Of no other fat-loss activity -- eating less, walking on a treadmill, doing sit-ups -- can it be said that participants eagerly count the minutes until their next opportunity to lose weight. Zumba, a form of dance instruction combining powerful interval training with beats from Latin America, India, Brazil and the Caribbean, stirs profound enthusiasm among its adherents. They buy official clothing and dance-specific shoes, attend three-hour Zumba-thons and, somewhere along the way, find pounds disappearing, too.
Preparing to Lose Weight
Document your weight before your first Zumba class, advises Zumba founder Beto Perez in “Zumba: Ditch the Workout Join the Party! The Zumba Weight Loss Program.”
Calculate a healthy weight for your height: A standard measurement height and weight chart generally allows 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of your height and adds 5 pounds for each extra inch to determine the midpoint of your ideal weight range. Aim to weigh no more than 10 percent higher than this midpoint.
Take body circumference measurements with a cloth tape measure. Measure your abdomen, thighs, hips, biceps, chest and calves.
Dancing as Exercise
Bring bottled water, a small towel, workout clothes, and tennis, cross-training or dance shoes to your workout. Be prepared for an hour of exercise in disguise that will work your core and burn 9.5 calories per minute, or 570 calories in a one hour workout, according to a study sponsored by The American Council on Exercise
Follow the instructor’s verbal cues on what to do for each song. Begin with a warm-up song that often includes easy marching or isolation exercises for the arms and hips that preview song choreography to come. Throw yourself into the fast rhythms and catch your breath on the slow rhythms; the instructor will follow interval-training techniques to maximize fat burning during your 60 minute workout.
Drink water before the class, sip during the class and drink a glass or two after exercise, Perez recommends. Chocolate milk or a sports beverage will help you rehydrate quickly after an intense workout.
Attend at least three Zumba classes weekly to burn 1/2 pound per week. A daily Zumba workout will burn at least 1 pound per week.
Nutrition and Weight Loss
Eat fresh fruit or yogurt about an hour before class to add glycogen, a form of carbohydrate that provides fuel, to your muscles. Avoid high-fat snacks and meals, which will slow you down during class, Perez writes.
Reduce your daily calorie consumption by 500 calories to lose an additional 1 pound per week. Cut calories by eating smaller portions of lean protein, such as eggs, chicken, fish, turkey and low-fat dairy products. Eat three servings a day of carbohydrates obtained from beans, bananas, yams and brown rice, and unlimited amounts of low-calorie fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, asparagus, eggplant, mushrooms, parsnips, pears, peppers and spinach.
Weigh yourself once a week and record the figure in a journal or spreadsheet. Also update your body measurements weekly. A reasonable weight loss goal is 1 to 2 pounds per week.