Frequently Asked Zumba Questions

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Good afternoon!  Are you having a nice relaxing Sunday?  I sure hope so! <3

I often get asked questions about Zumba through the blog, and in everyday life so I thought today I’d write a little Q&A post answering some of the most asked questions I am asked.

1.  What is Zumba?

Zumba is a dance based type fitness class that originated in Columbia.  It takes rhythms from all over the world including (but not limited to): salsa, merengue, cumbia, raggaeton, belly dance, Arabian, African, Bollywood, hip hop, samba, axe, swing, cha cha, flamenco … you get the idea.  For each rhythm, a number of the most common steps for that type of dance are simplified down into a form that is quick to learn, and easy to follow.  During a traditional 60 minute Zumba class you will learn 13-15 songs (including your warm-up and cool down).  The steps are not broken down for you beforehand, it’s more of a “monkey see monkey do” type of class.  Most songs repeat the same move quite a few times so you can follow into the dance quite easily.  The songs are set up so that you’ll do a higher intensity song followed by a lower intensity song to provide you with an interval workout which torches tonnes of calories – and the best part?  You forget you’re even exercising!

2.  Do I have to be in good shape to do Zumba?

Not at all.  I have all ages (6-70) in the same class with every ability level possible.  The neat thing about Zumba is you only work as hard as you want to.  Two people in the same class could do the same steps and one may not even break a sweat, while the other is drenched.  You only get out of it want you want to put into it.  Can’t handle high impact? No problem, your instructor should always demonstrate a low impact option.  Need a break?  That’s cool too- just march on the spot or do your own thing until you’re ready to get back at it.

3.  But I’m not coordinated – I don’t want to look silly.

Forget about that!  Everyone is too busy worrying about what they are doing to notice what you are up to!  Besides, coordination is simply one aspect of fitness – something that needs to be trained just like strength and flexibility.  The good news?  Coordination trains very quickly – give Zumba (or any other workout like Step or Kickboxing) a try for 10 classes and I promise your coordination will improve substantially.

4.  Why don’t Zumba Instructors verbally cue or talk more during the class?

Some instructors talk more than others, I tend not to say too much while teaching unless it’s to get people pumped up, or if everyone has their back to me and can’t see my visual cues.  I will also do more variable cueing in a small class – it just seemed odd not to talk in a class of less than 15 or so.

The reason is really two fold, number one – with the music as loud as it is during a Zumba class, even with a microphone most people simply would be able to hear or understand what we are saying (especially in large classes), and number two – it kills the party vibe.  We want you too feel like you’re at a dance party and if we are telling you what to do every couple seconds it kills that vibe.  Your instructor should {hopefully} be able to cue most everything for you non verbally.  Most instructors have their own cueing style so once you become used to your instructors style and know their visual cues you won’t even miss the verbal cueing.  It does make it a little harder your first couple classes, but it shouldn’t take any more than that to really fall into it.

5.  Why do Zumba Instructors wear one pant leg up and one pant leg down?

Because it we think it makes us look cool ;)  Honestly, if there is any other reason for it besides that, I don’t know what it is.  I think it’s a hip hop dance thing.  Additional I will wear one pant leg up and one down when I’m a bit warm and want to cool off but still want to give myself the option to put the second pant leg up if I get even warmer during the class – but mostly it’s to look cool…

6.  Why do you wear tassels on your pants?

Again, I don’t know the history behind this, but I believe it’s to draw attention during dances.  Also, it’s to make me feel like a complete fool when I have to go to a store before or after a class wearing the pants…

7.  What is the difference between Zumba and Zumba Toning?

Zumba is a cardiovascular based interval workout that has some light resistance training built into the class.  Zumba Toning is a interval class with a focus on light resistance training with some straight up dance built into the class.  A regular Zumba class will really help to increase your aerobic capacity and endurance, while a Zumba toning class will help to increase your muscular endurance.  Zumba toning classes are meant as a primarily cardiovascular workout, but you will get some mild cardiovascular training during the  interval and dance portions of the class.

8.  Will Zumba help me lose weight?

The short answer – yes.  The long answer – as with any weight lose plan you will need to pair exercise with healthy eating in over to achieve long term weight loss.  I know many, many people who have lost a considerable amount of weight doing Zumba, and I know lots who don’t lose weight at all.  Like I said above, you only get out of it what you put into it.

9.  How many calories does Zumba burn/hour?

This of course depends on your height, weight, age, and workout intensity level.  I would say most people burn somewhere in the ball park of 400-900 calories/class (I personally have burned up to 800 in a single class).

10. How often should I do Zumba if I’m just starting out?

If you haven’t been doing any regular exercise prior to starting Zumba, I would suggest no more than 1x/week for the first month or two, after that you should be able to safely move up to 2x/week and then add a 3x if you want to once you have built up some cardiovascular strength and endurance.

If you already exercise regularly you can certainly start out with 2 classes/week – just make sure you take your other activities into consideration so that you are not over-training.

I hope that answers some of your Zumba related questions!  If you still have a question about Zumba please leave me a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer it for ya!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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