Every week 14 million people meet in 185 countries to dance up a sweat in over 140,000 official Zumba Fitness locations. Add in the men and women sweating to the beats of Zumba Fitness DVDs (over 12 million have been sold) in their own living rooms and the numbers are even more staggering. There’s no question it’s popular, but just how did this Latin dance craze take over the fitness world?
In the mid 1990s, fitness instructor Beto Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He went to his car, grabbed his personal mix of salsa and merengue tunes, and improvised a session that combined Latin dance steps with basic aerobics moves. It was wildly successful, and Perez continued teaching his new fusion class in Colombia. Perez moved to Miami in 2001 where he teamed up with entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion to create Zumba Fitness, and they began producing and marketing DVDs. The trio went on to establish the Zumba Academy to license instructors to teach classes, designed Zumbawear apparel, and compiled branded music mixes.
Today, Zumba Fitness has become a global lifestyle brand that, according to official company statements, “fuses fitness, entertainment and culture into an exhilarating dance-fitness sensation!” Incorporating easy choreography that seniors, kids, and every age group in between can follow, Zumba is just plain fun. Classes feel more like a party than a typical group exercise session, blending upbeat world rhythms with moves to create a total-body celebration.
Ready to join in the fitness fun? Here’s what you need to know.
Expect to dance… Zumba classes last 60 minutes and incorporate elements of merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaeton, and hip-hop, as well as exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats. Licensed instructors will lead you through a choreographed routine that repeats a series of movements. More like moving to music on a dance floor—swaying from side to side, moving in a circle, or stepping up and back, with added arm movements for flair, there’s no step counting in this non-stop session.
…And sweat! A relaxed warm-up of head and shoulder rolls to loosen the upper body and neck transitions into a total-body workout. Fitness standards like squats and plyometric jumps are sprinkled in among fancy footwork and sultry moves that will strengthen your ankles, calves, and hips, engage your core, and tighten and tone your thighs and butt muscles. You can expect to burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories while jamming out to the latest Latin beats and hottest chart toppers, including Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.
It’s addictive! First-timers often find themselves struggling to keep up, but the fiesta atmosphere will leave you wanting more. Rest assured, the more often you show up the sooner you’ll feel like you’ve got the choreography down, and you can focus on having fun and torching calories at the same time. Locate a class near you to join the party!
Have you tried Zumba yet? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below!