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What is Zumba? It’s a fitness-class craze that will put your dance moves on display and get the heart rate pumping. This cardio class is doable for all ages, ranging from beginners to advanced athletes, making it perfect for family fitness. In a Zumba class, you can expect to find easy-to-follow choreography and engage in a high-energy, inclusive dance workout. 

This Latin-inspired dance class incorporates traditional dances like merengue and reggaeton into a full-body workout. You can also expect other genres of songs like hip-hop and pop. How do you know what to do? Easy! The instructor completes a move and you are asked to mirror the dance steps. 

Not sure if you can join the party? Zumba instructors are everywhere in tons of different cities inside and outside of the United States. So grab your dancing shoes and get prepared for a calorie-burning dance party!

The Origin of Zumba Classes

Like many of the greatest creations in history, Zumba was created by accident. In the mid 1990s, founder and Colombian native, Alberto “Beto” Perez, was on his way to coach an aerobics class. He realized he had forgotten the typical tapes he used to teach his class. As a last resort, he ended up using the tapes he listened to in his car. The class loved the high-energy, Latin-influenced dance moves, which was a change of pace from their typical, monotonous aerobic workouts. 

After receiving high reviews from his “accidental” class, Beto decided to refine this globally-inclusive fitness program. Shortly after, he met two more Albertos, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, and the men officially coined the term, “Zumba.” While the name does not have any translated meaning, it is a fun word used to describe a high-intensity, exciting class. Zumba is noted today as a great alternative to running for cardio and a fun way to incorporate some different cardio into your wellness routine. 

Types of Zumba Classes

Since Zumba fitness classes have been around for over 20 years, it has had some time to evolve from the total-body dance party founded by Beto Perez. According to the Zumba website, today, you will find that there are 12 different types of Zumba classes! These classes range from Zumba Toning to Aqua Zumba even to Zumbini for children ages 0-4.

Class NameTargeted GroupDescription
Zumba“Everybody for every body”Total-body workout that incorporates conditioning, balance, flexibility, and a cardio workout.
Zumba StepThose looking for a higher intensity routingA workout meant to target your glutes and hamstrings with an additional cardiovascular challenge and calorie burning.
Zumba ToningThose looking for more weight trainingThose looking for more weight training
Aqua ZumbaPeople who are able to touch the bottom of the pool and those who are looking for a lower-impact workoutTake your dance moves into the water and reduce some of the impact off of your joints while using the water as natural resistance to tone your muscles.
Zumba SentaoThose looking for more core work and a high-intensity workoutThis Zumba class requires the use of a chair as your dance partner! A fun and involved way to get your heart pumping and feet moving.
Zumba GoldOlder adults and those looking for a modified Zumba ClassBe prepared to sweat and get your body moving in a modified way that targets older people with some physical limitations.
Zumba Gold ToningOlder adults and those looking for a modified Zumba class with light weightsIf you aren’t quite ready to give up the weights, but you still want a modified class, Zumba Gold Toning is made for you!
Zumba KidsChildren 7-11 years oldEngage children’s muscles with kid friendly routines through games, activities, and cultural exploration.
Zumba Kids Jr.Children 4-6 years oldGet going with a high-energy dance party for young children! Participants will be able to break down steps and engage in different games, activities, and cultural exploration as well.
ZumbiniChildren ages 0-4 years old and their caregiverZumbini was made to create a positive relationship with wellness between toddlers and their caregivers. You can take the music home and practice on your own as well!
Zumba in the CircuitThose who love a circuit workoutGet the metabolism pumping in a circuit-style class that incorporates dancing and strength training.
Plate by ZumbaPeople looking to boost their nutritional knowledgeWhile not an exercise class, this will teach you about healthy eating.

Is Zumba Safe?

