How to Zumba

Three Parts:Finding the Right Zumba for YouGetting StartedBurning Even More Calories

Zumba is a new type of workout dance with international flair. It's sweeping the entire world and is on its way to practically becoming a lifestyle. Do you want to join the Zumba movement? To start turning your booty shakin' moves into calories burned? You're in good company!

Part 1
Finding the Right Zumba for You

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    Find a class to join. Because Zumba is so dang popular nowadays, it should only take a few clicks of your mouse to find a class near you. Zumba founders proudly tout that it'd be easier to tell you the places it's not offered than the places it is.[1] So no excuses! Your local gym, the Y, or area dance/yoga studios should be your first go-to.[2] has a class finder, too!
    • Find a Licensed Zumba Instructor. Only Licensed Instructors can teach Zumba and all licensed instructors are listed on Licensed instructors who belong to ZIN (the Zumba® Instructor Network) have access to the newest Zumba fare -- updated routines, more song choices, more variation in style and the specialties like Zumba Toning, Aqua, Step, Sentao etc. To find out, all you have to do is ask!
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    Or do it on your own time! Since Zumba is so huge, it's all over YouTube and even Xbox and wii. If you're not into the class dynamic, don't have a gym to go to, or would plain just like to stay home, Zumba can come to you. There are literally dozens of titles to choose from between the two aforementioned consoles. And yes, you will break a sweat!
    • YouTube is a great resource, too. Even if you are taking a class, watching a few videos can help gear your mind up for what you should expect and knock that learning curve down a notch. But remember, every class and every instructor is different, though the Zumba mentality and lifestyle remain the same.
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    Learn about the different types of Zumba. This is a fitness/dance-craze epidemic for a reason: everyone can do it. And with the different types of Zumba, it's pretty indisputable. Here are the current types offered:
    • Zumba Fitness: This is your standard class. It has high-energy rhythms and distinctive Latin beats that will guarantee you're sweating and having a great time.
    • Zumba Toning: With this class, you use toning sticks. Think of them as fitness maracas for your abs, glutes, arms, and thighs.
    • Zumba Gold: This class is aimed at baby boomers and above. The class is a bit calmer than the standard, though it follows the same basic principles.
    • Zumba Gold Toning: No surprises here, it's Zumba Toning for the wise-beyond-their-years population. A large group, for the record!
    • Aqua Zumba: Effectively marketed as a "Zumba pool party." You do the same (and more) Zumba moves, only halfway emerged in water. You can imagine how much tougher it is!
    • Zumba Sentao: This class is centered around a chair. It helps strengthen your core, work on balance, and steps up the cardio in a new and dynamic way.
    • "Zumba Step": All of the Step toning and strengthening for legs and glutes plus all of the Zumba® fitness-party fun.
    • Zumba in the Circuit: This combines Zumba and circuit training. Between dancing your butt off, you'll be doing strength exercises to get an all-around workout.
    • Zumba Kids: For the little ones!
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    Experiment with different instructors or classes. As with anything, each class or instructor is going to be a bit different. Some classes will be jam-packed, some classes will be shorter or longer than others, and each instructor will have their own unique style. So if you start a class and you're not crazy about it, try another one before you give it up. You could be surprised how much of a difference it makes!
    • And since there are so many different types of Zumba classes, experiment with that, too! If you like Zumba Fitness, try to mix it up on occasion with Zumba Toning or Aqua Zumba. Keeping your body surprised is just as important as surprising your mind!

