I remember the first Zumba class I ever set foot in at my university's recreation center. The instructor was so full of energy that it made me a little uncomfortable, and the room was jam-packed with girls (and a few guys!) shaking their hips and laughing over pulsing Latin and hip-hop beats. When the first song started, I anxiously wondered what I had gotten myself into and thought about planning an exit strategy. But when the class ended, I was drenched in sweat and grinning like an idiot, in disbelief that an hour had just flown by. After years of being a slave to the elliptical machine, I walked out of that class feeling like I had just had a major fitness revelation: Working out could be both productive and fun! Some people feel this way about running, or lifting weights, or yoga. For me, at that time, Zumba was my thing. It was the spark that made me start to view exercise as a hobby rather than a chore, and I credit it for helping me to see the fun in other forms of fitness over time.
Since that class five years ago, I've taken Zumba more times than I can count, with about a dozen different instructors. I've taken some amazing classes, some sub-par classes, and some downright miserable classes (FYI: if you try Zumba for the first time and hate it, take it again with another instructor. It makes all the difference!). I thought I had experienced all of the possible facets of Zumba—until Zumba sent us a free Zumba Fitness Exhilarate DVD set to review and Coach Nicole let me do the honors.
The Zumba DVD experience is definitely a different animal. I was a little hesitant at first, unsure of how a live class would translate into a home DVD format. So did Zumba's at-home DVDs deliver the same fun and intensity as my classes? Did I really burn 1,000 calories per hour like their commercials claimed I could?
First of all, the sheer amount of options in this set is amazing. It comes with SEVEN different DVDs to try depending on your time allotment, mood, and experience level, and they're hosted by multiple different instructors. Here's a quick breakdown of the offerings along with a video preview:
In the box: Seven DVDs, a set of two 1-pound toning sticks, Program Guide with instructions on how to use the DVD, plus an optional meal plan.
Disc 1: Step-by-Step
This DVD serves as an introduction to the steps found throughout the rest of the set. I thought it did a great job of breaking down the moves in an easy-to-follow way, including a cool toggle feature that lets you view moves from both the front and back. This DVD is meant to be more of a reference than an actual workout; use it to get a feel for the steps and to go back to it if you need help with the moves in the other workouts.
Disc 2: Activate
''Activate" is a 45-minute beginner's Zumba class. There are basic moves mixed in with some challenging choreography. I thought it was a bit hard to follow for a beginner's class, but I'm sure it would get easier after a few tries.
Disc 3: Ripped
The "Ripped" DVD is a 60-minute workout broken up into a toning section, using the 1-pound toning sticks, and a Sentao section, which uses a chair and your own body weight. The toning section focuses on dancing accompanied by upper body moves using the toning sticks. The Sentao section incorporates body weight exercises such as lunges, triceps dips, and balancing moves.
Disc 4: Exhilarate
This disc features a full 60-minute Zumba class, led by two instructors. It was my favorite of the whole set! The variety of music was incredible: in a single hour, I danced along to Latin funk, Latin house, hip-hop, Indian, Reggaeton, and Flamenco music. The dance routines were fun, but, as in the ''Activate'' DVD, they were a little hard to follow along with.
Disc 5: Rush
This DVD features a 20-minute Zumba workout, led by two instructors. This is a great workout that gets your heart rate up quickly, and is perfect for when you're short on time.
Disc 6: Mix
"Mix" was an unexpected surprise and probably one of the coolest features in the set. In this workout, you learn African, Latin, Indian, hip-hop, Asian fusion, and Flamenco dances from a variety of instructors. I also appreciated that it had two detailed sections dedicated to breaking down the moves.
Disc 7: Fitness-Concert
This DVD was my least favorite of the set. It features nine instructors teaching a Zumba class to a stadium full of people. Although the show on stage is great, it's very hard to follow the moves, as there is no verbal cueing from the instructors. The camera also often pans out over the audience, which can be distracting.
This set is probably not for you if:
Do you Zumba? Have you tried the Zumba Exhilarate set? What did you think?
More From SparkPeople