Zumba: Jazzercise for the New Millennium

By Rebecca Jones

With obesity reaching epic proportions in America many people are trying to find alternatives to traditional exercise. For those of us that haven’t enjoyed working out since Richard Simmons was all the rage in the 80’s there is a new workout craze that is as fun as it is effective. Zumba was created in the in the mid 90’s buy fitness trainer “Beto” Perez. While teaching aerobics in his native Colombia a last minute music emergency inspired him to create moves inspired by the Latin music he loves rather than traditional aerobics music. In no time this no form of exercise got exported worldwide and today at fitness centers, school gymnasiums and living rooms some 12 million people are Zumbaing themselves healthy. Here’s what you need to know about this new fitness trend.

What is Zumba

Zumba is very similar to a dance class but with a lot of cardio work thrown in. One instructor will lead a group of people through movements based on traditional Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, Reggaeton, Flamenco and Samba all set to a fun Latin music soundtrack. Don’t worry; these classes are designed for people who have no dance experience so all the steps are explained ahead of time and there is enough repetition that even the clumsiest of beginners can get moving and have a good time.

Where to Sign Up

Zumba classes are now offered at most major gym’s and fitness centers. If you already have a gym membership chances are that you will be able to take classes for no additional charge. Zumba is also showing up at schools, community centers and yoga studios where the average price is about 15-25 dollars for a one-hour class. To make these classes even more accessible for people of all fitness levels many off-shoots are sprouting up. There is now Aqua Zumba, a low-impact version a called Zumba Gold, Zumba for kids and a muscle-toning version as well. If you prefer working out in the privacy of your own home there is also a set of videos available for purchase.

What to Wear

One of the great things about Zumba is that you do not have to buy any equipment. All you will need when you show up to class is comfortable clothing, a bottle of water, a towel because you will definitely work up a sweat, and thin soled sneakers. Stay away from tradional running shoes they are made for forward movement only and they can get in the way when doing the lateral movements so common in a Zumba workout.

What to be Careful of

Just like when starting any new fitness regime it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before enrolling in a Zumba class. Don’t let all the fun you will be having fool you this is one fast paced high energy work out. Because of the types of movements used in Zumba it will not be for everyone. Peopl with hip and knee problems, women who are pregnant or anyone with a heart condition will probably have to sit this one out. Don’t forget to start out slow; before getting swept away in the dance moves get comfortable with the new movements. These classes can get very crowded so get comfortabke with the space around you to avoid kicking legs and flailing arms. Most importantly have fun. These classes are made for people that want to enjoy getting up and moving and while enjoying good music in a party like atmosphere. You don’t need to nail each step or head for the top of your class as long as your enjoying yourself you will have an easy time committing to a healthy more active lifestyle.