All You Ever Wanted to Know about Zumba

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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).

    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

EVILCECIL 9/15/2018
Zumba looks fun. Report
KHALIA2 8/8/2018
I really miss my zumba class! Report
ANGELDIAMOND122 7/23/2018
Zumba is alot of fun...and thats coming from someone who never thought she'd like to try zumba. Report
DWROBERGE 7/5/2018
A great fun workout Report
CHERYLHURT 7/4/2018
I fell down....! Report
ILOVEROSES 6/3/2018
I love Zumba but the last time I did it, I twisted my knee and now stopped going to the classes. My left knee doesn't bother me at gym doing ST and occasionally when walking, so no more Zumba for me. Report
KHALIA2 4/12/2018
Reading this article reminded me of how much I miss zumba. My Curves closed and I have not found another place that teaches it. Report
SEXESHARONJONES 3/12/2018
I haven't been to a Zumba class but I have some dvd's and my sister in law is a Zumba instructor. Report
AJB121299 11/28/2017
Nice Report
wonderful fun Report
ROBBIEY
I love Zumba is quite a workout and the music and dance is fun. Report
Looks like great fun! Report
Love Zumba
Report
TUXLADY
I do the Zumba Gold DVD which is aimed at older adults but it kicks my butt every time! I love it - I can dance like a dork and no one sees me:) Report
I go every Thursday - it is awesome! Report
JULIA_PETER
I love Zumba! Doesn't feel like a workout. Just fun dancing.
www.zumba-classlocator.com Report
I like the classes where the instructor gives you instructions on how to do the move. If I'm paying for the class, I don't want to just move around because I don't know the moves. That's not "fun", it's frustrating. I can do that at home. I now use my WII to ZUMBA with my WII trainer. I love it! Report
Without Zumba I would not go inside of the gym. I love that class! It is high energy, fun, incredible workout. I love to dance and shake my groove thang so I enjoy all the current, latin, reggae, hip hop, reggaetone music incorporated in Zumba. It's a great sweat and my daughter does it with me so I get to bond with her as well. Double win!! Can't say enough about it! Zumba is awesome! Report
SOCALDEBBIE
I find Zumba easier to tolerate than an hour of, say, the elliptical machine, but I wish I could say it was fun. True that nearly all participants are women, but they are a range of ages and sizes, and no one is in any position to judge. According to my tracker I burn 400-500 calories per class, and that's keeping up completely with the instructor - I bet I'd like it better if I were buring 1000! Report
I absolutely adore Zumba and my instructor is fantastic. We dance all the current latin music from Pitbull, Ricky Martin and Don Omar and other local musicians. The last class we danced to Rolling Down the River and had a blast. Not latin, but we really had to move! Report
I love zumba. Not only am I doing exercises faster than I would do on my own, I am having fun. It is fun to be in a class and meet those people each week and it is fun to dance. My husband will dance with me, but doesn't enjoy it, and at zumba, I don't need a partner.The music makes the exercise just seem like fun.
I think too that there is a component that must be good for the brain. We are concentrating on moves done by the instructor and copying them, as well as listening to the music, the patterns and rhythms
.No one cares if we make a mistake or aren't getting a move, but we can improve as we go along and get energized as well. Report
TETABETTE
I love Zumba. When I first started, our instructor had a few free pre-Zumba classes to teach newbies the basic steps. We still struggled the first week or two, but it was much easier to catch on. I started when I was 60 years old with my 52-year-old sister. I got my 68-year-old sister hooked on a Zumba Gold class. I take my class through a community ed. program, so the ages and fitness levels of the participants vary greatly.There is a class out there for almost everyone, but of course, it is not everyone's style. If you love to dance and have fun, though. Look for an instructor who fits your personality - an no, I do not work for the Zumba organization, lol.
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ESTRELLA57
I have a question do you think in order for someone to be a zumba instructor they have to have a thin body? Report
I just got the zumba video from Wallie world and they have the step by step I know I look like a dork doing the work out. Because I've only done it for 3 days but I am really enjoying it. Especially because the have the just for dummies video that keeps me from getting frustrated Report
JBARUWA
Definitely love Zumba. It is so much fun. Report
Completely agree, with the right instructor, Zumba is like going to a party. I typicallly get at least 7,000 fit bit steps, feel the cardio challenge, sweat more than any excericise at the gym and enjoy every minute. Report
AQUARIANMOON
I LOVE Zumba. I have the DVD Exilerate and the Wii games Zumba 2 and Zumba Core. I am so addicted. It's fun fast paced and just move. Awesome workout. Report
KSTEVE87
I love Zumba®!! I actually took my training to be an instructor recently! Zumba® has changed my life Report
I love ZUMBA! Report
I love zumba! It's too bad about the negative comments on here, but I can understand where some people are coming from. My first class I just got thrown in with no instruction. It was intimidating, but I just kept moving and got the hang of it after a couple of classes. It actually took me about 6 months to work up the nerve to walk in there! Once I got started I was hooked though. The instructor really does make all the difference. I don't think I could ever get into doing the DVD's...I can't see it being half as much fun. The thing I like about zumba though is that you can modify it to your needs, if you can't do a particular move, modify it and keep moving. I've seen people of all ages participating and keeping up. I encourage everyone to try it for at least a few classes, don't obsess over how you think you look, and just have fun!! Report
For all you people that don't like to go to the classes for whatever reason, go get in on the Wii... it is the same thing, burn the calories, do it at your own pace. And you can actually learn the routines. Report
I am not sure if it was the zumba, or me doing zumba being overweight, but my back was injured during the fall I did Zumba. I loved the class and felt so good after I caught on enough to keep up. I will try the class again when I get the extra weight off. By the way, I didn't do the jump type moves. I have met two other ladies over 50 who told me Zumba caused them knee problems. Wish we had some aqua Zumba here! Report
I am a 60 year old male and I've done Zumba (2x per week for about a year before I got a foot injury and stopped) - and I like it.
The problem, for me, is that 90% or more of the classes I went to the participants are in their 30's or younger and 99.9% are female. It's a little intimidating to be in a room with 30 other people, mostly young and all but me are female. All the men in the gym were in the weight room or playing basketball.
Even with the intimidation factor, I enjoyed it and want to get back to the gym again. It was fun and definitely a high calorie burn for the time spent.
Aren't there any men doing aerobic exercises??? I've attended all kinds of aerobic classes and yoga and was almost always the only male or 1 of 2 in the class. I like classes best but have a hard time getting to the gym. Report
Zumba is my favorite workout of the week. I Zumba 3 days out of the week and the other 3 days I do some weight strengthning sessions and one additional cardio workout. However, Zumba will always be my favorite! Report
TLABBOTT
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. Report
MJEFFERSON23
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! Report
FUCSIA45
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. Report
GODODGE
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.
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ANGELA.BOWEN
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. Report
I just discovered Aqua Zumba and love it! Helping slowly mend my broken body and hope to radically improve my range of motion. Report
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! Report
I'm totally addicted to Zumba. I've been doing it for 2 years & LOVE IT!!! Report
MERRYCHEF
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!" :) Report
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... Report
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!!! Report
Took it for a year or so. Loved it. The classes really do vary from teacher to teacher (In my experience anyway). Report
RENATA144
I do Love Zumba !!! It's a giant dance party with no pressure just pleasure. Report
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. Report
looks like so much fun! What a workout! Report
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. Report