It’s really not a secret to say that I can’t stand working out. There is always that little voice in my head repeating “I hate this” over and over during a workout session. Even when I was on a volleyball team, I dreaded the aerobic and strength training that we had to do outside of training to play the game. I’m not sure if anyone else can sympathize, but when I exercise for the purpose of exercising, time runs slowly and I feel like I will never reach any of my goals. Maybe I should have just learned to think about it differently; like think about the positive effects it has on the body or mind. Unfortunately, I can never get past the problem of being uncomfortable for a period of time every day to feel better… eventually. But I always did it anyways.
In all honesty, I never believed that I would be able to find a workout routine that I would enjoy. But I was so wrong. A few years ago, my friend invited me to go with her to a Zumba class. I told her I wasn’t interested, mainly because I had the idea in my head of exercising uncomfortably in front of a bunch of strangers. I purposefully avoided those types of environments. But she never stopped bugging me, so to shut her up I went to a class, and the rest is history.
Zumba – Spanish slang word for “buzz like a bee” or “move fast.” The word fits perfectly, describing the fast-paced beats of salsa, meringue, or flamenco music that pumps throughout the gym or studio. It’s a different environment that shows off the slogan, “Ditch the workout, join the party!” and is sure to live up to its fun standards.
It started when the father of Zumba, Alberto “Beto” Perez, forgot his usual music for one of his aerobics classes. Instead of cancelling the class, Perez dug through his bag to pull out a tape of salsa and merengue that he personally preferred to dance to. He made a lot of it up as he went along and his class loved it. They wanted more. Then the world wanted more.
Reports say that around 12 million people in 125 different countries practice the Latino-dance workout on a regular basis. But why is there such a huge following? What is it about this particular workout that makes it so popular? It’s just another dance routine right? Well, yes and no. As stated before, the dance routines are meant to be fast-paced and they are a much more different style than other aerobic classes perform. The Latin style automatically leaves room for personal interpretation, so everyone in the class moves differently to the sections of songs. And there is no judging. Seriously. Every member understands that each body moves differently and that some people are more comfortable to move certain ways than others. That freedom, combined with the up-beat and feel-good music provides the mental relief needed to just have fun.
Granted, the atmosphere is exciting and invigorating, but people want to know if it is a good workout as well. Recent studies have proven that it is a highly effective choice of exercise. Dance combinations provide a complete body workout, working everything from the feet, to the hips to the neck. In an average 42 minute class, most people will burn about 370 calories. The high-energy aerobics come in intervals, due to different paced songs and intensity levels, make it a great exercise to build stamina and help lose weight. There are also many different types of Zumba that have emerged throughout the years to accommodate different needs or a specific workout focus. Here is a list of the variety of Zumba classes to choose from:
Zumba Fitness – For everyone!
Zumba Step – For those looking to burn extra calories with toning and strengthening
Zumba Toning – For those who want to add strength to training
Zumba Aqua – For everyone, especially those recovering from injuries with low-impact
Zumba Sentao – Use chairs for full-body toning and cardio
Zumba Gold – For older adults and fitness beginners
Zumba Gold+Toning – For older adults & fitness beginners that adds strength training
Zumba Kids – For ages 7 to 11
Zumba Kids Jr. – For ages 4 to 6
Zumbini – For children under 3 and their caregivers
Zumba Circuit – For those who want to add circuit training
I love to go to Zumba classes now. To me, it feels like I am not working out at all. I’m just having a good time. It’s a huge difference in my mind from what working out should feel like. I have always known working out to be tiring, boring and painful. With Zumba, I have learned that I can just let loose and be comfortable with my body. Oh, yea… and I sweat. A lot. And I usually end up exhausted when it’s over, but I can’t wait to do it again.