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All You Ever Wanted to Know about Zumba

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/8/2013 6:00 AM   :  477 comments   :  128,999 Views

Editor's note: You've been asking about Zumba for a long time, so we are happy to share this guest blog post from one of our favorite bloggers. Gina, otherwise known as The Fitnessista, is not only a HUGE fan of Zumba, but she's a Zumba instructor and former dancer as well. She was happy to write about her favorite form of aerobics for the dailySpark.

Hi, everyone! My name is Gina and I write over at a little blog called The Fitnessista. On my blog, I write about fitness tips, nutrition advice, recipes, workout routines and my daily shenanigans. Determined to experience a negative “freshman 15,” I lost 40 pounds about 8 years ago and have since then become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. My favorite class to teach, by far, is ZUMBA!

So, you may have heard about Zumba or you might be wondering what the heck it is.

Zumba is a giant party.

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:

  • Zumba is an aerobics fitness program that was created primarily by Beto Perez. Zumba originated in Columbia 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 (Source). 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, so that it’s easier to pick up.

    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 500-600, while some of my students with heart rate monitors have burned upwards of 1,000.
     
  • Wear comfy clothes and shoes, bring water and a towel (for sweat) if you’d like.
     
  • Get ready to become HOOKED! Zumba is an absolute blast--a lot more fun than running on the treadmill or teetering along on the elliptical (in my opinion).

    Want to see what Zumba is really like?

    Here are some videos of my classes: (feel free to dance along!)





    Ready to check out a class?

    Classes in your area can be found at Zumba.com.

    Happy shaking!

    Have you ever taken a Zumba class before? What did you think?


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Comments

  • TLABBOTT
    477
    I love Zumba, especially, when the instructor is good (I had a couple of not so good instructor). My weight loss became noticeable when I did Zumba 2x a week. When I stopped going of course I gained it back. I am so energized even when I am feeling sluggish. The best form of exercise. - 2/27/2014   10:54:59 AM
  • MJEFFERSON23
    476
    I took Zumba at my local Curves. I love Zumba! It is fun and addicting! I don't care if I mess up, I just keep moving!There are 80 and 90 year olds in my class, they are so cute and they do just fine. I bought the home version and I love that it has the instructional/introductory disc first. I also love the front/back feature. You have to do it a few times to catch on, but it's worth it! - 2/23/2014   4:48:45 PM
  • FUCSIA45
    475
    Well the idea of Zumba is great, but actually nothing new....

