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 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

    Happy shaking!

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

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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. Report
FYI...since you are a Guest Blogger: the country is Colombia, not Columbia. Report
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. Report
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! Report
I am going to look for a class. Hoprfully I will be able to keep up. Report
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!!! Report
I love Zumba ... especially Zumbathons ... have more energy and have lost weight Report
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! Report
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! Report
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!!! Report
My husband and I took a class when it first came out. Felt ridiculous and have never gone back! Report
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! Report
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 Report
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. Report
Zumba is so'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. Report
I have taken regular Zumba and I did not like it. My local YMCA offers aqua Zumba and I love it. Report
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. Report
The wii version is the best and you don't have to deal with obnoxious instructors. Report
Love Zumba, do not feel like you are really exercising. Report
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 Report
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! Report
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. Report
Dance like no one is watching! I hope no one watches me learn to Zumba!! Report
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! Report
Thank you for sharing...I have been wondering for a while now what Zumba was. Report
Silver Zumba is done at our winter resort.
And I would love to try Aqua Zumba! Report
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. Report
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.
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 Report
I've been doing Zumba for years . . . without knowing it. In my own living room with the windows thumping Report
I was not interested in Zumba until last August when I saw a group class at the gym. I told myself "I can do that" and went for it. It was hard at first due to excess pounds, aches and pains, but 32 lbs later, I am still doing Zumba! I just love it so much that now I am a Zumba instructor! As far as the calories burned, I burn between 800 to 1100 calories 1 one hour class consistently. I make sure that I am not just moving, but jumping with arms in the air all the time. That's how I burn more calories. Also depending on how fit you are will determine how many calories you burn. If you are fit, the less calories you burn with each class. So, Zumba away everyone! Report
Zumba is so fun but it's difficult to find classes in the country! I wonder if a DVD is an adequate substitute? I have no rhythm but find Zumba to be fun and exhilarating! Report
This gal here has no rythym. However, I have found that Zumba is sooo much fun and it's all about moving your body. No one in the classes ever judge my lack of beat because we're all having too much fun! It's all about moving you body...and yes, I do get just a little better each time. Report
Zumba is a great workout but I agree with the poster who said that the instructor makes a huge difference. I've been to classes where the instructors were just plain awful and I could not wait until the class was over. Also been to classes where I wish we could go on for another hour! The bottom line is to keep moving even if you don't know the steps. It all counts!! Report
Beware of her supposed calorie burn. I have taken Zumba from several different instrustors and wear a heart rate monitor. I have never burned more than 600 calories in a class.

However, everyone should try it! It's amazing! Although, what shoes you wear are very important as knee injuries are common in Zumba from the dancing and turning. Report
Love Love Love Zumba, but i have also found the instructor is key into making it an enjoyable experience.... some are much easier to follow than others.... so stick with it and get out there and dance :) its addicting.. :) Report
I have always wanted to try Zumba....I think I'll try a class with a friend of mine this weekend! Report
I love Zumba. It is fun and energizing. I go to class once a week and also do Zumba on my Xbox Kinnect. Report
I am getting ready to start classes. Report
Hate to exercise. LOOOOVE to Zumba! Even my videos at home I do are often zumba, or combination dance/cardioboxing to mix it up a little. It's the best way to exercise! Report
Love it so much!! I'm hoping my gym will offer more Zumba classes soon...I actually think they're working on it! Report
as per my spark name, I am addicted to zumba. I go 4 nights a week. Very popular at our gym. close to 100 people in one of our classes. I have asthma, and the fact that I have the endurance to dance an entire hour and not be out of breath, still amazes me. The transformation in my body has been huge. I am destined to be an instructor some day. Report
I love my Zumba class. My instructor is awesome. There is such a camaraderie among the my Zumba peeps. We really love the hour we spend together. Report
Zumba is the only exercise I have ever been able to stick with. Three years now, three to four times a week. 70 pounds down and countng. love the party, my peeps there and my instructor!!L Report
I am 100 lbs overweight, and I have been doing Zumba on Saturdays at the Y for several weeks. Even though I am always wheezing at about the 15-minute mark, I look forward to going every week. There are women of all ages and sizes in my class, and even a few men. I never feel bad when I have to march in place through a song or two in order to catch my breath. If you have a class available in your area, don't be intimidated to try it. I am fairly shy but I found the courage to join the class and I didn't regret it. Report
I am 64 and I love my zumba class twice per week. I don't know how I look doing it but I am always in the front row and am always surprised when the hour is up. Just plain fun and a great workout. Report
Looks great but a definate lack of male participants Report
I received a set of Zumba DVDs for Christmas and I have been alternating between the 20 Minute Express and Tone and Sculpt (working out 3 days and resting 1 day...). I was hooked the first time I tried it. I workout every morning at 5:00 am. I didn't have a scale for the first two weeks (started on Dec. 27th) but since buying a scale I have lost 9 pounds and 2 inches on my waist, hips, thighs and 1 inch on my upper arms. I am setting up a Zumba class at work to begin in the next couple of weeks. I am going to try the Zumba Live DVD today which is 55 minutes instead of 20 wish me luck.... Report
Love Zumba!! Fun, fun, fun!! great Blog!!!!!!! Report
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