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Zumba Exercises

author image Nicole Vulcan
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.
Zumba Exercises
Typical Zumba moves include squatting, lunging, kicking and side-to-side shuffling. Photo Credit: A75/iStock/Getty Images

Zumba Fitness’s beneficial workout can burn hundreds of calories per session. And since it's so focused on dance, it also provides you with moves you can use outside the fitness studio. If you don't want to pay to attend a Zumba Fitness class, look for free classes when your gym is offering tryout sessions. Or learn the moves through online videos or free DVDs from your local library. When you've gotten the hang of it, you can incorporate this action-packed form of fitness into your life in multiple ways.

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Crank Up Your Stereo

Zumba Fitness incorporates Latin dance steps such as salsa, cumbia, reggaeton and samba, as well as other international styles such as belly dancing and hip hop. If you've done more than a few Zumba Fitness classes, chances are you favor some of those steps over others. That's where having your own living room dance party can come in handy; with no instructor guiding you, you'll get to focus on only the steps you like.

Download Zumba music online or simply pick your favorite upbeat salsa, cumbia, reggaeton or other songs from your collection. Then create a playlist of five to 10 songs that will last at least 20 to 30 minutes, and dance your heart out. Just don't forget to do some stretching at the end, as you would during a normal Zumba Fitness class.

Hit the Dance Club

There's another big benefit to learning Zumba Fitness: it's going to help you master moves that you can bust out on the public dance floor. The larger your city, the more likely it will be that you'll have lots of options for Latin dance nights, reggae dance hall events, bhangra night clubs or other internationally focused dance events. Look for free events featuring the type of music you most enjoy during Zumba Fitness. Or show up for the last hour or so that a club is open, when the bouncers are more likely to let you in without paying a cover. Then stay on the dance floor as long as you can, rocking out your best hip hop or samba moves -- as long as your glutes will tolerate it.

Focus on Strength Training

Beyond the cardiovascular benefits you'll get from dancing, most Zumba Fitness classes also include elements of strength training. What you'll probably notice most during a standard Zumba Fitness class is the amount of lunging and squatting you'll do. At home, try mimicking these movement patterns by doing two or three sets of 10 to 15 body weight squats and lunges. In Zumba Fitness, these are typically done after a significant warm-up, so be sure to walk, jog or dance for a few minutes beforehand. Add in a little more challenge to the legs by doing a set of 10 to 15 high-knee jumps and 10 to 15 high kicks with each leg, as you might see during some Zumba Fitness routines.

Zumba Toning

More advanced Zumba Fitness classes include Zumba Toning and Zumba Step. During Zumba toning, you'll hold a set of "toning sticks," basically a set of lightweight dumbbells. During Zumba Step, you'll have an aerobics-like "Rizer" that you'll use to step up and down.

For a more challenging workout at home, consider adding in one or both of these options to your living room dance party. Hold the toning sticks while your raise your arms overhead and to the sides, or perform curls and triceps kickbacks while you perform a "grapevine" step moving from one side of the room to the other. Use the Rizer to step up and down repeatedly, or add in a little kick at the top of the movement. As a general rule, you'll burn more calories in Zumba Fitness by moving your arms as high and low as you can, moving up and down more, or just generally moving your body with more fervor, reminded Zumba Fitness instructor Staci Boyer in an article in "Shape."

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