    You can become a zumba instructor doing a 2 day training without any pre-knowledge! To me thats ridiculous. I have done a training, I am a professional dancer teacher and I have to say that these instructor trainings are just a big money making machine. Too many people too little time and not enough content. - 2/22/2014   5:19:41 AM
  • GODODGE
    474
    Had my first Zumba class last night. I walked out in less than 15 minutes. the instructor asked if anyone had ever done zumba before, only 1 person had gone 1 time. so all new people, no one in their 20's most 40-60 years old. No warm up, no instruction, she just started to dance and you were supposed to keep up. I hear a good instructor makes a difference but I wont bother. I was so excited to take this class, what a let down, so I will continue to just walk on my breaks and be happy that I will not break something, like a hip.
    - 2/12/2014   8:17:43 AM
  • ANGELA.BOWEN
    473
    Absolutely love it. It really can be a lot of fun and does not feel like exercise. I do it at least twice a week and it has really helped to tone my stomach and mid section. NOW......if I can just get this healthy eating right, I think I will see more dramatic results. - 1/7/2014   1:06:12 AM
  • 472
    I just discovered Aqua Zumba and love it! Helping slowly mend my broken body and hope to radically improve my range of motion. - 11/9/2013   9:10:15 PM
  • 471
    I am hooked on Zumba....
    it simply makes me happy! Try it and very few people don't repeat this awesome way to burn calories. It is definitely part of my fitness routine! - 6/26/2013   10:05:10 PM
  • 470
    I'm totally addicted to Zumba. I've been doing it for 2 years & LOVE IT!!! - 6/18/2013   7:13:47 AM
  • MERRYCHEF
    469
    love, Love, LOVE Zumba!!!! So fun, burning calories has never been easier or fun. Once the music gets going it's hard to stop. I wear a heart rate monitor to make sure my heart doesn't go too fast, when it does I hate having to slow down as the music just takes you away. The BIGGEST thing to enjoy Zumba is let go of your ego!!!! Don't care how you look, don't care if your not "keeping up", just move! Whether that is shaking, jumping, whatever!!!! Nobody is looking at you, they are all too worried about themselves. Laugh at yourself, laugh because it's fun, laugh because although you probably feel really silly your still burning calories!!!! And when you laugh and have a good time and mess up, you allow others around you to do the same. I have taken a class and loved it. I have the wii Zumba and love it. Like Nike says, "just do it!" :) - 6/17/2013   11:29:43 AM
  • 468
    I love Zumba! I took a few classes a couple of months ago and I'm just getting back into it again. It's so much fun and a great workout. I didn't really find an accurate "Zumba" category under the fitness tracker here, though... - 6/13/2013   3:31:04 PM
  • 467
    This is the first Zumba video I've ever watched. Oh my, how fun!!! I can't wait to find a class near me and give it a try! Living in such a rural area we may have to import an instructor and set up in someone's climate controlled garage. Thanks for the info!!! - 6/12/2013   8:23:22 PM
  • 466
    Took it for a year or so. Loved it. The classes really do vary from teacher to teacher (In my experience anyway). - 6/11/2013   8:18:13 AM
  • RENATA144
    465
    I do Love Zumba !!! It's a giant dance party with no pressure just pleasure. - 6/6/2013   10:45:27 AM
  • 464
    There are dozens of FREE Zumba clips on youtube so I use them to do the workout. It is pretty basic once you get down the standard moves, so then you can do it to ANY Latin music. - 6/6/2013   1:20:38 AM
  • 463
    looks like so much fun! What a workout! - 6/3/2013   4:13:22 AM
  • 462
    Zumba can be incredibly dangerous. I've seen "instructors" doing Zumba classes with absolutely no training in group fitness instruction or personal training. Their form is terrible, and they incorporate potentially dangerous movements -- without any discussion of how to safely perform the movement. Don't even get me started on Zumba "belly dance." It's a joke, and again, I've seen instructors doing culturally inappropriate and body-wrecking movements, with no explanation on how to safely perform them. A "licensed" Zumba instructor is just someone who paid to use the name. You have NO guarantee that the instructor is a fitness professional. In THEORY Zumba is a good idea. In practice, it fails. - 5/28/2013   11:48:14 PM
  • 461
    Love zumba, been doing it for 2 years. I just am depressed that I am not losing any weight anymore. I guess I need to mix things up. - 5/19/2013   10:56:32 AM
  • CAITYDID05
    460
    The last time I tried Zumba I walked out after 15 minutes wanting to kill someone. I get that some people can enjoy it... but I'm far too much of a self-conscious perfectionist, and it just makes me mad at everything and everyone. Since I don't work out to put myself into a horrible mood (quite the opposite...) it's not for me. - 5/13/2013   10:10:12 PM
  • 459
    I bought all the dvd's off tv and really lliked that the first one goes through all the steps and you can turn the instructors to weather you like them facing you or facing away from you. I prefer the facing away from me and picked up the steps easier. I am not ready for being in a big group, but the dvd's add more peopple after the first one of learning the steps. I did the learning of the steps a lot more than just 2 or 3 times. It helped me build up better. Got to the next dvd of learning the steps going faster with instructions of which dance to go to (verbal cues). During the winter my fibromyalgia and pain kicked in a lot as I am so sensitive to the cold and the exercises really suffered. I was lucky to do my stretching exercises for fibromyalgia to help build core strenghth. I am hoping to restart my zumba as I really did enjoy it and getting over my self conciousness if doing the exercises in front of my husband because the living room is warmer and would be easier for me to keep up on the exrecise. At the moment I need to start from step one and relearn the steps. It is a great workout just learning the steps and fun. So here's to getting back on track of exercise and feeling better. And to really find ways to keep going during the winter. Using sunlamp for seasonal depression also should really help me. Hope everyone else does great. And I do recommend Zumba totally. - 5/13/2013   7:23:07 PM
