*This post was written by a Start Healthy contributor.
Although lifting weights and running on the treadmill are great forms of exercise, they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re interested in a dance fitness class that provides numerous health benefits and feels like a party, Zumba is the perfect fit for you!
What is Zumba?
Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Pérez during the 1990s. Pérez, an aerobics instructor, forgot to bring his regular music to class one day. He happened to have cassette tapes of Latin dance music—salsa and merengue—and decided to freestyle for the entire hour instead of canceling. His class loved it so much that he decided to create a new genre of exercise—Zumba. Zumba classes are typically about an hour long and are taught by licensed instructors. The music comes from the following dance styles: cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, reggaeton, soca, samba, hip hop, and tango.
After dancing for ten years, I felt like becoming a Zumba instructor was the natural next step. I went to zumba.com to find out what the process was like, and quickly signed up for an all-day “Basic 1” training at a local gym. The ZES, Zumba Education Specialist, taught us the four basic rhythms of Zumba—salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and cumbia. We also learned how to cue the movements and choreograph routines. When I started teaching at my college’s recreation center, I quickly noticed numerous health benefits. My stamina was incredibly high, leg day at the gym became a piece of cake, and I was instantly in a better mood after teaching a class.
10 health benefits of Zumba
Full body workout
Some exercises only target one area of your body, but not Zumba. You’ll move your entire body—from your head all the way down to your feet. What makes it even better is you barely feel it happening because Zumba doesn’t feel like hard work, just fun!
In just one Zumba class, you could burn up to 600–1,000 calories. Your leg muscles and glutes work the hardest, due to the squats and Latin dance moves Zumba incorporates. Since there is a lot of movement going on, some of which might be new to your body, don’t be surprised if you wake up a little sore the next morning. That just means it’s working.
Boost heart health
Zumba combines anerobic and anaerobic benefits, meaning it raises your heart rate and helps you maintain a good cardiovascular respiratory system. These benefits are important for increasing your endurance during a workout.
Improve coordination/dance skills
Not the best dancer? No worries! Zumba uses many of the same movements throughout the routines. Once you start attending classes frequently, you will pick them up and be able to follow along easily. Like they say, practice makes perfect.
Everyone gets stressed from time to time, but not everyone knows how to relieve their stress. Zumba allows you to dance the stress away. It gets rid of all the worries from the day because you’re so focused on the high-energy moves.
Improve your mood
If you’ve had a bad day, Zumba is a great way to boost your mood. After exercising, many people describe feeling euphoric or having a “runner’s high.” This feeling comes from the release of endorphins during a workout, which trigger positive feelings throughout the body. They are also called your body’s “feel good hormones” and have been linked to reducing depression and anxiety.
Suitable for all ages/intensity levels
Zumba welcomes people of all ages and accepts the fact that everyone moves differently. That’s why there are modifications. So, you can either amp it up or take it down a notch, depending on what’s right for your body. Also, there’s really no right or wrong way to participate. As long as you’re trying your best and having a good time, you’ve perfected Zumba.
Zumba is one of the most social workout classes because it almost feels like a party. Many attendees are regulars and like to stand in the same spot of the room every week. Also, the instructors make routines where the participants can interact with each other. So, it’s easy to get to know one another and become friends with your fellow classmates. The Zumba community is extremely welcoming and friendly, so don’t be intimidated.
It has variety
No Zumba class is the same. Every instructor brings their own flare to the music and movements, making each class is unique. You can find whichever style or instructor fits your needs the best and become a regular attendee. Also, instructors often change up their routines so you’ll never get bored.
There’s no way you’re going to stick to your workout routine if you don’t like it. Since Zumba is so high energy, it’s easy to motivate yourself to come each week. Many people say they have so much fun dancing that they forget they are actually exercising.
Ready to try it for yourself? Use this website to find a Zumba class near you, or check if your local gym offers them.