Zumba fitness – what is it?

Zumba fitness – what is it?

You may, in the past, have heard about a certain dance fitness class called Zumba

The Bing definition of Zumba is

“An aerobic fitness programme featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance and performed primarily to Latin American dance music.”

Whilst essentially this is a good description of a Zumba class – I feel it doesn’t captivate what my own experience of a class is. Armed with over 8 years as a fitness instructor and almost the same as a Zumba instructor, here we have a breakdown on what to expect plus those all important benefits of a Zumba class:

What to bring

  • A towel to mop up; the “afterglow” as I call it!
  • Plenty of water; both before the class and during. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Comfortable clothes; think t-shirt and shorts, or longer leggings/joggers is fine
  • Sensible footwear; trainers is great, make sure they are comfortable and clean
  • A sense of humour; don’t worry about getting all the moves right, just move!

What to expect:

Expect to feel nervous when you book it. When you swipe in at reception and even when you walk into the studio. Any new activity, especially if you have chosen Zumba as your first attempt at exercise, is going to be mentally tough.

Try to relax and chat to those around you about how nervous you are, they’re probably feeling the exact same, or can relate to when they first walked into the studio.

Expect to feel out of your depth

At least several times before the end of the warm up. You probably won’t be able to get all the moves the first time around.

Thoughts such as, “Wait, which way do we go? Whoops just bumped into the wall/someone else/tripped over my own feet… “ *delete as appropriate* are normal.

Expect to sweat;

Whether you get the moves or not. You will be moving, admittedly in the wrong direction half the time, but who cares!? You’re getting exercise, moving, improving your body and mind!

Expect to laugh;

Usually at me, when the teacher forgets the moves it’s usually all gone to pot by this point. I for one can always laugh at myself. You can tell when I’ve forgotten what comes next when my signature “march on the spot for 2 mins until it comes back to me” move comes out. Standard.

Expect to feel tired afterwards;

Zumba, whilst fun, is an aerobic workout. Try and stay within your own ability level, adapting exercises as you go. The instructor should be able to offer options for high and low intensity as you move through each track.

If in doubt, speak to the instructor at the beginning about your ability, and they will adapt and show you alternatives through the duration of the session. I use the hand signal “L” with my right hand facing the class to show a low option and no signal for high. But each instructor is different.

Expect to feel good about yourself;

As soon as the time is up and you’re finished, or even for hours afterwards. The real sense of achievement at moving non-stop for an hour and grabbing thousands of steps. You did great! Well done! A small but by no means insignificant achievement by anyone’s standard.

The benefits

Improved mental health

Every form of exercise out there these days promotes “improved mental health” as a benefit. Whilst this is true for the most part I know a great deal of you out there may be struggling mentally. So much so that even the thought of going to perform any of these said exercises weather at home or elsewhere is such a daunting thought.

In fact, those with high levels of anxiety may struggle even more due to never having been to a class before. That in itself is hard enough without me banging on about the mental health benefits right?

Try: bringing a friend. A relative. Someone who you can share the experience with. Zumba is a social form of exercise meant to make you smile, laugh and generally have a great time. If you do end up in a messy heap at the end, at least you have someone to laugh with right?

When I am teaching my classes, the focus is roughly 30% fitness, 10% following routines and 60% fun! If I’m not enjoying myself as an instructor, then how can I expect my participants to do the same?

Zumba should be and is in my case, a class where we feel the music, let loose and have fun! For that hour, that one significant hour of our day on a Wednesday 9:15am at Kimberley Leisure Centre, my participants complete up to 8000 steps and burn over 400 calories!

Everyone is encouraged to move, sweat and smile, no pressure to get routines right! Much more interesting than pounding it away on a treadmill for the same amount of steps!

Fitness levels and health improves

Certainly if this is your first attempt at exercise for a while, the class will improve your fitness levels and therefore overall health within the first few sessions. The thing is, it’s also fun! Who would have thought that an hour “at the gym” could fly by so quickly after jumping about in the completely wrong direction for 60mins eh??!?

If you’re looking for weight loss, it will help with this too. As the cardiovascular and calorie burn benefits of a class are high! Whether you are taking a lower impact approach or jumping around – you’re going to burn calories, and that’s what we are looking for.

Try: Adding a strength based session once a week to compliment the cardiovascular workout that Zumba gives. A virtual Bodypump or Bodybalance class will compliment your weekly Latin inspired workout perfectly.

Meet new people

Zumba is a social fitness class. I encourage my participants to laugh and enjoy themselves rather than focus on hitting it hard and burning out. For anyone who is looking for a hardcode workout we host weekly boot camp and HIIT classes to get you that all important high intensity fitness fix!

Zumba is meant to be that middle of the road session which can benefit both complete beginners to exercise and those who are more advanced in their fitness levels.

This comes with a great side effect – meeting a diverse range of people. In my sessions I see young adults, new mums, grandparents, new dads, the super fit and those recovering from injury. I welcome you all into the session with open arms and encourage you all to just go with it. A lot of my participants do come in pairs, someone to do it with and chat to. Sometimes I even catch a group of them nattering away like old friends; usually about the fact that they’d “just about got the moves to that track and now she’s changed it!”

For anyone who is reading this blog and wants to try it on for size – please visit our fitness class timetable pages at:

Kimberley Leisure Centre, Bramcote Leisure Centre, Chilwell Olympia

If you’re a new customer why not sign up to a FREE 1 day pass and give it a go!

What have you got to lose?!?

Yourself in the music 😉

Heather – Zumba Instructor

A beginners guide to becoming ACTIVE!