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Zumba Compared to Jazzercise

author image K. Gregg Elliott
K. Gregg Elliott is a conservationist, writer, dancer and exerciser who has been writing since 1998. She has been published in "California Coast & Ocean," "Bay Nature," "BARK" and "Best Women's Travel Writing 2007." Elliott has a Master of Arts in science policy from George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in biology from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Zumba Compared to Jazzercise
Jazzercise and Zumba are both dance fitness classes. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Although many types of aerobic exercise incorporate elements of dance, Jazzercise is one of the oldest and most successful. According to the Jazzercise website, they have "taken moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training." Zumba has spread worldwide since its founding in 1999. Both are group classes that use elements of dance but are specifically geared toward the exerciser, including many who are trying to lose weight. As its name suggests, Jazzercise grew out of the jazz dance tradition for its routines, whereas Zumba was born out of Latin music and dance.


According to the Jazzercise website, jazz dancer Judy Sheppard Missett founded Jazzercise in 1969, and it has become a "worldwide phenomenon" taught in 32 countries. Jazzercise sells franchises to trained instructors. Zumba, on the other hand, was "accidentally" created by Beto Perez when he improvised a dance exercise class in his native Colombia. The soul of Zumba is Latin dance music, rhythms, and moves, but classes also include other sounds and styles, depending upon the taste of the instructor. The Zumba website states that as of July 2009, 75 countries host Zumba classes.


Jazzercize instructors receive fitness-approved choreography (in the form of a DVD) every 10 weeks. They then teach these routines, which can be memorized over time. The routines are built on basic jazz dance or exercise steps, shown on their website. Once you know these, you can master any Jazzercise routine. Zumba, on the other hand, is much more informal. Their tagline is "Ditch the workout, join the party!" Every class includes Latin dance steps, mostly salsa and merengue inspired. Instructors create their own routines, which may or may not be consistent from one class to the next. Often the choreography goes with the music, but individual instructors will usually vary their music during each class.


Both Jazzercise and Zumba draw on a wide variety of music genres to accompany their routines. Jazzercise generally has a more jazz or pop influence, but may include ballads, country, and hip hop. Zumba is definitely Latin-influenced, incorporating elements of merengue, salsa, and reggaeton in most classes. In both classes, the individual tastes of the instructor will dictate the particular mix of songs and music types.

Instructor Certification

Jazzercise instructors must pass a rigorous training over two to three days. Every certified instructor holds a franchise, but substitute instructors may also be trained to work for franchisees. Training includes information on health and fitness and CPR, as well as the jazzercise routines. Zumba certification can be accomplished in one day by attending one of the many regularly scheduled trainings held around the world each month. You need to be enthusiastic, coordinated, creative and outgoing to pass. Zumba instructors can give classes in any venue with appropriate facilities.

Types of Classes

Jazzercise franchises offer a wide variety of exercise classes. There is Jazzercise for kids, low-impact, toning, weight training, and step. Zumba currently offers six different types of instruction, including classes for seniors, kids, toning, and Aqua Zumba in the water.

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