I just celebrated my 10-year anniversary of teaching Zumba Fitness. It’s been a fun decade of bass thumping classes full of sweaty people partying like, the music icon Prince describes, “it’s 1999”. That’s about when the franchise started as an infomercial. It hit gyms after 2001 and I joined before it started to peak and is now leveling off with 15 million people taking weekly classes in 180 countries. I still get brand new people wandering into any one of my weekly classes. I sometimes ask out loud, “Where have you been all this time?”
For the past few years I’ve enjoyed teaching Zumba to all of the Arapahoe High School Physical Education classes. Each semester they have what they call Zumba Day. The teachers realized it’s a fun way to teach the kids about measuring their heart rates. I lead 40 minutes of crazy fast Zumba songs, stopping every 10 minutes so the kids can measure their heart rates. It’s a blast getting them to move their hips and hearing them giggle any time I have them shake their booties or gyrate their pelvises. Much to my surprise the boys take up the front row and seem to have the most fun.
This is the true essence of Zumba and why it zoomed in popularity.
It’s just plain fun, whether you can dance or not. With the right instructor you can follow along to the music and literally dance your butt off. By “right” instructor I mean you must find someone you find easy to follow and who has similar taste in music. You’ll have a better time finding motivation to move if you like the music and connect with the teacher.
If you’re one of the few who has been too intimidated to try, it’s time to let your hair down. Stop worrying that someone is watching you misstep the cha-cha-cha. Everyone is looking at the instructor and trying to follow them. Plus, there is no requirement to get every move perfect. It’s only the pressure you put on yourself. As I like to say in class, it’s not an audition or a performance. If you’re sweating and smiling, you’re successful! You have to think of it as if you were at a party and started to enjoy the music by moving. At this party there is a leader. But guess what? The moves are only suggestions. If you want to bust out into a solo, you are free to do so. But do it from the back row so you don’t steel the instructor’s thunder.
Still not sure Zumba is for you?
- Are you are a social person motivated by crowd energy? Many have made good friends by attending a regular Zumba class.
- Are you sitting on the couch enthusiastically watching Dancing with the Stars? Many of the stars are new to dancing too. But unlike them you don’t have to do it on t-v.
- Do you love a variety of music? Zumba is a mix of American and international music from salsa to belly dance or country to tango. It’s the instructor’s choice and why you need to find a teacher you enjoy.
- Do you have trouble sticking with an exercise routine? Instead of meeting friends for happy hour at a bar, meet them at a Zumba class.
- Need to drop a few pounds or exercise your heart? This is a lot more fun than a treadmill and it goes by faster. You can burn 500 calories in a Zumba class.
- Do you hate exercise? Ditch the workout and join the Zumba party!
Stop taking yourself too seriously and try it out.
I strongly feel that anyone can try Zumba Fitness and there is a class and an instructor out there for everyone. There is also Zumba Gold, a slower and low impact version sometimes offered in a chair. Additionally there is Aqua Zumba, for those who find it easier to be in the water and Zumba for kids. Zumba Fitness has tried to attract those who cannot overcome their aversion to dancing with Zumba Step, Zumba Toning and Zumba Strong. But to be honest, there’s a little booty shaking in all of them.
Get over yourself, grab a friend and find a Zumba class. They’re everywhere now! If you don’t like it, try a different instructor. Be sure to discuss starting a new exercise routine with your doctor.
Find a Zumba class near you: www.Zumba.com
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