Kick Snap Workout is Done!

December 27, 2016

by Kathryn Boland

Have you ever groaned through a cross-training workout – not because of physical difficulty but out of boredom and discontent? This writer used to read a book while riding an exercise bike, and 20 minutes still felt like 20 hours. Dancers are addicted (in a good way) to movement that engages their mind, heart, soul and body. For dancers, the repetitive and simple movement of weights and cardio machines just don’t come close.

 Zumba fitness offers multi-faceted, engaging movement – and a stellar cross-training workout. We know that dancers must cross-train to stay in tip-top performance shape. Dance training and performance don’t always offer that. In particular, opportunities to build (and maintain) endurance. Zumba classes offer non-stop dancing for a full hour, which certainly gets – and keeps – the heart pumping at an aerobic level.

But does Zumba also address other components of fitness – those that dance doesn’t always? (The four main components of fitness are cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility.) The form’s official company, Zumba™, has recently released Strong by Zumba™, says Zumba instructor Meaghan McSherry. This new format includes additional strength-based work through HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routines.

Shira Brenner leads a Zumba class. Photo courtesy of BrennerWith that development, all you need is a post-class stretch to have a comprehensive, total-fitness experience. Indeed, the whole experience of a Zumba class might be the best part of it. The Zumba™ motto is “Ditch the workout, join the party!” explains McSherry. “Time flies by, and before you know it, you’ve danced for an hour.”

What should students new to Zumba know before taking classes? Because it is a high-intensity exercise form, “students should notify teachers of any injuries or problem areas so that moves can be modified,” cautions McSherry. Students can “tap it out” to stay on beat while other students do jumping jacks or other movements with impact, for instance. In addition, students should be sure to wear sneakers with a full range of motion, such as dance sneakers with split soles, McSherry notes.

“The best advice (for new students) is just to have fun!” says McSherry, who also makes it clear that a Zumba class is no place for judgment or rampant perfectionism. “Don’t worry about getting the moves perfect, especially not the first time. Give yourself three to four classes, and you will be amazed at how much easier the routines become.”

So lace up your sneakers, and give the Zumba party a try. You might not even realize it’s also a workout. No barbells or fancy machines needed!

Article produced by Dance Informa.