  • KITTYKRS
    458
    I am taking Zumba Gold for seniors and folks with disabilities and it is awesome!! This is my 3rd year. These classes are through the local Community College. We keep losing instructors to "better paying jobs" which is not good for us. The one we have now is not so good and that makes me sad. - 5/13/2013   4:54:09 PM
  • 457
    FYI...since you are a Guest Blogger: the country is Colombia, not Columbia. - 5/10/2013   2:22:01 PM
  • STATS2332
    456
    Zumba is fabulous! Braintree Adult School runs classes twice a week and if you are a senor resident it is 50% off. The instructor is very good. Large class. - 5/10/2013   9:05:38 AM
  • 455
    I've done Zumba DVD, the WII, etc, but tonight was my first real Zumba class! It was amazing. I loved every minute of it. Even though I was not perfect at it and messed up a million times, I'm going back until I get it right - and then some. Laughing at myself was priceless! I'm so excited about it. Plus, I found a class I can ride my bike to. BONUS! - 5/9/2013   11:40:12 PM
  • 454
    I am going to look for a class. Hoprfully I will be able to keep up. - 5/9/2013   7:31:19 PM
  • 453
    Zumba is the best!!! It is so much fun and you don't feel like you are exercising. I never want to stop Zumba-ing. I can't help it, but Beto is stunning as well!!! - 5/9/2013   6:21:12 PM
  • 452
    I love Zumba ... especially Zumbathons ... have more energy and have lost weight - 5/9/2013   5:34:30 PM
  • 451
    I love Zumba - I go twice a week and it just puts me in a great mood. The music is uplifting and my Brazilian teacher is excellent!! One bit of advice is not to worry if you are facing the wrong way as you will not take long to learn the routines especially if your teacher breaks it down. Just enjoy and you might just love it! - 5/9/2013   5:29:07 PM
  • 450
    I love Zumba. I attend two classes of Zumba gold each week when I am in Arizona for the winters - just finished my 4th winter. The instructor is fantastic - the large ballroom in our retirement resort is packed. I really miss it when I'm back in ND for the summers. Our instructor has a video made each year of our class, so I can use that, but it's just not the same as doing it with a group of people. I tried a class here in ND, but it just wasn't the same - the instructor really makes a difference! - 5/9/2013   4:15:17 PM
  • 449
    I absolutely love Zumba but had to give it up as per my orthopedic doctor's orders! Sure made me sad as that is the most fun exercising I've ever had!!! - 5/9/2013   3:57:06 PM
  • 448
    TOTALLY. ADDICTING. - 5/9/2013   2:21:05 PM
  • EAMORGA
    447
    My husband and I took a class when it first came out. Felt ridiculous and have never gone back! - 5/9/2013   12:22:03 PM
  • 446
    I do Zumba twice a week. One of the instructors will kick our bootie...she goes for a solid 60 minutes, very fast. The other incorporates belly dancing and weights for arm toning. I enjoy it a lot! - 5/9/2013   11:31:19 AM
  • 445
    At 240 lbs and only 5' 2", I tried Zumba a year ago. I've been hooked ever since. I'm not the best dancer, but I do have fun. I even bring my 6 year old grandson when he is not in school. People are impressed with his moves. Now I have a new grandson that is 12 weeks old. He has been going to Zumba for 6 weeks already. The instructor cuts me some slack and will not charge me for the class if the baby acts up. He loves to watch grandma shake-it. LOL - 5/9/2013   11:09:20 AM
  • 444
    I'm not young, but I love Zumba. It's the fastest hour of exercise I have ever done! And fun...have to learn to laugh at yourself! It's great that moves can be modified to ability. - 5/9/2013   10:14:55 AM
  • ROGERSBABE1
    443
    Zumba is so great....it's the only activity that I have been consistent with (I am not an athletic type). You have to try different classes as your instructor and his/her style is key. If you tried it once and didn't like it, try a different teacher or facility. I licensed two years ago and have taught consistently since then. It helped me take off and maintain a 50 pound weight loss. - 5/9/2013   9:46:26 AM
  • 442
    I have taken regular Zumba and I did not like it. My local YMCA offers aqua Zumba and I love it. - 5/9/2013   9:38:28 AM
  • MARYJEANSL
    441
    I am the exception rather than the rule. I tried Zumba and absolutely hated it. I can't handle a situation where I don't know what I am supposed to do and am supposed to guess. Does NOT mesh with my personality. But, to each his own, and I know a lot of people love it. - 5/9/2013   9:11:04 AM
  • EZEG2401
    440
    The wii version is the best and you don't have to deal with obnoxious instructors. - 5/9/2013   8:57:53 AM
  • 439
    Love Zumba, do not feel like you are really exercising. - 5/9/2013   8:39:16 AM
  • EAHEMT
    438
    I love zumba! Started it this past January and I go twice a week :)
    I've had surgery on both knees, and NUMEROUS abdominal surgeries due to Ovarian Cancer. As your weight reduces and you become more tone those will no longer be a "worry". Just be careful!
    The great thing about zumba is that you can adjust it up or down to fit your comfort/ability. No worries! Just get out there and move!
    Enjoy and burn calories while you dance! What more could you ask for? The steps/routines come more naturally to you, after you've done a few classes.
    Its not about knowing the choreography perfectly!
    Who cares if you miss a few steps or can't quite get that hip shake down like your instructor? At least you're moving.... go go go ! Have fun - 5/9/2013   8:27:09 AM
  • 437
    Tried it out once---the floor was so slippery I felt like I was going to fall half the time---ended up pulling the inside muscles from trying not to fall and messing up my good knee. And the instructor was rude and suggested I take a senior citizen class when asked her to show us some move before we started like she did the one time---which this was an intro class and advertised that they would be doing that. Won't be going back to that site again! - 5/9/2013   8:02:17 AM
  • AVATRX
    436
    I'm 59 - female and have had knee surgery in the past. really wanted to try zumba but there were no classes that I could get to without driving 20+ miles. I looked for zumba gold classes, but couldn't find any.

