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So what's this Zumba thing, then?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Zumba is EVERYWHERE at the moment. So much so that it seems like it’s a bit faddish and trendy. I guess it is – but that’s only because IT IS AWESOME.

I’ve been going to classes since the start of the year and am a bit obsessed. The Rosemary Conley class that I’ve been going to on and off for the past few years replaced some of their aerobics and salsacise classes with Zumba, and I was intrigued, so went along. I haven’t looked back – it’s so much fun! I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you find exercise boring.

Do not let these people scare you off.

What is Zumba?
Zumba is Latin-inspired classes, combining dance & aerobic exercises. Classes generally play several songs, with a different routine for each – the choreography incorporates influences from hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.

Why is it AWESOME?
If you’ve done aerobics before, you’ll recognise some of the steps, like box steps, lunges, squats, kicks, jumping jacks, etc. But Zumba is a lot more varied, and often much faster paced. You can still work at your own level, but because the moves are more dancey, and because the routines change for every song, it’s a lot more exciting. I did an aerobics class after six months of doing Zumba and was bored stiff!

How do I know which class is right for me?
You should be a bit wary about the popularity. It only costs about £150 to do a Zumba qualification course, and so there are many instructors out there who ONLY have this qualification, without a fitness instructor or exercising to music qualification to back it up (which all gym-endorsed and Rosemary Conley endorsed instructors have) OR the necessary health & safety training. I heard a horror story about someone at a class when a woman fell and broke her leg, and the instructor just told her to wait outside until she’d finished teaching!

I know. But don’t fret! Breaking your leg during exercise is pretty unlikely, especially if it’s taught properly. Just do a bit of research. Don’t be afraid to check out your instructor online, or contact them to query their qualifications. Or, go to a class sanctioned by an official body, like Rosemary Conley (which tends to be Zumba Gold - generally a bit slower paced and more aerobics based, but trust me, you still work hard) or at your gym. Or even see if you can sit in on a class, or do a trial session before making a commitment.

Does it work?
YES! Obviously if you are serious about losing weight you should be exercising 3 or more times a week, and backing it up with a sensible, balanced diet. But a class typically burns between 500 and 1000 calories (it’s considered ‘exercise in disguise’ according to Wikipedia), and trust me, you will SWEAT. But unlike aerobics, I don’t find that I get as achey while doing it and never feel as stiff the next day. It really loosens you up.

What should I wear?
Despite all the dance influences, it’s an EXERCISE class, so wear clothes suitable to work out in. I normally wear tracksuit bottoms and a tshirt or vest top. Some of the dances can be quite high impact so wear a good pair of trainers and a decent sports bra. There was a young girl (she looked about 15) at my other class last week wearing ballet pumps and denim shorts – definitely not suitable! Her feet must have been in agony.

How much is it?
It depends on the area and the instructor. My Tuesday class is Rosemary Conley and costs £6.50 a week, but that also includes membership of the Rosemary Conley plan – a weekly weigh-in and talks on diet tips and tricks. My Thursday class is just at a community centre near my work, and only costs £3.50 a week.

Is it easy?
Er, no! Not very – especially for people with no rhythm or coordination. But even if you are struggling to get the steps down in time with everyone else, you’ll still be bouncing around and working hard. Just enjoy it. Some of the moves are so ridiculous (I’m talking chest pumping and booty shakes!) that you can’t help but have fun. I don’t know anyone who has gone to a class who didn’t enjoy it, and at both my classes there are ladies (and one man!) of all shapes, sizes and ages.

Let me know if you have any questions – or if you’re loving Zumba as much as I am right now! There are loads of classes listed on Zumba.com so have a little look.


  1. I´m a big zumba fan myself! been doing it for about a year and a half and found out that the thing that matters the most really is the instructor. I´ve been to a few terrible classes which were so boring that I had a hard time finishing the class but then I´ve been to many that were absolutely amazing. I never regretted actually taking the time and looking for the best instructor as it pays off so well - the classes are fun and even though due to my workload I can only go later in the evening after a tiring day, I never feel lazy and always pretty much run to the gym:D

  2. I loved reading this post as I am a Zumba instructor and love teaching it as much as doing it. Fun fun fun!!

  3. It sounds like fun and a great way to burn the calories, keep meaning to look for a class in my area, will check with that link now! x

  4. Looks like a fun way to exercise, but I'm going to be honest, I probably will never pick it up. I never manage to do organized exercise.

  5. HA, those crazy people look enough to put anyone off! I've done a few Zumba classes and I really enjoyed it, but can't get to them anymore. There did always seem to be someone wearing denim shorts and flats - why on earth? It's an exercise class ferchristsake, wear some trainers.

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