Zumba is now internationally known as a fun, calorie-burning dance-exercise program. This exercise format is frequently featured in the news. Many people are intrigued by this workout that feels like you are attending a party. As more and more people learn about it they are being drawn to Zumba classes all over the world.
When new students come to my classes they have many questions. The class is a fusion of fitness, aerobics and several types of dance styles. This may create some confusion as to what to expect. Do you wear clothes for dancing or exercising? Do you have to know how to dance? Do you have to be in shape?
Here are some answers to the top five questions asked about taking a Zumba class.
- What is it? Many people are not sure if it is hip-hop dancing, latin dancing, or some new form of aerobics. The concept for the class was actually created when Beto Perez, a fitness and dance professional from Columbia, forgot his music for a traditional aerobic class he was about to teach. Improvising, he used music that he had on him which was his favorite latin music. Needless to say, the class was a hit. One of the characteristics of a traditional aerobic dance class is that the music usually has a monotonous steady beat. In contrast, Zumba uses regular songs with lyrics, choruses and changes in rhythm. The class is a combination of dance and fitness moves. The dance portion is 70 percent latin using such steps as salsa, merengue, and reggaeton. The rest may be a combination of other world rhythms such as bellydance, African or hip-hop. The fitness moves may include muscle toning exercises such as squats, bicep curls and plyometric jumps or running in place. The emphasis of the program is to teach choreography that is simple and easy. Zumba also affects the participant mentally by releasing stress and creating joy with its party-like atmosphere. Another unique characteristic of Zumba is that it is usually taught using visual cues so that the students can immerse themselves in the music.
- What if I am out of shape, uncoordinated or cannot dance? Whenever somebody is new to exercise or trying out a class for the first time I tell them to talk to the instructor to make the instructor aware of this. Then I tell them to do whatever they can do. Some people start out doing only ten minutes of the class and then increase it each time they repeat the class. Students can even sit out some songs to rest. The steps and moves can be modified by trading high impact for low impact. For example, instead of doing the jumps just step in place. A non-dancer will learn how to dance quickly. The dance steps are repeated class to class. After a few weeks even an uncoordinated person will become more adept at dancing. If someone is still intimidated by the class they can look for a Zumba Gold class which is taught slower.
- Can I start the class on any week? Many people are not sure if they should join a class that has already been established. Most classes are taught on an ongoing basis and perhaps a few are taught with limited sessions. This means that new students just jump right in! The format is taught in simple easy steps and new students should be able to improve their skills in a few weeks.
- What do I wear to class? It seems it should be obvious to wear exercise clothes to this class. However it is the dancing that causes some confusion. This is a high energy class and you will sweat. Wear comfortable clothes that will keep you cool. Fitness wear that stretches and allows you to move easily is the best. In addition, bring plenty of water to drink.
- What type of shoes do I wear? The best shoes to wear are cross-trainers or dance-fitness shoes that have little or no tread on the bottom of the shoe. Shoes that have multi-directional support and have some shock absorption are best. Save the heels for your ballroom lessons.