    I bought the Zumba gold DVD set. I've used it alot. It has a nutrition DVD, a 'how to' instructional zumba that teaches you how to do the various moves - part of one has a fitness section. and then the Cardio. The cardio is about 45 minutes. instructors are Joy and Beto. It took a few times to get the moves down, but wasn't hard.

    I'm ready to move up to the real zumba. When I goofed up my knee, I gave my Wii to my grandkids, so I may have to buy a new one and get the Zumba fitness.

    I do recommend it. The Zumba Gold is great if you're at all concerned about overdoing it. I'll probably sell my Zumba gold set and put $$ that towards the new one. - 5/9/2013   7:50:04 AM
  • 435
    Dance like no one is watching! I hope no one watches me learn to Zumba!! - 5/9/2013   7:37:53 AM
  • 434
    OMG!!! It was so loud that I couldn't tell if the instructor was giving any verbal clues to the new people. I sincerely doubt she cared if we got it or not. Never again! I'll stick to my own thing the does not contain screaming, and ringing ears from noise in the room. Be well! - 5/9/2013   6:30:57 AM
  • 433
    Thank you for sharing...I have been wondering for a while now what Zumba was. - 5/8/2013   9:37:19 PM
  • 432
    Silver Zumba is done at our winter resort.
    And I would love to try Aqua Zumba! - 5/8/2013   9:30:00 PM
  • 431
    I've been doing Zumba for about 3 years now. At first I didn't really like it, seemed hard to catch on. But I found an instructor I really like and get along with, which seems to be the case for a lot of people because her classes are always full. If you haven't tried don't worry when you do that you can do the moves. Just follow which way the class is moving, like if the moves are going to the right, you don't have to do the steps exact but walk to the right with the rest of the class and so on. For me I worked on getting the foot work down first and then the arms. To try and do both was just over the top for me. - 5/8/2013   1:48:29 PM
  • 430
    I took Zumba classes when I was at an RV park in Arizona the average age in my class would have been 65 or older and I found I could do it better than most of the ladies in class as I have been dancing my entire life, however I know I wouldn't be able to keep up with a class of 40 year olds so I only can do it for 3 months in the winter when I am down south.
    - 5/8/2013   11:55:20 AM
  • 429
    FINDNEWME: There are Zumba DVD's and now even a Zumba Fitness on Wii that you could work out to if you can't get to a class in the country. There are many different DVD sets and I think Zumba is on different game systems too (I'm not sure though but I have the Wii game so I know that exists!). They may not be an exact substitute for a class but any time you get up and get moving will be good for you! :D - 5/8/2013   11:33:56 AM
  • 428
    I've been doing Zumba for years . . . without knowing it. In my own living room with the windows thumping - 5/8/2013   11:21:57 AM

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