Zoom into a Zumba dance class!

2013May08_Zumba_AIf you’ve flipped through a magazine recently, overheard fitness fans on the commute to work or chatted with friends you’ll have come accross the word Zumba. Well, what does this exotic little word mean? While it might sound like a tropical fruit drink but Zumba is a popular new(ish) fitness program that promises an exciting way to get the heart pumping, burn calories and shed pounds, while apparently having one heck of a good time. Or as its creators describe it “an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party.”

So it’s dance aerobics? What’s special about that?

Yes, Zumba is dance fitness but the reason it has caught on is that it is a fun party as much is it is a fitness program. Rather than sweating away, counting your reps and  hoping to get the class over before you collapse, in Zumba you move to infectious Latin beats. You are guided by the rhythm, burning off calories and getting toned at the same time as having fun.

This fun, blended with fitness moves, has led Zumba to becoming the world’s fastest growing exercise programs with over 14 million people joining the party every week in over 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries. Something about Zumba is getting the world moving.

How did it get started?

The story goes that Zuma actually started thanks to an act of forgetfulness on the part of Columbian fitness trainer Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez. In the mid 90s, and running late for a class, he forgot his aerobics tapes and had to grab his own beloved Latin dance tapes from the car. ¬†As the Rumba rang out in the class, he used his experience as a choreographer to guide his grinning class through some fun dance steps. They loved it and Zumba was born! In 1999 Beto took his classes to Miami, his first step to world domination.

What happens in a typical class?

The usual Zumba class lasts an hour and follows a similar routine that combines high and lower intensity exercise. As the music changes gear, so does the class.

  • The warm up gets your body moving and stretches are worked in to ensure that everyone is as supple as possible to avoid strains and injuries.
  • The routines include different fun and exotic dance styles including calypso, hip hop, salsa, merengue and even some belly dancing. You will usually go through 8-10 different styles and each offers a different type of exercise training. You can follow the trainer to ensure you are blending the fitness steps with dance moves.
  • The cool down involves stretches to slow down the heart and help relax the muscles, but before this, many instructors fit in some standing abdominal work to help you fight the flab.

Zumba is aimed at getting the heart pumping to burn calories and fat. The muscles that benefit are those around your core, as well as legs and hips.

Is it suitable for me?

If you can stand up, bring some enthusiasm and love music, then Zumba is ideal. You don’t even have to be a good dancer, it is all about moving the body and having a good time. As it is possible to move at your own level it’s a good exercise for all ages and fitness levels. If you have any sort of injury or are out of shape, it’s best to talk to your teacher before your first class. Listen to your body and take a break if you feel you need one. It is about fun as much as fitness, with no pressure to compete.

Don’t be shy!

A lot of people do worry that they might be too shy to do Zumba or a little embarrassed about their dance skills, or distinct lack of them! But the steps are easy to learn and you soon pick them up. There is no complicated choreography and many of the basic fitness moves you will already be familiar with. While you may think everyone is watching you, the truth is everyone is so involved with the music and their own moves, that they barely give a second thought to being embarrassed, they are just having fun.

Think Zumba might be for you? Well you should come down and give it a try. 14 million people can’t be wrong.

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