Get active while having fun with ZUMBA!
Finding excuses for not doing sports or not doing them on a regular basis is pretty easy and some people are really good at it. Unfortunately, so do I. Studying, working, spending time with my family and friends or relaxing after a hard day at work have always been my priority. For me, it was continually a challenge to fit a sport class or a workout at the gym into my week. There was always something more important and urgent to do than sports. That’s a classic excuse of a couch potato, I know.
Moving to a new city and starting a new programme at the University of Stirling was a perfect occasion to change my fitness lifestyle as well. Reading about the diverse sports offers during my first week, it was definitely time for me to get more active again and participate in a sport programme at Stirling’s sports centre. But which should I choose? I’ve never been a big fan of the gym. I want to have fun and variety while exercising. And that’s what Zumba is about!
Go with the rhythm, go with the beat!
Being a total newbie to the Zumba community, I wasn’t really sure what to expect and whether this workout has any effects or not. Although I used to dance for a very long time throughout young adulthood, I was afraid of making a complete fool of myself and not keeping up with the choreography during the workout.
You might have the same fear as I had but luckily, there’s no right or wrong in Zumba: “It’s a plus if you know how to dance and have a feeling for rhythms, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. The main idea is that anybody can do it. Don’t worry about the steps and just enjoy the atmosphere! Because this is what the initial idea of Beto Perez, the creator of the Zumba concept, is all about”, says Andrea, the Zumba class instructor of the University of Stirling’s sports centre.
People should not focus on the fact that they’re doing a workout, instead, they should participate because of the fun, have a good time and make new friends.
And she was right: I had fun and I LOVED it!
Although I struggled to follow the first choreographies and got confused by the fast combination and coordination of arms and legs, I enjoyed the music and the dance moves. I just moved to the rhythm and followed the beat even though I didn’t know the right steps. I totally forgot about my fear of making a fool of myself and just kept dancing and enjoying it. “You’re not competing with anybody. You don’t need to prove me or yourself anything. The only challenge is to feel better all the time. It’s important that you keep moving and have fun. Everything else is just a result of taking part in the exercise”, explains Andrea.
And that’s the best part of it: You totally forget that you’re actually exercising, which is the whole point of Zumba! Just the experience of being short of breath as well as the sweat are immediate signs of the workout.
You’ll never know until you try DANCE
To all the people out there thinking Zumba has nothing to do with fitness or exercising: Try it out and judge again! Zumba is so much more than just moving your hips, shaking your bum and dancing to Latin American music! In fact, it combines aerobic, dance and interval training by mixing the different choreographies not only with steps from Salsa, Flamenco, Merengue, Samba and Reggaeton, but also by including hidden exercises like squats, lunges and crunches.
“Zumba is a training of the whole body and especially the mind. Each choreography focuses on different body parts. While the “Beto Shuffle” for example tones your arms, other steps train your abs, legs and bum”, says Andrea. A study has shown that the hidden exercises and the change of intensity levels of dance moves not only boost and tone the core of your muscles, but also improve your stamina and cardiovascular fitness and support weight loss as well.
Plus: Zumba does not only keep your body active but also your mind! While having fun dancing and going with the beat, you still need to focus and remember the various steps for one choreography after another. You could easily improve your concentration skills and memory just by taking part in a Zumba class. In fact, a study of 2003 examined that dancing can help especially with older people in reducing the risk of being diseased with dementia.
Shake the bad mood off
When summer’s gone and winter is coming, our mood changes like the seasons. Fortunately, Zumba can help here as well! According to Andrea, one of its main effects is the improvement of your mood. Whether you’re angry, frustrated or stressed, you can let out your emotions quite easily and your dance moves can be stronger and more powerful with every step.
Dancing has many effects on our brain. During her seven years of work experience Andrea received feedback from multiple participants with mental health issues about the effects Zumba had on them: “Even though they’re doing a therapy and taking their medicine, they feel like Zumba has helped them and improved their issues a lot.” Because of the various positive effects Zumba has on the mental wellbeing of her participants, she is convinced that “Zumba is more a therapy than a workout.”
Zumba is a perfect alternative for people having a hard time getting up and be active. The combination of motivating Latin American rhythms, hidden exercises and fun dance moves makes it easy to forget that you’re doing a workout. Zumba offers a great way of letting out your emotions, discovering your crazy side and just having fun! Come on now: Get active and join the party!