For a lot of us, going to the gym feels like a chore. Waking up early, sacrificing your lunch hour, going from the office straight to the elliptical – it sometimes just doesn’t feel worth the effort. But what if you could go to the gym and avoid those repetitive exercises on traditional cardio equipment, and instead find yourself in a room with lots of energy, great music and fun dances? That’s where Zumba comes in – you’ll be whoopin’ and hollerin’ in no time!
Who Said Exercise Can’t Be Fun?
Zumba is a dance aerobics class set to a whole range of music, all injected with Latin rhythms, constantly encouraging participants to shake their hips and feel free. With dance steps pulled from salsa, merengue and reggaeton, Zumba can free you from your inhibitions in just one class. Bored by the usual gym routine? No more excuses – Zumba’s lively beats and nonstop pace will have you wondering where the time went when the session is up. It’s like going to a dance party, albeit one with a full body workout!
No Experience Required
Does the idea of a dance class scare the wallflower in you? No worries! The most importance thing in Zumba is to be open to the music and keep moving your body. Every move can be easily adaptable for any age and fitness level. Every Zumba instructor is specially trained to teach and continually modify steps, often silently, to fit the abilities of participants, without breaking up the pace of the class.
The Right Stuff for Your Mind and Body
Zumba classes are great for stress release because you have to stay focused on your body, the changing beats and the teacher in order to keep up. You’ll also find yourself so into the catchy music that you’ll probably forget whatever it was that was plaguing you by the time the class is over. This, and all those endorphins you release during exercise, will have you smiling as you cool down.
As a fast-paced cardio workout, Zumba burns calories (anywhere from 400 to 1,000 calories per hour) and increases your endurance, helping you lose weight and strengthening your heart. The high intensity trains your body to take in more oxygen, stimulating your respiratory system. And with routines based on dance plus interval training, your energy is maximized for the greatest results in terms of fat-burning and full-body toning.
With the Latin beat directing your movements, your hips and legs will be constantly in motion. Zumba also zeroes in on the core, as the dance steps require restraining your abdominal muscles – without the tedium of countless crunches. The total body workout is helped along by the inclusion of specific fitness moves between the classic dance steps. From lunges to triceps exercises with small weights, your whole body will feel (and see) results.
And of course, Zumba is the perfect way to get coordinated and improve your balance and flexibility. Even if you start out with two left feet, you’ll find yourself a much better dancer after a few classes – and a more in-shape one at that! Now, where’s the dance floor?
Stay Light on Your Feet in the Right Footwear
Dance aerobics shoes, including ones for Zumba, are designed to provide multi-directional support with a lot of flexibility. Because the movements often require that the wearer move on the balls of his feet, these shoes should have added support in this area. There should also be enough space in the front of the foot to keep your toes from becoming irritated as they move with the dance steps. Smoother soles with less tread will allow for pivots and glides and take pressure off your ankles and knees. Good dance aerobic shoes are lightweight, breathable and include enough cushioning to absorb the impact of exercise; they also must have the correct arch design to balance forces of the repeated side-to-side motions. Dance aerobics shoes should provide sufficient support in the upper to keep your foot stable and prevent slippage as you follow through the often fast-paced routine.
SHOES-n-FEET stores carry some great styles, perfect for your next Zumba class (or any other type of dance-based aerobics class. Check back here at Ask the Shoe Fitter next week for some of our favorite Zumba footwear so that you can join the Zumba party!