“Ditch the workout, join the party!” Choreographer gone fitness celebrity Alberto “Beto” Perez invites you to try his popular dance fitness program, Zumba.
Zumba’s hour long dance parties incorporate dancing and aerobics, claiming to burn upwards of 500 calories per session. Millions do Zumba workouts every week, in group classes or using at-home DVDs, but will it help you achieve your fitness goals?
As always, the answer is a little more complex than a simple yes or no, but if Zumba fits with your personality and goals, the answer could be a resounding yes.
Zumba Workout Overview
Zumba’s choreography is a unique blend of simple yet effective aerobic dance moves, pulled from salsa, merengue, mambo and hip-hop, to name a few.
The moves are designed to help improve muscle tone, aerobic capacity and flexibility, but the overall benefit is burning calories, a necessity for weight loss.
The actual Zumba workouts have little step-by-step instruction in them. You simply follow the motions the dance instructor is doing, while listening for his or her tips, advice and motivation.
Creator Beto Perez recommends beginning with three 20-minute Zumba workouts per week, if you have no prior fitness experience. Intermediates should build up to 45 to 60 minute sessions, three times per week. Advanced Zumba-fanatics do as many as six one-hour long sessions a week.
As always, the key is listening to your body and not pushing too far when experiencing pain. The repetitive and sometimes intense movements of Zumba can lead to overuse injuries such as shin splints or tendonitis. But, as long as you don’t overdo it, Zumba remains a safe program.
Zumba Equipment and Cost
Though many fitness centers offer Zumba classes, you can also have the experience at home by purchasing the “Zumba Exhilarate Body Shaping System” for $89.95 from Zumba.
The program comes with seven DVD dance workouts, an instructional guide and a pair of one pound “toning sticks” to hold on to for extra resistance during certain workouts.
The DVD programs are as follows:
“Step By Step” is a video guide, breaking down all the steps; “Rush” is a short 20 minute workout; “Activate” is a 45 minute easy-to-follow workout; “Exhilarate” brings you through the original, hour-long Zumba experience; “Ripped” is an hour-long workout that incorporates the toning sticks to add a little resistance training; “Mix” is a ninety-minute mixture of dances from all world cultures; and “Fitness Concert” is an hour-long video of a live Zumba concert, complete with dancing masses.
The good news is there is no extra equipment needed besides a good pair of sneakers or dancing shoes, and a nice open space to move around in.
Zumba Workout Benefits
For the right person, Zumba can be life changing. The biggest benefit is the
fun. Those who accel with Zumba are those who are tired of the everyday fitness grind, and would rather have some fun while burning calories.
The choreography isn’t complex. Usually each song only uses four or five repeating moves. The music and dance moves are upbeat and exotic, allowing you to forget that you’re trying to achieve a fitness goal, losing yourself in dance.
Don’t overlook that aspect of Zumba. If you can dig the music and the dancing, these total body workouts provide great stress release while burning calories. Studies have shown that stress release may be a key factor in weight loss and overall health. Many participants report Zumba feeling nothing like a standard fitness class and enjoy it purely for the experience, reaping the benefits as mere side effects of having a good time.
Dance teaches many things that weight training, jogging or more robotic aerobic movements cannot. Those who master Zumba will have improved balance, coordination, rhythm and even brain function. Mastering choreography involves a lot more than simple muscle contraction or heavy breathing. In fact, professional football hall-of-famer Lynn Swann was famous for studying dance, and credited it as having the biggest impact on his overall athleticism.
But intensity is key in Zumba. The moves burn more calories if you do them freely and with energy. To reap the benefits, you really have to get into it. While this may be easier for some to do in the privacy of their own home, those that aren’t into grooving out to Latin music might find themselves performing the moves half-heartedly.
If that is the case, Zumba is not for you. At its core, Zumba is still just a cardio program. If you aren’t reaping the benefits of having fun and moving freely, then it might be better to look elsewhere for a fitness program.
And as a final word to those who are enticed by Zumba, unlike all-inclusive fitness and diet programs like P90x, it is not the single answer to weight loss. Any kind of calorie burning exercise will be rendered ineffective by a poor diet. Zumba’s activity can greatly augment the efforts of eating healthy, but it cannot save you from a poor diet. So, if you choose Zumba, make sure you also choose a nutritional plan as well.
Check out these testimonials to help you decide whether or not Zumba is right for you!
User Zumba DVD Review