I finally joined the masses of ladies hoping to shake their hips like Shakira, pop their booties like J Lo, and hip-hop their way to attaining Beyonce’s strong and shapely thighs. If you have never heard of Zumba, then you’ve been living under a rock. I may be late to the badass dance party, but this week I’ve taken two Zumba classes at Urge Fitness and I’m sore in places on my body I didn’t even know could get sore. I learned from 2 different instructors, which was great because I was able to gain different views on the practice of this dance fitness program that combines a plethora of dance styles including hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo and martial arts. I already prefer one of my instructors over the other, but that’s because the other shakes her belly dancing hips ready to create a tornado and the instructor I enjoyed more focuses on mixing in traditional aerobic moves that I can hack as a beginner. With lots of energy and dedication, I know that over time I’ll be able to learn plenty of styles of dance from them both.
Zumba is not only a huge calorie burner if you put your all into it, but it is the ultimate in modern Jazzercise! Seriously, it is like Jazzercise on crack, cocaine, caffeine, speed, and anything else that makes your body convulse like it never has before to music that makes you move before you can even think. Zumba may not require a leotard or overly enthusiastic voiced instruction (Zumba instructors use hand movements to instruct you on their next move), but both practices do encourage moving those hips, smiling, and overall having a good time.
SO, here are 10 things I learned during my experience being a new Zumba student for a week as well as advice from friends who regularly practice this style workout:
1. Stand where you can see the instructor!
- I took this advice from my friends and I’m glad I did because I was planning on staying way in the back. At my first class I stood in the front row next to the instructor and now I stand directly behind her to get a better view of the moves. When I mess up it’s much easier to pick up and keep moving!
2. Focus on the feet first, then add hand and arm movements.
- The more often you attend Zumba classes, the more you will pick up on the added arm and hand flair. As not to get overwhelmed at first, just focus on the foot moves then if you’re up to it, add your jazz hands!
3. You are not going to perform the moves as flawlessly as your instructor.
- Zumba Instructors are trained professionals, they may make mistakes, but their dance talent can be daunting. If you are just starting out you need to remember your limitations while still trying to have fun! I pushed my ability in the second class before realizing I have never belly danced a day in my life and I needed to CHILL OUT BEFORE I PULL A HIP MUSCLE. I have also yet to get to the having fun part because I’m intent in learning the dance moves with a serious furrow on my face. Zumba is srs bzns in my world…for now.
4. If you have ever played Just Dance on your video game console at home, then you already have a head start.
- I am a Just Dance veteran, and Zumba class is pretty much a 3D version of this Wii Fitness game. In fact, they have a multitude of Zumba fitness games for the Wii now if you want to start off (or continue) in the privacy of your home.
5. There will probably be plenty of other people in the class who are beginners.
- This will hopefully allow you the courage to take a step and attend your first Zumba class. You are not alone in your trepidation.
6. You will sweat like crazy and want to drink as much as a gallon of water during and after the workout.
- Bring a towel, wear a sweat band or bandana, and have your water bottle handy.
7. If you are lost with the steps, just do your own thing!
- My Salsa moves pretty much turned into an Irish jig at some point, but as long as you keep moving to the music you are doing it right!
8. If you are large chested, double bra it!
- Latin dance moves like to shake their shoulders and there is a lot of jumping with the hip-hop repertoire, so ultimately this will lead to excessive shaking of the tatas. Trust me, strap those puppies down with 2 sports bras.
9. Stretch and rest after your class.
- Dancing for an hour is nothing to scoff at. If you feel you need to stretch more after class then do it! I love stretching and I believe it’s a huge part of any workout. Resting your muscles is also important, especially if you’re just starting. I’m hoping I soon won’t have to crawl into bed like this:
10. If you are self conscious, avoid the mirrors & don’t compare yourself to others!
- I started my first class avoiding the mirrors to build my confidence up and I’m glad I did. I focused on the moves of my instructor, and if my eye went to the mirror I would bring it back to her. Now, I don’t really care how I look because everyone in the class is there to have a good time and not judge you, therefore you should not judge yourself. You should applaud yourself for moving your body and enjoying your time bustin’ a move. Now, Everybody dance!