’m totally biased, but Zumba is FANTASTIC!! When I first started going to my gym last year.. I wanted to try out a bunch of group fitness classes because they motivate me much better than working out alone. I tried Zumba, not having a clue what it was, and felt silly during the first class, but since then I have totally fallen in love! I became an instructor in March so that I could share my love of Zumba with my friends that are not gym members, and they LOVE it too! I highly encourage anyone and everyone to try it out!!

    36. Thank you so much for this post! I have been inspired to try Zumba from your blog references in the past, but this is so helpful! I will definitely check out zumba.com to find a class in Seattle. :)

    37. I’ve not been to a live class as I don’t have a gym membership, but I have the Zumba DVDs and I love them. I grin and laugh out loud through the whole thing – so much fun!

    38. Love this post! I signed up for my certification class a few months ago!! Aug. 6 in Mesa is my date! :)

    39. I’ve tried it, and I enjoyed it a lot! Although I have a hard time following the instructor a lot of the time and I tend to run into other people haha.. ( I am a pretty clumsy person.) Other then that, I had a lot of fun doing it when I had the chance.

    40. I just have to tell you, I finally tried zumba and I’m SO in love. I’m obsessed to the point of convincing my boyfriend to babysit my friends kid so we can go together. I was too intimidated to try before but I did it and everything has changed since :)

    41. You have inspired me to get back into Zumba (I’ve taken a couple classes at my previous gym). Just took a class today during my lunch break and had a blast! I want to do it everyday!! What a fun way to get cardio into your life. :)

    42. hey so this is kind of random and you totally don’t have to approve this comment, but i just wanted to let you know, i think your pic has been used on a fitness/zumba site. (it’s the one second from the bottom with you in blue pants) Anyway, the site was linked from another blog for being ridiculous *it’s called sassyfit* and i was looking at their homepage and immediately the images that popped up on the banner looked like this pic.. i only thought of it since i am IN the pic lol and i know you have used it a lot to refer to zumba.
      i think they just cropped out the ab/booty area from you and the two girls to your right in their picture. they definitely did some photo shopping but the outfits and positions are exactly the same..
      you may think it’s nbd but i just thought i’d let you know…

      http://sassygirlfit.com/

    43. I started Zumba probably in 2010 and was hooked and still am. In this October, I’m getting my licensed. I already have started practicing to direct people. I love to shake shake. Im 4’11 and weighed almost 150lbs maybe not alot to some people but being short it shows and now I weight about 120lbs. I love it and I love to dance I even go to stores and if they have song on I will be dancing.

    44. Sue Fallon says:

      Ok so I was doing Zumba for like 7 months at home on a carpet and it was very hard cuz my legs hurt, my knees hurt. So I don’t think I was getting the full Zumba experience. But I just got some sliders for carpet called zgliderz last month and it I really like Zumba now! It’s so different! But has anyone else tried zgliderz and if you did, how long do they last? They seemed really thin but I been using them like 3 or 4 times a week for over a month and they still seem like new. Do they wear out? Does anybody know?

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