What is Zumba fitness & what are the benefits?

Zumba fitness is a cardio workout program centered around dancing. It is inspired by Latin culture and combines a multitude of dance styles into its routines, including hip hop, Merengue, Cumbia, Salsa, Reggaeton, Mambo, Rumba and Flamenco.

The program’s music is normally Latin, or international and can vary from fast paced, to slow depending on the routine and the experience level of the class.

Zumba was created by a Latin choreographer named Alberto Perez during the 1990’s and since then it has grown to be one of the most popular dance style workout programs.

Zumba is known for being a fun and social workout program, but it isn’t just dancing. The routines are carefully choreographed to target specific muscle groups, while incorporating interval and resistance training.

Interval training helps ramp up your body’s calorie burning potential, by completing a series of movements followed by a brief rest period your body is able to use its energy more efficiently.

Interval training is also used in other popular cardio workouts like HIIT. Resistance training builds strength and helps tone muscles, helping you to reach your fitness goals.

Why Is Zumba Fitness So Popular?

Zumba gained its popularity because, it is an effective cardio workout, that doesn’t feel like a workout and can be done by almost anyone. Everyone wants to be healthy, but for most of us the word workout is associated with negative feelings.

It’s hard to get excited about the typical cardio exercise routines, they’re repetitive and leave you to focus on each individual move. But Zumba is different.

From the time you start, until the workout is over you won’t be focused on the fact that you’re exercising. The music and dancing divert your mind from the “work” part of the workout and the hour of exercise is over before you know it.

Who Can Do Zumba Fitness?

Anyone can do Zumba, unlike most cardio workouts Zumba can be adapted to fit the needs of every individual.

Zumba class age groups range from young children, to the elderly and it can even be done by those who can’t do most exercises.

Zumba is also handicap friendly and can be a fun, effective workout for those with mental, or physical disabilities.

This flexibility gives it the upper hand on most fitness routines, not many workout programs can say they will work for everyone.

Zumba classes designed specifically for the elderly, children and people with special needs, or limited mobility can be found.

The instructors that hold these classes are specifically trained to deliver a workout that meets the needs of the individuals, while still providing an effective workout. Anyone can dance.

What Should I Expect If I Go to A Zumba Fitness Class?

Most Zumba fitness classes are an hour long, they begin with a warm-up and end with stretching. The workouts are broken down by songs, each featuring a different routine.

 Between the songs you will have a rest period. The routines can be pre-choreographed, but more often than not, the instructors will add their own dance steps, or even create entirely new routines.

Zumba isn’t like other aerobic classes, or workouts, where you have to learn the moves before you can do the workout. Instead Zumba utilizes the different parts of each song as the foundation for its choreography.

It does take some learning though and it can be frustrating for beginners, but the steps are simple and repetitive, so you’ll catch on quickly.

You don’t need to focus on being perfect. The instructors are usually laid back and the goal is having fun, not making the casting call for the next dance orientated reality show.

Zumba instructors don’t speak much, so no one will be counting, or barking directions at you. Instead the instructors rely on hand gestures and things like clapping to direct which way to go, or when to switch dance moves. This can be refreshing for people who are put off by the drill instructor style aerobic routines.

What Should I Wear To A Zumba Fitness Class?

The best clothing to wear to Zumba classes, or while doing Zumba at home is anything comfortable. As long as the clothing is loose, or stretchy enough to provide you a free range of motion, that’s all you need.

From leggings, to sweat pants and t-shirts to tank tops everyone has something in their closet they can Zumba in.

You will want a good pair of athletic, or fitness shoes that provide support. Zumba is dancing, so you’ll want your shoes to be comfortable and protect your feet.

Depending on where your class is held, or if you choose to do Zumba at home, Zumba can also be done barefoot. Some people find that this is more comfortable and allows them better control over their movement.

If you choose to do Zumba barefoot, make sure it is on a padded surface, such as carpeting, a mat, or grass to reduce the stress on the balls and arches of your feet.

Some gyms require that shoes are worn, for health safety reasons, so it may not be possible for you to participate barefoot in an indoor setting. If you’re in doubt, ask about the dress code.

What Are the Benefits of Zumba Fitness?

Like all fitness routines Zumba primary goal is to help you become healthier. Whether your goal is to get in shape, stay in shape, or you just need some inspiration to be more active Zumba is a good choice to help you achieve that goal and have fun doing it.

Zumba also offers some pretty great benefits that you may not know about. Below are all the things that Zumba Fitness has to offer.

Weight Loss

One of the primary benefits of Zumba fitness is weight loss. The high intensity interval style that Zumba uses is scientifically proven to boost the rate at which your body burns calories and breaks down fat. This makes your workout more effective and you’ll see results sooner.