Part 2
Getting Started

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    Familiarize yourself with Latin-based dances. While being a dancer is totally not a prerequisite to being good at and enjoying Zumba, knowing what you're getting into can't hurt. There are elements of the cha cha, salsa, and merengue in Zumba -- along with a bit of hip hop and modern (and legit core exercises, of course!). Luckily, it's wikiHow to the rescue! Check out the following for a brief brush-up:
    • How to Do the Cha Cha
    • How to Dance Salsa
    • How to Dance Merengue
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    Get the right clothing and footwear. Any class is going to be difficult if you're not adequately prepared for it. To sidestep this easily side-steppable hurdle, wear the right clothes! You will heat up quickly, so go for light clothing, or layers that you can shed at will. Do know that it's all about style, though -- some students will be in Spandex and some will be in baggy sweats. There's no right or wrong!
    • And when it comes to footwear, aim for an exercise shoe that's worn in. If it has too much tread, you won't be able to float and pivot like you want. For the record, it's worth investing in some dance sneakers if you do decide to stick to it. They're only about $30.00 from a discount dance supply store and can easily be found online.
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    Bring your towel and bottle of water! Even though you're spending the hour dancing and not feeling like you're getting a workout, you most definitely are. You WILL be sweating, so bring a towel and some water! Most instructors take small breaks between songs, so you'll be glad you did.
    • Some swear that in an hour's class, you could burn near 600 calories.[3] That's amazing! That's an hour avoided on the treadmill! Of course, it depends on how much energy you put into it. But there's serious potential there.
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    Don't expect your standard fitness class. Most fitness classes have a serious structure to them. The instructor stands at the front and talks at you for pretty much the entire hour. In short, this isn't that. There's a reason they ask you if you want to "join the party" when you start.[2] It's the only workout you'll find where the hour flies by and you'll forget you're not at the club (or home in your underwear).
    • Many feel that it's a way of life. Some even say Zumba-ers make for better friends.[4] In your class, you become friends who hang out, party, and dance together. There's an air about it that you won't find elsewhere. It'll suck you in!
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    Dance! Alright, so after all this talk, what is it anyway? Well, it's a whole bunch of things. Some of the styles in Zumba, like salsa for instance, are fused with hip hop. Add in some merengue and cha-cha steps and you've got the idea. Let's not forget the aerobic aspect either! You'll be shedding the pounds shaking your booty, doing the mambo, and swiveling with the best of 'em.
    • No, you don't have to be a dancer. Remember how Zumba is for everyone? If you're taking a class, just let your instructor know you're new to this thing, and they can give you the rundown. Be sure you can see their entire body, though -- don't hide in the back!
    • There is no pressure to be super fit. You just do what you can when you can. All the moves are of such a nature that you put as much effort into it as you want to. If your fitness level isn't great, then you just take it slower!
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    Give it a few tries. The first class you take may actually be difficult. You may feel like you're overwhelmed and you can't keep up with the moves and you just really don't have any idea what's going on. But by the second class, you'll remember things. You'll pick up on your favorites. And by the third, you'll leave asking for more.[3] So give it a few tries. Everything takes time to learn and get good at. The more you do it, the more you'll enjoy it!

Part 3
Burning Even More Calories

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    Let loose. To get the most out of Zumba, you gotta let loose. You gotta channel your inner child and dance like no one's watching. Not that cheesy proverbial crap, but literally dance like no one is watching. Who cares if you're shaking it to the left when everyone else is shaking it to the right? No one, that's who. If you let loose and enjoy yourself, you're doing it right.
    • If you're tentative about your moves, you won't get the workout you're meant to get. If you keep your feet toeing the line (more literal talk here) and your arms at your sides, you won't have fun, you won't sweat, and you probably won't come back. So go for it!
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    Use your arms! This is the easiest way to get more out of your Zumba workout. It's tempting to be a little reserved, to let your legs do the brunt of the work, but throw your arms in there, too! Those Latin dancers look so good because while their feet are moving, they make sure the movement is seen through their entire bodies -- even down the lengths of their arms. You wanna look like them, right?!
    • When it doubt, just hold them strong. You don't have to flail them around like a madman or a six-year-old, but do hold them out from your sides, strong and sassy-like. Half the fun of Zumba is the attitude!
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    Move up and down more. There are squats, lunges, and some straight-up workout moves in Zumba. Then there are the natural levels of the dances, when your instructor has you working closer to the floor and working your way up. When this is part of your choreography, go all out. The more up and down you move, the better a workout you'll get. And the more you'll feel it in the morning! You know, the burn and the sense of accomplishment.
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    Shake that booty. If you've got it, flaunt it, right? So shake away. The entire room is pretending like they're Jenny from the Block, so join in! The only wrong way to do it is to not do it. The more you shake, the better you'll look, the more fun you'll have, and the more you'll be doing the moves like they're meant to be done. So shake, shake, shake. Shake, shake, shake. Shake yo' booty. Shake yo' booty![5]
    • If you think you're doing a move that can't incorporate a bit of a hip swivel or booty shake, think again. There is a sexiness at the core of Zumba, for sure. Let yours out!
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    Add your own flair. You could be reserved about the moves, you could do the moves exactly like your instructor is doing, or you could do it your own way -- the way you're best at, the way that gives you the most satisfaction, the way that you enjoy the most. And if you do, you'll burn way more calories going for it. Is it for fitness or pleasure that you're rocking out? Who knows!
    • And once you have the moves down, adding your own flair, your energy will add to the dynamic of the class. The more people who are taking the leap, truly letting loose, the better it'll be. You'll all be able to feed off of each other's buzzes! Now that's a high quality workout!


  • After a while it does really help if you get some dance sneakers. This is mainly because regular sneakers have too much grip to let you slide your feet during some of the dance moves.
  • There is a lot of booty shaking so beware, and wear a good bra if you are well endowed -- try two if you're super lucky! A pair of leggings, a yoga dance top, some thin socks and your dance sneakers should complete the ensemble.

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Categories: Cardio Exercises | Fun Dances