Fitness & Health

Fitness Guinea Pig: Zumba

Confession time: In my fairly long history of following workout fads, I have only ever walked out of one class. Ten hapless minutes into a new hip-hop dance class at a popular New York gym, my rhythm-challenged self felt left with no choice—I threw in the towel and snuck out the back.

So when the dance-fueled Zumba workout started garnering buzz a few years ago, I steered clear. That is, until I recently gave in and signed up for a class. And…I loved it. The dance moves are based on simple aerobic steps, so worst-case scenario, you can always fall back to an easy march and pick up the next step. Best of all, the classes are a blast. Granted, I won't be appearing on Dancing With the Stars any time soon, but I might be willing to bust out a few moves the next time I'm at a dance party.

The Lowdown

The Zumba fitness craze initially began as an accident in the early '90s when Colombian celebrity trainer Beto Perez showed up to teach a standard aerobics class, only to realize he'd forgotten his music. After grabbing the Latin salsa and Merengue mix tapes he happened to have in his backpack, Perez improvised the entire class on the spot. Over the next two decades, Zumba's contagious, dance-infused blend of movements set to Latin and global beats has spread throughout 125 countries, with certified Zumba instructors working at thousands of locations worldwide. Known more as a fitness/dance party hybrid than an aerobics class, the program offers a fun, upbeat approach to working out. Building upon Latin dance moves, Zumba classes incorporate a range of international dance styles, from salsa and samba to reggaeton, belly dancing, hip-hop and tango.

Body Benefits

The Zumba workout typically lasts 45 minutes, with routines alternating between fast and slow rhythms in order to burn calories as well as tone and sculpt muscles. This effective anaerobic and aerobic combination is guaranteed to get you sweating. As with most cardio-based programs, the results depend on the frequency of the workouts. We recommend a consistent, three-times-a-week regimen to see and feel a difference. Most of the toning results from movements that working against your body's own resistance, like squats and high-intensity dance moves, so for brides who want more intense muscle sculpting, alternate Zumba classes with a weight lifting routine.

Best Candidates

Brides who want to de-stress, burn calories, and remember that working out—like weddings—is supposed to be fun. The environment is supportive, upbeat, and encouraging. And—the best part—no professional dance experience necessary.

Where to Go

Search the 110,000+ locations to find one in your area at Prefer to Zumba on your own time? Choose from one of the company's many DVDs or the supercool video game option.

NEXT: Fitness Guinea Pig: The Bar Method

Photo: Courtesy of Zumba
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