Lots of people swear by Zumba for weight loss, but does it really work?
The answer is of course yes, Zumba can help you lose weight but the important thing to realize is that the dance sessions are no magic fix for dropping pounds, it just happens to come in a package that most people don’t detest; instead of slaving away on a treadmill, you get to spend an hour or so dancing with friends and strangers to loud music. Because people find the classes fun, they keep attending, and that is what makes it work. My theory is that whatever gets you moving is good, and if it keeps you coming back because you enjoy it, even better.
If you want to use Zumba for weight loss, or if you’ve already been trying and haven’t seen the numbers on the scale budge yet, there could be several reasons why.
The problems with Zumba for weight loss
Not all classes are equally intense; you may be getting much less of a workout than other Zumba-ers.
I’ve done it a handful of times, I’m not a huge fan of it but it can be a good way to break up the monotony of the gym. Different instructors (and different gyms) have different class formats, songs, and dances, which leads to varying intensity levels when it comes to energy expenditure. In short, I have been to classes where in an hour and a half I break a sweat, and really get my heart rate up. It feels like a workout and it’s fun. The majority of the times I’ve tried it, however, I find that in 90 minutes, the dance moves have me barely moving, I haven’t broke a sweat, and I’ve got enough spare oxygen that I’m literally yawning.
If you’re trying to lose weight with the dance classes, be aware of how challenging it is for your own fitness level. If the Zumba classes you’re taking don’t get your heart rate up and you don’t feel challenged, don’t expect to start dropping weight just because you’re present for the class for an hour or two. It is a great starting place for those new to working out but you may need something more intense as you get more fit, depending on the difficulty of class.
Zumba does NOT burn 1000 calories an hour
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There’s no strength training component to Zumba.
Strength training is important for many reasons; a toned body that burns more calories at rest being among the more superficial motivators. It also prevents bone density loss, reduces chances of injury, improves posture, joint health, and the ability of the body’s muscles to support those joints, just to name a few benefits. If you want to use it for losing extra pounds, make sure and incorporate a strength training component as well and you will likely see that you lose weight faster.
Check out Fitness Blender Workout Videos to find home workouts that use bodyweight moves to build strength and tone the body.
What is Zumba?
It is a Latin inspired dance fitness class that usually lasts between 60-90 minutes. Typically instructors start with a very short warm up (after calling out all of the “newbies” to the class) and then go straight into the dance portion where you will be expected to burn calories shaking your thang to the tune of a blend of Salsa and hip hop music. Don’t be intimidated if you “can’t dance”; the majority of Zumba dance classes take place in the dark, often even with a disco ball spinning lights across the room. Plus, you can take comfort in the law of physics that everyone looks foolish when they dance.
If you don’t feel comfortable dancing around in front of strangers, you can always try the Wii Zumba Fitness game in the comfort of your own living room. Here’s a list of other games that let you draw the blinds and work up a sweat; Wii Games for Weight Loss.