If you've ever had a sleepless night and you were stuck flipping through channels on your TV, you may be very familiar with an "exercise craze" called Zumba. On television, it looks a little intimidating, as huge classrooms of people “shake their bootie” in ways you may have never attempted, and fear that if you did you'd throw your back out. Furthermore, they're all doing it in perfect synchronization. So, you think that there's no way Zumba could possibly be for you.
But let me attempt to change your mind. Zumba is quite possibly the most fun I have had working out in, well, maybe ever. When you go to a class, be ready to laugh at yourself ... or take a friend with you so you can laugh at each other. It will feel awkward, and you will look ridiculous. But so what!? Just about everyone else in the class looks awkward and ridiculous too, but it is so much fun that you won't even care. And, as you show up week after week you’ll find that you are able to move in ways you never thought you could.
Zumba is a very low impact cardio workout that engages every muscle in your body (including your face from smiling). Like any workout, you get out of it what you put into it. So, whether you're a professional dancer or an 82-year-old grandma with two left feet, you can still get your heart pumping and your muscles moving based on how intensely you engage. It is difficult to find a good low impact cardio class these days. As one who has over-abused my knees and suffers the degenerative consequences, I can happily endorse Zumba for the knee sensitive among us.
The class I’ve begun taking at the Roxborough Y has participants that range from college kids to a grandmas. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was sweating. No one except instructor, Christe Lee, was doing it all perfectly; and that was perfectly fine.
Zumba is not going to give me the muscle mass I get from lifting weights, and it is not going to give me fighting skills I may acquire from martial arts or kickboxing class. But, Zumba is a worthy cardio workout, and it is so much fun it will make you want to come back to the gym for more. For many people, that element of fun is exactly what they need.
Personally, I would not invest any money in buying Zumba videos unless I were going to get certified in instructing it. You lose the fun factor when it's just you in front of the TV; and what makes me give Zumba "5 stars" is the fun factor. I should also mention that I have never heard Latin music fused with so many different kinds of other music! There was swing, Asian, hip-hop, pop ... and dance moves from each genre mingled into the choreography. I have a bit of experience in Swing dancing, so when the big band and the "jive" made their way into the experience, I finally felt comfortable. I could have done that track all day.
So in summary, here is why I think you should start taking a Zumba class:
- It’s fun
- Good cardio workout
- Low impact - doesn’t destroy the knees
- Good calorie burn
- Unique and invigorating music mix
- Did I mention, it's fun!!!
You can find Zumba classes at: The Roxborough Y, LA Fitness, Sweat, and the Houston Playground Recreation Center. I can't vouch for the instructors anywhere else, but if you go to a class and it's boring, don't give up, just try another instructor!