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Zumba Compared to Jazzercise

If you want to get your cardio in through an upbeat, fast-paced dance class, you can choose from Jazzercise or Zumba, among others. Although many types of aerobic exercise incorporate elements of dance, Jazzercise is one of the oldest; it takes moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing and resistance training.

Zumba has spread worldwide since its founding in 1999. Both are group classes that use elements of dance but are specifically geared toward the exerciser, including many who are trying to lose weight. As its name suggests, Jazzercise grew out of the jazz dance tradition for its routines, whereas Zumba was born out of Latin music and dance.

Both types of classes offer a wide variety of workouts. Jazzercise includes Jazzercise for kids, low-impact, toning, weight training, and step. Zumba offers six different types of instruction, including classes for seniors, kids, toning and Aqua Zumba in the water.

Differences in Choreography

Jazzercise instructors receive fitness-approved choreography (in the form of a DVD) every 10 weeks. They then teach these routines, which can be memorized over time. The routines are built on basic jazz dance or exercise steps, shown on their website. Once you know these, you can master any Jazzercise routine.

Zumba, on the other hand, is much more informal—the tagline is "Ditch the workout, join the party!" Every class includes Latin dance steps, mostly salsa and merengue inspired. Instructors create their own routines, which may or may not be consistent from one class to the next. Often the choreography goes with the music, but individual instructors will usually vary their music during each class.

Music Choices

Both Jazzercise and Zumba draw on a wide variety of music genres to accompany their routines. Jazzercise generally has a more jazz or pop influence, but may include ballads, country, and hip hop.

Zumba is definitely Latin-influenced, incorporating elements of merengue, salsa and reggaeton in most classes. In both classes, the individual tastes of the instructor will dictate the particular mix of songs and music types.

Instructor Certification

Jazzercise instructors must pass a rigorous training over two to three days. Every certified instructor holds a franchise, but substitute instructors may also be trained to work for franchisees. Training includes information on health and fitness and CPR, as well as the jazzercise routines.

Zumba certification can be accomplished in one day by attending one of the many regularly scheduled trainings held around the world each month. You need to be enthusiastic, coordinated, creative and outgoing to pass. Zumba instructors can give classes in any venue with appropriate facilities.

About the Author

Gregg Elliott is a conservationist and communications consultant.

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