Yes, it’s again the beginning of a new year and time to put your resolutions to work. If you’re like millions of Americans, being healthy probably is one of your top resolutions. So, if you are going to the hit the gym soon and keep the momentum going, why not try a new workout?
Have you ever tried Zumba? It is a Latin music-infused dance workout. The story behind Zumba is a great immigrant success story. In 1999, Beto Perez immigrated to the United States from Colombia with nothing but a love for dance. He made a living as an aerobics instructor.
One day, he walked into his aerobics class and realized he had forgotten his aerobics music. So he grabbed his own music CD from his backpack, which contained the popular Latin music he had grown up with. He improvised moves based on Latin dances he knew as the class went along. Everyone loved it and asked him what this was. Thus, a new workout called Zumba was born.
Today, Zumba is more than a dance workout. It has exploded into a global phenomenon. More than 15 million people around world are taking Zumba classes each day. Zumba has evolved into a global brand and Zumba Corporation has expanded into music and apparel.
How I Got Hooked on Zumba
I started taking Zumba classes about five years ago, when I got bored doing the same kind of treadmill routine and was looking for something new to keep me interested in going to the gym. One of my girlfriends couldn’t stop talking about how much fun she had at Zumba classes, so I finally decided to give it a try.
My first Zumba class was crowded. Like other newcomers, I stood at the back of the room, a little unsure of what to expect. Once the music started, however, everyone was transformed. Granted, not all of us knew what we were doing, but everyone had a big smile on her face. The one-hour class passed before I even noticed.
That first class converted me into a Zumba aficionado. I like Zumba so much that I became a certified Zumba instructor and I’ve taught Zumba in my spare time for a few years now (the opinions here are entirely my own and not sponsored).
Everything about Zumba can be summarized in one word: sexy. A typical Zumba class covers some of the most popular Latin dances such as salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and samba. Zumba creators modified those dance moves so it’s easier for average Joes to follow, but kept the sensual appeal of those dances.
During a regular Zumba class, you will do many chest pumps and hip twists. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this popular Zumba dance video. Most people who take Zumba classes are women. These moves are very effective at toning and firming many women’s problem areas such as their core and bottom.
Besides the physical benefits, these moves have psychological benefits. They make you feel sexy and confident about your body, about being who you are. In my former instructor’s words, these moves are meant to “bring out your inner goddess.”
The music for Zumba classes is also sexy. A typical Zumba class will run through 12-15 songs, depending on how many official breaks an instructor wants to take. Most songs are Latin music. Some instructors, including me, also throw in some hip hop, Bollywood music, and even belly dance music into the mix. The only criteria we look for in music is something with good rhythm that is fun and will accommodate all the sexy Zumba moves.
Here are a few of my all-time favorite songs for my Zumba class. I invite you to check out their steamy music videos:
- Shakira, “Chantaje ft. Maluma”
- Lo/PitBull, “On the Floor”
- Enrique Lglesias/PitBull, “I Like it”
- Shakira, “Hips Don’t Lie”
- Shahrukh Khan/ Deepika Padukone, “Love Mera Hit Hit”
How to Prepare for Your First Zumba Class
If I’ve successfully convince you to give Zumba a try in the New Year, here are a few pieces of advice to prepare you for your first class:
Arrive early. Zumba is usually the most popular fitness class in any gym, so there’s usually a line of people waiting to get in. Some gyms limit the number of people for a Zumba class by requiring you to register at the front desk and get a number. So to secure your spot, you want to arrive at the gym early.
Another benefit to arriving early is that you can do some extra stretching before the class. If you’re like me and sit behind a desk all day, some parts of our bodies get stiff easily. Yet Zumba usually works those areas hard. So a good stretch beforehand will be helpful.
Wear comfortable clothes in layers. When you start a Zumba class in winter, you want to wear something to keep your body warm during the warm-up music. But don’t forget that Zumba is a high-impact workout. I can easily register 5,000 steps on my Fitbit after a Zumba class.
You will get hot and sweaty pretty quickly. So you may want to wear a tank top or a short-sleeve under your long sweatshirt. As for pants, you don’t have to invest in anything expensive. Something that is made of stretchy material will do. I usually wear my yoga pants to Zumba class.
Be picky about shoes. Don’t buy a pair of brand-new sneakers with lot of tracks and spikes at the bottom. Since you need to be able to glide along the floor during some Zumba moves, shoes with soft and smooth bottoms are the best. I have a pair of old sneakers so well-worn that there are no tracks left at the bottom. I won’t wear them anywhere else, but it’s perfect for my Zumba class.
Bring plenty of water and drink as often as you need to. You will sweat a lot during a Zumba class, so it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. Some hardcore Zumba instructors don’t take official water breaks during the one-hour class. Therefore, it’s important you take your own water break as often as you need to.
Go have some fun and be healthy!