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Zumba vs. Kickboxing

by 
author image Beverlee Brick
Beverlee Brick began writing professionally in 2009, contributing to various websites. Prior to this, she wrote curriculum and business papers in four different languages. As a martial arts and group fitness instructor, she has taught exercise classes in North America, Europe and Asia. She holds master's degrees in French literature and education.
Zumba vs. Kickboxing
Zumba vs. Kickboxing Photo Credit: LuckyBusiness/iStock/GettyImages

When you head to a studio class, you want results. Do you choose Zumba or a kickboxing format to burn calories, build stamina and improve heart health?

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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.

Commonalities

Both Zumba and fitness kickboxing are conceptual descendants of aerobics. They involve moving to music under the instruction of a group leader. You get a full-body workout in either format that focuses primarily on cardio, but may include a little muscle endurance building through squats or push-ups. According to health resource website Nutristrategy.com, both of these high-impact aerobics options burn about 500 calories per hour for a 155-lb. person. Of course, exactly how many calories you burn depend on your intensity, size and efficiency at doing the movements.

Read more: How Many Calories Does Zumba Burn?

Party Vs. Purpose

The moves in a Zumba workout derive from Latin dances such as salsa and rumba. They focus on core muscles and smooth movement, and have a definite flair of sexiness and rhythm while simulating a party in the fitness studio. By contrast, the moves in fitness kickboxing come from martial arts like Muay Thai and karate. Kickboxing is intense, heart-pounding and includes a more aggressive attitude.

Prop It Up

You can do either workout without any props whatsoever. Specialized Zumba classes, called Zumba toning, use weighted sticks, or light weights to give you an upper body experience. Fitness kickboxing often includes working out on punching bags, which may or may not require you to wear boxing or mixed martial arts gloves.

Impact

Although you might expect a kickboxing workout to be higher impact than a dance workout, this is not always 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. Talk to the instructor in advance if you have a joint problem as they can help you modify movements in either routine so you still get a successful workout.

How to Choose?

Both kickboxing and Zumba fit well into a well-rounded fitness routine. They burn a similar number of calories, rev your heart rate and have muscle-building potential. Ultimately, the workout you opt for depends on your personal preferences. If you want a club environment and enjoy dancing your way fit, Zumba is definitely for you. But, if you're the type that likes more traditional athletic moves and wants to get out a little aggression on the gym floor, kickboxing is for you.

Read more: Benefits of Cardio Kickboxing

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