With the wide variety of classes Zumba offers, there is a class that is safe for everybody. In fact, the American Council on Exercise¹ approves all of the classes that Zumba offers. If you do not feel comfortable participating in a traditional Zumba class, many other people will find comfort in one of the other modified classes like  Aqua Zumba or Zumba Gold. 

Additionally, a certified instructor leads these classes, which means someone is watching you to make sure you are moving properly. The trainer should take you through a warmup and cooldown. 

Pros and Cons of Zumba

As with any type of exercise, there are pros and cons depending on what you are looking for in your physical activity. If you are looking for a good cardio workout, Zumba could be right up your alley, but if you want something that is more focused on strength training, you may want to look elsewhere. 

Benefits of Doing Zumba

Lots of people find the health benefits of Zumba enticing. Here are a few popular ones we want to highlight. 

  • All ages are welcome: Whether you are 12 or 82, you can find a home in a group exercise class with Zumba. Zumba classes are offered from the age of 0 and have no age limit. Depending on your age, there are different classes that are tailored to best suit your needs. 
  • All levels of fitness can benefit: Maybe you are a pro flamenco dancer or maybe you are new to fitness, but with Zumba’s easy to follow dance movements you are able to get a good workout in and build up a sweat in any Zumba class. 
  • Unique cardiovascular workout: Cardiovascular fitness is important for your heart health and overall wellness. Since Zumba is known for getting the heart pumping, it makes it a fun and unique way to make sure you are working out your heart! 

Potential Disadvantages of Zumba

  • Minimal weight training: If you are looking for strength gains, Zumba does not incorporate many heavy weights, which makes it hard for you to build muscle mass. 
  • Can be tricky to follow: If you are not paying close attention, you may miss a movement, which could lead to potential injury.
  • In-person classes requires access to a fitness center: While there are plenty of Zumba videos on YouTube, you may only reap the benefits of an in-person class if you are a member of a studio or gym that offers it.

Pros:

  • All ages are welcome
  • All levels of fitness can benefit 
  • Unique cardiovascular workout

Cons:

  • Minimal weight training 
  • Can be tricky to follow 
  • May need membership at a gym for in-person training

Zumba vs Barre

While these two dance fitness classes are meant to give you a good workout and get your heart pumping, there are a few notable differences. 

A major difference is the branding of these two classes. All Zumba classes are tied back to the Zumba platform, whereas barre classes are run in different studios. For example, there is Pure Barre, Barre3 and many other local barre studios. This means there will be more variation from studio to studio, whereas in a Zumba class, you can pretty much expect a similar experience at most locations. 

According to the Pure Barre website, Barre workouts will focus on small movements that are meant to target and tone different muscles. In comparison, Zumba will engage you in more full-body movements and dance steps. This stems from Barre being rooted in ballet and Zumba’s origin coming from high energy, Latin dance.

Both should give most people a good workout that gets your heart pumping! Overall, Barre will likely have more isolated movements than Zumba. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to get your heart pumping and feet moving in a unique way, Zumba could be a great aerobic exercise for you! Zumba is marketed as a fun way to get an energetic and low impact workout by yourself or with your friends. Since you can watch classes online or go in person, their accessible platform makes Zumba an appealing option for all ages! 

What Is Zumba? Q&A

What is Zumba in simple words?

Zumba is a dance exercise class where you mirror the fast-paced dance movements of the class instructor. 

What are the benefits of Zumba?

Zumba is a great low-impact, fun workout that will help most people get in shape! One of Zumba’s highlights is that it has a class that is suited for all different comfort and fitness levels. 

How do you explain Zumba dance?

Zumba dance originates from Latin dance songs and movements. Be prepared to mirror an instructor and get your whole body moving as you dance to the rhythm of the beat. 

What is Zumba class like?

A Zumba class will often be high-energy and fun as people look to get some cardio and light weight work in while they dance with their friends. The class instructor will lead the class through different movements and you will be expected to mirror/follow. 

References

  1. American Council of Exercise Accessed October 13, 2023. 

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