A guide to Zumba

Siski Green / 30 December 2015

It’s the most popular dance fitness programme of the past 20 years. Find out what’s involved and whether it’s right for you.



Dancing yourself fit is nothing new but no other dance-based fitness class has captured the imagination of the general public in the way Zumba has.

Find out why the elements of Zumba that make it so popular are exactly those that will also boost your fitness and overall health and wellbeing. 

Variation is key with Zumba

Zumba isn’t focused on samba or salsa, reggaeton, merengue, mambo or hip-hop, or any other specific music genre. Instead it includes elements of all of these dance and music styles.

Added to that, the tempo changes from very fast, to slower rhythms. And it also includes squats, lunges, too. Because of this an hour of a Zumba class will usually entail high-speed aerobic elements, combined with somewhat slower and more controlled movements, depending on the song or dance move.

This is essentially ‘interval training’ – ideal for burning calories and building fitness because your body has a chance to recover a little, giving you more energy to keep going when the next fast session comes on.  

There are also different types of Zumba:

  • Zumba Gold is intended for older individuals
  • Aqua Zumba is held in a pool
  • Zumba Toning utilises exercise sticks to maximise the effects in terms of toning
  • Zumba Step focuses on the lower body
  • There’s also a circuit-based Zumba class for those who enjoy circuit training

But the beauty of Zumba is that you can go to any class and enjoy it, as you can put as much or as little energy into the moves as you wish. 

Zumba is a feel-good workout

When you’re enjoying yourself, a workout doesn’t feel like a workout.

People who attend Zumba classes rave about the way it makes them feel - happy, energised, more sociable.

That might be because of the upbeat tempos used in the music, or simply because it’s a high-energy workout which helps release feel-good hormones.

It might also be down to doing an activity in a group, which studies have shown boost good feelings and a positive outlook on life. 

It’s flexible

If you’ve ever been to a step class and wondered how long it’ll take before you can follow the teacher without falling over, it’s nice to know that with Zumba, the dance moves aren’t so complicated that you feel like you need a class before the class to get things right.

Also, many attendees at classes improvise and it’s not the kind of class where you’ll be judged if you can’t follow every move correctly. 

Everyone does it

Okay, so not everyone on the planet has already signed up for a Zumba class, but according to estimates, around 15 million people do it on a weekly basis.

Most importantly, though, there is no particular ‘type’ of person who does Zumba. Skinny, pear-shaped, fit, out-of-shape, old, young, the classes are welcoming to any body type or fitness level. 

What to wear to a Zumba class

  • Be sure to wear comfortable clothing that you’re ready to sweat in (because you will sweat).
  • Wear shoes that allow you to move easily and with good support (good trainers, for example).
  • Take a bottle of water as you’ll need to stay hydrated.
  • Finally, go on your own or with friends – it’s a great workout to do with friends but you needn’t go with anyone to enjoy yourself. 

Want to get started? 

Find your nearest Zumba class by doing a quick online search ‘zumba fitness croydon’ for example.

Or go to www.classfinder.org.uk and do a search there. But most likely your local gym or fitness centre offers Zumba so give them a call to ask too. 

Win a Zumba DVD

Zumba® Get Your Fitness Party Started is out on DVD. Featuring three easy-to-follow dance-fitness workouts, you can learn from the creator of the Zumba® fitness program himself, Beto Perez, as he takes you through the essential moves to get you dancing yourself into shape. We have five copies to give away - visit our Facebook page to enter

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.