Put some fun into your fitness routine with Zumba


trio doing zumba

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Zumba is the cure for the common cardio workout. The exercise phenomenon, incorporating Latin dances such as samba and salsa along with other dance styles and music from around the world, is so much fun that it hardly feels like a workout at all, but all that rump shaking, hip swiveling and fancy footwork is sure to make you feel the burn.

Just how much of a burn you will get with Zumba varies. Fitness Blender estimates that “[w]omen in an average weight range, say roughly 120-170 for estimation purposes, are going to burn between 350 and 650 calories in an hour of Zumba, if  they go at full intensity through the entire class,” and two contributors at Glamour magazine who wore their Jawbone UP devices to different Zumba classes saw a similar spread, with one burning 423 calories and the other burning a whopping 787 calories. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports says that Zumba burns up to 500 calories an hour, and even the fine print in this quick 100 calorie burn Zumba video says that “In a study, 24 healthy men and women following the Zumba Super Cardio Dance Party DVD with Bursts burned 369-1,037 calories.”

Zumba may be a lot of fun and clearly burns some calories, but, like any form of exercise, there are risks involved. In 2012, Consumer Reports revealed a rise in Zumba injuries, including meniscal tears and plantar fasciitis, and outlined ten points for how to safely practice Zumba, including choosing a class suitable to your skill level, consulting your doctor before starting and wearing the right shoes.

There are a variety of Zumba classes, including Zumba Sentao, which focuses on core strength, and Aqua Zumba, which takes aquatic aerobics to a whole new level, so by exploring classes, you can find the right one for you. Taking classes with licensed Zumba instructors, which Consumer Reports also recommends, is a great way to learn how to safely perform the dance moves at your fitness level.

On days you can’t make it to class, take those moves you learned with your instructor and get fit at home. Gamers, use your console to get a killer cardio session with Zumba. The brand has a variety of videogame workouts for Xbox and Wii. Some reviews, while positive, do address a few caveats. Consumer Reports praises Zumba Fitness: Core as “a solid cardio workout that's challenging, engaging, fun, and well paced” and highlights the ability for users to set their own intensity and time for their workout, but the review also mentions that those who have never done Zumba before may become frustrated by the choreography.

Entertainment website IGN, meanwhile, is a fan of the fun variety of dance styles and music in Zumba Fitness: World Party for Xbox One but reports that the dance instruction, even with the Kinect sensor and a training mode, is not enough to properly teach beginners and recommends that newbies take classes before getting started with the game at home.

No gaming console? No problem! Don’t forget about our good ole fitness friend, YouTube. The Zumba YouTube page has a series of step breakdowns for some of the classic moves taught in Zumba classes, including my personal favorite, the merengue. These are great refreshers and give you the opportunity to practice your moves at home. Once you’re more comfortable with dance and are ready to put some hip-hop flavor in your home Zumba practice, check out Club FITz, the dance fitness duo of licensed Zumba instructors Lauren Fitzgerald and Kelsi Comer, whose routine set to Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle” was recently featured at The Body Department. These YouTube stars bonded over their love of Zumba and teamed up to create their own hip-hop choreography videos. Fitzgerald and Comer have gained such an impressive following that they recently launched their own subscription website featuring exclusive content and offering free basic subscription and premium paid subscription options. They also have kept a stellar lineup of choreography videos up on YouTube, including their now famous routine to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop,” which has nearly 2.5 million views to date. At first, Club FITz’s choreography may be a bit tough to follow, but the repetition of the steps throughout the song, like the routines performed in classes, should help you to catch on. Also, Fitzgerald and Comer have begun making choreography tutorials for their website. They have posted a sample of this on YouTube with a tutorial and final choreography for Beyoncé’s “7/11.”

Check with your doctor to make sure Zumba is right for you, practice safely to avoid injury and put some fun into your fitness routine!