Zumba Fitness: dance off the pounds, and have fun doing it

An hour on the treadmill to get a daily workout in sounds like a blast, right? Wrong. That is, unless you’re a running enthusiast – which, truthfully, most of us aren’t. And even for those who are, stationary running still doesn’t sound like very much fun.

So since everyone wants the type of body found splashed across the front covers of magazines, but all of the gym options – running, cycling, lifting weights, personal training – sound fairly dreadful, how can anyone achieve it without spending hours upon hours slaving over workout machines? This was long a dilemma for myself as well, until I wandered into a Zumba studio during a class one day. Believe me, I had so much fun that it’s a wonder how they ever got me to leave when the class ended.

“Ditch the Workout, Join the Party!” is the popular slogan behind the Latin dance-inspired Zumba Fitness, but the question is: are you really ditching the workout? The multitudes of success stories, including mine, about “partying yourself into shape” in Zumba classes at local gyms certainly don’t back that part of the slogan up – physically, that is. The part of the workout that’s being “ditched” is the mental part of it. Whether the choreography consists of Cumbia or doing burpees to the beat, the music keeps the class upbeat and the participants giving 110 percent no matter how much sweat is on the floor or fog is on the mirrors.

Though everyone in attendance for a Zumba class may be drenched in their own sweat, much like everyone else in the gym, the high level of energy being exerted becomes an afterthought because of how enjoyable the workout is. And don’t let the “Latin” part freak you out, because Zumba playlists are composed of a variety of song types, usually depending on the instructor. With every type of music imaginable – from Salsa, to rap, to even some rock and country – the perfect fit can be found for virtually anyone.

While workout traditionalists joke and sneer at Zumba goers, claiming that classes “aren’t a true source of cardio” and “are for older women”, take it from someone who bases their day-to-day schedule around Zumba classes: that’s far from the truth. Zumba classes are for anyone, of any shape or size, because the class’ intensity can be personally tailored depending on each person’s fitness level. And trust me: dramatic physical transformations by making a dance class into a daily workout aren’t an uncommon occurrence.

Everyone who’s walked through the gym while a Zumba class is in session knows the curiosity that the blaring Latin beats create from behind the closed doors of the studio. So, next time you find yourself in that situation, open the door and go give Zumba a whirl just to see what all the hype is about. You may end up forgetting that you’re at the gym, but I promise you’ll still get the workout you came for.