Zumba: Yes, It IS A Workout

After months of trying to get healthy on my own, I had just about had it with workout plans that read “Do 10 reps of this, 20 reps of this, walk 10 laps on this,” etc. I was bored, bored, BORED of typical workouts and typical workout routines.

So, when a friend of mine from the local Choral Society spoke well of the Zumba class she took on Thursday nights, I was intrigued, but also very wary. Wasn’t Zumba that thing from the infomercial, with all the Latin dance moves and such?

I researched as much as I could online, watching videos like the one above, getting more interested…but I still thought it surely couldn’t work as well as it purported to. I had done enough dance and musical theater in my childhood and teen years to know that dance could engage the entire body, but I still worried–if it was too easy, it wouldn’t do much for me, and if it was too hard, I risked re-injuring a lot of my lower body.

Finally, I put doubts to the side and came to watch a Thursday evening class…and by the middle of the class, I wanted to join in. It seemed like a LOT of fun, and the music was very bouncy and great to listen to. Quickly, I made plans to try the class out, and the next available Thursday evening (June 16th, 2011), I actually did try it.

Takeaways from My First Zumba Class

  • If you mess up, you are probably not the only one messing up–even the instructor missteps occasionally! Laugh and keep going.
  • The high-energy music wordlessly encourages you to keep going.
  • Zumba is definitely not too easy. The moves are challenging, the tempo is fairly quick, and you will definitely find muscles you forgot you had. LOL!
  • If you haven’t exercised in a long time and still try to do everything just like the instructor does, you are going to hurt yourself. 😛
  • You can always modify the moves to suit your level of fitness.
  • It’s not a competition–do what you can and try to get a little better every time.

My Results During and After Class

After the first 20 minutes of class, I was already sweating like a hog in that air-conditioned room, and by the end of the hour-long workout, I felt accomplished, if not exhilarated. (I still don’t think my body releases endorphins when I exercise…I think it releases the opposite, ’cause I usually feel like gum scraped off somebody’s shoe after I work out.)

Now, I did have to take a couple of short rests in addition to the rests between songs, because my heart rate felt like it was starting to speed out of control. However, once I started modifying the moves and not trying to do absolutely everything the instructor was doing, I felt my heart rate kick into a higher (but much more controllable) level. For sure, I didn’t feel like I was going to keel over again.

I have never felt my heart get into that comfortable-higher gear before–usually it goes straight from “Resting” level to “LOL I’M COMING THROUGH YOUR RIBS”, with painful gasping for air included. Instead, the new heart rate was definitely faster than normal, but not scary-fast. My exertional asthma, which had triggered twice within the first 20 minutes, had all but vanished by the end of the hour as well. This was AMAZING! Not to mention that modifying the moves to exclude jumping, leg twists, and deep knee bends protected my knees from further damage and left me less sore the next day.


The best thing about Zumba is that you aren’t required to do every single move perfectly. It’s a “work-at-your-own-pace” type of exercise, with camaraderie and laughter included–which means it’s approachable for beginners and yet it can be high-intensity for people who are already fit. Doing Zumba doesn’t mean you’ll drop 100 pounds in a week or get ripped abs in 2 months, but you will see greater stamina, flexibility, and some toning. For certain, I’ve already seen benefits to my heart health and overall fitness capability!

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