Zumba vs. Core Rhythms

Zumba vs. Core Rhythms

The Latin dance workout trend has swept through homes and health clubs. Doing Latin-inspired dances such as salsa, meringue, cha cha and flamenco can help you lose weight, tone your muscles and improve your overall fitness. Zumba and Core Rhythms are two popular Latin dance workout programs designed to get you off your couch and shaking your hips. Find out how they compare and choose the program that's right for you.

Latin Dance as Exercise

The term Latin dancing conjures up images of wiggling hips, inspiring music, high heels and fun. Latin dance as exercise is no different except for the footwear, which should be flat and supportive, such as an athletic shoe. Dancing burns calories, which can help you lose or manage your weight. Sustained cardiovascular exercise provided by dancing strengthens your heart and lungs for improved heart health.

The moves included in these types of workout are weight-bearing, so they also improve muscle tone and bone strength. Lastly, having fun is a surefire way to keep coming back for more. If you have previously had difficulty sticking with an exercise program, the fun factor of both Zumba and Core Rhythms can help you exercise more consistently.


Zumba was created by celebrity fitness trainer Beto Perez. Beto began teaching Latin dance as exercise in his aerobics classes in Columbia before bringing it to the U.S. in the late 1990s. Now Zumba is taught in thousands of gyms, fitness studios and community centers around the world by certified Zumba teachers.

Zumba classes include moves from salsa, meringue, cumbia, tango, reggaeton and flamenco. Routines are choreographed to alternate periods of low-intensity effort with periods of high-intensity effort in an interval-training style that is highly effective for burning fat and increasing fitness.

Classes are touted as being more like a party than a workout, with upbeat music and high energy. Although you can take Zumba classes online at home, the core of the Zumba program is the physical classes, designed to bring people together. There is plenty of variety in the Zumba program with different types of classes such as Zumba Step, Aqua Zumba and Zumba Gold, which is geared toward seniors.

Core Rhythms

The Core Rhythms workout was developed by professional Latin ballroom dancers Jaana Kunitz and Julia Powers. Dance moves come from popular ballroom dances styles such as the paso doble, samba, swing and rumba. The program is designed to increase cardiovascular endurance and muscle tone, burn calories and provide a fun alternative to other methods of exercise.

Unlike Zumba, Core Rhythms is exclusively a home workout program. You purchase the set of DVDs and perform the workouts in your home. Just like Zumba, the workouts are upbeat with high-energy music and upbeat instructors. However, unless you invite a group of friends over, you'll be taking the classes alone.

Core Rhythms has an accompanying diet program with recommendations on eating right for supporting weight loss and increased energy. The dietary suggestions focus on eating more fresh vegetables and lean meats.

Picking Your Dance Workout

Zumba and Core Rhythms both have their roots in Latin dances. If you enjoy Latin music and dancing, these workouts won't let you down. Both workouts keep you moving and help burn calories for weight loss, improve cardiovascular fitness and tone your muscles, if you do them as they are taught.

The major differences are convenience, cost, environment and variety. Either workout can be done at home, but if you want to take Zumba group classes you'll need to sign up for a class at a scheduled time, travel to the location and take the 60-minute class. For some people, that may not be possible or convenient.

If you attend Zumba classes, you'll need to pay a monthly or per-class fee. If you stick with it, this can get expensive. With Core Rhythms, you pay a one-time fee to purchase the DVDs and can use them as many times as you want.

Attending Zumba classes can be very motivating and stimulating for people who like a group atmosphere. In a group class, you'll be less inclined to quit the workout before it's over, and you may find more motivation to push yourself when you're feeling tired. However, if you're the type of person who likes to work out alone, or who is uncomfortable dancing in front of others, Core Rhythms offers a no-pressure way to exercise in the comfort of your home.

Lack of variety is a downside of Core Rhythms. Once you've gone through all the DVDs, there won't be anything new or different. You'll continue to repeat the same workouts, which can become boring. Zumba classes are always different, depending on the type of class and the instructor. Variety is one of the keys to successful exercise and weight loss programs, because it prevents boredom and the desire to quit.