Running might be the easiest, most effective form of cardio, but it won't help burn any calories if the monotony turns you off. If you need something more fun and seems more like a night out partying with your friends rather than a workout, you'll want to try Zumba. It's gained so much popularity that you can find a class at most gyms, so give it a try! Here's what to expect at your first class.
What Is Zumba?
Zumba is a fusion of Latin and international music combined with a heart-pumping cardio workout. It was founded in the '90s by Alberto "Beto" Perez, a fitness instructor from Colombia, when he forgot his music and improvised a traditional aerobics class with Latin music and moves that he grew up dancing to. The exhilarating class has a party-like atmosphere with the focus on having fun. There are no wrong moves — as long as you're moving and keeping your heart rate up, you're doing it right!
Certified Zumba instructor Michele Schmidt explains that 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 booty! 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 Michele recommends 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. Michele says, "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."
What to Wear
Come dressed in comfortable fitness 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.
How Often Should You Take Zumba?
Michele recommends "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.
Will Zumba Help You Lose Weight?
Because Zumba is an intense cardio workout, it can help a person lose weight as well as increase muscle tone. 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," Michele says. "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!'"