If you want to start and stick with an exercise routine, it pays to find something that you actually enjoy doing. One of the top complaints that people have about staying fit is that they get bored with standard exercise options like running and strength training. When things become too repetitive, they seem to take a lot longer to complete. Nothing is worse than constantly checking your watch during a workout, so it’s well worth it to keep trying different things until you find something that keeps you occupied. With its upbeat music, fast-paced moves and party-like atmosphere, Zumba might be just what the doctor ordered.
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to be aware of Zumba. Since being developed during the 1990s, the dance fitness program has become one of the best-known workout programs around. Zumba classes are now taught at more than 200,000 locations in 180 countries, and around 15 million people attend weekly Zumba classes. Pretty much no matter where you go, you’re sure to see advertisements for nearby Zumba classes, which attract everyone from kids to seniors.
The origins of Zumba are pretty interesting. It all started when a Colombian aerobics instructor named Roberto “Beto” Perez was about to start a class and realized that he had forgotten the tape that included the standard aerobic music mix that he usually played for students. In a bind, Beto grabbed a tape of merengue and salsa music and told his students that they were in for something a little different. Beto ditched his typical routine, added in some freestyle moves and Zumba was born. Right away, Beto could see that his students were invigorated and energized by the non-traditional instruction. He realized that he had stumbled upon something pretty special.
Today, Zumba is a dance fitness program that incorporates dance and aerobic movements that are made to energetic music. Musical styles that are used include salsa, hip-hop, merengue, mambo and soca. In a typical class, slower music is interspersed with faster music, and movement speeds are adjusted accordingly. As a result, Zumba is a form of interval training, as students go from periods of intense activity to periods of slower or more moderate activity over the course of an hour.
The Zumba craze hit its height during the mid- to late-1990s, which is when you could hardly turn on a TV without seeing an infomercial for the popular dance fitness program. It remains popular today, but more people attend classes than rely on DVDs at this point. If you are looking for a fun, effective way to get more aerobic workouts, Zumba is something that is well worth investigating.
Celebrities That Rave About Zumba
Zumba mostly became popular because it’s a lot of fun. It’s the kind of workout that you can have a great time doing with friends, so it’s become a sort of group activity. Like many fad diets and fitness routines, however, Zumba’s popularity has been somewhat helped along by its associations with celebrities. Through the years, numerous celebrities have come forward to express their love of Zumba. Not surprisingly, these celebrities have overwhelmingly been women. They span many ages, which is also par for the course among non-celebrities. In a typical Zumba class, you’ll find everyone from young adults to much more elderly folks.
So, which celebrities have sworn by Zumba workouts in the past? A few examples include:
Vivica A. Fox – The famous actress is probably the celebrity that is the most closely associated with Zumba, and for good reason: She used to star in their infomercials. However, Fox isn’t just paid to endorse Zumba. The famous actress sincerely enjoys it and has been known to rely on it to stay in shape. Indeed, Fox has been quoted as saying, “Zumba is perfect for my lifestyle. You’re working out, and you almost feel like you’re not working out.”
Jennifer Lopez – Lopex is one of those lucky women who seems to become more fit and attractive the older she gets. She is known for incorporating many different types of exercise into her daily routine, and Zumba has been a go-to option for her at various times through the years. Lopez has stated that she appreciates the way in which the dance fitness program helps to alleviate stress, and she has said that she always feels good and happy after completing a session.
Kirstie Alley – Longtime actress Kirstie Alley has famously struggled with her weight through the years. Not surprisingly, her struggles have prompted her to try many different diets and exercise programs. Funnily enough, she got into Zumba not through a famous celebrity pal but through her very own sister. As it happens, Alley’s sister is a Zumba instructor in Kansas. While visiting her years ago, Alley attended one of her sister’s classes and instantly fell in love with Zumba. It is unclear whether or not she still takes Zumba classes, but she clearly enjoyed them for an extended period of time.
Jordin Sparks – Best known for her appearances on American Idol, Jordin Sparks is another outspoken advocate for Zumba. She has stated in the past that she enjoys doing a variety of exercises to stay fit, but she has been quoted as saying, “I also do Zumba. It’s so much fun!” Her enthusiasm for Zumba is very much in line with how others feel about the program.
