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Dance away the weight with Zumba!

Ever wanted to work out but have fun while doing it? You could try Zumba. Zumba fitness, as it is better known, is an exercise and weight loss regime that is set to music. Wondering about what the technique is based on and if it really helped in weight loss? We asked Zumba trainer, Swetha Jairam  about the exercise regime and what it involved. 

What is Zumba? Why has it become so popular?

Zumba Fitness is a Latin-Inspired, easy-to-follow, calorie-burning dance fitness party and it works for weight loss, weight management, fat loss and body toning. It takes the basic steps from Latin dance styles like the merengue, cumbia, salsa, latin-pop, reggaetton, bachhata, calypsio, samba and many more and merges a fitness formula to it.

Zumba Fitness allows you to feel like you’re in a night club instead of an exercise class. It uses great spicy Latin music and Latin dance styles fusing it with fitness. In Zumba you work out from head to toe using muscles you never would have in a normal gym class. Its tagline ‘Party Yourself into Shape’ explains its reason for popularity. You come out of a Zumba Fitness class with a lot more energy, with a bag full of stress out of your system and most importantly with a smile. I believe that if fitness is fun, you would stick to it and this explains its committed following and popularity.

What are its health benefits?

Zumba uses all the basic fitness formulae. It works on the concept of intermittent training, i.e. a fast paced song that takes your heart rate racing which increases your stamina, followed by a slow paced song breaking you into a sweat, toning your muscles and burning more fat. With Zumba one can lose weight and tone up rather quickly and reach a fitness high and that too in a fun way. In a typical Zumba class you can burn about 700-1000 calories, all this in just one hour of pure fun.

Can anyone practice Zumba?

Yes, Zumba can be practised by anyone. It is open to all age groups. Zumba Fitness is back-safe and knee-safe (provided if done on correct flooring).

I have had clients who have come out of their injuries and ailments with Zumba Fitness. According to Savli, one of my students, “I was suffering with neck spondylitis, I used to come to class with a neck support unable to move properly, but within a month my doctor saw great Improvements in my condition and trust me she was surprised with my progress”.

People with an existing injury or ailment (after prior physician’s permission) should take it easy, wear protection if required and allow their body to grow with every class. At the same time one must make sure that the instructor has prior knowledge of the details of the condition and must be well-qualified and well-equipped both educationally and experientially to handle such delicate cases.

Do people need to be dancers to learn Zumba?

No, you don’t have to be a dancer to take a Zumba Fitness class. One must remember that it is aimed at fitness; it’s not a traditional dance class. The moves are simple and easy-to-follow.

Are there standard moves and music in Zumba the world over?

Yes, Zumba Fitness has some basic standard moves and music that are typical to a particular style practiced and followed world over. For example, a merengue song will have typically a four-beat rhythm and steps that are typical to the merengue style, where as a salsa song has a basic three-beat rhythm and steps typical to the salsa style. However, there is always scope for improvisation. We instructors can add our own touch to it to make it interesting for our class. Zumba music is given solely to those licensed Zumba Instructors who are active ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) Members. We get copyright music from the Zumba Company itself. Typically, 70% of the music will be standard in all Zumba Classes and 30% will be international hits and can vary.

Can pregnant women practice Zumba?

Zumba has proven to be safe for pregnant women as well especially between the third and seventh months. But I strongly advise a prior permission from their gynecologist for the same, as this decision would vary according to the physical condition of the individual.

What about people with BP, heart disease and other health problems? Can they practice Zumba?

Zumba Fitness improves all lifestyle related disorders, especially BP, Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, PCOS etc. People with a heart disease or a prior heart surgery need to take a physician’s advice for any kind of physical activity. Zumba Fitness works on reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and improves good cholesterol (HDL) thus improving cholesterol-related issues and BP. Blood sugar reduces with increase in activity levels, hence reducing the risk of diabetes. However, people with conditions such as these have to make sure their diet supports their activity to see an improvement in their condition.

Are there programmes aimed at various groups of people? Are there levels?

Yes, the Zumba program currently offers eight types of Zumba classes:

Zumba® Fitness – This is the basic Zumba class open for all adults. These classes feature exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats.

Zumba Gold® – Zumba Gold is meant for that part of the population who find it difficult to pick up in a regular Zumba Class, and also for senior citizens who cannot take a regular Zumba Class. It takes the Zumba formula and modifies the moves and pacing to suit the needs of the active older participants, as well as those just starting their journey to a fit and healthy lifestyle. What stays the same are all the elements the Zumba Fitness-Party. It’s a dance-fitness class that feels friendly, and most of all, fun.

Zumba® Toning – Zumba Toning uses toning sticks along with basic Zumba moves to sculpt and tone your body at the same time as you enjoy the moves of Zumba Fitness. It combines targeted body-sculpting exercises and high-energy cardio workout with Latin-infused Zumba moves to create a calorie-torching, strength-training dance fitness-party. Students learn how to use lightweight Toning Sticks to enhance rhythm and tone all their target zones, including arms, abs, glutes and thighs.

Aqua Zumba®  –  Aqua Zumba popularly known as the Zumba ‘pool party’, integrates the Zumba formula and philosophy with traditional aqua fitness disciplines, blending it all together into a safe, challenging, water-based workout that’s cardio-conditioning, body-toning, and most of all, exhilarating.

Zumbatomic® – Zumba Atomic is designed especially for kids (ages 4-12). These classes are high-energy fitness-parties packed with specially choreographed, kid-friendly routines and all the music kids love, like hip-hop, reggaeton, cumbia and more. It benefits children in ways such as increasing their focus and self-confidence, boosting metabolism and enhancing coordination. 

Zumba® in the Circuit – It is 30 minutes of intense, Latin-inspired dance-fitness moves combined with circuit training, a series of strength exercises at timed intervals. Students move from one exercise station to another while also doing the basic Zumba Moves. This is a time-friendly intense workout to boost metabolism and improve body strength and the same time enjoying every move. 

Zumba® Gold-Toning   – The Zumba® Gold-Toning is a safe and effective strength training program that can be done by individuals who are new to fitness and those of the senior citizen age group. Through dynamic lightweight resistance-training and exciting international rhythms, Zumba Gold-Toning classes help participants build muscle strength, increase bone density, and improve mobility, posture and coordination.

Zumba Sentao™   –  The Zumba Sentao™ is a chair-based choreography to strengthen, balance and stabilize your core, and step up your cardio work in a whole new way, using own body weight to enhance muscle strength, improve definition and endurance, and tone your physique.

Where all can one find Zumba classes in India?

Zumba Fitness is now getting very popular and all the larger gyms, health clubs as well as studios have actively participated and started with a class. So just check the closest health club and find details about your favorite Zumba Class.

ZIN Swetha is a trained Zumba Fitness professional and conducts classes in South Mumbai. For details, visit her website: www.swethajairam.zumba.com

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