Zumba – Party While You Workout

Zumba, the Latin-inspired dance workout, has seen its popularity zoom in 180 countries around the world.

My first introduction to Zumba, around eight years back, was quite by chance. I had turned on the TV and was flicking channels. The channel I flipped to happened to be showing those long-drawn out tele ads. I was just about to switch when this peppy song and dance routine that was playing out on the TV screen hooked me. It was an ad for a Zumba DVD set. I stood there entranced, watching this fun routine, swaying and tapping to the mesmerizing, foot-thumping music.

And that was when my love affair with Zumba began!

Are you tired of drearily running monotonously on the treadmill? Or hunkering down in a rowing machine and performing repetitive tasks again and again? Or walking in an overcrowded neighborhood and dodging traffic and inhaling polluted air? Well, if you are weary of your fitness routine and are finding it deadbeat, uninspiring and plain boring…why not join the party and Zumba!

zumba-fitnessWhat is Zumba?

Zumba is basically high-energy dancercise. This dance workout, primarily based on sensuous and foot-tapping Latino rhythms is all the rage in the US, thanks to its amazing fun quotient. A chunk of the Zumba music for workouts is Latino – Salsa, Merengue, Reggaetón, Cumbia, Flamenco, Rumba and more. Then there is pop, hip-hop and even Bollywood songs thrown in.

The founder of Zumba, Beto Perez was a celebrity fitness instructor in Los Angeles. Apparently, one day in the early 90s, he forgot to take his fitness CDs for his class. He improvised by playing his own CDs – a sizzling blend of Latino music – instead. This became a hit and thus was born Zumba. Perez, in a Zumba workout book says, “…you’ll find Zumba Fitness to be like no other fitness system out there. That’s because I designed Zumba Fitness – with its scorching fusion of world music and spicy dance rhythms – to make you feel like you’re at a party or a club.”

people-dancing-during-zumba-training-fitness-at-a-gym-of-lugano-on-switzerlandThe advantages of Zumba

  • The Zumba motto – ‘ditch the workout and join the party’ sums it up. With Zumba, you never feel like you are working out. The music and the rhythms are infectious and addictive; you start tapping your feet and swaying to the beat as soon as you hear the sizzling music. It’s really more like a long dance party.
  • And, the icing on the cake? You get to burn plenty of calories! An average Zumba workout burns anywhere from 400-600 calories an hour, depending on the intensity of the workout and your body type. It also strengthens your core because there is so much of hip movement and twists. It is a full body workout and every part of your body gets exercised.
  • Aerobics can be hard on the body because there are lots of jumps and big movements and it’s high impact. With Zumba, you stay closer to the floor; the movements are smaller and faster but the calorie burn is very high.
  • Once you’re through with your workout, you will be tired and sweaty, but pumped with endorphins. Yes, a Zumba workout brings a smile to your face.
  • And most of the moves are quite simple to follow. You don’t need to be technically right; you don’t require perfection. Once you get immersed in the infectious spirit of Zumba, you will find yourself grooving, shaking, twisting, shimmying and swaying with gay abandon. And then you are hooked for life!

So how do you learn to Zumba?

zumba-dancers-illustrationZumba classes

  • Check out for Zumba classes in your neighborhood or your city/town.
  • Make sure that the class is taken by a certified Zumba instructor.
  • Some cities even have aqua Zumba. This is ideal for people who have joint problems. Working out in water is less stressful for their joints. And the resistance in water is apparently 12 times that of what you experience when you exercise out of water.

Zumba DVDs

  • You could buy the Zumba DVDs and work out at home. Then you needn’t brave traffic to go for your workout.
  • It is also helpful for those who are self-conscious or feel they have two left feet. No one’s going to be watching you at home, so you can let your hair down and Zumba!
  • The DVD sets come with a ‘basics’ DVD where you are taught the basic steps in an easy and fun way. This is advantageous for those who can’t dance as you can learn the steps at your pace.
  • What I love most about the Zumba DVDs is that you have 20-minute, 30-minute, 40-minute and one-hour workouts. This means that you can choose a workout based on how much time you have.
  • You also have workouts with light weights as well as a stepper. And workouts for the abs. Which means you can add strength workouts to your cardio. However, if you want to do serious strength training, the Zumba workouts could be used as an add on to your strength training program.
  • Zumba DVDs are still tough to lay your hands on in India. Ideally, if you have someone in the US, order it from amazon.com.

Zumba on YouTube

  • There are tons and tons of Zumba workouts on YouTube. You will need to spend some time searching and discovering the good ones. Personally, I love the workouts of Vijaya Tupurani.
  • Zumba workouts on YouTube are a great way to add on new workouts to your Zumba stable.
  • It helps to alleviate boredom and you also get to learn some funky new steps.
  • And again, you can find workouts from 20 minutes to an hour, so you can choose a workout depending on how much time you have to spare.

Some precautions

  • There are many Zumba workouts that are high impact. So be careful when you begin, otherwise you could end up injuring your joints. This is especially important if you have arthritis or any other joint problem.
  • Do check with your doctor if you are pregnant, have any health condition, are obese or over 40.
  • Zumba involves a lot of twisting too, so be sure you don’t end up pulling a muscle.
  • Always stay hydrated when you work out. Keep a bottle of water with you and sip in between songs.
  • Always start slow till you build up your stamina. If you can’t do a move or work out to a particular song, just walk or dance in place.

To get an idea of Zumba, check out these videos:

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Vinita Nayar
Dogs, books, music…that’s what makes life tick for me. And of course, writing. I’ve been writing for 17 years now and have enjoyed every bit of it. My idea of a great time – blast some music, cuddle my pets and gorge on pizza. Or curl up in a cozy corner with a good book. That’s bliss. And now, I’ve discovered a new bliss – yoga. Maybe, I’ll turn spiritual some day with a halo around my head! On a more serious note, I’m actively involved in animal welfare and saving abandoned dogs. I firmly believe dogs are much better than most human beings. In addition, I champion the cause of making our planet a better place. And do my bit in whatever way I can, and urge everyone to do the same.