The original dance fitness party, Zumba is taking over the world – one meringue, hip-hop, belly-dancing infused step at a time. A dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez during the 1990s, a Zumba workout involves dance and aerobic elements combined with hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. The usual gym staples – squats and lunges – are also included, but they are so well hidden Zumba-goers often do not even realise they make an appearance!
Approximately 14 million people take weekly Zumba classes in over 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries – impressive figures for a workout to loud, infectious music. But what is it about this Latin-inspired craze that makes it so irresistible to even the most hardcore gym junkies? The answer lies in its versatility. The Zumba program is so diverse that is suits all fitness levels and ages. Here’s a closer look at how these movers and shakers have managed to convince the world to shake their calories away:
To groove at your own pace, the Zumba Gold programme is the workout to chase. With modified, low-impact moves and easy-to-follow pacing, it is the best choice for first timers wanting to get a feel for the workout. Weightlifting enthusiasts need not fret as the Zumba Toning sessions raise the bar (or rather, the toning stick) for rock-hard bodies. Using lightweight, maraca-like Toning Sticks to enhance rhythm and tone arms, abs, and thighs, Zumba toning is the dance alternative to weightlifting in the gym.
Water babies will be pleased to know Zumba offers a low-impact “pool party” version. Giving new meaning to the term “refreshing workout,” Aqua Zumba integrates traditional aquatic fitness disciplines with some signature Zumba moves, resulting in a cardio-conditioning, body-toning workout for the masses. Unlike other workouts, children are also considered. Zumbatomic classes are packed with choreographed routines and the latest music such as hip-hop and reggaeton, and are said to increase focus and self-confidence, boost metabolism and improve coordination. A totally fun way of keeping fit.
The Zumba Senta programme does the unthinkable and incorporates chairs into routines, strengthening core muscles, torching calories, and sculpting muscle. Who knew a chair would be such a great dance partner?
The original Zumba routine itself has spawned many different versions, no doubt due to its fun-filled nature. Benefits of this exhilarating exercise include:
- Calorie burning: According to studies done, the average number of calories burned in one session can reach a whopping 817 per hour!
- Total body toning: Due to the dance nature of the workout, participants are often unaware that the squats and lunges in the choreography engage all muscles. Buns of steel for everyone!
- Fun, fun, fun: Not a lot of people want to spend hours in the gym and Zumba provides the perfect fun and feisty alternative! Time also flies when you are having fun – participants say their one hour classes feel like 5 minutes.
- Age no barrier: From kids as young as 4 years old to senior citizens in their 60s and 70s, Zumba workouts can be adapted for any fitness levels. They are only as challenging as you want them to be.
- Social butterflies: Zumba enthusiasts love the party atmosphere of the classes; some even comparing it to friends meeting up for a spot of dancing, not exercising.
- Healthy bodies, happy people: Besides releasing stress, the workout levels achieved in a Zumba class place it in the endorphin-release zone, helping with mood improvement and relaxation. What’s not to love about this craze?
Food For Thought
Getting a workout in your day is essential but post-workout care is often neglected. Every fitness freak knows that the proper nutrition before and after a workout can add much more value to a workout. Here are a few tips:
- Rehydrate: Most moderate exercisers will lose almost a litre of fluid per hour of exercise, so drinking 500-600mL of water shortly after a workout aids the recovery process. If you sweat a lot or the weather is hot and/or humid, consider drinking coconut water. It is a great way to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating during a workout. Look for natural, unsweetened brands or hop over to the nearest hawker stall or restaurant for the fresh variety.
- Snack smart: Liquids like smoothies, shakes, chocolate milk, or energy bars can be especially effective snacks after a workout. Filled with carbohydrates, amino acids (the building blocks of protein), vitamins, and minerals, these liquid options move easily through the body system and digest thoroughly. Alternatively, nuts and dried fruits make a quick post exercise snack packed with protein and simple carbohydrates.
- Balanced meal: A workout can increase hunger levels substantially and therefore the risk of eating anything in sight. Any regular meal that contains lean protein, starch, and vegetables is a great option as it balances different food groups in moderation. Try veggies and hummus to replenish glycogen stores or turkey, ham, chicken, or roast beef sandwiches for muscle repair protein and fat for sustained energy.
Source: The Expat July 2013
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