A Dance, Dance Revolution – The Need-To-Know
Zumba (pronounced zoom-bah) started in Columbia as an improvised fitness routine based on traditional salsa and meringue moves. After accidentally creating a dance-fitness routine on the fly, creator Alberto Perez began formally choreographing the workout we now know as Zumba. The style quickly caught on and, recognizing its potential, Perez brought his unique program to the U.S. in the early 2000s.
Zumba offers a serious cardio workout in a club-like atmosphere— minus the shots of Patron, of course. The upbeat tempos of salsa, cumbia, reggaeton, flamenco, samba, and (more recently) hip-hop inspire heart pumping moves from hip twists to punches. The shimmy-and-shake movements of Latin dance require participants to constantly engage nearly every muscle in the core as the body moves in rhythm with the music.
Getting Into the Groove – Your Action Plan
Zumba comes in several styles, including Aqua Zumba, where water resistance makes for a more challenging workout. For those who prefer dry land, Zumba Toning utilizes a maraca-like "toning stick" and incorporates more upper body-specific movements. Zumba also offers maternity classes as well as programs that cater specifically to the baby boomer and pre-tween crowds.
But Zumba comes with a few safety precautions. Instructors recommend wearing shock-absorbent cross-trainers with sufficient ankle support to avoid injury. Some complain the complex movement sequences are too difficult for beginners, and slips are not uncommon. Make sure to tell the instructor about any past or current injuries, as Zumba can be modified to fit some joint-specific limitations. Once they give the OK, it’s time to get out on the dance floor!