Healthy Living

Zumba: Not Just for Dancers

 For those who aren’t familiar with Zumba, it’s a latin cardio/dance exercise routine that started in the 1990’s by a Colombian choreographer by the name of Beto.  Zumba is not a dance class, but it borrows many of its steps from long list of dance styles like salsa, merengue, cha-cha-cha, hip hop and bollywood dance, just to name a few.  It’s one of the few workout routines out there that utilizes every major muscle group, including the often neglected core muscles (think belly-dance moves and salsa hip shakes). 

I’ve personally found Zumba to be a very challenging physical workout.  

I remember one night that I came back from a Zumba workout: it was almost freezing outside and I found myself loosening my coat to keep myself from sweating.  Although I had heard it many times before that taking a typical Zumba class can burn more than five hundred calories, it was only until after actually doing it that I realized first hand how effective the work out was. 

I think the most challenging part, however, was trying to keep along with all the crazy dance steps. Zumba instructors often spend very little time guiding classes through what can be some complicated footwork.  Oftentimes I was so busy watching my feet that I almost ran into the people next to me! 

I thought that perhaps what I needed to do was to take some dance classes, or at least watch some youtube videos before I could get it right.  After all, I didn’t want to be tripping over myself half of the time.  In desperation, I asked some of the Zumba teachers who use our site (  to promote their classes and found out from Najia, a belly-dance instructor, that when she had gotten her Zumba instructor certification that she had to promise NOT to break down every single one of the moves and just go straight into the routine. 

The philosophy of Zumba is not to “get the all moves right”

It’s to just keep moving and to have fun while doing it.  After all, Zumba is an exercise first and a dance second.  The only reason why the dance element is included is to bring an element of fun that’s absent from most workout routines.  Eventually, after you go to a few classes, you’re able to follow along with most of the steps, even if you don’t get them down perfectly. What you DO get, however, is a very challenging cardio workout.

For those perfectionists out there who want to get the moves down right, you can also try a Zumba Gold class, which is more tailored toward beginners, seniors and people with physical limitations. These classes are slower and they do give you a breakdown of the dance steps so that you might feel more confident when going into a more advanced class.  Zumba Gold classes don’t provide the same level of physical activity, however, than a regular Zumba class. 

As far as Zumba is concerned, don’t worry if you feel you’re “Not a dancer.”

 Just follow along to the movements as best you can.  Remember that you’re there to have fun and get a great workout, not to win any prizes. What’s more you’ll find that after a few sessions you may be a better dancer than you think!

This is a Guest Post by Kenji Crosland a writer for TeachStreet.  TeachStreet is a website dedicated to providing local and online classes. From Piano Lessons to Zumba Classes. 

Karla Urwitz
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4 thoughts on “Zumba: Not Just for Dancers

  1. I have just recently started going to Zumba classes (I attended my second-ever class yesterday) and I gotta say, the workout you get is amazing. It took me an hour to cool down properly, and I swear I was still sweating during that hour.

    I’ve got two left feet, and I still enjoy the class; it doesn’t matter that I’m “not a dancer” – I’m definitely better than I thought. I haven’t bumped into anyone, I haven’t tripped over myself, and so long as I keep moving (the instructor said: “If you can’t do what I’m doing, MAKE SOMETHING UP!”) I feel like I’m doing it right.

    It’s a lot of hard work, a great deal of fun, and I’d easily recommend it to anybody who’s looking to get in a good, solid workout without being stuck in the gym on the machines for an hour.
    Tracy´s last blog post ..Weekly Weigh-in 6- February 15- 2011

  2. I’ve been doing Zumba for over a year. I STILL don’t have some of the steps down, but I work on the theory that as long as I’m moving, I’m getting some benefit. And it does actually get easier.

    In theory, yes, Zumba Gold is easier. However, I took one Zumba Gold class after probably 6 months of regular Zumba.. and was putting my body into more extreme moves/positions to get the workout I was accustomed too. The next day I was more sore than I’d ever been from regular Zumba!!

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