Are you ready to boogie? You'll do just that in a Zumba class, a workout masquerading as a dance party that was developed in the 1990s by choreographer Alberto Perez. You can burn anywhere between 350 and 650 calories during an hour-long Zumba class, depending on the intensity, making it a no-brainer when it comes to a fun way to stay in shape.
The effectiveness of Zumba really comes down to how hard you work. To make the most of your beginner Zumba class, prepare yourself for the sweat session in advance and don't fret if you don't pick up the moves right away.
The Right Gear
You can don the same clothing for a Zumba class as you would for any form of aerobics or group exercise class. The shoes you wear, however, are a little more important. Zumba consists of a lot of lateral — i.e. side-to-side — movements, so you want to wear a pair of shoes that support those movements. Dance shoes are ideal, but as a beginner, you're more likely to wear cross-trainers. In a pinch, a pair of running shoes with a worn-out tread work as well.
Don't Worry About Other People
In your first few Zumba classes, you'll notice some dancers who know all the moves and never miss a step. If you keep going to the classes, that will be you in no time — but, for now, focus on going at your own pace. You'll probably miss some steps, and that's OK.
Modify When Necessary
Zumba can be very intense, if you let it be. Listen to your body, and modify the moves based on how you feel. If you have pain in your lower back, don't put as much oomph into the twisting movements. If your knees are in pain, keep in low-impact by keeping your feet on the floor at all time (Rather than jumping).
Drink Plenty of Water
Zumba fits the category of a cardio workout, which means that you're raising your heart rate and keeping it up for quite a while. When you do any form of cardio, you need to hydrate properly to replace the water that you have sweat out. Take a break every 10 to 15 minutes to take a few sips of water. If you get muscle cramps or feel dizzy, that's a sign that you're dehydrated. Stop immediately and rehydrate.