Madonna – The Material Girl has also reportedly been known to attend Zumba classes from time to time. She is well into her 50s now and still looks amazing, so it obviously works well for her.
Getting Started with Zumba
One of the best things about Zumba is that it is so easy to get started. Unlike many fitness programs, which require you to invest in a lot of expensive gear and equipment, you don’t really need much to get started with Zumba. The biggest hurdle is finding a local class that is convenient enough for you to attend on a regular basis.
Many versions of Zumba are available, so it can be a bit confusing for beginners. Some places offer beginner’s Zumba classes, but the truth is that everyone just has to go through a period where they don’t really know what they’re doing. A class that is geared toward beginners isn’t going to be much different than a standard class.
The first step in getting started with Zumba is finding a convenient class in your area. Zumba is offered at gyms, fitness studios, rec centers and many other places. Regardless of where you live, there are sure to be plenty of options in the vicinity. Find one that works for you, and sign up.
What You’ll Need
You don’t need a whole lot to get started with Zumba. Some things to bring with you to class include:
• Moveable, breathable clothes. Ideally, they should be designed to wick moisture away from the skin too. Consider wearing layers, so that you can shed them as you get warmed up during your workout.
• Lightweight, flexible cross-training shoes. Some people prefer to wear dance shoes. Thanks to Zumba’s popularity, it is easy to find dance-aerobic and dance-fitness shoes. The Zumba brand even offers a line of shoes.
• A water bottle. As you proceed through your workout, make sure that you are staying properly hydrated.
• A towel. You will break a sweat while doing Zumba.
• A heartrate monitor. This is purely optional, but it is a great way to determine just how much of a workout you are getting. You can focus on maintaining a specific heartrate for optimal fat burning.
Tips for Attending Your First Zumba Class
The typical Zumba class runs about an hour long. They are usually fairly casual in terms of how people are arranged. You can expect to walk in and simply choose a spot.
Some tips for making the most of your first Zumba experience include:
• Introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell them that you are new. That way, they can pay extra attention to you to guide you along more closely.
• Choose a spot near the front. Your first instinct may be to go to the back, but it will be harder to watch the instructor. Remember, the instructor mostly gives visual cues–not verbal ones–so it’s important to have a clear view.
• Push yourself. You get as much out of Zumba as you put into it. Just make sure that you’re having fun too.
• Start slowly. Aim for about two classes per week at first. Later, you can move up to take three to five classes per week.
Recommended Zumba Products
Lay the foundation for success with Zumba by investing in these helpful products:
• Zumba Fitness Incredible Slimdown DVD System – For less than $20, you can be the proud owner of this terrific set of DVDs. This system includes five DVDs that include dozens of workouts. The set also comes with sole control wraps, which slip over your shoes to allow you to move, slip and slide more easily.
• Zumba 101 Workout DVD – Starring Beto Perez, the founder and creator of Zumba, this DVD covers all of the basics, so you can give the workout a whirl from the comfort of home. Perez demonstrates the basic steps that are used across most workouts. Step-by-step instructions make it easy to get the hang of things.
• Zumba Sole Control Wraps – If you’d rather not invest in actual Zumba dance-fitness shoes, these wraps are a nice alternative. This set comes with two pairs, and they slip right over regular shoes to give you an increased range of motion.
• Feelin’ It Samba Pants – This is just one example of the many Zumba-brand workout clothes that you can buy. The nice thing about these pants is that they are nice and baggy, but the cuffs roll up and can be secured in place with a strap.
• Zumba Women’s Fly Print Dance Shoe – Here’s one example of the many comfortable and stylish Zumba brand shoes that are available. Featuring breathable mesh and optimal support, these shoes make it easy to fly through your Zumba routines.
• Zumba Toning Sticks – Weighing in at 2.5 pounds each, these ergonomic toning sticks are filled with sand and make a nice rattling noise when being used. They are a lot like maracas, and they add to the fun of working out while helping you to tone your arms.
• Zumba Fitness Core – If you own a Nintendo Wii or XBox, modernize your workout with this fun game. It includes 45 pre-set classes and more than 40 songs. There’s even a belt that you can use to holster your Wii remote while working out.