Zumba started out as the new fad, but after over a decade on the market, it’s proven its staying power. Zumba helps you lose weight by providing a fun and social class that focuses more on having fun than burning calories. Students often become fangirls (and fanboys) – instead of looking at their next Zumba class as a chore to get through, they rave about their new-found obsession.
If you attend a gym that offers Zumba classes, you may have noticed participants lining up outside the door waiting for the class doors to open. They are decked out in crazy colors, sparkly accessories, and the Zumba logo from head to toe. They’ll be stretching to get ready, silently practicing a salsa move, or going over a complicated combo with friends.
Why is Zumba such an effective workout for weight loss?
Zumba is a Great Interval Training Exercise
First of all, Zumba classes often meet the standard definition for HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. Each song is 3-5 minutes long, and classes combine fast, high-impact and high-intensity songs with slower, more danc-y numbers. This process of consistently raising and lowering your heart rate burns more calories and more fat that steady-level exercise. In fact, according to Shape Magazine, a good HIIT workout kicks your body into a higher fat-burning mode for up to 24 hours after you finish exercising.
Zumba Keeps You Motivated
Another reason Zumba is effective is that it keeps participants interested. Instructors often change their playlists, so after a few weeks you get new songs and new routines. This rotation keeps your mind engaged as well as your body – it’s not the boring counting of reps or miles that you might find in other kinds of exercise. Classes use both popular Latin music, such as salsa and reggaeton songs you’ll hear if you have a Spanish radio station in your area, as well as current pop favorites played on Top 40 stations.
With other classes, it’s easier to burn out and lose your motivation. The ever-changing approach of Zumba classes keeps you interested longer.
Zumba is Social
Many kinds of workouts are solo exercise, but Zumba is great for social butterflies because class participants often build friendships that extend past the studio’s workout room. The party atmosphere is great for making new friends and having fun, even with complete strangers. (If you’re an introvert, don’t worry, you typically can do your own thing in your own space and not interact with others!)
Customize Your Zumba Workout to Your Fitness Level
As your fitness level increases, so can the intensity of your workouts. Many routines offer low- and high-impact versions, such as half-jacks in place of full jumping jacks. True beginners can walk in place when they get winded, or participate in every-other-song. But the nature of Zumba leads you to want to drive yourself harder, completing more dances with increasing intensity and more style.
Even if the instructor doesn’t provide alternatives, the dance background for a Zumba class makes it easier for you to adapt the routines to your own levels. Some ways to reduce the intensity are to focus on your legs and not do the arm movements; to maintain contact with the floor (similar to walking in place instead of doing high knees); and to make your movements smaller. If you want to increase your workout, exaggerate your movements, get your body off the floor, and work your arms as much as possible.
Types of Zumba Classes
Zumba also offers something for everybody. In addition to the main Zumba classes, the following options are available:
- Aqua Zumba – dance moves in the pool reduce impact on your knees and other joints and keep you cool in hot weather. The resistance of moving against the water provides additional fitness benefits such as muscle toning.
- Zumba Gold – a lower-intensity class with additional breakdowns (explanations of the routines) is perfect for newbie exercisers as well as older participants. Gold classes usually do 3-4 less songs in a one-hour class due to the higher level of explanation of the dance moves, which also gives you a bit more rest between songs.
- Zumba Toning – while still a cardio class, Zumba Toning incorporates toning sticks (or light hand weights) that are worked into the routine by the instructor to provide muscle toning as well as calorie burning. Zumba toning classes help students achieve better muscle definition while still having a Latin-infused party atmosphere.
- Zumba Gold Toning – this is a combination of Zumba Gold and Zumba Toning, giving newer/older participants the benefit of light weight training as well
- Zumbatomic – The Zumbatomic program is designed specifically for kids aged 4-12, with its own music and dance moves designed to appeal to children and tweens. Classes are often split between younger students (Lil’ Starz) and older kids (Big Starz) so that moves and music are appropriate to the children’s age.
- Zumba Sentao – Sentao is the newest flavor of Zumba, and incorporates dance moves with a chair.
Have you tried Zumba, and did you love it or hate it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. To find a Zumba class in your area, visit the official Zumba website or check with local gyms and dance studios to see if they offer Zumba classes.