Zumba Works Out

by on January 23rd, 2015
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The lights are down low, and a disco ball sprinkles sparkles on the floor like sequins. Black speakers the size of small fridges beat out the music. The atmosphere is energizing. On stage, two lean instructors in lime and black outfits, turn, twist and shimmy to the beat of the Latin rhythm. At floor level, a group of about 30 (mostly women) try to keep up the pace. It’s easy to forget I am here to work up a sweat.

This is the strength of Zumba®, a highly marketed fitness program, which estimates its own following at around 12 million people from 125 countries around the world. Creator, Alberto Perez, has designed classes to make you forget you are exercising, over-coming one of the psychological deterrents to exercise-exercise can be boring.

Essentially Zumba® is a high energy-fast paced aerobic dance program. The three to four minute routines are based around musical numbers from upbeat contemporary music, very much like an organized disco. Dance moves from traditions as varied as salsa, bhangra and bellydance are clearly recognizable. A typical class lasts about one hour.

Primarily a cardio workout, Zumba® incorporates some interval training principles. Interval training boosts the metabolism by switching between high and low levels of exercise intensity. In Zumba®, this means that a fast speed dance routine might be followed by one of a slower pace. Interval training is one of the best ways to loose weight. Zumba® boasts a calorie burning rate of around 500 to 1000 calories per class. Personally, I noticed little variety in the tempo.

More recently, Zumba® has also diversified to incorporate a range of levels and styles to suit all ages and even has swim classes. Classes now have also began to include strength focused exercises and light weights.

Despite all this, I suspect Zumba® could be just another passing exercise fad. For one thing it lacks the social aspect that other dance forms have. The class faces the instructor and has little interaction with each other. The fast pace and mood lighting mean you are less aware of others around you, very unlike a party. I also think that the routines are in danger of becoming just that-routine. Still it beats regular aerobics hands down.

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