Craving its hot, hip and energetic vibe, novices and experts alike are filling Zumba classes across America. With roots in Latin dance, Zumba maximizes fat burning and body toning while minimizing workout procrastination and yes, social inhibitions. Much more than a fitness wave, Zumba’s combination of dance and fitness is a guaranteed work break that will not only keep you healthy, but also put a smile on your face.
What is it? Zumba is a dance-fitness exercise program that uses motivating music and has a party-like atmosphere. The dance moves are primarily Latin, such as salsa, merengue, cha-cha, reggaeton and samba, but also included hip-hop, calypso, soca, belly dance, African dance and swing. Zumba began in the mid 90’s when Celebrity Fitness Trainer, Beto Perez, created a class based on his knowledge and training in dance and fitness and love for Latin music.
What can it do for you? “A person usually burns up to 800 calories or even more during a one hour session,” said Denise Nelson, certified fitness instructor, CEO of Heartbeat Fitness, LLC and Filmmaker at Cinema Coast Films. The strength and toning it provides are very different because students are using muscles that are traditionally not used every day. “Personally when I workout to Zumba, I notice a giant difference in my CORE strength as well as my cardio endurance,” she says. “It’s simple enough that anyone can do it, but once you learn the moves and terminology you will really get into it,” states Denise. “Zumba is appropriate for any age group and fitness level and many centers also offer Zumba Gold, which caters to active older adults.”
Where do you begin? Classes are everywhere, from fitness centers to community centers. There are no requirements to begin a class and no specialized equipment, only loose comfortable clothing and tennis shoes. “Men, women and children all take part in Zumba” says Denise. “It’s noncompetitive and provides a great way to step out of a busy day and into a fun and welcoming atmosphere while sneaking in a workout at the same time. I think the benefits are not only Cardio, but they now have Zumba Strong which combines both cardio and strength in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for those who want more from this workout.” She also suggests visiting Zumba.com where you can purchase a video series or find a class with a certified instructor in your area.
What is a Zumba break? Although Zumba moves are choreographed, the steps aren’t really important as long as you keep moving and dancing to the music. Just fifteen minutes to a half an hour can get your heart pumping and you can burn up to 200 calories. It also breaks up long stretches of sitting at a desk or routine cardio like walking. So a Zumba break is whatever you want it to be, but as long as you are taking what you’re learning in class and applying it to when your body and mind need a break and a breather.
Why should you take a Zumba break? As busy career professionals, you don’t have a lot of time for fitness activities and Zumba is a perfect solution to that problem. Once you’ve tried a few classes, you’ll be hooked and you’ll be familiar with moves that you can do on your own time in short bursts or breaks. This will not only get your energy going and calories burning, but you’ll get revived, learn some great, fun steps and condition your cardio endurance,” says Denise. “The music is very uplifting so it really does feel like you’re at a party. You need to bring a great attitude and open mind to class because it’s so different from the traditional aerobic-based programs. And,” she stresses emphatically, “the only requirement is to have a good time.”
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.