Fitness kickboxing and Zumba are workout programs that commonly take place in groups and are set to music. Even if you're unacquainted with either form of exercise, you'll quickly notice that Zumba features hip shakes and shimmies, while kickboxing centers around kicks and punches. If you're looking for an up-tempo, full-body workout, either form of exercise can be the answer.
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Both Zumba and fitness kickboxing are conceptual descendants of aerobics. They both involve moving to music under the instruction of a group leader. Both are full-body workouts that focus primarily on cardio, but include a muscle toning resistance workout. According to health resource website Nutristrategy.com, both of these high-impact aerobics options will burn about 500 calories per hour for a 155-lb. person.
The moves in a Zumba workout derive from Latin dances such as salsa and rhumba. They focus on core muscles and smooth movement, and have a definite flair of sexiness and rhythm. By contrast, the moves in fitness kickboxing come from martial arts like Muay Thai and karate. It's more of a full-body workout and includes a more aggressive attitude.
You can do either workout without any props whatsoever, and both Zumba and Tae Bo offer an array of workout clothing branded with their logos. However, fitness kickboxing often includes working out on punching bags, which may or may not require you to wear boxing or mixed martial arts gloves. This can make fitness kickboxing more expensive to start.
Although you might expect a kickboxing workout to be higher impact than a dance workout, this is not the case. For both programs, the stress in the routine comes from repetitive motion and bouncing on the floor, which can be hard on your ankles, knees and hips.
The information above is for fitness kickboxing, a group fitness option available in most American health clubs. Competitive kickboxing is a combat sport that includes incredibly vigorous workouts and a certainty of being punched in the face. Although it's a perfectly viable fitness option, it's not something you should consider if you're just looking for a group fitness workout.