Finding an enjoyable workout can be tricky, and staying with it can be even harder. Over the past decade, Zumba, a dance-based fitness routine, has been gaining popularity in homes and gyms around the world for its focus on fun, high-energy fitness.
Zumba originated in the mid-1990s when a fitness instructor in Colombia resorted to using tapes of traditional Latin American music in his class after leaving his usual tapes at home. The music caught on, and the instructor developed a class through improvisation based on dances such as merengue and salsa.
In 1999, he brought Zumba to the United States, and paired up with two young entrepreneurs to create a nationwide company. Through video sales and strict instructor training, Zumba then spread across the world and there are around 400 teachers in the UK today.
Zumba classes generally last about an hour, and consist of a combination of Latin American dances, hip-hop, belly dancing and other dance styles. Each instructor choreographs their own class routine, but the fundamentals of the exercise are designed to provide a strong cardio and muscular workout. The whole body moves in a Zumba class, helping to burn fat and build lean muscles.
Zumba workouts can vary in intensity, and calorie burn depends on an individual's weight, fitness level and muscle composition. During an hour-long session you can burn anywhere from 500 to 800 calories. On average, a 68-kilo person can expect to burn 536 calories during an hour of Zumba. By comparison, the same person would burn 413 calories during an hour of moderate swimming, 477 for an hour of casual racquetball and 684 for an hour of running at a 10-minute-mile pace.
Zumba classes are designed to be fun and high energy, attributes that generally make it easy to stick to the programme. Anyone at almost any fitness level can start doing Zumba, without purchasing any equipment. Most gyms and fitness studios now offer Zumba classes and DVDs are available for those who feel more comfortable exercising in their own homes.
Zumba classes are offered all round the world, including in the United States, China, Mexico, Japan, the UK, Italy and Spain. Zumba's educational division trains and certifies all Zumba instructors, and the company produces its own fitness DVDs. To locate an official class or specific instructor, visit Zumba's home page at Zumba.com.