The average person can burn 600 – 1,000 calories in a single hour of Zumba, if they’re putting their all into it and pushing their limits.

This is a big deal considering 1,000 calories is half the recommended daily intake for a woman and a little under half for a male.

Burning 1,000 calories is a great way to maintain your weight or boost your weight loss efforts.

If your body does not have an excess of 1,000 calories to burn, it begins burning fat stores and that’s where the results happen.

Interval training is intense high energy workout bursts followed by a brief period of rest. Working out this way cause a few things to happen.

First, you’ll feel that familiar burning in your engaged muscles, and then you’ll feel out of breath. Exerting yourself causes your muscles to accumulate lactic acid, which is where that burning feeling comes from and your bodies oxygen becomes depleted.

Your body then has to work harder to replenish its oxygen stores and it will continue to build these stores for up to 24 hours after you’re finished working out.

This results in your metabolism being boosted, and ultimately burning calories at an accelerated rate, even after your workout is over.

In addition to boosted metabolism effects, the Journal of Applied Physiology has also published a study showing how interval training can increase the capacity for fat oxidation in women.

Body Toning

Weight loss by itself is great, but when you can tone your muscles while you’re losing weight the results you want appear even faster.

The body toning dance moves of Zumba Fitness target specific muscle groups, integrating moves like squats and side twists into the routine without you even realizing you’re doing them.

Body toning doesn’t just help you show off your hard work, it also strengthens your core and other important muscle groups.

This strength has benefits outside of looking great, with a stronger core you’ll have better posture, breathe better, have more stamina and you’ll feel better overall.

It won’t help you build muscles in the way that weight lifting would, but it does engage your whole body, allowing you to fine tune every muscle group.

Zumba includes a lot of different arm movements that help strengthen your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back. It also requires you to use your core in every move, which targets your abdominal, oblique, and lower back muscles.

It is dance, so of course you’ll be using your legs and your glutes, calves and hamstrings will be reaping the benefits too. If you’re looking to get stronger, but not necessarily bulk up, Zumba is a great way to do it.

Improved Coordination

Zumba can help increase your coordination and motor skills. Dance requires coordination to successfully execute the required moves, without tripping over your own feet.

Repetition and practice will help train your coordination capabilities over time and allow you to have better control over the various muscle groups in your body.

The more you practice, the better you will get. Coordination is extremely important, even more so as we age and things like slips and falls become a bigger risk to our health.

 A well-coordinated individual is less like to lose their balance or be unable to catch themselves if they do fall, resulting in a lower chance of accident related injuries overall.

Improved Mood and Reduced Stress

Zumba can help you improve your mood and combat depression. Sadness, anxiety and depression can be caused by a lack of happiness inducing chemicals in your brain called endorphins, sometimes referred to as a neuro-chemical imbalance.

Research has shown that regular exercise helps your brain in releasing endorphins that make you feel good, like serotonin. Serotonin is one of the endorphins responsible for feelings of joy, relaxation and happiness.

Studies, like the one published in Sage Journals support that cardiovascular activity, like dance cause your brain to release the highest levels of these endorphins when compared to other workouts and Zumba Fitness is all about dancing.

Better Cardiovascular Health

Zumba is a moderate to fast paced form of exercise. The pace of exercise varies from beginner, to intermediate, to expert classes, but even in beginner classes you can expect to be moving pretty fast and working up a sweat.

This intensity gets your heart pounding and you breathing. This is beneficial to you, exercising your heart and lungs leads to a healthier cardiovascular system.

Cardiovascular exercise helps lower your resting heart rate, preventing your heart from working harder than it has to. It also helps regulate and lower your blood pressure, reducing the stress your heart is submitted to on a regular basis.

Overall it will reduce your chances of suffering from arterial and heart diseases which can be fatal. It will also reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack, or stroke and it can increase your physical capacity.

Zumba benefits your lungs by training them to be more efficient. Because our lungs are muscles, they can be improved through repetition. Zumba will make you breathe hard and over time this will train your lungs to absorb more oxygen, so they can effectively deliver that oxygen to your organs and muscles.

Have a more efficient heart and lungs leads to increased endurance. The more blood and oxygen that reaches your muscles the longer and harder they’ll be able to work before you feel exhausted. This leads to better performance in many areas, as well as day to day life.

Anyone Can Zumba

Zumba is a very versatile workout routine. In addition to being easy enough for children to do, it is fun. You can attend classes or purchase a Zumba DVD and do it from the comfort of your own home.

There are routines designed for everyone, from beginner routines for people who have no idea what Zumba is and are just starting their fitness journey, to advanced routines for people who already know the moves and are well versed in Zumba.

