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Zumba - Shake Your Hips And Shape-Up With These Electrifying Moves!

Zumba has been around since 2001, and what has made it an international sensation? Accessibility. If you've hit a plateau in your training, give Zumba a try!

Women, men, teenagers, grandparents, fitness buffs, and first-time exercisers alike will all find Zumba® to be a fun and low-impact way to get their hips swinging and their hearts pumping. If you've hit a plateau in your training, have a stress-related injury, or just want to add some variety into your workout routine, give it a try.

Erika Mounts is a Zumba® instructor in Poulsbo, WA. For her students, she writes in an email interview, a big motivator is the sweat. "For many men and women, the more they sweat, the harder they feel they've worked," she writes. "Whether that's true or not, doesn't matter. It's about how good they feel about their accomplishments."

As of July 2009, Zumba® is offered at over 50,000 locations worldwide: With such a reach, it's a wonder everyone hasn't picked up on the trend. DVDs are also available for those who do not have time for or access to a gym. Dancing in your living room is, after all, much more fun than cleaning it!

According to the official website (, Zumba® started as improvisation when trainer, "Beto" Perez, originally from Colombia, forgot an integral part of his standard aerobics class: the music. He popped in a disc from his personal collection of Salsa and Merengue style tunes and ad-libbed his way through the class. Perez brought his discovery to the United States, and so began the international fitness phenomenon.

After the sale of millions of home instructional DVDs and the TV presence of shows like "Dancing with the Stars", Zumba® has escalated in popularity. As of 2008, the cardio-dance practice has 20,000 instructors in 40 different countries: 15,000 in the United States alone.

Do I Need Dance Experience?

Zumba® participants need no dance experience: "The general public does not have Salsa or Calypso experience," Mounts writes. "The most they may have is bopping themselves back and forth at high school dances." The way she remedies this? Repetition. If a particular student looks like he or she is having trouble with a step, Mounts will repeat the sequence more times than planned for and will go over it between routines.

In Zumba®, songs are choreographed with four to five different sequences to each one. Some sequences are entirely composed of dance moves and others work on resistance training using body weight exercises like squats and arm lifts.

Following a thorough warm-up, students use the most basic style of Merengue to transition into the actual dances. Music styles include Salsa, Cumbia, Reggaeton, and Hip-Hop. Dances like Salsa and Belly dancing, Mounts writes, generally involve hip shaking. And hip shaking takes practice, muscle memory, and confidence!

Moves start with the basics: Typical beginner steps are from Merengue, samba, and Reggaeton that build off of one another to make more complex moves.

Below are some basic Zumba® moves.

Find a class in your area Here.

Merengue Style
  • Start with a light march, keeping the knees loose.
  • Add a slight hip sway, side to side.
Samba Style
  • Toe dig with left foot.
  • Heel tap forward with right foot, toe in.
  • Pivot on the right heel, right toe out.
  • Repeat sequence with right foot.
Reggaeton Style
  • Spread feet wider than shoulder width apart, place hands behind back.
  • Stomp right foot, stomp left foot.
  • Using a skating motion and pushing chest out, stomp right foot, slide and tap left foot, feet together.
  • Stomp left foot, slide and tap right foot, feet together.

Zumba Basic Steps Demo!

Can I Go At My Own Pace?

Zumba® routines are ever-changing: a big advantage for individuals prone to workout boredom. Arm moves, directional cues, and resistance work all add variety. To work the butt and thighs, Mounts recommends adding some side-to-side squats; for the abs, include more waist twists.

According to her, most instructors introduce new routines about every month to both keep the class stimulated and to allow for new students to enter without feeling far behind. "They're all starting at the same point, learning the new routine, and can grow together," she writes.

Another plus: Zumba® can be done at your own pace, at your own level, and at your own intensity.

After nine or ten routines, the class is wrapped up with a cool down, allowing students to bring their heart rates back to normal and a moment to feel empowered from completing another class.

Individuals uninterested in choreography may not fully enjoy Zumba®. To develop your Zumba® practice, you will eventually have to execute more complex steps, building off of the initial, basic ones to form whole dance routines. And like any cardio or dance-style workout, Zumba® is meant to be done in addition to resistance and flexibility training to achieve a well-rounded fitness program.

To Develop Your Zumba® Practice, You Will Eventually Have To Execute More Complex Steps, Building Off Of The Initial, Basic Ones To Form Whole Dance Routines.

In addition to Zumba® Basic, many other class formats are available. Examples are Zumba Gold®, for older or unfit populations; Zumba Toning™, which incorporates body-sculpting moves and equipment; Zumbatomic®, for children; and Aqua Zumba™, a water-specific approach.

Eliminate your excuses: No longer will you injure your knees on the treadmill or yawn your way through a yoga class. Zumba® might just be the format you need to shake your hips into shape!

  2. Email interview with Erika Mounts