Urban Sport of the Week: Zumba

What is Zumba?

Zumba is an aerobic fitness workout that takes inspiration from various types of Latin dance. Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez created the workout during the 1990s – since then it’s popularity has skyrocketed because it’s so much fun and a great workout.

What can you expect?

Fitness Unlimited is a large, spacious gym near Dusseldorf Central Station. There’s clearly a strong community here with friends chatting happily around coffee tables by the in-house cafe in their gym gear. A huge staircase leads up to giant, modern changing rooms and a sauna. Our Zumba class takes place in a bright room with tons of windows – there’s about 10 women and 1 man and our teacher, Laura, stands on a platform so everyone can see her clearly.  

How was the workout?

Laura started with a simple aerobic warm-up of side-steps, knee lifts and squats. The music was fun and upbeat and it was easy to follow her moves – the steps weren’t too difficult.

But then another Latin-style song came on which was much more fast-paced. That’s when everything became a lot more complicated. Laura began with some side steps, squats and then a twist was introduced, at which point I found myself crashing into my neighbour and nearly falling over my own feet.

Laura made it very easy to follow her moves and signalled to us when it was time to turn, to walk backwards or to spin around. By the second Latin salsa song I’d broken into a sweat. It’s easy to forget that this is a real cardio workout as well as a dance class.

The songs were each choreographed to work a specific part of the body. Song 3 focussed on legs, with squats and side-lunges accompanying the dance moves. I couldn’t help but notice how happy everyone looked in the class – I imagine once you’re confident with the choreography it becomes a truly joyful experience.

Song 4 focussed on arm movements, incorporating bicep curls and tricep extensions through the medium of salsa dance. This truly is an innovative way to burn calories and tone up and by song 5 I’d shed my self-consciousness and began to enjoy myself, although I avoided looking in the mirror (I got a glimpse of myself early on in the class and I looked like a crazy person.)

Everyone else in the class looked like they knew exactly what they were doing – lunging from one side to the other, sidestepping and then twirling while moving their hips to the music. Finally, after a particularly fast Latin hip-hop track where we body-rolled, gyrated and span in circles, it was time for the warm-down where we stretched to a slow-paced song and shook out our aching muscles.  

How did I feel after?

By the end of the class I was sweating, smiling and very happy. Zumba was designed to incorporate aerobics and Latin dance so it’s a real workout, although it’s easy to forget it’s exercise when you’re having that much fun.

The next days I had sore leg muscles but I felt light and happy – and the good mood and happy feelings continued all week!  

Benefits of Zumba

This really is an amazing way to workout and de-stress. It’s a great class to try if you don’t enjoy typical gym classes. It’s not macho or intimidating; it’s fun, light-hearted and good for your overall health.

I could tell from the way the other members chatted before and after the class that there’s a real community behind Zumba. It’s a great way to make friends as you come back to the same class and people every week.  

Don’t forget to bring…

Workout gear, trainers and water. There’s no need to wear any special dance gear for Zumba, just comfortable clothes that you can sweat in.  

If you’d like to try out Zumba for yourself Urban Sports Club has tons of dance partners across Germany, Italy and France.

And for a full list of classes available at Fitness Unlimited take a look at their online timetable.


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