Fun but Fast
Zumba’s marketing is all about fun first, with slogans like, “Ditch the workout, join the party,” and “Party yourself into shape.”
Exercise classes like Zumba tend to attract people who have been sedentary for a while or are sedentary all day at work. But the classes are fast-paced and can be quite strenuous. Few participants leave without being drenched in sweat and at least a little bit out of breath.
You should always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise regime. If you are pregnant or have a major cardiovascular, pulmonary or metabolic condition, traditional Zumba is probably not appropriate for you. (Zumba Gold, the low-impact version, may be fine.)
People with knee, hip or ankle problems should also consult a doctor, as they may need to modify the routine — avoiding jumps, for instance, or fast hip movements.
The Right Shoes
Zumba doesn’t require any fancy equipment (although Zumba enthusiasts are prone to donning some extremely colorful outfits). Any thinly soled sneakers or comfortable workout shoes will do.
But running shoes, which tend to have thick treads, are inappropriate, because they are designed for forward movement only. The treads get in the way when doing Zumba’s many side-to-side and pivot moves.
The Right Pace
Zumba classes often get off to a fast start, and includes a lot of pivoting as well as side-to-side movement and fast rotating hip action that can become painful if you are not used to them.
The most common reason people drop out or get hurt is because they start too fast.
Always a good idea to do some calf, hamstring and abdominal stretches on your own before you begin.
Move at your own pace, and don’t get too caught up in the whirlwind around you. The beauty of a dance class is that you can easily move in place or just do the basic moves while you become familiar with the more complicated dance steps.
Make sure you’re drinking water regularly throughout class. Most instructors allow quick breaks between some of the songs so that you can get a drink of water. But don’t hesitate stepping to the side and drinking whenever you need to, even if it’s not time for a quick break. No one will mind that you’re keeping yourself well hydrated!