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Dance Off the Calories With Zumba: Have Fun While Getting Fit

written by: Janelle Martel • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 8/9/2011

Zumba, a Latin-inspired dance workout, helps you burn calories as you have fun with friends. It has the potential to be a great calorie-burning tool as you challenge yourself to improve.

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    Zumba is one of the newest fitness dance crazes. Spanish slang for “move fast," Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance workout that lets gym goers groove to salsa and meringue.

    The Zumba dance workout was created by accident in 1986 by founder Alberto Perez. While teaching an aerobics class, Perez realized he’d forgotten his usual class music. Looking through the tapes he had, he found his personal favorite Latin music and told his students that class would be different. They loved the music, and Zumba was born.

    Unlike a typical dance class that requires dancers to count out steps and pay attention to choreography, Zumba dance classes revolve around four or five easy-to-follow steps. The simple steps are repeated over the course of an hour-long class.

    Perez started selling Zumba DVDs on TV in 2002 and has developed a wide following. WebMD estimates that there are 4 million Zumba students and 250,000 Zumba instructors in 40 countries.

    Since Zumba took off, Perez has created several versions of the Zumba workout. There’s a type of Zumba dance that uses maraca-like sticks to tone and sculpt the body and there are even Zumba programs tailored for specific audiences. There’s a low-impact Zumba Gold workout for seniors and ZumbAtomic workout for kids.

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    How Many Calories Does Zumba Burn?

    Like any aerobic exercise, Zumba dance offers a host of benefits. Doing Zumba increases endurance, builds bone density, improves balance and muscle tone, and can lower blood pressure. It also burns calories.

    Just how many calories does Zumba dance burn? The exact number will depend on the intensity of your workout, but, like any form of dancing, Zumba can help you burn between 400 and 900 calories per hour.

    Zumba enthusiasts credit the workout with giving them tighter abs. Because of the way the dance engages your core, it can have the same effect as doing crunches.

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    Is Zumba Right For You?

    Because the Zumba dance workout can be modified to become a low-impact workout, it is appropriate for a wide range of ages and fitness levels. Best of all, it requires no special equipment. The only thing you’ll need is a good pair of sneakers. You’ll probably enjoy Zumba if:

    • You like to dance
    • You enjoy “going with the flow"
    • You are uninhibited when it comes to feeling music
    • You enjoy being in a social atmosphere

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