Inspired by the dance and music of Latin America, Zumba isn't your typical aerobics class. Claiming to take the "work" out of working out, the Zumba fitness method is meant to feel more like a party than an aerobics class. But even though you might feel like you're at the club, you're still getting all the same benefits of a challenging exercise session, including fat and calorie burning, muscle toning and improved aerobic fitness.
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Fat and Calorie Burning
At its core, Zumba classes are intended to provide a large calorie burn through aerobic activity. Depending on body weight, sex, fitness level and other physical factors, the number of calories you burn in a typical Zumba class will vary, but most people will burn between 400 and 600.
The class involves interval training, alternating periods of high-intensity effort with more difficult moves performed at a faster pace with periods of recovery at a lower intensity. This style of workout burns more calories and is better at burning fat than steady-state cardio.
Read more: Zumba Facts
Zumba is both a dance class and a fitness class, so don't be surprised if you find yourself moving from a fast meringue step to a long, slow set of push-ups on the wall, or doing several sets of squats followed by plyometric jumps.
Aside from its heart-health benefits, Zumba provides a workout for the whole body. From head and shoulder rolls that loosen up the neck and warm up the upper body, to footwork that strengthens and stretches calves and ankles, this fitness method touches on nearly every muscle and joint.
Hips and abs receive particular attention in the Latin dance style, and as with many dance exercise classes, thighs and butts often end up being sore the day after class. Flexibility is not ignored in a Zumba class either, with warm-ups and cool-downs a regular part of Zumba programming.
Fun for Everyone
Zumba classes are winning over fitness enthusiasts across the world as Zumba instructors are being certified to teach classes in record numbers. Owing to popular demand, gyms and studios worldwide are offering classic Zumba classes, as well as Zumba Gold for senior citizens, Zumba for kids and even Aqua-Zumba done in swimming pools. Because Zumba is based on music and dance, it seems to speak a universal language that people of all nations can relate to.
There is no large learning curve in a Zumba class, either. New participants may receive small-scale steps rehearsals before some longer dances, but in most cases, first-timers can simply jump right into a class and follow along with the instructor. Zumba instructors are trained to explain little with words, and instead use their body and hand motions to indicate which steps will follow, to keep class plans flowing and easy to follow. Whoops and hollers are a regular occurrence while the dancers have legitimate fun dancing to infectious rhythms.
Read more: Origins of Zumba