Who has not heard of Zumba? Answer, nobody! Even the most unco-ordinated blokes I know have heard of Zumba. It is in every church hall, gym and dance school. With humble beginnings i.e. the Colombian dance and aerobics instructor Alberto “Beto” Perez, forgot his traditional ‘aerobics’ music and had to improvise, Zumba Fitness is now the largest franchised dance based exercise class on the planet. The brand have expanded and moved into Zumba toning, circuits and even Aqua.
I have to be honest, Zumba is not something I do on a regular basis and I have only experienced it a couple of times. However I know many people who regularly take part and love it. My dance background is from in contemporary dance which I love and that is my preferred style of dance. I know many dance teachers who enjoy teaching Zumba and it has brought new wave of people into their schools who have never tried dance before. This is fantastic because whatever form of dance you do, part of you is expressed through dance that sometimes never gets the chance to in our daily lives. Some of you will hate the sound of it and that is fine. It is not for everyone, just like running or perhaps spinning. Even still, it is good to know the facts before you completely disregard it.
Summary – As I have already mentioned, Zumba it is a ‘Latin inspired dance-fitness exercise class’. Similar to aerobics, it is set to music but does not follow strictly follow the typical ‘1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8’ bar rhythm. Because the music roots are in Latino and other international music, the rhythms are different and create an exotic, easy going feel. It is more about how the music moves you, giving a more of a relaxed ‘party’ atmosphere. Styles of dance which heavily influence the movements are Latin, Salsa, Merengue, Belly Dancing and Hip Hop. There are also lunges and squats along with other perhaps more traditional exercises thrown in with the newer programs such as Zumba Toning and Zumba in the Circuits.
Good for? Beginners to exercise or those who have not exercised in a while, looking to loose weight and get moving. Great for maintaining weight and fitness levels. Improves co-ordination (which is a severely under rated physical benefit of exercise) and increases your cardiovascular fitness (lungs and heart). Also great for the thousands of people out there who detest conventional fitness classes or find them to serious.
Be careful if… you have ankle, knee or hip injuries or any heart conditions. Having said that Zumba is not as high impact as other forms of exercise such as running and in general probably not as intense as spinning. Before you go, as always, check out your injury/problem with a doctor and see what they say.
Good tip – go at least three times so you get a good feel for it. Go to an instructor who has a dance background and perhaps teaches dance as well. That way you will have an instructor who can perform the moves really well and inspire you. Trust me, I have heard from friends on the training courses that some of the people who become teachers are perhaps not as good as you would expect!
Try going with a friend so you can enjoy and embrace the party spirit and go into the class with an open mind. Be ready to throw your inhibitions on the floor and loose your self in the music and dance. If you are still unsure feast your eyes on the clip below and you will get a feel of what it is all about!