Have You Joined the Zumba Party?

If you're ready to kick up your heels and party, you're ready for Zumba®.  It isn't just the latest fitness craze; it's a way of transforming fitness into pure fun.  With a combination of Latin music and dance moves, Zumba has soared to the top as the hottest way to get fit.  So, are you ready to join the Zumba party?

Zumba started in the mid-90s when fitness instructor, Beto Perez, forgot to bring his usual music tapes to the aerobics class he was teaching.  He improvised by grabbing the Latin music tapes in his backpack and instantly, his class turned into a party. That party spread to the rest of the world once he and his partners trademarked the name (which means "to buzz like a bee or move fast") and started a global company.  Now, Zumba classes are taught in more than 50,000 locations and in 75 countries.  He's sold millions of DVDS, a line of clothing, music CDs, accessories and more. 

What's a Zumba class like?  Jennifer Nielson, a certified Zumba Instructor in Portland, Oregon, says, "It's a super high-energy mix of dance-fitness that blends steps from international dance and music.  It includes dance, squats, and lunges that provide cardio training and toning.  It's an interval-training workout that uses real music with varying rhythms.  With traditional aerobics or step classes, the music is designed to keep up a steady pace and beat throughout the whole class.  Zumba is different."

Do you need a dance background to give Zumba a try?  "Not at all," Nielson says. "It's perfect for every fitness level and age because it adjusts the intensity to where you are.  If you're new to fitness, we offer lower intensity steps.  If you're a dancer, we tailor it up for a higher-intensity workout.  We even offer Zumba Gold® classes for older adults or people who are new to exercise or recovering from an injury."

Zumba instructors prefer to call it a "party" rather than a workout.  That's because they know most people don't really want to exercise.  People love to dance, though, and that's why Zumba is so popular.  Nielson says, "It doesn't feel like exercise.  It feels like fun."  Don't let the party atmosphere fool you, though.  A high-intensity Zumba workout can burn up to 900 calories per hour.  Most classes are designed to last one hour, but 30 and 45 minutes classes are also available for "lunch hour" workouts and quickies. 

Is it a trend that's here to stay?  Nielson says, "I've only been teaching Zumba for a few months but already, I have more teaching offers than I can keep up with.  There are more requests for classes all over the world than there are instructors to teach them."  Considering how long Latin dance has been around, it's a wonder Zumba's only just catching on.