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The Basics of Zumba & 20-Minute Exercise Workouts

author image Cat North
Cat North began writing for the Web in 2007. Her work appears on various websites such as WORK.COM and Her writing expertise includes dance, fitness, health, nutrition, media, Web, education and business. She holds a Bachelor of Science in radio, television and film from the University of Texas and a Master of Business Administration in computer information systems from City University.
The Basics of Zumba & 20-Minute Exercise Workouts
A group of people in a zumba class jumping. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Zumba is a kaleidoscope of dance moves inspired by Latin, Creole and African dance traditions that is intended to help you get in shape while dancing. You can enjoy a mixture of zesty and colorful dances, such as cha-cha, samba, merengue and mambo, as well as hip-hop and Bollywood-inspired dance steps, in Zumba dance-fitness routines. Participate in Zumba classes for fitness or learn the basics of Zumba on your own and perform 20-minute Zumba exercise workouts at home.

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Before participating in Zumba, perform a few warm-up exercises. From a standing position, take a deep breath and stretch your arms above your head. Breathe and stretch several times to get oxygen flowing throughout your body and to loosen up your back, shoulders and arms. To warm up and loosen your core, next perform standing hip circles for two to three minutes. Slightly bend your knees for easier movement and control. It’s not necessary to make hip circles dramatic to effectively warm up the core muscles. Get legs ready for Zumba by marching in place for a few minutes, suggests Zumba creator Alberto "Beto" Perez in his “Zumba 20-Minute Express” video, and slowly add rhythm to marching by allowing your hips and upper body to move with the music beats. Gently but rhythmically march forward, backward and around in a circle to prepare for Zumba Latin dance moves. Warm up for approximately five minutes.


From a standing position, take fairly large, alternating side steps to begin salsa dancing. Each time you step out to the side with one foot, shift your weight and return it to a standing position for support so that you can side step with the other foot. Once you get the hang of the salsa side steps, begin stepping to a four count beat. Add body rhythm next by slightly moving your hips with each move. Hip and upper body movements should be natural and not cause strain. Practice hip movements separately by imagining your pelvis moving in a circular motion like they would if you were using a hula hoop, suggests Then gently use the circular movement to help propel you with each salsa step. If you start to feel pain with hip and upper body movement, stick with foot movements only. Practice basic salsa steps for five minutes.

After you’ve leaned salsa side step moves, add back and forward salsa steps, suggests the “Zumba Fitness Basic Steps Demo” via YouTube. Move in basically the same way you would for side steps, but travel back and forth to the front and back. You can perform repetitive back steps or front steps, or you can continuously alternate between a back step and a front step. Add variety by traveling forward, backward or to the side with continuous salsa steps in one direction at a time. Mix it up with different salsa moves and perform the dance for about five minutes.

Mambo Cha-cha

Combine mambo and cha-cha dance moves for a basic Zumba five-minute routine. Basic mambo moves typically involve a pronounced step forward, backward or to the side with a weight shift. The cha-cha involves either moving steps or mambo steps in any direction with a quick three-step move in between. Perform cha-cha steps to a four count beat, according to Mambo cha-cha is frequently used in Zumba exercise workouts because it’s a more basic cha-cha dance. To perform it, mambo forward and backward and cha-cha step in between, according to the “Mambo Cha Cha – Fitness with Bradley” video via YouTube. Practice variations of mambo cha-cha for approximately five to ten minutes during a 20-minute exercise workout.

Official Zumba 20-Minute Workouts

You can find official Zumba Fitness 20-minute workout DVDs, as well as live class listings on the Zumba website. You can also find free Latin dance workouts online via such sites as Exercise TV. You can combine the Exercise TV Latin dance short video segments for a complete 20-minute workout.

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