Want to know why Zumba is all the rage? Or are you already hooked on Zumba and want to know what it takes to teach a class? Our interview with Michele Schmidt, a certified Zumba instructor, answers all of your burning questions.
FitSugar: What is Zumba?
Michele Schmidt: Zumba is a fusion of Latin and international music combined with a heart-pumping cardio workout that's easy to follow and fun to do. It was founded in the '90s by Alberto "Beto" Perez, a fitness instructor from Columbia, when he forgot his music and improvised a traditional aerobics class with Latin music and moves that he grew up dancing to.
FS: What makes it such a great workout? Will it help a person lose weight?
MS: Zumba is an intense cardio workout, so it can help a person lose weight! Typically an hour long, classes include interval training and strengthening movements (like squats and lunges) to maximize your calorie and fat burn, as well as to improve overall body tone. Proper diet and nutrition is also an important part of any weight loss program — many Zumba teachers have said that "you can't out dance a bad diet!"
Learn beginner tips for your first Zumba class and how to become a Zumba instructor after the break!
FS: Why do you think people are so crazy for Zumba?
MS: Zumba feels like a dance party and not a workout. The music, routines, and overall exhilarating feel of the class are fun and addicting, so people stick with it and bring their friends. Students also see results, such as weight loss, increased muscle tone, improved coordination, and a more healthy and positive attitude from participating in Zumba classes.
FS: For those who've never taken Zumba, what does a beginner need to know before taking a class? Do you have any tips for newbies?
MS: Beginners and students of all fitness levels are welcome in all classes. Students should come to class with an open mind and be ready to sweat, move, and shake their bootie! New students may want to arrive to class a few minutes early and let their instructor know they're a newbie, so that he or she can provide any additional cues during the class. Most new students tend to stand in the back, but I recommend standing near the front or in a spot that has a good view of the instructor. It typically takes a student three classes to feel like they "get" movements and routines.
FS: Do you have to know salsa or have a dance background in order to take a class?
MS: No! Zumba is designed to be fun and easy to do, emphasizing a party atmosphere with no wrong moves. As long as you're moving and keeping your heart rate up, you're doing it right!
FS: Are there certain classes designed specifically for beginners?
MS: There are no classes designed specifically for beginners, as Zumba instructors are trained to teach to all levels of students. However, there are six different types of Zumba classes. For instance, Zumba Gold is a class that offers less intense, lower impact moves and more modifications. There's also Aqua Zumba, which is a water-based workout. Visit Zumba.com to learn about all six types of Zumba classes. Instructors also have their own unique styles, so it's important to try out a few in your area to find one that jives with you.
FS: What should you wear or bring to class? Do you need special dance shoes?
MS: Come dressed in comfortable aerobic attire that's easy to move in and can handle sweat. Wear sneakers that support dance movement — think side-to-side movements and pivots rather than simple front-to-back movement. Good shoes can include cross trainers, dance sneakers, or even running shoes with a worn out tread. Students should also bring water and a towel.
FS: How many days a week do you recommend taking Zumba classes?
MS: Many of my students who are new to Zumba come to class once or twice a week, depending on their commitments to other fitness programs. I recommend starting out twice a week so your body and mind will begin to remember routines, and you'll build your strength and endurance. Students that get really addicted may attend class from three to five times a week. However, like any fitness program, it's good to balance out cardio classes with strength training, stretching (yoga), and rest days.
FS: How long does it take to become a certified instructor? What was the training like?
MS: Anyone interested in becoming a Zumba Instructor must attend a Zumba Instructor introductory training course — Zumba Basic Steps Level 1 or Jump Start Gold. Courses are typically seven- to nine-hour, daylong programs taught by Zumba Education Specialists (ZES) that are held locally worldwide. Certified instructors must keep their license current through a variety of courses offered by the Zumba Academy or by joining the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) to receive monthly updates on music and routines.
FS: How do I find a class taught by a certified instructor in my area?
MS: Visit Zumba.com and click on "Find a Class." Type in your area code or city and state (or country) to search the database of Zumba classes taught by ZIN instructors.
FS: Are there any good Zumba DVDs you'd recommend if you can't make it to a class?
MS: I love the Zumba Fitness Exhilarate DVD collection ($90). This is a seven-disc DVD collection that features seven total-body workouts with varying levels of intensity and one pair of one-pound Zumba Fitness Toning Sticks. This is a great way for students to participate in Zumba Fitness at home and at their own pace.
Source: Flickr User Cimm