Unlike exercises that are fitness, or age group specific, men, women and children of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from and enjoy Zumba.

Zumba Can Be Done at Home

Zumba doesn’t require any special equipment, so it can be done easily in your own living room. It doesn’t take much space to dance and as long as you have a 5 ft. X 5 ft.

Space you should be able to comfortably Zumba in your home. Most of the movements are done while staying in one area.

This makes zumba convenient for people unable to go to classes, due to lack of classes, lack of transportation, lack of child care, or any other reason that prevents you from being able to attend a class.

There is an endless supply of inexpensive Zumba instructional material, including books, DVDs and online videos.

For some of us the thought of working out in front of other people can be enough to refrain from exercise, Doing Zumba at home makes it easy to avoid a crowd until you’re ready to participate in a class.

It’s an Opportunity to Get Out And Meet New People

Zumba offers a great opportunity to get out of the house and socialize. On top of getting a good workout, going to Zumba classes will allow you to meet new people in a friendly and welcoming environment.

Unlike gyms, Zumba classes don’t have a stereotype, there’s no expectations of fitness level, or ability. You’ll be having fun, getting healthier and making new friends before you know it.

You don’t have to get out and go to a Zumba class to enjoy the group benefits though, you can Zumba at home with friends, or family members.

Working out with a partner can make the workout more enjoyable. We are social creatures by nature, and it is a fact that we enjoy doing tasks more when we are accompanied by other people.

Even if you’re not going to classes, doing Zumba with a friend will give you someone to talk to about it and it will make keeping your fitness goals a priority, as well as helping to keep you motivated. It’s harder to put off working out if you have another person relying on you to join them.

Zumba Is Safe During Pregnancy

Physical regimens are recommended by doctors during pregnancy to keep you healthy and avoid excess weight gain. Zumba is a great way to achieve this physical activity, as long as you modify the workout appropriately.

You won’t be able to do some of the moves and going at a slower pace is recommended to avoid overexertion, or strain, but you can still reap the rewards of Zumba.

It isn’t wise to initially start Zumba while pregnant, but if you’ve previously done Zumba, feel free to continue.

Low impact Zumba moves will help keep the excess weight off and help make getting that pre-baby body back after your baby arrives a lot easier.

The flexibility improving factors will help ward off some of the common aches and pains associated with pregnancy and help you feel great.

Always consult your doctor before beginning a workout routine while pregnant, everyone is different and you may have conditions, or risk factors that make Zumba unsafe for you and your baby.

If you get the all clear from your doctor, then enjoy the health benefits of zumba during pregnancy.

Zumba Fitness Is Inexpensive

Or even free, Zumba instructional videos on sites like YouTube allow people to partake in Zumba for free, while DVDs and more in-depth material like books can be acquired for next to nothing.

Zumba requires no machinery, weights, or special equipment and you can do it in your own living room.

Zumba classes vary in price and can be one-time things or come in package form. Most gyms and even local YMCAs offer Zumba classes, making this workout routine highly affordable and accessible to anyone.

Zumba Teaches You to Dance

In addition to getting an awesome workout, Zumba doubles as a dance class. Zumba utilizes various dance styles in its routines, so before long you’ll not only be healthier, you’ll have some dance skills too.

Popular dance moves in Zumba are focused around Cumbia, Merengue, Salsa, Reggaeton, Mambo, Rumba, Flamenco, and Hip Hop. So, at the least you’ll get a basic understanding of some classic dances.

It may not turn you into an award-winning dancer, but you’ll have something to show off the next time someone asks you to dance.

The dances are not only set to Latin music either. Depending on the routine and instructor you could find yourself cha cha chaing to some 90’s inspired hip hop or dancing the salsa to a more modern tune.

Rules in Zumba are flexible and often times there are few rules, as long as you’re breaking a sweat and having fun, you’re doing it right.

Is Zumba Fitness Worth Getting Into?

Overall Zumba is a great aerobic exercise program. It can be tailored to suit anyone and offers some health benefits that can’t be argued with.

If you’re looking to get in shape, you enjoy dancing, or typical workouts aren’t your thing Zumba can be a great way to get motivated.

Even if public settings aren’t your idea of fun, or you’re not confident enough to try something new in front of people you can give it a go from your own house.

There’s no investment when you first start out and you can choose to do it for free forever, so you have nothing to lose.

You can also add Zumba into a workout regimen you already have, just to add variety and keep things interesting. You can do it once a week, or once a day.

No matter what your fitness needs are Zumba can work for you, so yes, we definitely thing getting into to Zumba can be worthwhile and beneficial, not only to your health, but to your confidence level too.

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