Millions of people in 125 countries have been doing Zumba to improve their fitness level, to lose weight and to make exercise as part of their lifestyle.
But why is this exercise programme considered a very effective tool to get almost all types of people into fitness?
I haven't been dancing for the longest time, but I was curious about this growing fitness trend. I signed up for a Zumba instructor training early this year so I could also teach the exercise to my curious clients.
Now, I have found the answers to my questions after teaching and doing several classes, backed up by latest research and feedback from other Zumba exercisers.
How can you prevent injuries by joining this class? Is Zumba a great exercise for weight loss? Can Zumba be considered a complete workout?
Get medical clearance first. If you have medical issues concerning your heart, lungs, bones and muscles, it's best to consult your physician about the most appropriate and effective workout for you. If you really want to join a Zumba class, ask for medical clearance.
Know your Zumba instructor. Check Zumba.com to see licensed instructors who teach Zumba near your area. Zumba Fitness requires licensed Zumba fitness instructors to get additional certifications like American Council on Exercise (ACE) or Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) so they can give quality and effective fitness classes.
A one- or two-day Zumba training is not enough to address the needs of various demographics, such as the elderly and those with special conditions. Credible instructors know how to choose the best Zumba moves and modify the pace and exercises for clients.
Make sure you use cross-training shoes-and that you use the proper exercise flooring (similar to the flooring of dance or exercise studios) to avoid common injuries you might get from Zumba, such as ankle, hip and knee injuries, because of the repetitive lateral movements.
Effective calorie burner
According to the recent Zumba study sponsored by ACE and led by Dr. John Porcari, a person can burn an average of 369 calories (9.5 calories per minute) after doing a 38-minute class with an average heart rate of 154 beats per minute.
They also compared the calorie burn with other exercises studied in the past, and discovered that Zumba could help one burn more calories than step aerobics and cardio kickboxing.
Of course, the actual calorie burn will depend on the energy you get from the class, the instructor, the type of music, dance moves and your actual mood.
The study also noted that Zumba is a good weight-control exercise because it is an interval training (going back and forth between high- and low-intensity workout) where you burn more calories during and even after workout, even more than a steady-state exercise like jogging.
Complete fitness programme
Just like any complete fitness programme, the class starts with a five- to 10-minute warm-up and ends with a cool down where flexibility moves are usually done. Resistance training moves such as lunges and squats are usually incorporated in the class either as warm-up or during the main workout.
You use your upper body the whole time as well, and this gives you more chance to develop your coordination. Most dance moves like salsa or merengue have equivalent fitness moves.
The whole workout is considered as a cardio workout that will help improve your heart health. You use your core almost the whole time to execute the moves gracefully and correctly, so you do not injure yourself, especially the back.
The complete fitness components make the participants and the instructors feel so good after the workout.
Most participants can stay in the programme long-term, that's why they can control their weight and maintain and continue to improve their fitness level.
Zumba fitness uses fantastic Latin and even popular music like "Party Rock Anthem" to make the class enjoyable.
The fitness company produces new dance moves DVDs and music mix CDs to be sent to licensed ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) instructors every other month, so participants can experience a new workout after several weeks.
Zumba has simple and easy dance steps and various movement modifications so there are no wrong moves. This empowers the participant to move more, with improved form with each class. The moves can even vary with each class, but to the same music.
Zumba can also be considered as effective therapy for some emotional hardships and stressors such as loss of a loved one, personal difficulties, because during the class you can manage to smile, be with other positive people and enjoy a great way to express yourself.
Other forms of exercise feel more like a punishment than an energizer and stress your body and mind. You can't even smile because you're pushing yourself too much during the workout. This can lead to early workout termination.