“Ditch the workout, and join the party!” was Zumba’s rallying cry when it first burst into the fitness industry. A lot of people answered that call, and many reported that the change was the best thing they ever did for their health.
Decades later, Zumba is still going strong. We wanted to look into what makes Zumba such a phenomenon, so we did a little digging, and here's what we found!
Zumba got its start in the mid-1990s, when Colombian fitness trainer Alberto Perez arrived to his aerobics class and realized that he had forgotten to bring the music he needed. Flustered and with a class waiting, he went back to his car to pick out some of the music he had on hand. What he came up with was a lively mix of non-traditional salsa, rhumba, and merengue music, and the class continued.
Perez drew on his experience choreographing for local artists and combined it with moves he learned in salsa dance clubs. The class was wildly successful, and Rumbacize was born. Alberto formalized the class and took it with him to Miami in 1999.
By 2001, he had teamed up with cofounder Alberto Perlman and a childhood friend, COO Alberto Aghion to produce a demo reel that was picked up by Fitness Quest, which helped them market their product to an audience hungry for something to break the monotony of regular workouts.
Rebranded under the label Zumba, the class has gained an almost fanatical following. According to its website, 15 million people have shaken their booty to at least one Zumba class held in 200,000 locations in 180 countries. That’s a lot of happy dancers!
But does it work?
The question is not whether or not people would take to Zumba- after all, what’s not to love? The intoxicating beat of the music, the easy-to-follow dance steps, and the easily adaptable, highly variable routines attract thousands of people.
It’s easy to dismiss this as a fad, but a closer look shows that there are marked benefits and advantages to taking a Zumba class. To name a few:
1. It’s fun
We all know that the most effective workout is the one we enjoy enough to do repeatedly, and Zumba definitely fits the bill. In fact, that’s how it gets people so hooked on exercise. After all, it’s hard to get pumped about spending another endless hour on the elliptical, but it’s easy to feel a thrill of anticipation when you think about a night out dancing with your friends.
2. It’s social
Speaking of going dancing with friends, you can find all sorts of people in Zumba classes, and some have reported having started strong friendships right on the dance floor.
Furthermore, the social aspect is a kind of guarantee you will be able to be consistent with your workout.
Several studies show that one of the biggest factors affecting your ability to stick with something is the support from other people, usually a partner or a close friend.
Think of your Zumba mates as a dozen or so fitness buddies all rooting for you to succeed, and you’ll be hitting the gym without even considering slacking off.
3. It’s an excellent workout for beginners
Zumba is ridiculously easy to get into. There’s no special equipment to buy or talent to develop. Just sign up for a class, slip into some comfortable clothes and training shoes, and you’re all set.
Trainers make sure a class is easy enough to follow, even for those who have never taken it up before. What’s more, everyone is born knowing how to sway to music. You may find it hard to complete some of the more complicated sequences, but that’s just fine- you’ll be able to get it next time!
There’s no age restrictions or health restrictions for a Zumba class, either. There’s even a class for specially-abled people if they felt like joining in.
However, just because it’s beginner-friendly, doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. If you are experiencing joint or back pain, you may want to consult with your doctor first, and work closely with your trainer to ensure that you’re not making the injury worse.
4. It’s challenging enough for long-term fitness buffs
Zumba is easy to vary, just switch to a different song, or switch your pace, and viola, it’s a whole different workout. It’s great for seasoned athletes looking to stay in shape during off season and have a bit of fun too.
5. It eliminates calories and burns fat just as well as any good workout
Zumba classes are interval workouts, which means that they alternate fast-paced, intense sequences with moderate and low-intensity sequences. That translates to a more effective workout, torching around 600-1,000 calories during a 60-minute class.
6. It works and tones almost all areas of your body
On top of its impressive cardiovascular benefits, Zumba makes sure as many muscle groups as possible are getting in on the action. Your core, legs, arms, calves, shoulders, and entire upper body get a workout, contributing to the overall effectiveness of the exercise.
Zumba’s brisk pace makes it feel natural for your body to move around quickly, and because it utilizes music that’s blasting away at 145 beats per minute, it’s fairly easy to get to your target heart rate. This builds endurance, so you can keep on dancing!
7. It improves your flexibility and coordination
Anyone who has taken a dance class knows that you always come away a little better coordinated than when you began. Zumba does this too, and the improved coordination helps get things done more easily in real life.
Zumba is the dance craze that’s here to stay. It’s not just for show, either. This fun, high-intensity workout has holistic health benefits that make it worth at least a try for anyone looking for alternative workouts.